Ever since Shailene Woodley wore those creepy “five fingers” shoes to the Golden Globes after party, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with them. What do they feel like? Is everyone as grossed out by them as me? Are they really comfortable enough to make someone reject the plethora of better options for workout wear and/or flats? I decided to try them out for myself.
First, a bit of background. Creepy toe shoes, or “barefoot running shoes,” as they prefer to be called, are designed to simulate the experience of running barefoot, like our physically superior caveman ancestors did. They also make your feet look like robot monkey feet. When I was shopping for mine at Paragon Sports, the helpful salesman asked me all kinds of questions about what activity I’d be wearing them for, to which I replied, “an article for a fashion website. Just bring me the ugliest ones, please.” Then I realized he was wearing the shoes himself, and felt bad. (Not that bad.)
I thought it would be fun to wear them to a fancy shoe party, and Michelle Smith was celebrating the launch of her collaboration with Sperry Topsider last night, so to tony Upper East Side boutique Milly I went. On my way there, I noticed two things: first, my feet were really cold. Vibram Five Fingers are not meant to be worn in inclement weather! On the upside, I guess they’re really well-ventilated. Second, I was very much aware of the ground, and the things on it. While I realize the shoes are supposed to make you feel connected with the Earth, the slimy streets of New York City are not really something I feel the need to connect with. I tread carefully, avoiding those nubby parts on the sidewalk that are meant to help wheelchairs keep their grip. Also, the ball of my left foot began to hurt almost immediately. Maybe I had the wrong size.
When I arrived, I got a glass of champagne and milled around. Nobody was talking to me! Was it the shoes, or the fact that I didn’t know anyone? Alienation set in.