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Julie Gerstenblatt

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The Sandal Revolution

Posted: 04/09/2012 2:49 pm

The box arrived from Bloomingdale's just as my husband, Brett, was walking out the door to attend a neighborhood meeting one evening. That's bad timing, when the UPS guy comes face-to-face with one's husband. The uniformed man stands at your doorstep, a guilty look on his face, as he hands over the goods. He knows the rules. He knows he's supposed to drop the package when your husband is either a) at work, b) at the gym, or c) has left the house precisely eight minutes ago, but sometimes he screws up and gets caught. The husband looks at the return address on the box, sees the name of a clothing store like Bloomies, or an e-tailer like Gilt, or a supermegavirtualworld like Amazon, and shakes his head sadly at the UPS man. Dude, he thinks, You're complicit in her schemes. I'm so disappointed in you.

Here's what happened in our house.

"What's in this box?" Brett said, stepping into the kitchen with the package. I could hear the tires of the UPS truck as they burned rubber up the street.

Now, there are lots of things a wife could say in response to this. I could have played dumb, saying, "I don't know, let's open it and find out!" I could have said, "Oh, nothing. Bloomingdale's just likes me so much that sometimes they send me free stuff. Boh-ring." I could have feigned sudden blindness, saying, "Box? What box? I don't see anything... except spots... and now the world is tilting slightly... honey, put down that make-believe box and call 911!"

But, this time at least, I felt I had nothing to hide. Spring is here and I need new sandals. Desperately. Bloomingdale's considers me part of their Friends and Family -- they're nicer than some of my blood relatives that way - and so I shopped with a 20 percent price reduction and free shipping.

"In this box, Brett, are two pairs of new sandals," I said, pronouncing the sentence with pride.

"Two?"

"Yes, two. I need to try them on and see how they fit. I might even return one pair." (Yeah, right.) My gaze met his straight on, daring him to challenge my need for spring footwear. He shrugged and left the kitchen, heading out to his meeting.

I was free to open the package in peace.

The shoes were brand spanking new, with all the Styrofoam bits still attached and with thin pieces of tissue paper wrapped around the hardware buckles. No other woman's feet had tarnished these shoes. They were so freshly picked from the store's warehouse that they had never made it out on the floor. The scent of leather filled the kitchen. I breathed in and out deeply, feeling a Zen-like calm.

In front of me sat two beautiful specimens of this spring's It shoe. Is it a platform? Sort of. Is it a wedge? Kinda. Is it a flat? Maybe. You may look at it and go, what the heck is that thing? And that is precisely why the fashion community has put their heads together to give this shoe a name. Readers, I'd like to present the newest in hybrid shoe luxury: the flatform.

The flatform is high like a platform and simultaneously flat like a ballet slipper. It's a sandal revolution! In certain light, the flatform does seem kind of chunky and ugly, but once on the foot, it's usually not. I urge you to try on a pair. Mine are simply divine.

I stepped into one pair -- with cork platform bottoms and cognac suede straps -- and strutted around my kitchen island. I am so tall in these shoes that my kitchen looked different to me. I suddenly understood how much more I would get out of life if I could see the world from the perspective of someone 4 inches taller. And then I realized that, with flatforms, I could always be that 5-foot-6-inch person! And I could do it with free shipping! I was walking on Cloud 9 and 4 inches.

Have you ever seen a woman wearing amazingly gorgeous heels or platforms that she can't walk in? She looks like a duck, with butt angled out slightly, using her neck for balance. Well, I see these shoe victims all the time and think, Oh, poor thing. She is not pulling off that look at all. Flatforms might just solve this insidious problem. In flatforms, you can be tall but not fowl.

I tried on the second pair -- with a black woven rattan base and thin honey and black straps -- and found that they were just as comfortable as the first, but slightly dressier. I instantly knew that I would be keeping both.

I will wear my new flatforms with walking shorts, and Capri pants, and skirts and dresses, and wide-leg jeans and skinny jeans.

Now that I can view the clothes in my closet from an entirely different angle, everything seems new again. Turns out, all I needed to update my spring and summer wardrobe were a few pairs of shoes. (OK, and maybe a cool belt and some fun jewelry that I'll write about another time.)

Brett and the UPS man can breathe easy.

Viva la flatform!

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