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Baby Spice Inspired My Shoe Collection

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An Ode to the Platform Shoe

As a child of the ‘90s, my first real interaction with platform shoes arrived in the same grrrl power pop package as my first real interaction with feminism: The Spice Girls. Largely the demure one of my friend group (this is a cute way of saying “terrified of the world”), I flocked to Baby Spice, the girl group chanteuse I deemed most inoffensive — everybody loves babies, or, at the very least, pretends to love babies.

Baby Spice — my dear, blonde Emma Bunton — rocked platform sneakers with almost every short-skirted ensemble. The others did, too, but not like Emma — they were her calling card. I respected her allegiance to pastel pink, pigtails, and demolishing the patriarchy, but beyond that, I wanted her shoes. I thought they gave her a certain agency that stopped her from being fully infantilized. There was (and remains) a certain danger and sense of maturity in the height of them. For that very reason, I owned a single pair of 1” arched single-strap platform sandals, the only pair my mom would allow. I loved having something so sincerely on-trend at the time, but I also loved the commanding feeling that came along with being slightly off the ground. Back then, I thought it was because I was mirroring Baby Spice and could one day share in her strength. Retrospectively, it was probably something as simple as feeling more authoritative in my additional inch of mass. It’s a peculiar sensation I continue to love — platform shoes have remained a staple in my wardrobe ever since.

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When I abandoned all colors in adolescence because I read a poetry book once and My Chemical Romance was in vogue, the platform shoe made yet another appearance: as creepers in Hot Topics across America. These felt especially edgy: Only a certain type of person would invest in creepers, and they became an alternative identity marker —the It item for my mall goth brethren. Those experimenting with emo music and eyeliner would rarely leap directly to the platform shoe; they’d begin their flirtation (let’s be real, their poseur-dom) with skull iconography on T-shirts and wristbands. Creepers were for us, a dedicated few who could name a handful of bands on the Epitaph Records roster but also had parents who wouldn’t allow us to dye our hair an unnatural shade. My creepers allowed me to fit in a space for outsiders. Here, extra height meant inclusivity with the weirdos.

In the modern era, creepers and creeper-inspired shoes can be found on runways, on Rihanna, on teen stars who’ve perhaps never listened to Hawthorne Heights in earnest, and that’s cool, too. There’s real freedom in feeling a little edgy every now and again. I’ve yet to be reacquainted with my first particular platforms, the probably-Steve Madden sandals I first owned, but I’d wager that hip, young people brands are all up on that revivalism — justifiably so.  

Now I wear various platform shoes regularly, albeit in a more adult fashion: I’m a big fan of these Dr. Marten platform Chelsea boots, and on warmer days, these ankle strap platform sandals (I pair them with socks, a schoolgirl-chic look I ripped from teens in Harajuku. I aspire to those levels of Tokyo cool.) The attraction to platform shoes seems simple enough: They operate as an alternative to your classic high heel. They’re easier to walk in, they define your calves in a similar way, and perhaps most importantly, they promote the same confidence that comes with being taller. I’m 5’4”, an average height for an American woman, and I’ve never felt insecure about being considered too short. My physical relationship with platforms is a bit more conceptual: The shoes give me a sensation of being a little bit removed from the earth, and for that reason, I feel hyper-aware of my surroundings while wearing them. Being further from the ground makes you consider the ground more. It could operate as a metaphor for egoism or something, but mostly that in wearing platform shoes, you’re making a decision. There’s a balancing act involved.

In 2017, my various platformed footwear sits in the forefront of my closet, obscuring more sensible shoes in the back. They occupy that space even when I opt to wear something more athletic because I find comfort in them: an odd staple, but an expressive and weird one. I don’t see them going anywhere anytime soon. Maria Sherman, contributing writer

Deal of the Day

The Outnet is having a really good Tibi sale today with up to 70% off three pages’ worth of merchandise. This strapless white poplin dress is $250 (from $650), this black plissé-satin midi dress is $223 (from $495), and these belted silk crepe culottes are $238.

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In the News
Jenna Lyons Left J.Crew. Now 250 Jobs Are Gone.

In the not-so-distant past, it was a retail darling. But after consecutive years of slumping sales, today’s J.Crew is struggling to keep shoppers interested. Longtime creative director Jenna Lyons, the champion of an aesthetic the brand decided is no longer working for it, exited the company earlier this month, and today, J.Crew announced a significant casualty of its ongoing financial challenges: the elimination of 250 jobs.

Read more >>
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Inside the Minds (and Vanities) of Self-Proclaimed Makeup Addicts
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The glossy sheen of brand-new packaging. The pristinely smooth surface of an unsullied lipstick. The anticipation of uncapping a new product, and the triumphant victory upon realizing you’ve finally discovering a “holy grail.” Makeup can prompt a dizzying array of sensations. It’s seductive, it’s indulgent, it’s perhaps a bit hedonistic. Buying makeup is fun. Feeling like you cannot stop buying makeup even if you wanted to, however, is not.

It’s those fun sensations that draw some makeup hobbyists into a cycle of irresistible craving, harmful decision-making, and consequential guilt and shame. Being addicted to buying makeup may sound laughable, but for those who’ve veered into the territory of compulsive buying (and have the credit card bills to show for it), it’s no joke.

Emma is a 24-year-old graduate student who loves sequins, bright colors, and — until very recently — spending money on makeup. Through her early 20s, Emma was more casual enthusiast than collector, rarely straying from drugstore cosmetics and maintaining a pretty modest collection of the basics. But everything changed when she befriended a hardcore beauty buff who introduced her to the world of makeup beyond the drugstore. Seemingly out of nowhere, Emma’s once-chill attitude toward cosmetics quickly spiraled into obsession as she plunged down the rabbit hole of fancier brands, gleefully scooping up new products along the way.

Roughly a year later, Emma’s makeup hobby had changed radically. She was a card-carrying VIB Rouge member (the top tier of Sephora’s loyalty program, achieved by spending a minimum of $1,000 in one calendar year). She had amassed nearly a dozen different eyeshadow palettes and over 70 lipsticks, consisting almost entirely of mid- to high-end brands.

Keep reading >>
Shopping
Cute Sandals to Buy for Spring and Summer
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Spring is hands-down the best time to buy shoes, and if you’re in the market for new sandals (honestly, who isn’t?), you’ve got no shortage of trends and styles to pick from. Above, we’ve selected a few of our favorites out right now — including Intentionally Blank’s Chit Chat Sandals ($155); Zara’s Midi Pom-Pom Sandal ($60); and Loeffler Randall’s Rubie Sandal ($350).

See more of our favorite pairs here >>
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