Pink satin ankle boots isn’t even the half of it.
I want these boots to have a kitten heel — a curved kitten heel. They are to be pointed in the front, and do the thing that no shoes are ever supposed to do: stick up like cowboy boots even though they are not, in fact, cowboy boots. But how did this happen? Why did this happen? Am I experiencing a severe case of blinded by the label (said satin boots are Balenciaga) or does this just prove that the zeitgeist is so powerful it can literally trick you into thinking you like things that you have historically disliked?
If you asked me to jot down five things I hate about most shoes, these fit the bill on at least three points. The heel is meaningless (1), the toe points up towards the sky like a dramatic and cheap patent leather loafer (2) and I don’t really care about most ankle boots these days (3). But I still want them. And I’m trying to figure out why. What is it about a certain garment or accessory that stops you short, takes your breath away?
You know that’s happening (the stopping short, the breathlessness) when every time you try on an outfit, you immediately think that the only thing that could make it better, the only way to complete the look, would be through the use of [insert item here]. But what the hell is that? When Demna Gvasalia first showed these boots last March in Paris, they incited curiosity, yes, but I felt convicted about my lack of personal interest. I was curious about the story they would tell for fashion, and the way in which they’d inform how my peers presented themselves, but they would not appeal to my style. Which is such a weird thing to be so sure of because style is like identity. Even though the fundamentals of identity (when you really know who you are) tend to be unwavering, the cues that inform the decisions you make do often change.
One reason could be a psychological phenomenon called mere-exposure effect, which is what happens when frequent visual access to something begins to determine an escalating preference for it. Another, less scientific explanation has nothing to do with psychology but everything to do with how we metabolize trends. As much as I believe that we are inching towards a post-trend era (all hail personal style!), there is something powerful to be said for how our taste is informed. Here we can spend months, years, lifetimes believing that we make all of our own decisions when in reality we are being administered choices that fit between small buffers within larger buckets that have already been selected for us. An unfounded hankering for something isn’t actually unfounded at all. Cue that Devil Wears Prada scene on cerulean blue.
And here’s where you might shout “death to the man!” But I propose a slightly different, hopefully more optimistic counter: So long as we’re comfortable and truly believe that we’re making decisions — expressing ourselves in a capacity that is accurate, or trying new things that excite and delight us — who cares?
Which, of course, is just a long-winded way of asking you: Should I spend $755 on a pair of pink satin kitten-heel boots?
Collage by Emily Zirimis.