The WRite Life: What does it mean to wear a pair of Tory Burch?
My 13-year-old daughter, Anika and I were shopping at a discount clothing store. We were looking for sandals that would match several of her sun dresses that she would be bringing to Hawaii.
Though she and I can wear the same sized clothing, it’s been over a year since she can wear any of my shoes. Her foot is larger. They are feet of a soccer player’s —thick and strong, seldom ever with polished nails, always with a cut, a blister, a splinter, or a swollen toe.
We scoured the shoe aisles looking for just that right pair of sandals that would be comfortable (she is very picky) and cute. She picked a beige colored sandal with a toe strap. On top of the sandals there was a round circle on the top. The circle had been cut out by a machine to resemble a symmetrical design. The shoes were plastic not leather. I knew instantly the manufacture was doing its best for the sandals to resemble the famous Tory Burch sandal.
“I want this pair,” Anika said. “Destiny wears ones just like these.” Destiny is her aunt, younger than me, and owns Tory Burch sandals, probably a pair in every color.
Anika slid both feet in the pair. “Yep, these are it,” she said with certainty. She looked at the sticker. “They only cost $19.99.”
“No offensive, Mom, but I like her style,” meaning her aunt. I took no offense. I would never reveal that her aunt’s shoes cost $299.00. On our way to pay for the shoes, I laced my arm inside my daughter’s and kissed the top of her head.
Earlier that year, I confess to looking on eBay for a pair of Tory Burch sandals. It doesn’t happen often but once a year or so, I purchase something on eBay that I would not be able to afford at market value.
I was working with business strategist, Wendy on my “brand.” We had been talking about brands, something she has been working with her entire career. One day, she used Tory Burch as an example. She explained that when women buy Tory Burch purses and shoes, they are not buying protection for their feet, a hand bag for their wallet and keys. People are buying image, status. Wearing Tory Burch tells people, women exactly what club she belongs to, like a sorority.
Wendy’s career has brought her financial success. She spends time with people who are hugely financially successful.
Living in different states, she and I scheduled to meet in person. She was helping me with my career, and I was helping her write her book. When thinking about what to pack, I became self-conscious of what I would wear, the name brand of my purse, my shoes. This anxiety is what led me to eBay.
The Tory Burch sandals on eBay were worn and overpriced. I was stunned how much a pair of used Tory Burch sandals were on eBay with their scuffs and worn look. I decided my Reef sandals would be fine and my periwinkle purse bought at the discount clothing store.
The day I met Wendy, though she carried a large Louis Vuitton bag, I felt she could care less what name brand was on my purse. Our heart connection came quick and grew deep.
Early in the summer I sat with family at my mother’s house eating dinner. The temperature was in the 90’s. Around the table sat my two sisters, my sister-in-law, Destiny and my brother, Tom. My older sister asked what sandals we liked. She said no matter how much she tried to like the feeling of a strap between her toes, she didn’t like it.
Looking down at all our feet, I said, “Destiny’s cost $300 maybe that has something to do with comfort.”
My brother said, “What?” He shrugged in a what-the-heck expression. Destiny playfully elbowed me. “Kimberly!” she said.
Later, I felt guilty for exposing her. I didn’t know I was doing so. And yet Destiny makes good money, and in the end, I knew my brother really didn’t care. I was more concerned with me. Was a I jealous? With my $12.99 Tommy Bahama’s flip flops?
Before the family trip to Kona, Anika and I went by Destiny’s home. Anika asked her if she had any cover up that matched her bluer toned skin. I have golden undertones. Destiny was shading her with this color and then that. She gave her a couple foundations that she no longer used. She gave Anika a bucket hat that she just bought for the trip but didn’t fit her.
Before Anika and I left, she went into her laundry room and brought out a bright cranberry pink and sugarplum purple Tory Burch shoe box.
“Here Berly, these are for you. I was going to keep them for your birthday, but February is a long ways away. And you know it is cold in February.”
I opened the box: Brand new Tory Burch sandals.
“Destiny, how? When?”
“I bought them for myself, and they don’t fit. Try them on.”
I slid my foot into the cool soft leather.
“Wear them. They need to be broken in.”
And though I do tend to save items I think are extravagant, I did wear them in Hawaii. Did I feel more worthy? Richer? Part of the in crowd?
What I felt was loved.