Monday, May 6, 2013
Sweet Fifteen, Where'd You Get Those Shoes?
This weekend, my daughter and I went to our first Quinceañera. We were muy emocionado. Not only are we fond of the guest of honor (whom my daughter has known since second grade), but it gave us a great reason to get all dressed up.
(My husband was also invited but he had to decline because he was attending JazzFest in New Orleans with some buddies. Hmmmm ... a function hall filled with elated, shrieking teenagers or three days of non-stop music and beer. It was a tough decision. Not.)
The hall was beautifully decorated in pinks and lavender with candelabras and potted topiary globes of roses. Past the dance floor, we had a lovely view of the ocean. I found my seat at a table with other parents while my daughter settled in at her appointed younger — most definitely cooler — place.
Soon after we arrived, the DJ introduced our young friend's mother and her court (several BFFs and a handful of young relatives). At last, la quinceañera herself came in. She wore a delicate, sparkling tiara and a long white gown, covered in ruffles. She looked like a princesa.
She positively shone.
New to these celebrations, I was glad that the DJ narrated some of the traditions that followed. The first, and the one that made the greatest impression on my mind, was the shoe ceremony.
One of the young attendants had carried an elegant satin pillow with glittery heels on it. Very very Cinderella. The quinceañera, who had entered the ballroom in flat slippers, changed into the more grownup shoes with the help of her mom. (This is often done by the girl's father, but in this case, our hostess is a single mother. An amazing single mother.) The shoe ceremony symbolizes the young girl becoming a woman.
And, as the mother of a teen girl, I found it particularly appropriate.
We've seen sky-high heels on my daughter's classmates for a couple of years now. It started at the bar and bat mitzvahs, when they were still tweens. They would teeter and totter about, and thoughtful hosts would provide sleep socks for everyone to dance in. The shoe height peaked last spring for the eighth grade harbor cruise dinner dance. Leaving middle school, the girls wanted to look mature and sexy. But, ultra high shoes on the high seas just didn't seem like a good idea to me. (Add the ultra high hemlines to the ultra high heels and suffice it to say that very little was left to the imagination.)
My own daughter is usually found in riding boots, Tom's canvas flats, or Converse sneakers. She also has several pairs of what I would call fashion boots: metallic combat, western ankle, studded leather, fringed suede. She is certainly not hurting for footwear, but none of the above quite fit the bill. Her dress was a rich blue strapless number with a flaired above-the-knee skirt and lots of sequins.
We had to find something just a little more adult and dressy. Think of it as our own shoe ceremony.
In New York, we enlisted the help of my mother (a consummate shopper who helped me find my wedding shoes many moons ago). At Loehman's, my daughter found a pair of $75 satin sandals with rhinestones. They had a high heel, although they stopped just short of Kardashian. She loved them.
Yes, they were kind of pretty. Yes, she claimed they were comfortable. But, I couldn't justify paying that kind of money (remember, New York has 8.5% sales tax) for a pair that could only be worn for super dressy occasions. Despite much cajoling, followed by much grouchiness when she realized that said cajoling wasn't working, we passed.
A couple of weeks later, I stopped into DSW and found the same shoes for $59 plus another 30% off. A quick photo and text to make sure they were exactly the same ones, and we were in business. I figured it was meant to be. (I also figured that I had just saved $40. And it was good.)
And so, my daughter wore the strappy, sexy, so-grownup heels to the Quinceañera, necessitating a last-minute post-stable pedicure. "How last-minute?" you may ask. She wore flip flops in the car because her toenails were still wet.
I was rather pleased with my own footwear — in a middle-aged mom way. Under my silky black pants and embroidered jacket, I rocked a pair of Stuart Weitzman boots with a relatively high heel and pointy toe. I'm afraid that my strappy sandal days are over. Sure, I'd like to look elegant and even sexy. But, I'm much more concerned about spraining an ankle or breaking a foot. (Been there. Done that.)
But youth is for the young and so are high heels. So what if the girls practically limped through the buffet line? So what if they towered over the handful of boys at the party? So what if virtually every single girl was barefoot by the time the DJ started playing Gangnam Style? As singer-superstar Gwen Stefani acknowledges, "Sometimes you have to sacrifice your performance for high heels."
Then again, I agree with author Sue Grafton. "If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them."