There are many aspects to growing up. And no matter who you are, fitting in is a huge one. Like most girls my age, I shopped at Claire’s, Limited Too and Hollister, in that order. I made sure that I had whatever was in, or at least what I thought was in. But even with my budding fashionista status at the back of my mind, I definitely made mistakes. I remember when I had to have three different pairs of arm socks (two of them fishnets). For my very first middle school dance, I wore a teal tunic with neon stars. And I try to block out those times I wore my black soccer shorts everywhere.
There is that one clothing item – or rather pair of shoes – that I don’t think I will ever regret buying, and those are my beloved Crocs. I bought my first (and only) pair when I was in fifth grade and they fit me to this day. They are the most comfortable pair of shoes, easy to walk in and they are super convenient due to their slip-on nature. But they have an insanely bad rep.
I had been wearing these rubber clogs for a few years before the world decided that Crocs were ugly and the biggest social faux pas anyone could partake in. Some would like to argue they were never in style, and while I may have just been oblivious to what was “in” (a claim almost proven by my gaudy Limited Too attire), I’d like to think they weren’t hated as much as they are today.
Despite loving these shoes, I have not worn them out in public in a long time. I wore them a few times in the dorm last year, but that was it. I yearned for the day where I could just walk outside with these things on my feet and not give a care. And this past week I deciding to forgo my social status and everything else and wear my teal crocs.
First, I set a few rules for myself. Obviously, wearing the Crocs everyday was a must, unless the weather absolutely did not permit shoes with holes in the sides. I was not allowed to tell anyone other than my friends that it was an experiment. The whole point of this was to see what it felt like to not conform to societal standards of clothing and wear something that was so looked down upon. So no matter how awkward or uncomfortable I felt in the shoes, I was not allowed to get an easy way out by saying “Oh, this isn’t serious, this is for a story.” Last rule: absolutely no socks. I may be a Croc enthusiast, but I’m not completely crazy; it’s worse than socks and sandals!
The night before, I was getting serious cold feet. I stayed up just thinking of what people would say or do when they saw me in my hideous shoes. It didn’t help that I still had my soccer ball and frog jibbitz attached to the holes in the shoe. One of my best friends and suitemate Joanna straight up told me that she wouldn’t be seen with me. My other friend, Jena, was just stoked to see the reactions I got.
The first problem was how to “style” Crocs. Yes, I know, Crocs are already subjectively ugly, but I didn’t want them to affect my whole outfit! So I started the week off with an oversized dad sweater from the 90s and light-wash skinny jeans from Hollister (yep, still shop there from time-to-time too, sue me). Makeup was tough too, because I wanted to do a bold lip, something I have been doing lately, but had to limit what lipstick I used because not only did I have to worry about if it went with my outfit, I had to make sure it went with my obnoxiously bright, teal Crocs. I ended up choosing Dolce K from Kylie Cosmetics. To top off the look, I had to break my cardinal rule and wear socks, because it was cold and a bit drizzly. It was not a good omen.
Walking into the dining hall with Crocs for the first time was probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I have done in a while. It was all in my head, but I was mortified, walked very stiffly and was convinced everyone was looking at me. I did get some stares, but nothing insane.
Staring was pretty common, however. I noticed my boss look down once, my classmates in my first class glanced down and so did a lot of people when I passed them on my bike. But no one said anything. No one giggled or gossiped while I was there, which was definitely my biggest fear.
The biggest reaction I got that night was at my NU College Feminist meeting. It’s a smaller group, all people I know and am friends with. So it wasn’t surprising that when I introduced myself to the circle (a weekly occurrence), someone pointed to my feet and said “You are wearing Crocs.” Everyone laughed, someone joked they weren’t going to elect me for the position I was running for, all for fun. It was a nice little reprieve from my nervousness throughout the day.
Later that night, I changed pants to go to the library, and my feet squeaked so loudly due to the rain and because I had taken the socks off (I couldn’t do it anymore).
Tuesday was nice out, so I wore American Eagle Tomgirl jeans and a nice top. I didn’t do a bold lip, but kept the makeup simple. I was definitely more comfortable, but still off about walking around with Crocs. Honestly though, I thought my outfit looked good. Again, looks were everywhere.
Wednesday, I caved and didn’t wear the Crocs. The weather was super crisp and cold, so my toes would have been icicles all day anyway, but I also just wanted a break from my anxiety. I found out that I care a lot about what others think. I wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone and I was constantly feeling eyes on me. My nerves were shot and I needed a reset. Also, I had exec board elections in another one of my clubs, one that was a tad more professional, so I needed to put my best foot forward (no pun intended).
Look at the pure disappoinment I have on my face. I felt so bad for skipping a day!
Thursday I was ready. I had a new fervor for this “I Tried” piece and went back in, full force. The sun was out, so I wore my favorite AE jeans again, my vest and walked out of my dorm without a care in the world. I did still notice the stares, but I didn’t bat an eye to it anymore. My friends stopped noticing at this point too. Instead of pointing at my feet from across the street and yelling “Crocs!” they just came up to me like usual. I was a little under the weather too, but it was nice to have comfy shoes in the library.
Friday was a dream. It was nearly 80 degrees so my friend and I went to sit on the Lakefill and I rode my bike around all day. I bought iced coffee and went to work. I was loving life. And it rarely occurred to me that I was wearing Crocs. I know there were still stares, but it didn’t really matter anymore.
Days Six & Seven
This chill attitude followed me into the weekend. Crocs are the easiest things to wear to the dining hall besides flip flops and have I mentioned how comfortable they are? I have flat feet, so the arch gets an A+. I went to my friends’ Filipino arts show Saturday and I was going to wear the Crocs to the after party, but thought that was pushing it. At this point, I was in love with my Crocs again, but not that in love. Sunday was Mother’s Day and I wore the crocs with a cute quarter-sleeved romper from Old Navy, the most fashionable I had been all week with my Crocs. With beautiful weather all weekend, it felt like I had chosen the best week.
As my week with Crocs drew to a close, I was actually sad. I had learned to not only appreciate these shoes again, but I realized how much I shouldn’t care about societal standards and conforming to the idea of what is cool and what isn’t. I know I probably caused a lot of double-takes and conversations, and even if I didn’t, people did notice. People are very vocal about their disdain for Crocs, and while I don’t blame them, I will be wearing these more in the future. Watch out!