An Ugg-ly Situation

Kim Cattrall in her Uggs
Love them or hate them, Uggs still dominate a good percentage of the winter footwear options across Canada. They're warm, practical, and built for our climate (minus 40 with the windchill, anyone?). But have Uggs gone too far? Have they become so tightly weaved in to our fashion culture that we can't escape them? Even at ... a wedding?

Chocolate Dreams?
I worked in a shoe store for three years, and believe me, I have seen every type of foot ailment known to man kind. As I'm sure any footwear-jockey would tell you, people have a strange relationship with their feet. Either they are in total denial, or they accept and pamper their bunions, heels spurs, or hammer toes. Where I worked we specialized in 'comfort' shoes. Shoes that were guaranteed to help support your arch, and fit your EE width tootsies. However, we did sell shoes that were for more formal events that were a little... less than comfortable.

I saw a lot of women come through looking for (you guessed it) comfort for every aspect of their lives. The one thing that struck me was that when it came down to wedding footwear, most women lived by 'pain is beauty'. Those who swore by Birkenstocks for 99% of their daily activities would squeeze in to one of the stores more elegant sandals (four inches of sheer determination!) and teeter towards the full length mirror like a new born baby deer; knees knocking, hands wavering, but looking glorious.

Comfort for a bride? Unheard of!
That was how it went. We sold the BCBG heels to the brides-to-be, and saved the Mephistos and the Josef Seibels for the women who came in looking for retail shoes, or shoes to teach in.

It wasn't until one very interesting woman came in to the store. She was looking for shoes for her wedding, and had brought her very pleasant fiance with her. They were absolutely in love (I could tell--he came shopping with her) and were excited to buy the very last element of her wedding-day outfit. She swept through the store in her elegant ankle-length coat and I held my breath. What would she choose? The Marc Fisher peep toes? The suspense was killing me! She stopped at the Ugg table.

Bridal footwear?
"Can I try these in a size 9 please?" she asked pleasantly, holding up a white, lace-up Ugg with an exposed fur collar.

"Sure, yes. Of course. Yes, okay. All right," I fumbled. At the time I can tell you all I was thinking was "COMMISSION!". Uggs are expensive, man. Especially those ones. They were at least $400 dollars!

When I reached the backroom, and scrambled up the rickety ladder to reach for the giant brown box, I paused. Wait, wasn't this woman coming in to by wedding shoes? Is she really going to wear Uggs under the beautiful dress she had described to me only minute earlier? No! Of course not, I convinced myself. She just needs boots to wear in the winter! That's all!

I brought them out to her and went through the labour of unzipping, unlacing, re-lacing and ripping out stuffing from the shearling boots. When the brie-to-be tried them on she was instantly in love. She stood up, hefted up the hem of her black coat, and sauntered over to the mirror. Now that was confidence she exhumed.

"I'm going to take these," she said with a confirming nod. "They are going to be so comfortable!"

Again, I'm not going to lie. My eyes were slot-machine spinning with dollar signs. Commission baby! Oh yeah. Then I began thinking. Comfortable? That was a word I heard on an hourly basis. It was what I specialized in... so why did it suddenly sound so foreign?

"Comfortable?" I found myself repeating out loud.

The bride-to-be was still admiring the boots in the mirror. "Yes," she said, "they are perfect!"

From the previous conversation I knew her wedding took place in the winter so I put two and two together. "Oh! Are you having a theme wedding?" This seemed plausible to me, she was beautifully dramatic (as was her fiance) they seemed like the theme-wedding type!

"Nope!" She replied happily, "I just want to be comfortable. And warm!" she laughed, "I wear heels every day at work and I can't stand them," she confided to me. "And you know what? It's my wedding! I'm going to do whatever the hell I want!"

Her fiance was laughing by this point, clearing agreeing that yes, she was going to do whatever she wanted. It was right then that I decided I had to stop judging what other people viewed as practical or proper. Here was this amazingly gorgeous woman who could have rocked a pair of crystal-studded platforms, coming in to the store buying UGGS for her wedding. Uggs!

It's your wedding-- be yourself
 And yes, she did buy those Uggs. In fact she walked out of the store wearing them she was so excited. The other employee who I was working with scoffed, and made a back handed comment about the whole ordeal and slunk away to the back. I, however, stood behind the counter and contemplated. What the hell was wrong with her wearing Uggs at her wedding? It's her wedding. It wasn't my wedding, it wasn't my manager's wedding, it was her's. And you know what? That was what made it even more special.

Since then I've found it hard to judge another person's dream wedding, because it's just that. A dream wedding. Their dream. Not mine.

♥ Miss Charlie

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