I will always be a sucker for a cute pair of shoes. However uncomfortable they might be, if I like the look of a pair of shoes, I’m sold. And my Petra Mules were no exception.
A few weeks ago, I decided that I deserved something new. I hadn’t bought myself a handbag since I started grad school; it was a time for an upgrade from the giant carryall that had caused me such backache in all of my book-schlepping days.
A few hours later, I found myself three pages deep into the shoe section of Nordstrom Rack. My new staple handbag was one, done, and had been in my shopping cart from the first five minutes of logging on. I figured that since I had already met the requirement for free shipping, I might as well take a peek at what else was on sale. My mom taught me many things, but none more important than how to find a good sale. Yet what she left off that lesson, was how to practice self control once I found that bargain.
And that’s when I saw them: the Jeffrey Campbell Jelly Petra Mules. It was the word “jelly” that caught my eye. I’d been an avid follower of the news that the kitchiest of 90s trends had returned, but only as a spectator.
What was I doing looking at a blue plastic shoe? Like my old Barbie dolls, AOL account, and butterfly hair clips, my jellies had stayed in the 90s. I admired those who could pull off tacky trends, but that wasn’t me. At the same time I knew, Petra was different, somehow current yet at the same time premillennial. As a mule it was just so perfectly 2018, with a little wink to the 90s. How much harm could they do? The longer I looked at their photo, the more I needed the shoe. I clicked on the image, accepting my nostalgia’s urge to send me down the rabbit hole to all things kitsch.
I resisted my instinct to choose classic black, convincing myself that if I’m getting jellies, I’m going all-out throwback. Black aside, I was spoilt for choice. My mind raced through all the new possibilities- pink matte, or maybe bright green? In the end, I opted for Black Glitter—close enough to my go-to palette, but adding a twist to my rotation. At $19.95, also known as 56% off retail price, I thought the Petra Mules were the best decision I’d made all year. So good, I had almost forgotten about my new bucket bag.
Fast forward five to seven business days. My doorman handed me the Nordstrom Rack box and I raced upstairs as quickly as the elevator would take me so I could tear the bland cardboard apart and see the fun and familiar animations of a Jeffrey Campbell box.
They were the most beautiful shoes I’d ever laid eyes on. I lifted them out of the box and held them into the light, admiring how the smooth, plasticky texture balanced out glittery hue. I placed it on the floor and gleefully slid into them. I knew that these were the shoes feet were made to go into. But apparently not mine. Jeffrey Campbell usually runs true to size, but this time he let me down. The size read “8,” but the shoes said “no.”
“Not a problem,” I thought to myself, grabbing my computer and already mapping the walk to Nordstrom Rack to return the too-small pair during lunch the next day. But then tragedy struck: Black Glitter was sold out in every size except a 7. In fact, every color was sold out in my size except for black. I couldn’t go back to black, not after I’d already fallen in love with the dark, glittery colorway.
But in my heart I knew that I’d rather have my Petra Mules in Black than not have them at all. I forfeited the Black Glitter pair to my mom (and she, a size 7, fit perfectly in them). “It’s easier this way,” I said to her, “I still get to see them from time to time.”
A month later, the black mules were still sitting untouched in my closet when I had the sudden urge to check the Nordstrom Rack site. Lo and behold the e-comm angels had restocked my beloved mules. So that is how I ended up with two pairs. But here’s the kicker: I didn’t even end up getting them in Black Glitter. I chose the lighter Gold Glitter so I could have more diversity within my footwear collection. It was honestly one of the hardest decisions of my life; I spent more time considering which color to get for a $20 shoe than anyone should ever spend contemplating such a small purchase.
It was another couple of weeks before the weather was finally warm enough to wear the mules. Was the experience everything I’d ever dreamed of? If I had dreamed of crushing my little toes with every step and rubbing the skin off of four toes and the side of my foot, then the answer would be yes.
Real talk: the Petra Mules hurt like hell. But if you think I hadn’t already learned my lesson with uncomfortable shoes and carried a trusty pair of Birkenstocks with me, you would be right. I will never learn that lesson, and I don’t intend to.
To say I value style over comfort would be a drastic understatement. I will suffer through deep, insurmountable pain for a pair of shoes I really like. I actually have a gorgeous pair of block heels with a bloodstain inside the heel. Did I stop wearing those shoes after the second time they made me bleed? No. And didn’t stop after the third time, either.
Slowly breaking in shoes is a foreign concept to me. Why should I have to wait before I can wear my shoes? I value style over comfort, but I also value shoes over my feet. I’ve worn the Gold Glitter Petra Mules three or four times, and they still hurt. But each time they do hurt a little less. And I still love them just as much as I did the first day I discovered them. As for the black pair, I will give my cut-up feet a few weeks to heal before I subject them to the whole process over again.
These are the shoes in my beloved Gold Glitter color. Aren’t they gorgeous?
And here they are in black. So sleek, so stunning.
Petra Jelly Block Heel Mule
And these are the Petra Mules in Black Glitter, the first colorway I fell in love with, my missed connection.