Privilege Blog

The Evolving Self, Dot Com

Last week I bought some fairly inexpensive shoes online. The purchase experience was one of the best ever. It still makes me smile to think about. Why? What was so wonderful?

One lazy afternoon, I was sitting on my sofa, reading fashion magazines. Otherwise known as looking-at-pictures-of-stuff-I-don’t-want or things-I-want-but-can’t-find-or-afford. Then I saw this ad in Vogue.

I fell for those shoes. Why? Who knows. Perhaps it was the accompanying house with gray shingles, reminding me of family houses by the sea. I will never forget the way that salty wood smells on hot days. Maybe I was channeling my travels through France as a young woman, not yet ready to tie anything around her ankles. Or maybe it was the pucker of seersucker, like the suit I wore to interview movie types in India. Who, as we say, knows? But sense memory was working strongly to compel.

I Googled “Sperry Cork Platforms.” Brought me here.

Nice image, Sperry! I love it when there’s no background to product shots, and no model, in the primary e-commerce image. When the objet de desir appears to float free, rife with possibility, inflated with imagination.

And they cost $90. How smart, to advertise $90 shoes in Vogue, whose readers – we can assume – often pay more. How smart, to make the path from ad to memories to purchase so smooth. In other words, I could move quickly from evoked impulse to that moment we probably all know. Phone in one hand, credit card in the other. I usually prop the card on my Macbook, up against the screen.

I ordered.

And they arrived on my doorstep.

In this box.

Isn’t the box one of the better branding accoutrements you have ever seen? (I love writing this blog. How else would I ever get to use the word accoutrements?) In one fell swoop, Sperry moves itself beyond the Cottage Club boys of my youth and their boat shoes, up into the higher metaphor of sailing and navigation. In the land of adventurers, a true meaning for “setting sail” becomes clear.

And here, in a low fidelity, high happiness moment, is my foot in said shoe. Reminding me that I have, as my rapscallion uncle once said, wholly inappropriately, my mother’s legs. Again memories. Again something with which to move forward. Thank heavens for small holdouts against the tide of age.

I wore these shoes to San Francisco with olive green J. Crew bermuda shorts, a blue and white striped Brooks Brother’s shirt, and gold hoop earrings. You know, so people might mistake me for a gypsy. In subsequent days, the shoes explained that they required, absolutely required, a little more frou-frou above. I complied.

Which put me wholly in Sperry, Liberty of London, and J. Crew. Let’s talk heritage, shall we? Except, I like to think, heritage with a sense of frivolity and the softening effect of floating fabric and bows. I promise, for me, this much pattern, color, and flappy stuff is pretty risky fashion.

Sperry’s shoes looked great in the Vogue ad. They were easy to find online, well-presented, priced within reach of an impulse. They suited my particular leg configuration. They are even comfortable enough to walk the hills of San Francisco. Sturdy Gals, as I have said, don’t do foot pain.

But most of all, I feel the Sperrys may help in the continued development of a non-corporate, but a little spiffy, persona. I focused most of my style energy on decoding the corporate world. Figuring out presentable casual, a retirement wardrobe if you will, is an ongoing project. As is figuring out an integrated self after 50.

I know, we’re just talking shoes. Trivia. Ephemera. Stuff. But, after all, if Proust could go all, “Life’s-work-of-fiction,” over a cookie, albeit a pretty cookie, I think cork platforms, with seersucker ankle ties that wrap twice around mind you, deserve their day.

Images, by me, except this, from the Sperry website where I made the purchase.

72 Responses

  1. Oh Miss Privilege. You can imagine how I reacted to this post! Pretties and spiffies (?) abound, those shoes are just wonderful.

    Thank you for making me smile with this post… fabulosity indeed.

  2. I want those, but anything other than a flat I’m uncomfortable sporting. I’m 5’9″ and my husband is 5’6″. He has managed to make me paranoid about my height.

    Beautiful purchase!

  3. Shoes are not trivia, as you so beautifully proved with this post. And the gorgeous shoes themselves, of course.

  4. I just adore the fact that you consider $90 shoes “fairly inexpensive.” I don’t buy shoes that cost more than $40, because I have approximately 4,528 pair. When you have 4,528 pairs of shoes, paying any more would be prohibitive. (That being said, Beloved The Clothes Horse thinks nothing of paying $100 or more for a pair of shoes, because unlike me, he actually wears his for more than a single season.)

    1. Ha ha, I also thought, “$90 is inexpensive?!”. Lisa, I hope these move your forward to wonderful places.

      And you DO have awesome legs. Work it!

  5. I really love those, and I am so glad a real (lovely) person like you is modeling them as I have wanted to see them on someone! Now I think I MUST get them. Very cute. XO

  6. Great shoes and a wonderful post. I can just see you in the shorts with the shoes. I’m having difficulty picturing you in the flowery things!

  7. Oh the shoes and the box (especially the box) are delightful. I always think that packaging is part of the experience, and good packaging can really make or break the consumer experience.

  8. Totally fun – had the EXACT same initial reaction because I loved them as well – didn’t get as far as the box (but probably will now). Sperry indeed has a cracker jacket new marketing person on board (pun not originally intended but now appreciated). Looks like you are lucky to have your mother’s legs. Going now to order!!

  9. I thoroughly enjoy the way you take something small and connect it to “life’s work of fiction”…

    I think all women can relate to this lovely post. (or hopefully anyone who relates to the creativity of fashion)

    enjoy your Sperries!

  10. Absolutely covet the shoes! But was entirely tickled with your photo shoot location and set-up. Oh, how I would love to have been a passerby……

  11. You’ve mentioned that you have high arches, as do I. Are they comfortable? I’m lusting after a pair of these, but with arches that balk at anything higher than a one-inch heel…

    The shot of that blouse made me smile. When I was seventeen, I took the obligatory post-high school trip to England. Fortunately, I had a bunch of relatives I could bunk with and a crazy amount of money with which to buy clothes (all those weekends as a maid paid off, so to speak). And I wandered into Liberty, a chubby, tall young thing, with a tendency to be clumsy. Oh my! It was like walking into a bazaar. I imagine it’s been all modernized by now, but then in the early 1970s it didn’t look like it’d been changed since 1920. I still have a scarf from that trip, and it’s my signal that it’s spring, when I tie that silk around my neck.

    1. As someone who lives in London and loves Liberty it hasn’t been modified much at all!!! Which is why I love it, the building is still the original half timber construction and the goods are a fantastically edited and curated selection.

  12. I can totally see why that ad drew you in – the shoes are fabulous and the images conjur up lazy, sun soaked days at the beach. Who doesn’t want that right now? Sperry is doing it right, that’s for sure. Love your shoes!

  13. Sperry seems to be doing so much right here. I’m with you on the product images with no background, also makes them better Polyvore material.

    It’s so true that the distance between image and reaching for the credit card is often shortened by the emotions and memories stirred. I remember hearing once something to the effect of “we’re not selling the dress as much as selling the experience.” Those catalogs or ads where everyone is always on vacation at a quaint seaside location can also get to those of us for whom the experience is still only aspirational.

    Switching from a corporate dress mindset to something less delineated is not just about clothing but about identity. It’s a major shift. You’re navigating it beautifully.

  14. Oh boy! I want those sandals! I was going to get some cork platforms anyway, since I wasn’t allowed to have them as a kid, but now I have a job and my own money. These seem to be less….hippy, more yacht clubby – for watching J24s race, like on the box!

  15. You aren’t kidding, a ‘retirement wardrobe’ is a challenge! Love the shoes, but I don’t have the legs to carry off the ankle straps…unless I wore them with white linen trousers…there’s a thought!

  16. Thank you for writing so eloquently about your evolving self. I find your process fascinating and the shoes look very pretty as does your foot.

  17. Those shoes are such fun! I think they are the perfect summer shoe to add a touch of spiff and whimsy. Excellent find.
    Also, glad to know people still say accoutrements. I think it’s sad that we are losing fabulous pieces of our language in my generation (late 20s). I heard someone use the word ‘moxy’ in a presentation last week and it warmed my heart.

  18. First, an admission. I had to look up the word “rapscallion”– it is true. Now that all that is out of the way, I love the shoe and I hope you wear it in good health! Enjoy, dear!

  19. Those shoes and that liberty print top remind me of my happy teenage summer days spent in Marblehead Massachusetts where liberty blouses (always hand me downs from an aunt) and Sperry top siders were de rigeur.

  20. Those shoes make me want to go back to Kennebunkport! They evoke that wonderful seaside feeling one gets after passing lazy days in the sun with that great salty smell in the air. I’m sure they will look fabulous with many different outfits. They make your feet look small and shapely – very nice!

  21. Hello LPC
    Love the shoes. Blue and white seersucker you are so beautifully wearing. I love style and comfort.
    Keep on posting about carnitas and constant recreating yourself.

  22. Thank you for a long lost memory plus a long lost word!! ‘rapsciallion’ it just rolls off the tongue,my grandfather used it frequently when I was a child.

    The seersucker sandals look good on a neat ankle.Ida

  23. Pure preciousness!! I also prop the CC up on my MacBook screen. It fits just perfectly in that little groove, doesn’t it? ;-) xoxo

  24. Brilliant…and I generally don’t comment on women’s shoes. Butcept Belgians and they are gender-ambiguous at best. Love the seersuckeressence for southern boy reasons. But then there’s something about the drapy bits that form an ankle sash.

  25. What a lovely post!! And I bet you looked lovely traipsing around the City in your darling outfit.. Isn’t it so great when we find a perfect purchase?? xo

  26. I love Sperry especially for boating shoes.
    I think you’ll be very happy with the quality…I have Sperry’s from several summers ago and they are as new.

    Your new ones are very very cute Lisa.

    The J Crew Liberty shirt and gold hooks are icing on the cake.

  27. I had the same box at my door today, but the shoes in it were quite different. Sturdier still, no less trivial, this from one who has spent a lifetime scoffing at boat shoes. Three-eye Intrepids, still working my way toward Authentic Originals.

  28. Divine!

    I for one am waiting for this month’s Nike/Liberty of London athletic shoes to hit the stores so I can buy my paisley sneakers!

  29. I loved reading this post…the shoes themselves are lovely (I am on the Sperry website as we speak) but your analysis of their advertising in Vogue and the achievable price point was really interesting to me as a business student. Thank you for posting this!

  30. We always bought Speery Topsiders when the kids were young!

    I adore these Lisa, they are perfect for you!! Have fun try and different combinations!

    Art by Karena

  31. I was just looking at that ad in Vogue (probably last month’s copy) this morning and thinking that those shoes were adorable. Sperry had a “French sailor” pair last year that didn’t have the ties (just sandles), and I couldn’t find them anywhere to try them on. Congrats on those shoes!

  32. Did I seriously just spell “sandals” wrong??? I am an editor; I can’t let it go. Type-O!!!!

  33. You’re right…a great find that will never go out of style. Although, I always have a difficult time with ankle time sandals. Too tight or too loose.

  34. Love those shoes…..look jolly comfortable too…saw gorgeous pair of rope-soled wedges in Brownsm,in London, for £130!!!! Two hours later tey were gone….I’m going to need a bigger purse!!

  35. Charming shoes + most reasonable price + stellar service… the holy trinity of shopping!

    Love your new non-corporate style.

  36. Your buying experience reminds of a recent purchas from Lands’ End Canvas. A few days after I received my package from them, I received a hand-written (!) thank you note (!!) thanking me for my business and providing contact information in case I had any questions or concerns. I thought it was a lovely gesture.

    Also lovely are those shoes. I hope they bring you many enjoyable walks, strwen with compliments. :)

  37. Love love love! And they also have some pretty snazzy colored topsiders that I’ve been eyeing. These are the perfect cork wedges, hope the weather is warm enough to wear them soon!

    xo mary Jo

  38. Oops, in my enthusiasm, didn’t realize that was YOUR leg and yes, you are lucky to have your mother’s legs {me too!} and that it is somehow warm enough to wear them in Northern California right now! Yay for early spring!

    xo Mary Jo

  39. janet – Thank you! It’s in the air. However, today, so is water. Raining. Yikes:).

    TPP – Of course! *smacks forehead* Of course this is the ultimate TPP post. What was I thinking:).

    Jools – That would be too much for me. With this much going on I’d have to have naked toes, or maybe a blush color. It’s a balance, you know? But I’d wear that color with a black dress:).

    MYFWBS – It can be tricky to be tall with a shorter man. Of course, some shorter guys like tall mates, as a sign of status:).

    Maggie – Why thank you ma’am!

    Jan – Ha! Yes. I have lived in a world where no shoes except sneakers cost less than $200. For decades. And recently they have crept up over $500. Yeah. I know. As a result, I own a relatively small number of shoes. But the ones I do buy, for the most part, I wear for at least a decade.

  40. agirl – Thank you. I think I need a boardwalk to wear them. What do you think?

    Worthy – Oh, yes, to wear in the summer? By the ocean?

    Susan – Thank you. The flowers are kind of restrained, in a weird, Liberty of London sort of way:).

    Ms. Bunny – I was surprised at how much it added to my perception of value received.

    Jennifer – I’m a new fan.

    Quintessence – They do have a new marketing person? It’s AMAZING how noticeable it was. Amazing. If you know the person, or know someone who does, please give them my compliments. And I will give my mother yours:).

  41. Linda G. – Oh thank you. I am imagining them coming with me to all sorts of summer lunches.

    Danielle – Thank you! I will try to work it. Definitely not in my culture, working it:).

    Tabitha – Now that is a good wish.

    Lara – Ha! I was in my car at a gas station! Someone on Twitter said, “Show us the shoes!” So I did. Grainy iPhone photo and all…

    Claire – Yes. The actual heel angle is not all that high. The platform is 1 inch, so the felt heel is 2.5 inches. That’s my heel limit for comfort. Also the footbed is super cushy, and the fabric straps have a lot of give in them. BTW, I also have childhood associations with Liberty:). The year we lived in England we gave my dad a LofL tie. I’ve never forgotten it, evidently.

    1. But, well, what is the difference between “confidence” and “working it”?

      Perhaps I will need to peruse your archives some more…

  42. Kate – I find their prints so evocative. I would love to go to London and see their store. The UK is definitely calling me.

    Jen – Thank you! Now if I can just find that beach…

    Deja – Oh definitely make better Polyvores. Infinitely better. Sometimes I’m reduced to taking my own photos of things, putting them up on a dummy blog I have, and then clipping those images. And thank you for your kind words about my identity. There is no doubt that you are right in as much as that’s what I’m doing. I hope I navigate it OK.

    Kari – These are adorable – for the younger folks I think. At my age one starts to look a little dotty, in decorated sneakers:).

    Patsy – These are made for summers at the Cape. I should go have lunch at the Wianno Yacht Club right now. Do you think they still have me in their books from my 1967 membership?

  43. Shelley – People have suggested that I wear them exactly that way. Especially if the pants were slightly cropped.

    Susan Tiner – My foot and I thank you:).

    Laura – Moxy is a good one. A very good one indeed.

    Muffy – I think of these as my Muffy shoes. And, with a touch of rapscallion, I’ll admit.

    Belle – Do you know, I was unaware that Sperry and Liberty were connected? That somehow from deep in my culture a voice must have called me to it?

    Jacqueline – Thank you so much. I’ve only been to Kennebunkport once, with an old boyfriend and his mother (!) for lunch. Maybe another day.

  44. BarbaraG – At your command, my dear! With style and comfort for all. Thank you for hanging around all this time.

    Ida – Was your grandfather one himself? :). And the term, a “neat ankle” is so evocative of days gone by. Lovely.

    Farmer’s Wife – Thank you. I will.

    Preppy 101 – Ha! At our age we are good at optimizing the important things:).

    ADG – Dude! Some day I’m using butcept (TM), and crediting you. There’s always something about the drapy bits, wouldn’t you say?

    laura tringali holmes – Exactly. Exactly.

  45. rb – I’m sure they can be bribed:).

    landlockedmermaid – Oh, so nice to see you! I love perfect purchases. They are like chocolate chips, small and delicious.

    Flo – I know. Scary, isn’t it?

    Hostess – You know, these shoes have a non-skid, non-marking sole. That has to be from their boating heritage, right? Thank you!

    dbrubeck – Everyone’s Sperry sail is unique:).

  46. Loretta – Wear them with pride. You are an artist. You’ve earned it.

    Legallyblondemel – Aw. Thank you.

    featherfactor – Thank you so much for reading. I have figured out that my corporate background is going to follow me wherever I go. Now I’m just inviting it to chime in on the fashion discussion. Glad you found it interesting.

    Karena – Thank you. The voyage is by no means over.

    Julia – Thank you. Interesting that you noticed the ad too. Another indicator it was well done. Sandals, candles, whatever:).

  47. Jill – Since this is my first time ever with ankle bondage, we shall see. So far so good. The straps are strong but have a little give.

    Young at heart – Ha! We all need bigger purses now and then.

    Duchesse – Well, yes, appropriate for the Easter season:). Thank you. I’m happy to know you like this direction. I value your opinion.

    Meg – Thank you. Would that we could always walk on compliments like rose petals. Lovely imagery.

    Mary Jo – We had just a couple of warm days. I have hope they will come again, as they do. I am happy for your stamp of approval.

  48. I know this is a totally superficial question — but do you find that shoes with colorful ankle straps or thick ties make your legs look shorter?
    I have a few shoes with straps and ties, but I try to keep them flesh-toned. I also have high-heeled Mary Janes with straps, but I wear them with trousers.
    I’m asking because my calves are not my strong point.

Comments are closed.