Early in lockdown, a lot of people were tweeting that they planned to never buy shoes again. What was the point if we weren’t going to be leaving our apartments for months? I had the opposite reaction: My desire to buy shoes was stronger than ever. And so I did. Some practical: gray New Balance sneakers suitable for walking the 15 miles from my apartment in Brooklyn to Times Square and back, light-pink leather babouches for padding around at home. And one pair that was not practical at all: Wax Apple’s emerald green silk “Theater Shoes.”
I first saw Wax Apple’s silk flats on a friend at one of the last pre-pandemic parties, and I’d been thinking about them ever since. Even in the best of times, the shoes seemed luxurious and a little pointless — how much can you really trek around the city in a pair of silk flats without worrying about ruining them? Mostly, they were a beautiful object, and that was exactly why I wanted them — they seemed something pleasing to admire.
Indeed: When the shoes arrived, I left them out for days and just looked at them. When, at last, I tried them on, the cut of the green silk made them look like some kind of elegant pea-pod shell ensconcing my foot. They reminded me of the costumes in the ballet The Firebird, which are vibrant and silky, meant to mirror the jewel-toned Chagall backcloths hung on the stage. The flats were surprisingly comfortable, too, with a slightly squishy and supportive sole — much better than your typical ballet flat.
I thought of the shoes when I overheard a conversation between two women at Beacon’s Closet recently: One said that during the pandemic she couldn’t stop buying vintage ball gowns, and the other one said she was compulsively buying really nice work clothes, even though she hadn’t been in her office in months. Both said the purchases made them feel optimistic about a time when “all of this” has passed. The Wax Apple flats are my version of that — an optimistic purchase (down to their name: “theater shoes”), evocative of a time when we could dress up and go out. In the meantime, they look pretty good with sweatpants.
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