Even Fashionistas Get the Blues

by Tracy James

As "wardrobe prepared" as I like to think I am, that does not immunize me from the occasional malfunction. Just yesterday I was expressing love for my "travel boots," my oh-so-comfy tall waxed leather Clarks (not the sexiest brand, but a guilty pleasure of more than one in the fashion biz) that have pounded the pavement of many a city, this week the streets of Chicago. Had I followed the advice I would have given a client, I would have had said boots preemptively repaired at the beginning of winter when I realized the zipper of one was a bit sticky. But instead, as I slipped on the right boot this morning...you got it, the zipper gave out. Unlike some wardrobe malfunctions that can be temporarily repaired with a bit of creative rigging, there was no fixing this baby. I always carry a few safety pins, which come in handy for a broken bra strap or snagged hem, but 2 pins wasn't going to do the trick here.

Because I like to pack light, the only other pair of shoes that traveled with me were my suede stiletto platform booties - perfect with a sweater dress and tights for dinner out, but not so much with my BCBG skinny pants and heavy Burberry sweater for a day during which I would surely log 16,000+ steps on my Jawbone...not to mention the risk of unsightly frostbite on my ankles.

So what's a girl ready to hit the streets of Chicago to do? I'm proud to report I solved my issue within 30 minutes, here's how:

1. After changing my brunch reservation via Open Table to give me a cushion of an additional 30 minutes, I Googled Clarks, finding there was one only 3 blocks away (the benefit of staying in a hotel on the Magnificent Mile).

2. I fastened my boot together with the 2 safety pins I had, not winning any beauty contests, but improvising enough to get me 3 blocks. (If only I had about 100+ more, I could've resurrected the vibe of Elizabeth Hurley's infamous 1994 Versace dress.) 

3. Walking out of the hotel, I telephoned Clarks to alert them of my dilemma, asking salesperson Jake to pull every similar black boot in my size (for travel boots, I always buy a 1/2 size larger to accommodate a full gel insert) and set aside for me.

4. Arriving at Clarks a mere 10 minutes later, Jake was still setting out options, but in looking at the styles already before me, my choice was clear. I had already decided my skilled cobbler back home could indeed replace my zipper, so I knew I didn't want to get a second pair exactly like them. Therefore, I eliminated those styles. As for the others: wedge boots - got 'em, laced boots - 'got em. The only style not represented in my closet were the moto mid-boots that were the first I spied among the choices. Add to that the durable lug sole and waxed leather finish, not to mention the 50% off price...sold!

5. After grabbing my gel insoles from my old boots and inserting them into the new (since my insoles were already molded to my foot, this took out any worry of having to "break in" the new boots), I popped the old boots into the box of the new boots and handed them to Jake, who was going to ship them back to Birmingham.

I was in the store barely more than 10 minutes, thus still made my brunch reservation in River North. Today was a day I was able to demonstrate my motto (borrowed from mentor Tim Gunn), "Make it work!"