Fabulously Fat (the return of the low & wide heel)

I’ll never forget the first time I met Jordana Green. She was beautiful and not just on the outside. She was standing across the newsroom with a big smile on her face. The first word that popped into my mind was “gamine.”

She was slight in stature, feathery almost; with a beautiful pixie haircut, a wide smile and bright eyes. Her personality was big and her laugh infectious. She had this incredible way about her. She was kind, easy to be around and generous of mind and spirit. I’d never known anyone like her. She was fascinating and I knew I would become a better person for knowing her.

I met her more than a decade ago, when I was cast as part of a new morning show based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The program was designed by Tribune Broadcasting (in its heyday.) The company longed to create a ground-breaking show that would change the way people watched, perceived and connected with morning news.

The station held a nationwide search to find six people (like the cast of the popular show, “Friends,” if you will) to be the new, multi-faceted faces of television in the Circle City. Jordana and I were two of the six chosen; Clarence, Cody, Jim and Joni rounded out what would become known as “the perfectly-equal combination.” Meaning, we were all given equal time and billing on-air, which is a very unusual thing in television.

The six of us were young, hungry and most importantly, we had undeniable chemistry on-air together. It would become one of the most spectacular times of my career, but I wouldn’t know it until after it passed. You don’t always know a good thing when it’s happening.

The show was one of the first of its kind: a very lightly structured, mostly ad-libbing, “infotainment” format. It was modeled after a successful morning program in Chicago. Our show was dubbed “FOX 59am.” We laughed, we joked, we made people feel good (while chatting about news, weather and entertainment.) Hell, we felt good doing it, despite the crazy morning hours we worked (which were 3am to 12pm. Shoot me!)

It was the kind of shift where the six of us would find ourselves sharing dinner at noon, drinks at 2pm, then at around five o’clock we’d all split up and try to have some semblace of a normal life by doing normal things like napping, working-out, watching TV, dating, but for whatever reason, we’d always end up back together. Especially, Jordie (the nickname I gave Jordana) and me.

While the six of us became close friends, confidants and trusted colleagues, Jordie and I became inseparable sisters. We did everything together. She was married at the time and her husband traveled a lot for his job. So I was the friend who gladly became her fill-in. Jordana was a delight, wise beyond her years and she taught me a lot about life.

Especially about the finer things. More specifically, shoes. Good shoes. I know, shocking, that I didn’t actually slide out of my mother’s womb wearing a pair of Prada heels. It was more of a, say, acquired taste. My good shoe conversion was a slow, albeit methodical process, but Jordie was indeed the woman responsible for it.

It all started at Indiana University. Yes, a house of learning is where I was schooled on fashionable footwear, but that’s not why we were actually there. We frequented the campus to take advantage of its state-of-the-art sports facility. Jordie and I would meet after the show in the woman’s locker room to work-out.

It was there that I first noticed her shoes, or should I say the “difference” in our shoes. Jordie’s were dainty in an elegant way, pristine and pointy for the most part (as in the toe and the heel) and really pretty. Mine, on the other hand, were bulky in an overused way, rugged and round (as in the toe and the heel) and really unrefined. She wore stilettos and I wore “low & wide” heels.

Of course, Jordie never judged me by my shoes. We laughed and cried our way through a few great years of television, good and bad relationships, the grind of early morning work hours and the challenges of living life in the Mid West. Our friendship was special and so were all of our favorite haunts.

We loved the “The Elbow Room” for its great chili; “The Slippery Noodle” had amazing live music; “The Rathskeller” had a crazy old-school German vibe, not to mention amazing beer. The best, though, was this incredible bluesy piano bar downtown called “Ruth Ellen’s.” It’s where drag queens sang live, pipe dreams ran rampant and champagne flowed freely. Life was good. NO, life was GREAT and we were living it unapologetically.

In-between work, exercising and social engagements, Jordie and I made time to shop. Matter-of-fact, we treated retail therapy like a sport and we were at the top of our game. I helped her get in-touch with her romantic side by introducing her to “BroadRipple Vintage,” in the artsy part of town. She helped me get in-touch with my sexy, inner-city girl, by introducing me to “Barami,” located downtown Indy at the uber-chic “Circle Center Mall.”

Then, there was this new place we both loved on the north side of Indy called “Designer Shoe Warehouse,” a.k.a. the place a fashionista on a budget buys fabulous footwear. On any given afternoon, you could find us there, trying on shoes, laughing and galloping our way through the store until our feet were sore. I’m pretty sure that’s where my shoe conversion happened.

Somewhere in-between those big, beautiful shoe aisles, in a quaint little city that I loved, I lost my “low & wide” ways. I found glamorous, gorgeous, glorious sleek high heels and well, a shoe goddess was born. I guess you could say, the rest is Shireen’s Favorite Things fashion history, but…

Fast Forward to Spring 2014 and it’s all about wearing shoes that are “Fabulously Fat” (the return of the low & wide heel.) So, yeah, it’s definitely a blast from the past for me, but this time, I have a better fit on the situation. The chunky heel of the moment is all about being comfortable, classy and choosing a shoe with charisma. It’s totally unexpected and unique.

The stocky heel can actually be traced back to the late 1700’s. They were made popular by Russian empress “Catherine the Great” and I’m guessing she had pretty good taste despite practically croaking on the toilet (look it up if you don’t believe me.) It’s not exactly the way a fashionista wants to be remembered. Anyhow …

I prefer my “Fabulously Fat” (the return of the low & wide heel) with an open-toe and strong straps (pictured in the blog.) I like to pair mine with a sassy onesie (the outfit of the moment,) or a long dress that doesn’t need a lot of shoe power, as in height.

I’d tell you which brand to buy, but the shoe is literally everywhere. You’ll find it online, at your favorite department store, even at expensive shoe boutiques. Remember, not all shoes are created equal, so try them on for size to find the best fit.

I say, buy a pair in your go-to-brand and whether that’s Prada, Steve Madden or Boutique 9, you’ll be right on trend. The “low & wide” heel for Spring is very blocky, so wearing it with romantic clothing streamlines the look.

For the record, Jordie was the first of the six of us to leave Indy. She went onto a bigger television market. I quickly followed. After that, life just happened and all of us naturally drifted apart. I kept tabs on Jordie. Some years were good to us, some not so good, but in between babies, husbands, heartbreaks and health issues, she was never far from my mind or my feet. Over the years, she became a part of each beautiful pair of shoes that I purchased, because that gorgeous, gamine girl helped shape my taste and style.

Coincidentally enough, “Fabulously Fat” (the return of the low & wide heel,) was also a return of sorts to the friendship that Jordie and I started all those years ago. We recently rekindled our relationship and then, just last week, we spent a few quality days together here in the Magic City. Not much has changed between us. We laughed, cried, reminisced and shared our hopes and dreams for the future. I also fawned over her newest footwear. She was sporting the cutest pair of brandy-colored, high-heel UGGS (and I myself am a self-proclaimed UGG addict.)

After Jordie left Miami, I went into my home office to write this blog and there, sitting on my desk, were her new shoes. Yes, we wear the same size. There was a note attached. My eyes welled up with tears. It wasn’t the gift per se (although fabulous,) but the gesture itself. She was still “giving” me things (a symbolic gift of love) after all these years.

That’s when I realized that some things in life, like our friendship, just never go out of style and that’s why “Fabulously Fat” (the return of the low & wide heel) is one of my favorite things.

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photography by tod p/t4twophotography
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Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
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Editor: Matthew Auerbach