Coffee With Purps

Coffee Conversations with a Purple Girl

A Case for Converse

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I stood drinking water in the cool of the church fellowship hall, waiting for the men to come in for lunch after a long morning of church maintenance. I was dressed, as one would expect, in ripped jeans, an old T-shirt and my purple converse. One of the teenage boys sat at the table and complemented me on my shoes and then said something that kind of baffled me.

“You don’t wear converse to work day.”

“I’m going swing dancing later,” I replied. Converse are, as I have discovered through trial and error, the best shoes possible for swing dancing.

“Yeah, alright,” he said. “But you bring shoes with you then; you don’t wear converse to work day.”

The question now stands, why not? Why wouldn’t I wear converse to work day? They’re tennis shoes, or sneakers; whatever you want to call them. Isn’t that exactly the kind of shoes you want to be running around in doing manual labor? I could understand if it were wet or overly muddy or if I were rock climbing or something, but for a regular old work day, why not? I love converse, but it seems that I don’t love them as much as some of the coming generation.

It’s really a fascinating thing: the story of converse. The shoes themselves haven’t changed, to my knowledge. The converse All Star sneakers still come in high tops and low tops and are made of fabric and rubber. Well, canvas, technically, but you know what I mean. They’re shaped the same, the design is the same, but the image of them has changed from generation to generation. Somehow instead of falling slowly out of favor as an old fashioned relic of the passed century, they have moved up in the esteem of the next generation.

My mother thinks they look like clown shoes. When I wanted to get my first pair of converse at the age of 14 or so I was told that they looked silly. I remember my mom telling me they used to pick on kids in converse, (maybe not her personally, but you know, the general “they”) since converse were so cheap, poorer kids tended to wear them. That’s two things to wrap your head around. Converse were cheap and kids got picked on for wearing them. I’m pretty sure neither is the case today.

I persisted in my desire for a pair of my own and I was rewarded with my first pair of knock-off brand converse and later with the real thing as a birthday present, probably. When those got too ratty my dad made me get a new pair. Converse today cost upwards of $40 most places and come in all sorts of shapes and colors. There are baby converse, mid-calf high tops, knee-high tops, converse boots and lots of other more ridiculous looking styles. I may have a small addiction to these shoes, not going to lie. I have been hooked from my first pair and I do love them. But like everything I love, they are destined to be worn and worn out. That is the way converse deserve to be treated.

Converse are super comfy. I bought my best friend her first pair for her birthday and she’s been hooked ever since. I struggle with a narrow heel problem and high tops solve that problem by hugging my ankle. Sure, they’re not exactly running shoes, but they’re good for doing most everyday activities without discomfort. This is why I wanted them for my wedding. I told you I might have a problem. After being in a wedding myself and wearing terribly pinchy shoes I decided when I got married my girls would stand in comfort. No fancy high heels, no pinchy open toed shoes. If I was going to ask them to spend a lot of money on shoes, it was going to be shoes they could get a lot of wear out of. Converse were the obvious choice. My mom wasn’t into the idea, but my girls seemed to like it. And of course, I had to have my own pair of bridal converse to run around in, especially for swing dancing at the reception. My shoes were white with purple trim, my girls each got a color of the rainbow, because you can do fun things like that when you’re a bride.

My own collection is maybe not super impressive, but it is rather substantial. Currently I own at least six pairs, four high tops, one pair of knee-highs and one pair of boots which got me very nicely through the coldest winter ever. Seriously, these boots kept me warm and dry as I trudged all over campus and back and forth from the theater in the middle of a very snowy second semester. I always like how the knee-highs get the question of “Do you really lace those all the way up everyday?” while the zipper hides conveniently in the back. It makes me smile. I’ll admit, I don’t wear my converse as much as I used to. I have expanded my shoe collection in many directions and the options often leave the poor converse behind. But for a summer’s day running around in converse really is the best option. Really any time that isn’t boot season is converse season.

So yes, I love converse, I think they’re wonderful shoes and everyone should have a pair. But I am aware, despite their presence at my wedding, that they are not formal or fancy shoes. Sure, they are quirky and fun to pair with a dress for a casual outing, and definitely for swing dancing, but they’re not these super special high value shoes to be treasured without harm. Shoes are meant to be worn out. And if you love them, you should wear them as much as you can. Converse shouldn’t be worn on work day? Please. Converse can be worn any day and should be, for comfy convenience and stylish feet. Wear your converse well, my friends.

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