Shoe Personality of the Week: 05/17/10
(adj) not helping or supporting
(adj) impartial or uninvolved
(adj) having no strongly marked or positive characteristics or features
(n) a disengaged position
(n) light grey or beige
Neutral is the new “it” thing. It supposedly lengthens a woman’s legs when she wears a neutral shoe. It allows the outfit to shine, supposedly, without being upstaged by the shoe. It also claims the superpower of being able to pull two unlikely articles of clothing together without them clashing, like print on print.
I have 2 takes on this today. The 1st relates specifically to the colors that fall in this range, which actually go well beyond light grey or beige. The 2nd relates to what the word neutral actually means in my life. Right. This. Very. Second.
1. The Neutral Shoe
I don’t know about you but beige and light grey cause me to….well…yawn. The mere thought makes me sleepy. Funny thing is, I actually LOVE grey (sorry, I hate it more spelled with an 'a' instead of an 'e'). It has so many possibilities, but when classified as a neutral, which it is, it sounds like it’s going to be the dullard in the room. I’m not into dullards. Beige, on the other hand, I actually can’t stand. But I have found, recently, actually, a FLY beige shoe that is understated in color and eye catching in sassy style. I, like some stylists I’ve seen on TV recently, have taken the neutral shoe thing a little farther than the limitations of 2 colors. I didn’t think of this, but now animal print is being considered a neutral. I’m not a huge fan of animal print in general but I have been known to be charmed by a nice zebra or giraffe print. I’ll highlight one soon. That may be a stretch for some of you since animal prints are VERY involved and you can hardly be impartial about them. I see where the “experts” are going with it though. I just happen to think some other colors serve as neutrals and that blending some neutral colors creates some more stimulating shades. Like the shoe above.
Here, chocolate and light grey have merged to make a classic cut of shoe a lot more eye catching. This is your standard board-meeting shoe to me. The cut of the shoe says that the wearer is clean cut, tasteful and appropriate. The blending of the 2 colors, in patent leather no less, says that the wearer respects the rules, but you WILL take notice of her because she is noteworthy in the boardroom AND out of it. You’ll just have to guess at the other ways she’s fabulous because this shoe is the only hint you’ll get at what lies beneath. She keeps business VERY separate from play. If I actually had any cause to be in a boardroom, this would be an example of where I’d go. I’ll explain in #2.
2. Work Place Neutral
I’m very visible in my profession. I work amongst [mostly] matronly women, by nature, design, and profession, who look exactly the same. Day in and day out. Year after year. If you read and fall into this category, it may be your comfort zone, which I respect and even understand as part of the passed down expectations of women teachers, but it is not my comfort zone. Since my entry, I’ve had shoulder length locs, a short fro, grown it out, experimented with no less than 4 colors, and go from being wild and woolly to other seemingly exotic (if you’re underexposed) style changes on a bi-weekly basis. I rock anything from yoga gear (trust me, it’s appropriate for what I do) to jeans and sneaks to a wide variety of dress styles that cause confusion because they're unexpected from the sporty rebel chic I immediately present as. See, the assumption is that teachers are fairly 1-dimensional. I, as a reader, dislike flat characters, even detest them, and work very hard not to wake up and look back on any 2 year period and discovered that everything about my presentation was flat and predictable.
At the same time, I’m finding that my visibility makes many VERY uncomfortable. If I'm not flat, I don't give off a [false] sense of security. There looks like there's more to me than meets the eye, and that makes many uncomfortable. It also implies that my mouth is always open because my presentation is always saying something about what I think or feel. When the meek cannot find their voice, there’s an expectation that I will speak for them. It’s a responsibility I haven’t asked for. When I speak for myself, and the masses agree, what I’ve said was genius, articulate, and to the point. When I’ve spoken, for myself again, and the masses don’t agree, I get treated like a traitor. I’ve somehow not done my job by the people.
How does this relate to the shoe? I, now more than ever, wish I really knew how to simply be appropriately present as myself, but not stirring up too much curiosity. In my mind, I am this shoe. I do what I’m supposed to, challenge what doesn’t make sense, and keep me to myself. Apparently I’m less neutral than I thought. My method of being quiet unless the madness of the day is so egregious that I absolutely cannot allow it to go by unchallenged must not actually count as neutrality. I’ve been working at picking my battles carefully, and trying not to make them solely about me unless it’s just unavoidable.
On 3rd thought, what I do doesn’t allow for me to just be uninvolved. Supportive depends on the issue. If it’s in the best interest of my children, makes sense, and is actually humanly possible, I’m all in. I’m there for the children, not the adults, anyway. And at the point that I become disengaged, with a grey or beige attitude, it’s time for me to move on anyway. Maybe it isn’t really neutrality that I’m seeking. Balance is too broad a word for me to rest there. Le sigh…I guess the search continues.
This is my conundrum. What’s yours?
Watch me move.