Geek Style Goes Mainstream – Platform Shoes

Posted on June 23, 2011

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I’m always happy when something I’ve always liked starts to come into style. Not because I particularly want other people to be wearing what I want to wear, but because it makes it a hell of a lot easier for me to find and buy whatever that something is.

I’ve liked platform shoes since the last time they were in in the late 90’s. I had a few pairs that I wore absolutely to death that I kind of wish I still had. I even had Vans sneakers with a two inch flat platform. I’ve had my eye out for a true platform shoe for the past several years – not a wedge, not an espadrille, not a stiletto with a platform under the toe, but a true, flat platform.

Recently while out looking for random things to video tape I began to see some in shop windows! At Urban Outfitters, I was excited to see several pairs of platforms, although I wouldn’t have personally bought any of them – too much use of hemp-like materials, and too much espadrille like style, or the quality was just sadly lacking. But seeing even examples of platforms that aren’t perfect for me is a sign that soon I may have all the platform styles in the world to choose from. And around the corner at Gap, I saw these:

So it’s not a truly flat platform, but very close. The first thing I thought was “If they come in black, I’m going to have to buy them.” (I found out they do.)

Despite their recent rarity in stores, I’ve continued to see platforms at Cons, as part of cosplay, and in Japanese street style snaps. (Maybe they’re not rare in Japan..) They are a great style for nerd girls for several reasons:

Geta Sandals (image from http://www.ee0r.com/proj/geta.html)

1. They owe some of their heritage to Japanese Geta sandals. I don’t know why geeks tend to like Japanese things, but we do. Costume history nerds also know that modern platforms have roots in the “chopines” of Shakespeare’s time as well. Chances are you’ll dig one or the other (or both) of these historical references.

2. Many of us have a low tolerance for sacrificing comfort for beauty/trendiness/sex appeal.* Why? Because we’re nerds, goddamn it! Our idea of self isn’t entirely based on typical appearance standards, and we are used to becoming completely engrossed in things we are doing. We aren’t willing to have our engrossment interfered with by shoe pain.

* For whatever reason, all of this tends to go out the window when it comes to elaborate vinyl superhero costumes at summer events, but that’s a technicality.

3. Platforms are a good choice for events which require a lot of walking. They add some drama to an outfit whose aesthetic requires something more delicate than sneakers or boots, but the flat surface drains your stamina alot slower than a true heel. They are also safer and allow quicker movement for girls who are insistent on never needing to “catch up” to the boys, or girls who may suddenly need to leap into the air to do a ninja kick.

4. Some of us (not all of us) aren’t that good at walking in heels. The learning curve on the platform isn’t as steep. If Darth Vader can fight in them, you’re going to be fine.

5. Contrary to myth, many nerds and geeks aren’t TOTALLY disinterested in appearance – we just like to suit our own aesthetic. By the time you’ve been a weird kid long enough to be buying your own shoes, chances are you’ve begun to appreciate and seek out things that are a little unique. While it may eventually become commonplace and over done, right now, in this moment in time, the platform has a little bit of originality that a pump or a stiletto sandal doesn’t have.

Below: Some of the platform variants I didn’t QUITE approve of at Urban Outfitters – but was still excited to see:

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