White sneakers are the euro tart of fashion.
This is the best metaphor I have ever thought of. It is such a good metaphor, in fact, that it surpasses metaphorical status. It’s synonymical.
Think about it.
Well, first of all, they are both clean and pure enough to be sung about by Madonna, touched (by sprinkles or perhaps a muddy sidewalk puddle) for the very first time. They are staples within their respective homes; a wardrobe and a frozen yogurt store. Skinny girls seem to love them. They are not for everyone, though. They are plain objects that with proper accessorizing/through bringing in the biggest guns can be the perfect statement. Most importantly, however, they smudge the boundary between classic and basic in a way that drives me mad.
Today, the white sneaker masks itself as a new phenomenon by embodying the Stan Smith (this is where euro tart and white sneakers diverge paths – euro tart knows it is the original, as it is often even referred to as “original,” and never pretends to be reinvented; however, one could argue that the Stan Smith sneaker is technically an “Adidas Original,” thus the white sneaker is labeling itself old school/original as well, which I may not disagree with – so then the paths might not diverge – so I should probably just let myself continue outside of the parenthetical to get to that point, so very sorry for this diverged path in itself, v v sorry).
Let’s turn this into a PBS documentary and trace the original sneaker back to its, um, origins. About three months before the Stan Smith, the white sneaker of choice was the high top Superga, and three months before that it was the low top Superga, and two years before that it was the classic white low top Converse (high top if you were feeling edgy but the low top was always more abundant). Before that, I’d like to say maybe white slip-on Vans? Lace up Vans? But that is completely dependent upon where you grew up, where you went to school, and how readily your style adapted to the cool girls vs. the Fall Out Boy phenomenon or maybe you always had a unique sense of style and skipped all of those phases completely, and so on and so forth.
Wanna know the funny thing? Even if you don’t, I’m going to tell you:
The low top white Superga, which is seemingly the most popular at the moment (the Stan Smiths are the “trendiest” but not the most accessible, leading to the rise of the Great White Superga – it is practically impossible to purchase a pair of Stan Smiths on any retail website until mid- to late-July at the absolute earliest), appears to be the OG euro tart, if that phrasing wasn’t too redundant for you.
And I know this because when I bought my first pair of white Supergas exactly one year ago, my mom went into her closet and came out wearing shoes identical to mine. “1989, baby,” she said with the same evil grin that took over her face when I recently bought a platform pair of Birkenstock-like sandals to match the ones she forced me to wear as a child (hers are also from the 80s) or when she refused to throw away her 80s pair of Uggs because she was loud and proud about being the first one to own a pair. Yes, some could call my mother a trendsetter, but because she hits the trends 10 to 20 years before they’re popular, she is rarely deemed fashionable (by me).
There is another funny thing about the Legacy of the Great White to point out: the difference between the dirty white sneaker and the clean white sneaker. I have some friends who insist upon having a pair of each. When they want the aesthetic of the white sneaker but know they are entering a dangerously dirty environment, they go for the already worn, scuffed, muddied white shoe. When they are going out to dinner, or are trying to look as fleek as fleek shall be, they wear the clean white sneaker.
My once-starchy Supergas finally succumbed to a weekend of day drinking and have entered the dark side. Even after a good run in the laundry, they’re weathered and aged, but in a Meryl Streep sort of way. I wanted to get the Stan Smiths, but they were sold out so I settled on what I perceive to be an equally as cool pair of black suede Originals, which I see as a serious adult-y upgrade from high school’s bar-laced black Supergas.
But who am I kidding? I’ve never really loved euro tart that much anyway.
“You look so cute! Are you going to the gym later?” I asked my good friend Allie after running into her in the street. In a non-offensive way, I was pleasantly surprised to see her so put-together in workout clothes (I know her writing well, which often pokes fun at her history with dieting and reluctance to work out, so no I wasn’t being a total asshole).
“Nope! Nope! Not really!” she smiled. And this is why I love Allie.
So I told her, “Jesus, I fucking love you,” and we continued walking in opposite directions down the street, me to get coffee and her, to do something that didn’t involve cardio.
Rewind a bit. I was “pleasantly surprised to see her so put-together in workout clothes,” which I said because it was true and not so I could properly set up the point I’m about to make.
Now, zoom: “so put-together in workout clothes.”
Since when is that a thing? A thing that’s such a thing that it’s already engrained in my subconscious, like I don’t even have to deliberate whether or not Allie looked put together and consider her Lulu Lemon a part of that, but I sight-read the situation and BAM, it was automatic love, Allie looked good.
Usually, when I put on workout clothes in the morning, it’s to push myself to make it to the gym at some point later. This is a method we like to call “No Excuses.” Rarely do I go to the trouble of putting on full workout attire, sports bra included, with zero intention of going to the gym. Sports bras are just hard to put on sometimes, and smush the boobs, so I generally opt for the “complete slob” look which is yoga leggings and a sweater and sneakers and regular/no bra.
But the funny thing is that if I were to wear head-to-toe workout clothes–and real fancy workout clothes, not an old college t-shirt–I would look way chicer than I do in the “complete slob” look though an equally minimal effort was put into both outfits.
I understand the phenomenon, but it still entertains me. It’s like my theory of the Green Juice Effect (you can read about it here), which was discovered after I walked around Madison Square Park, green juice in hand. There, something magical happened, and the strangers around me ignored my resting bitch face for once. They smiled at me, they looked at me, and that’s greater than any Hanukkah miracle I’ve ever experienced. I realized that green juice was the newest accessory, and carrying it was an easy way of saying “I care about my body,” “I am fit,” “I suffer via blended greens for the sake of that healthy glow, hell yeah I do,” and even “I have the extra cash to buy overpriced green juice instead of something from the office cafeteria.”
Over the last year-ish, workout clothing has done the same thing. It’s a twofer–your body is covered in clothing, and the clothing accessorizes your personality even better than that monogrammed necklace you got for graduation.
As for when working out became a status symbol? I really don’t know. Maybe it was the rise of the $35, 45 minute SoulCycle class, which I can’t imagine paying for six days a week, or when Net-a-Porter started selling $900 Fendi stretch jersey stirrup leggings. A body is the one thing everyone has. Obviously there was a time in the early 80s when not all of America could afford Jane Fonda workout videos, so I suppose physical fitness has always somehow been divided by socioeconomic status. But still, working out now isn’t nearly as cool unless you look good doing it, which is particularly annoying when you aren’t seeing #results and god should just throw you a bone and give you a good pair of mesh cutout spandex (that rarely sell for below $80, by the way).
The new intersection between what you wear to the courts and what you wear to dinner is a whole different story. I never thought I would wear Nike Frees with jeans but hey, shit happens. Normcore happens. Ugh, normcore.
Guess what? The sun is out! The birds are chirping! Spring has sprung, like T-Pain in 2005.
I know it is spring because just this week we had the first fake day of spring. This is the first day of the year when it feels warm but only if you’re standing in direct sunlight–if you’re not, it’s too breezy and the air still has a chill. This is the first day of the year when everyone is ambitiously dressing in dresses and skirts and Sperry-doting boys get sexually excited at their own amount of exposed skin–that is, they’ve whipped out the shorts that, woah, hit a perfect two inches above the knee.
So it is spring, and our wardrobe is supposed to adapt to the weather just like the frizz in our hair does–rapidly, and aggressively.
I’m making this change by dressing like a small Bar Mitzvah-aged boy with C cups. I should probably instead be wearing bright colors and florals like everyone else who hopped on the Coachella boat this year, but that ship has sailed, those matching sets and neon platforms have been bought by my cohorts, and I am not on it.
I’m making small improvements, I suppose. I’ve given up my olive green shearling coat for a striped boxy cardigan. I’ve resumed my tendency to favor light wash denim. But those two things aside, I’m faking spring style. I’m dressing for winter but tossing the turtlenecks.
Three years ago I stopped putting effort into the way I dressed–don’t worry, it lasted a hot second/six months–the the next year I put violent effort into dressing like a boy. Then, I realized maybe dressing like a boy isn’t always the go-to, especially if you have the most womanly waist-to-hip ratio in the world, so I found neutral ground. My friends agree: my recent happy balance of tomboyish, basic, and feminine has finally become happy.
Man oh man, but then came spring. And I’m being thrown off my rocker. I feel like I just embraced the turtleneck. I’m trying to embrace a diverse population of denim, so I just bought four new pair of jeans that are not made for leggy seventh graders. Actually, none of them are skinny jeans, all of them are a little cropped. One is bellbottomed, one is distressed and momish, and the other two just make the tush look dang good. They all flatter the tush because I’m getting older and my priorities are changing–I’d rather look skinny than wear skinny.
There’s a problem: the cropped jeans, which are relatively spring-ish, are too perfect with my black high top Converse, which I will always consider fashionable. And my black high tops are like a trigger. You know what they say: once you go black, you never go back, and you will eternally strive to dress like Kurt Cobain.
When I think of being someone with C cups who dresses this way, I think of grunge and the Olsen twins, because look at them:
The thing is that on the Olsen twins, dressing kind of like a boy, kind of like Kurt Cobain, even in the springtime, is glamorous. And on me, especially in the springtime, it looks like I am very much in the wrong decade or, even worse (and so not in line with my feminist principles), never going to be attractive to guys.
This is especially odd because the famous people who do maintain a sense of glamour, even in the denim rubble, are usually so skinny that they are flat chested, making them look even more like authentic teenage boys. You’d think my boobs and tush would give me the benefit of the doubt. Do they? LMK.
Maybe when it’s warm enough for me to commit to a dress without the incorporation of tights, I will convert to sunshine and butterfly-worthy attire. Until then, it’s just little old me over here, in my new flare-ish tush-enhancing jeans.