thinkschuh2In early spring this year, two events took place which had considerable impact on my life: I started in a new position at work, one that placed me more in the public eye than before, and I discovered a line of shoes that permit fat insoles, which I must wear if I want to walk more than a few steps without pain, with heels. The second event may appear trifling compared to the first, but anyone who has ever had trouble with her feet will agree that such a discovery is momentous.

For years, I had been wearing pants with sweaters and T-shirts, with the occasional skirt in summer.

There is only so much you can wear in flat-heeled, closed shoes without feeling ridiculous (I must add here that my insoles make it impossible to wear sandal, or mules, or slingbacks). I took care to choose colorful, pretty tops and pants, but that was about as far as my daring in fashion went. I was glad enough when I found Camper, a Spanish brand that offers a wide range of colorful shoes, sometimes in extravagant designs, which still look rather large and solid, but at least nothing like orthopedic shoes.

Now this spring, in a boutique in Munich, I idly picked up a pair of Think! pumps and perceived they had an insole that could be removed. I inserted my own instead, and violà, they fit. The heels were modest, but considering what I had been wearing for the last five years or so, I felt almost dizzy with the height. My husband loved the shoes, as they raised me to a very kissable level. My friends complimented me on them. I wore them to work, and somehow walked straighter. I have since bought several more pairs … ahem. It was during the sales, at least partly.

Simultaneously, I rediscovered and reorganized my wardrobe. I got a few classy new pieces, combined them with a few more that had been hanging in my closet, in some cases for several years (especially skirts and dresses), and culled my wardrobe of anything that either didn’t fit any more, or that was not smart enough for my new look. I am very fortunate in that both my mother and sister wear the same size as I do, and I was able to pass to them some pieces of very good clothing that I just didn’t want to wear any longer, thus appeasing my environmental conscience.

I also take a far greater interest in fashion in daily life. I look at women who cross my path with an eye that is both critical and appreciative. I take a few minutes when I pass through the high street to look at shop windows. I enter boutiques I never quite dared to before, and on the web I look up the sites of designers who have come to my attention, like Miguel Adrover and Catherine André, to find out what else they have done.

What can I say? I feel great with my new style. I walk around with more self-confidence, I choose my ensembles and accessories with greater care, and I have garnered such a number of compliments that I wouldn’t have believed it had anyone told me six months ago. One of my friends has cracked jokes at how well my new position becomes me, but I think it only served as a trigger. I choose to believe it was time for me to change, outwardly but also esthetically and in terms of self-assurance – in this case, for a more elegant style – lady-like, if you want – after years of jeans and sneakers. So yes, I am pleased as a punch with this change.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Some outward event triggered a new phase in how you styled yourself, and new pleasure in fashion both as design and as a means to feel prettier and more self-assured? Has a single brand changed your outlook in a similar way? Me, I have bought my first pair of high-heeled mules in years. Count me at the top of the world.

-Rike Horstmann

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High school teacher. Soccer fan (Werder Bremen, yeah!). Knitter and book-binder. Devotee of mathematical puzzles. German.