one of my oddest childhood memories as is of going to my mother's family reunion one year. it was the only official family reunion i can ever remember going to, and it was held on long island. it was for my pop-pop's side of the family, who was italian. there were perms as far as the eye could see, red fingernails on every hand, and leopard print. oh my word, the leopard print. and while i felt like my family was a bit out of place, we fit right in when it came to that last category. my mother loves leopard print. if all nice italian girls from long island are programmed to make great pasta, well let me tell you, they're also programmed to love leopard print. shoes, bags, clothes, pillows - you name it my mother has bought it or pined for it. and, naturally, i found this to be extremely embarrassing since i grew up in virginia and no one else's mother had a fainting spell over a faux leopard jacket. so my whole life - no leopard print for me. if i ever found myself reaching for it i would smack my hand down and promptly walk away. i would break the cycle!
until i started working. at work i wear button up shirts and loose fitting clothing and i don't dare make fun of hillary's pants suits because i sometimes i have to wear one, too. i often comment that i go to work dressed as a man. people laugh. i die on the inside.
but as time went on and i gained some credibility i "let myself go" you could say. a green skirt every now and then. a few bangles on my wrist instead of a lone one. a v-neck sweater. it was heady days as i loosened my drsesscode. and before the fourth of july, the office dead, no one in town, i stopped into the 30 rock j. crew at lunchtime, a favorite pastime of mine. i monitor sales there pretty well, if i do say so myself, and they had just added the "extra 40% off" to their sale. i wandered a bit until i laid my eyes on these. they were perfect. made in italy, real leather, wedges that make walking at work infinitely easier, fit like a glove.
and they were leopard print.
i knew that these beautiful shoes, at an insanely low price that just happened to be in my size, were a fluke. that they had been lost in a warehouse somewhere and they just shipped them to the 30 rock j. crew because they get tons of tourists and go through merchandise like whoa. and so i grabbed them, palms sweating, heart beating, and put them on hold.
i went back to my desk thinking "is this really happening? am i buying something covered in leopard print?" i knew how good they would look with black skirts and green skirts and everything in between. i thought they would add some personality to an outfit without making it wholly unprofessional. and that afternoon i went back and i bought them and i haven't looked back. if you're on the fence about leopard print shoes i can tell with you 100% certainty - buy them. you will love them. you will wear them with everything. you will even wear them to work.
i guess those nice italian girls from long island really know what they're doing after all.