Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A trip down the Wikipedia Whirlpool,
Or, What's a Creeper?

A few days ago, I learned something new. It just wasn't what I intended to learn. I was indulging in a guilty fashion pleasure by reading yet another personality-quiz-esque article on Who What Wear, when I decided I had to determine, once and for all, what are "creepers" in the sense of shoes.

I'd heard of them before, but unlike much other clothing terminology, which I slowly learned through repeated encounters, I  hadn't yet got a handle on what exactly they were.

So I turned to Google. Ignoring the ubiquitous shopping links, which would seem to indicate that creepers are some kind of oxfords with platform soles, I soon found myself on Wikipedia. Whereupon I learned that the full name of this already none-too-pleasantly named shoe is actually "brothel creeper." Makes me want to run out and buy a pair. But does not explain what makes a creeper a creeper.

So I read on. Wikipedia informed me, rather undescriptively if you want my opinion, that creepers are made with suede uppers and thick crepe soles.

Well, up to this point, when I heard "crepe sole" as I sometimes did, I'd always rather assumed it just meant a thin paper-like sole, taking my cue from "crepe paper." But those big honkers I'd ignored on the shopping sites had soles that were anything but thin. So naturally I had to look up what crepe meant. Turns out it's a kind of rubber that's rolled out in wrinkled sheets. I guess wrinkled is its commonality with crepe paper.

But back to the article on creepers. I couldn't help but notice a little farther down that these were the shoes of choice among "Teddy Boys." What's that? Off to the article on Teddy Boys. They were—well, I'm not going to bother replicating the whole of Wikipedia on my blog when you could just read the article.

The point is, I can rarely go to Wikipedia and just read one article. I jump from link to link, sinking deeper and deeper until, all of a sudden, there's nothing more I want to read, and I look up with an image of my computer screen burned into my retinas.

But still no definitive image of a creeper. Not this time. Is it really just any shoe with a thick sole? I guess this time, I'll have to go somewhere other than Wikipedia for my answer.

FY (and my) I, an article from Wall Street Journal (non-subscribers, visit with care—they won't let you read it a second time!) pictures a number of shoes in all different styles, referring to all of them as creepers. And the main trait they have in common is an exaggerated thick sole. The video adds the distinction that they are typically a men's style, though some of the pictures are definitely feminine.


Jackie said...

I wonder if they would call my Birkenstocks, creepers....thick soles on cork...probably not. Now I am going to have to go read about Teddy Boys...and get stuck in a spiral of articles. Thanks! :-)