Why Is Shoe Shopping So Much Like A Tournament Golf?

Look Like A Pro

Though my wife is an amateur she certainly knows the drill; if you can’t play like a pro… look like one.  Like most weekend players she’d been waiting almost a year and now the big competition was just a week away.  Where did the time go?   It had almost slipped up on her.  Not only had she not gotten a chance to practice… she still didn’t know what to wear.  She’d need the right shoes for the miles of unaided walking.  And really comfortable (yet so, so stylish) apparel; environmentally friendly, check, (check) and check.

But wait a minute.  I’m the Domestic Square Peg and this wasn’t about how my accomplished wife would dress.  It was much, much more.   Patti’s college roommate Liz would be her partner and was flying in from Northern California.  It would soon be just the two of them against the field.  Some teams had been part of this competition for years and use mind games to intimidate the others.   They’d keep you out late the night before or complain about some fiscal ailment to try and make themselves appear unprepared. Patti’s team was smarter than that, but still the temptation to drink, eat and joke your way through this annual high pressure, high stakes contest would have to be forgotten until after they had signed their cards for the last time and retired to the bar with fellow competitors, past champions and the kids who were there just to watch and hear the stories.

The Nordstrom Shoe Clearance “Tourney”

The Nordstrom’s Shoe Clearance was next weekend, and she had to be ready.  This was her version of the Member –Guest at Swampy Glen and like a winning golfer, practice made perfect.  She’d been to the close-out at Filene’s (more of a public course if you know what I mean) and found she could still spot a mismatched pair of espadrilles from across the poorly lit floor.  We all remember that day.  Patti thought she had scored two pairs of Chanel wedge boots in both caramel and black which made her wanna spike her organic non-fat latte but the black ones ended up the wrong size and she had to put them back all by herself.  These low service stores are designed to humiliate the amateur and it’s actually good practice for the Nordstrom’s event.  Time wasted on the wrong size can result in a pair of Jimmy Choo Sling-backs being lost to a suburban nanny with the smell of Mary Kay in her hair and a retail superiority attitude she has not earned.

Competitive Shoe Shopping

Competitive shoe shopping isn’t for everyone.  Even I know ladies with normal feet who still insist on shopping on-line knowing that the modern return policy has basically taken all the danger from high stakes retail.  Like big-headed drivers and titanium golf balls, if you can’t score well with a Zappo’s account, why even bother getting dressed.  But don’t go braggin’ to me about a pair of perfect fit Christian Louboutin gold studded leopard print stiletto boots if you had to buy four pair and return three just to fit your hammer-toed hooves.  And never admit you paid retail.  Piker!  No, my wife shops like her mother shopped.  Old School.  No exchanges, sister.  If those shoes leave the store… you own ‘em.  Close out day at Nordstrom’s is like a hickory shafted 7-iron and a gutta-percha ball.  It may not look as fancy, but you feel like a real shopper when you’re done….

Is Worth Avenue worth it?

Liz and Patti have played the destination courses, but they’re not really their thing.  Crammin’ her still-dainty arse into a back-of-the-plane aisle seat just to play some rich gal’s course smacks of desperation.  Worth Avenue at Easter is tough on the eyes.  “Oh my, am I gonna look like that?” she would exclaim.   These players find selection is good near the corner of Fifth Ave. and 57th just about any season, but the group in front of you at Bergdorf-Goodman’s is likely to be really slow and jumping across the street to Bendel’s before you’ve reached Bergdorf’s tricky top floor is just plain wrong.  They start all NYC outings on Madison to play the smaller stores first.  Makes ‘em feel important.  They’ve only played Rodeo Drive once and it was hot.  No…hot… like uncomfortable.  And Michigan Ave. is so overrated.

Besides, good shoe shopping is not just about the merchandise, but also the value.  You’re not going to score well on one of the famous Avenues.  Too many distractions and there’s the first store jitters that are almost certain to cause a foolish ‘I can afford anything’ purchase resulting in the mulligan of shame when the pointy toe’d pumps are returned after lunch ‘cause they would never be worn at home and your partners weren’t that impressed anyway.  No, the best events are on your home course and the best of the best is the member-guest when a dear friend with modest opportunities at home gets to stand shoulder to shoulder while you show off your store knowledge and introduce her to the other competitors.

The Real Joy

Tomorrow was Saturday… the first day of the clearance.  The girls had scoured the catalogue on-line after dinner and knew the most desirable targets.  Dear Patti’s knowledge of Nordstrom’s layout and the help of her regular caddy/sales girl Sheri would make the day memorable.  But really, it’s not so much about winning and losing.  There’s always a trophy wife with a titanium card that scores the highest but gets no style or value points when she buys last year’s Manolo’s at list price.  Geez girl, this is a sale!  No, the real joy is the adrenalin of being in the middle of your annual retail event with a best friend, a good credit line and well manicured size sevens.  Tonight they are resting.  Tomorrow, bring it on….

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Check out more posts from one of our favorite In Defense of Men contributors, Count Raoul at “Empty Nest or Empty Heart?”, and “Say What to the Dress?”

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One Response to Why Is Shoe Shopping So Much Like A Tournament Golf?

  1. Count Raoul says:

    Brilliant! I felt like I was on the escalator with Patti and Liz….

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