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.
Today, my little brother turned seventeen. This is a big deal. He can drive and now has an age-specific magazine to which he can properly relate in times of need, like a long distance BFF.
I felt pure enjoyment from reading the posts on his Facebook timeline. A lot of people wrote, “happy birthday bro,” which made me feel like a proud older sister–“bro” is probably the male equivalent of the female “babe,” meaning guys who have man-crushes on my little brother have written on his wall and yes, after all these years, he is a well-liked chap.
Writing on someone’s “timeline” for his or her birthday is the perfect thing to do when you have a man-crush/girl crush (as aforementioned), or even just a general crush (to whom you don an extra !! at the end of your birthday wish. Maybe he’ll notice me now!!!!!). Before Facebook, happy birthday’s were said the old fashioned way, like when passing someone in the hall even if you weren’t super tight.
But Facebook has added a new dimension to the birthday: it’s kind of like receiving a million cards; it gives you something extra with which you can measure how great your birthday was; it gives certain people no excuse not to say happy birthday because of how easy it can be to just say it, thereby allowing you to use your birthday as a way to gauge the legitimacy some of your relationships. (Then again, should we really be gauging the legitimacy of our relationships based on a Facebook wall post, or lack thereof?)
I’ve spent whole birthdays waiting to see if a few specific characters, let’s call them, reach out to me. And then the birthday is over, and they either haven’t reached out or they have. At this point, I can either pat myself on the back and be like, “you’re definitely the bigger person here,” or I can pout and hope they send a regretful text the next day, which they usually do.
I am intrigued by the way we use Facebook to extend warmest wishes on the anniversary of one’s birth. There is nothing greater than birthday collages, or when you see wall posts from one best friend to another even though they’ve obviously been speaking since the clock struck midnight. Still, we love the extra gift, free of monetary cost, yet with invaluable social cost, that Facebook gives us each year.
That all being said, I rarely use Facebook to convey birthday wishes.
It’s great for girl-crushes, it’s great for people whose phone numbers I don’t have but wish I did, and in my eyes, that’s about it. The last Facebook photo collage I made was for my best guy friend and included photos of us making strange faces on a camel in Israel. In that case, it was, as they say, irresistablé.
My most important question as of recent: Is it better to make a wall post, or to not say “happy birthday” at all?
There are pros and cons to each type of birthday wish, from Hallmark card in the mail to Instagram comment to text to phone call to Facebook message (yes, it holds a different weight than a Facebook wall post). “Happy birthday” isn’t really about wishing someone another year of beautiful life, preferably processed with VSCOcam C1 filter. It isn’t even really about what you say–well, unless you’re giving me extra exclamation points or a <3 or a “babe”. It’s about how you say it.
“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.