I seem to never look straight ahead when I walk. I’ll either be staring up at the sky and gaze in wonder at the puffy clouds or really bright, fat moon, or I’ll stare down at the ground and find the occasional worm wiggling on the sidewalk or an interestingly-shaped rock. When I’m not outdoors, I tend to only look at the ground when I walk because the ceiling typically has nothing interesting to observe. However, I believe that everything can be fun if you find the right thing to look for.
One of my all-time favorite things to look for in school are socks and shoes. In Upper School at Holton, we can wear any shoes we want besides heeled shoes over two inches tall (I know this detail because I was obsessed with memorizing all of the rules when I first came to Holton, not that I follow the uniform ones now). Prior to Holton, I owned three pairs of shoes: sneakers, knock-off Ugg boots for the winter, and crocs for the pool deck. After observing my new environment’s inhabitants for a couple of months, I established the Holton’s shoe-hierarchy (note to the reader: this is my personal, subjective ranking. You may or may not agree, and that’s okay!):
1000. Fuzzy slides: who invented this? Rubber slides with . . . fur? I’m sorry, please leave. These are the single-handedly ugliest shoes I have ever seen.
999. The canvas slide-on shoes: I have no idea what the actual name of these shoes are, but I hate them because they look like they’re going to fall apart any second.
6. Crocs: Holton seems to be the only place still in existence where these rubber shoes are still socially acceptable to wear. I guess they’re all right because you can collect rubber/plastic pins to stab into your shoes for a sprinkle of extra-ness. Chacos are also in this category, but a little less cool because there are no pins you can buy for them.
5. Rainbows: it feels that 80 percent of the school wears these in September and May. They look really comfortable (lifetime warranty!), but I’m just salty that I can never find my size.
4. Ugg slippers: this can fall within a range. The slide-on Ugg slippers are ranked lower than the kind that go over your heel with the embroidered hem because the fur dirties so quickly and the design looks like something that belongs in a home, not at school. If you pair the hem- embroidered slipper with tights, then you can look like a primed and proper private school girl.
3. Converse and Vans: old-school but still fashionable. They come in a variety of colors, and I can actually find my size in these, so I’m not complaining. Converse are ranked a little lower than Vans because after wearing them for a while, the rubber on the sides of the sole detach themselves from the base of the shoe, and I feel guilty for ruining them. I like Vans better because you can slide them on and off your feet quickly.
2. Black sneakers: usually contrasted with a reflective white Nike or Under Armor logo, this shoe is fashionable because black is the new fashion trend of my generation. Is it the coconut charcoal trend seeping into fashion? Is it the deep crushing feeling we all feel internally? Or is it because we’re messy and it’s harder to see stains on black?
1. Birkenstocks (I call them Jesus Sandals in my head): these shoes come in a variety of strap colors so you can express your own flair with them. You can truly call these shoes “yours” because they have adjustable suede or leather straps and the cork soles mold to your feet. Also, it’s easy to slide your feet in and out of them to kick your feet up during class.
In addition to shoes, we can also use socks to express our creative side. Although the Holton website states that we can only wear navy or white socks, you can find a dizzying array of rainbow on Holton girls’ ankles. At my public middle school, it was considered “uncool” if you wore crew-length socks, so most people wore ankle socks unless they were seriously socially “un-hip.” However, at Holton, the sock diversity is perhaps higher than any other kind of diversity at Holton. Just look around now; the chances of two people wearing the same model of socks (unless it’s the Nike crew socks) within a classroom are so slim.
December is one of the most entertaining months for me because you have your usual black or white crew socks mixed in with fuzzy socks, patterned fuzzy socks, holiday red-and-green fuzzy socks, and my favorite: printed crew socks. My favorite socks are the printed crew socks because they definitely reflect the personality of the wearer. I’ve seen pug socks, Girl with a Pearl Earring socks, and my all-time favorite: Dr. Krug socks that Clara Ferrari gifted to her. Yes, they have Dr. Krug’s face on them and everything.
Perhaps there is such an assortment of shoes and socks because we have to wear a plaid skirt and a polo, so the ways we can express our fashion quirks are limited. The strap design of Jesus Sandals and slides allow for maximum exposure and show-off ability of the newly-acquired socks. I know when we were younger, people would be disappointed to receive socks for Christmas, but now I see girls rushing to each other in the halls and excited to show off their current collection. I admit that I’m guilty of this. This summer, my mom bought me a pair of crew socks with sheep on them with a wolf in sheep wool hiding among them. I think they’re hilarious, and whenever I wear them, I make sure to run around the school so that more people get to appreciate my (subjectively) wonderful sense of humor.