Boots or High Heels? Reflections on a Woman’s Wardrobe during the Pandemic

Boots or High Heels Reflections on a Pandemic Wardrobe BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of foundersguide.com

There is such a thing as a pandemic wardrobe. I know, I have been wearing it for months, sometimes sleeping in it too, but that is just to be more efficient when I have to get up in the morning. My go-to ensemble is black leggings and whatever big sweater is hanging in the closet. It rarely involves shoes.

Getting the sweater one morning not too long ago, I happened to look down at my row of shoes. It was like meeting a loved one at the airport after not seeing each other for months. The only shoes I have worn for about a year are my favorite sneakers (P448’s from a second-hand store) and dark blue Morrocan slippers.

I stared at the forgotten for a bit. My chunky work high heels, sandals, a pair of vintage silk Chinese flats, fine Chelsea boots. Then, I spotted my faithfuls: a pair of black patent leather imitation Doc Martens. 

I lived in those boots.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love high heels. Especially stilettos. Some stilettos are love at first sight. Carrie Bradshaw’s cobalt blue satin Manolos with the crystal silver buckle, anything with bows, strappy YSL high heels that made walking in Old San Juan military training. 

Now I prefer to just look at them, like art.

I associate high heels with Cinderella and the glass slipper she somehow left behind (always thought it was on purpose,) and the crazed ballerina shoes of the Red Shoes, technically not high heels, but as evil. Instruments created to hobble women.  

But those black combat boots are comfortable and loyal. They have seen a lot of New York and San Juan. Running to jobs, waiting for the G train that never comes, heading down Kosciusko Street, walking the dog as the sun sets over El Morro.

These boots go with everything, although most things in my closet are black, so there wouldn’t be much clashing of colors. Trousers, leggings, skirts, dresses, and they don’t kill your feet at parties. No more bleeding for fashion.  

They are also a statement; if you grow up in a culture where women are expected to wear high heels, combat boots carry a distinct message. Christian Louboutin said that “a woman can carry a bag, but it is the shoe that carries the woman.” I have to agree with M. Louboutin. 

Remember the scene in The Devil Wears Prada, when Meryl Streep is getting out of the car and you only see the shoe — a red suede Azzedine Alaïa as it touches the Manhattan pavement? That’s power. You can say a lot with shoes. 

In the Bible, shoes are used to symbolize something that is of little value. These boots enriched my life because walking was no longer a painful experience. Watching police shows, I wonder how the hell do these women run after the bad guy in those shoes? It’s too much work, really. I want to be able to clip down the Metro steps, not walk like if I was in a minefield. The boots just make life simpler.  

Or rather made simpler, because I have not worn them in a year. That was then, this is now. I look at them as if they are mementos from another life. The boots mark the before and whatever the after will be.  

And looking at the scruffs and where the patent leather has peeled off, I know we will adjust, and go on until one of us doesn’t zip up anymore.