The pain in my right foot started before my trip to Las Vegas. A buzzing sensation that at first felt like pins and needles under my big toe, and extended down toward the inner arch. But I'm a runner — I shrug these things off, switch from my Brooks sneakers to my Hoka Ones, and carry on. Plus, I had a half marathon coming up. There was no shot I was going to slack on my training. But the pain got worse as I senselessly packed my suitcase full of miniskirts and '70s-inspired jumpsuits, all to be paired with my four-and-half-inch Stuart Weitzman heels. I was going to Vegas. I mean, guys, I wasn't going to wear my Stan Smiths to Hakkasan.
Fast forward six months, and I am still dealing with that same awful pain in my foot. It's not because I kept wearing heels — after struggling through that last 13.1 miles of rocky trails in New Jersey, I very quickly stopped running, became devoted to my trainers, and made an appointment at the foot doctor. I started swimming — anything to release those endorphins and keep my mood up, which is the number-one reason why I run. Eventually, I found myself in a heavy surgical boot, meant to minimalise movement near the area. I received two pairs of orthotics to insert into all my shoes, and even got an MRI that confirmed this was just a soft tissue injury — no tendinitis, no stress fracture, nothing to operate on. I was frustrated, and I still am. Obviously, there is no quick fix.
But if there's one thing I loved way before running, it's fashion. The first thing that puts a smile on my face every day is my work out, the second is standing in front of my closet to pick out an outfit. (If sweating and showering weren't issues, it might even be the other way around.) So no, that crummy boot (which I named Ike, short for "yikes!") was not going to cramp my style. Knowing that I would always have to choose flats over heels, I invested in loafers, low-tops, and sporty sneakers with enough space to fit my orthotics; and while I had recently entered a feminine phase, I boxed up my new Chanel slingbacks and heeled Mary Janes.
The rise of track pants came at the right time. I found ways to master that girlie-athleisure combination, starting by wearing sweats with the new flirty tops I'd just bought. Some were off-the-shoulder or had oversize bows at the sleeves. And I made things even more romantic by sparking a new obsession with chandelier earrings, which lightly grazed my shoulders and made everything appear even more artsy and inventive. Oh, and I bought neutral coloured Speedo suits to swim in, which double as subtly sexy bodysuits on the weekend. I might even give the whole hip cleavage trend a go.
This has continued for half a year now, and it has been difficult to stay positive. When I go out for a friend's birthday or attend a wedding, I have to limit my footwear choices and fully embrace a look that's comfortable above all else. It's proven to be a challenge, but one I'm inspired to take on every day. If I abandoned my sense of style after losing the ability to run, then I'd be letting myself down.
Playing around with my clothes, arriving at unexpected combinations, and making a statement help me feel good. It might not be the exact same sensation as releasing endorphins, but for me, fashion is certainly exciting. It's an outlet; an escape from my everyday routine. Commuting to the office is that much more exciting when I've gotten a head turn or two because of a bold outfit. Yes, my foot might still be bugging me, but I'm still standing thanks to fashion — and no offense, but my sneaker collection could probably run yours into the ground.