As I walk down what is possibly the most horrid smelling street in New York, my eyes cease watering long enough to notice the high-heeled, wooden-soled, backless mules the girl standing across the street had her feet tucked into. In not so many words – clogs. Of course, this is not the first pair I’ve seen over the last few months, nor will it be the last. I am, however, wondering if I can regain my fondness for the item, given our history together. This is kind of the same way I feel about white jeans and Polo Ralph Lauren nylon bags.
Until I was about eight years old, I had only ever associated clogs with little Danish children featured in picture books, the background of their existence awash with charming windmills and water dykes, girls with blond braids tied neatly on either side or their perfectly ruddy jeans. In addition to the books, there was Disneyland, whose Small World ride only aided in my antiquated visual predispositions. Once my dad started wearing them, they became something else entirely.
I don’t know when my dad decided that the clog was to be his preferred shoe of choice. It’s possible that they came before the leopard Keds, but I’m fairly certain it was after, given that the leopard Keds only lasted through 1997 and the clogs have been going strong in his wardrobe for over a decade now.
Dad’s weren’t the wooden, splinter-contraption sort, but sensible and pseudo-orthopedic, with a forgiving rubber heel and a stiff leather upper. If he wasn’t working or hunting, he was wearing clogs (usually with socks). In the beginning he owned a pair in black and a pair in brown, but I feel that most of his time was dedicated to the wearing of the latter, perhaps because the chocolate shade blended more gently with his blue jeans.
Soon enough, I was able to treat myself to my own clog experience. Being a tall girl and having large feet to adequately balance that height, I was wearing adult hand-me-down shoes by the fourth grade. With the blessing of youthful short-sightedness, the idea of wearing hip and fashionable shoes while all of my peers still toyed around with their kiddy sneakers was one that I found quite appealing. Little did I realize that I would pay for these big feet within the next two years, once all of my friends were able to wear adult shoes and I was still stuck with size tens to no advantage.
My first pair were donated by a friend’s mother, Cathy, who I always found to be very beautiful with her short, cropped hair that was that reddish brown color that looked purple in the sunlight. Thus, I of course placed an exaggerated importance to her taste in everything, including her red Isuzu Trooper. I looked at owning a piece of her wardrobe as being given the opportunity to be beautiful by association. This is perhaps the way people still think when they buy items seen worn by celebrities. As a fourth-grader, Cathy was like Lindsay Lohan to me. Sort of.
The clogs were light green suede with a black wooden heel. I wore them with floral leggings, the type that is more like a biking short that reaches halfway down your thigh, and not a proper legging. Over those, I would wear any variety of button-up, sleeveless shirt, most likely in denim and most likely from the JC Penney Outlet store or Wet Seal. If this sounds familiar, just check out any 2010 style blog. I was far, far, far ahead of my time.
Eventually, my feet grew far beyond the petite size-seven shoes Cathy had bequeathed unto me and, alas, my clogging days were over. With the resurgence of the “fashion clog”, and all questionable things circa 1992, I am pondering purchasing a pair and reliving my glory days, although it is possible that they have already come and gone. I’m sure my dad would disagree.