Hang (Foot)loose

Rejoice, Claremont! Winter is over! After many
months of wearing puffy coats (at night) and tights (under sundresses) and snow
boots (never), summer weather is finally here. With summer weather comes the
ever-complicated question: What shoes should I wear?

Or, for that matter, should I wear shoes at all? Though I’ve never been
a student at another college, Claremont seems to have an exceptional number of shoeless students.

To investigate further, I interviewed
Peter Chen PO ’17, an Amherst, Mass., native who has “always disliked wearing
shoes.” Chen suspects his shoeless instincts may be cultural, as taking off
shoes when entering the home is an Asian custom. Yet Chen’s shoelessness
transcends mere cultural identity, as his parents didn’t always approve of his
shoeless urges—his feet got too dirty, they thought.

But, like binge drinking, double
dessert, and excessive video game use, shoelessness thrives in the parent-free
zone of college. Chen never wears shoes in his residence hall, and without parents to
chastise him, he forgets to put them on even before leaving the hall.

Chen worries, however, about what
his shoeless tendencies lead others to think.

“It leads to misconceptions about
being a hippie, or a hipster,” he said. 

Chen would neither confirm nor deny that he was a hipster.

Elise Young SC ’15 was more frank
about her shoe influences. Her “SoCal hipster” friends had “all been rocking
jellies since this past summer,” and Young loved the look.

In the interest of journalistic
integrity, I should disclose that I also have a pair of jellies. They are hot
pink. (I refuse to let the ’90s die, guys. If you need to find a
choker, let me know, because my choker dealer is top-notch.) However, Young’s
are so deeply cool because they are heeled. Her reasoning? She wanted to avoid
looking like a “fashionable baby.”

Young is in one of my classes, and
after weeks of admiring her heeled gray jellies, I finally got up the nerve to
approach her about them. She explained that she found her pair online, from a
chain store in the United Kingdom called Office. 

“The only colors I’d seen being
sold in U.S. stores were black and clear,” Young said. “The black jellies, on me,
just looked like hooves. I naturally decided against the clear jellies, because
my occasional in-grown toenail alarms my peers. Why would a fire need more
fuel?”

I know I frequently sound like such
a first-year country bumpkin, with my shock over ubiquitous trends I see and my
insistence on commenting on each one. (Although, to be fair, I’m not FORCING you
to read this column — except for my grandma in Maryland. Familial love is a
powerful tool.) But you guys, jelly shoes are a total anomaly in Atlanta. I
called my best friend from home to tell her about how many jellies I see on a
daily basis. Imagine you love chocolate cake, but nobody else in your town
knows about it, and then you get to college and everyone is wearing chocolate
cake on their feet! Bad example? Sorry.

Anyway, Young is just one of the
trendy ladies I’ve seen rocking jellies lately. Mine get really sweaty and
foggy so I don’t wear them too much, but Young was too ladylike to comment on
this phenomenon.

If you’re looking for trendy summer
shoes but you aren’t quite sure about jellies, try going for a clunky pair of
sandals instead. I love the trend of black, strappy, chunky sandals this
summer. If you’re not a hipster or very brave person, Salt Water Sandals (which,
like jellies, enjoy their greatest popularity among children) are a cool option.
They are super comfy and durable, and they come in a variety of colors.

With so many sandals appearing with
the sun, I asked my ultimate frisbee team about toe etiquette this weekend and
got a variety of responses. I think it is slightly gross to show off your toes
if they aren’t painted or otherwise groomed. The charming yet far more
practical teammates I interviewed felt that view to be the ranting of a crazy
person. 

So maybe just do what you want about your toes. And do what you want
about sandals, too. Or go barefoot. You know, whatever. Happy summer!

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