If we’re to be perfectly frank with ourselves, the Jeffrey Campbell Lita bootie is one of the ugliest shoes in creation. If not the ugliest. It’s a vamped up monstrosity that the Bride of Frankenstein would resist wearing. They’re categorically unflattering, make a peculiar clomping sound, and give the wearer an awkward, unsteady gait. Despite these shortcomings, the boot is easily one of the most adopted styles to come out in the past couple of years. A quick Youtube search produces over 60 videos (most of them in the haul genre) of young women espousing the shoes’ virtues. One video has in excess of 6,500 views.
What concerns me is the fact that I find these modified clodhoppers to be cute and was consider buying them for a minute. What stopped me is the fact that I think they’ve reached their saturation point. They’re too special for so many people to be owning them. But the benefit of increased height and the comfort of (an extreme) interior platform caught my attention for a moment. I’m honest enough with myself to admit that I own several pieces that a majority of the population would find ugly. Even I find them ugly. But like the JC Litas, there’s something appealing enough that draws me back to wearing them over and over again.
Undoubtedly the shoe’s popularity has been propelled by the personal style blogger. Before this era of the shopper as sensei, the style may have not have gained this level of notoriety, as a great deal of what appears in magazine editorials is driven by advertising dollars. As was the case with the Youtube search, typing “Lita” “blog” and “Jeffrey Campbell” yields results for days. Since the personal style blogger has been elevated to a sort of ombudsman of fashion, they have made it ok to wear this cement block on stilts.
Earlier this year I presented a paper at the Florida Consortium for Women’s and Gender Studies Conference on how women use dress to modify their bodies and repel potentially propel others, whether intentionally or subconsciously. For me, anything that I find ugly and still insist on wearing is based out of a jolie laide concept. Something so unattractive that it’s alluring. The Lita is so uniquely ugly, I can’t stop looking at it. In Why Women Wear What They Wear, Sophie Woodward writes that the “sensual relationship to items of clothing means that often women are unable to verbalize why it is they love an item of clothing so much.”
Due to the stalwart loyalty towards the Lita, it’s no longer relegated to distressed black or butterscotch-colored leather. There’s a style for every foot of every persuasion: crushed velvet, a splattered Pollack pastiche, and even a style for the patriot. While the Lita may not replace Keds or Tretorns as a closet staple, it’s not a fad that’s going to clomp away quietly. For some Lita laughs, check out Who Stole My Litas.