Forget the smart watch. Normcore, '90s nostalgia, Taylor Swift — these were the biggest fashion stories of 2014. To wit, take the year's most ubiquitous shoe: Stuart Weitzman's strappy, inoffensive, practically invisible Nudist sandal, which, as The Guardian reports, graced the feet of nearly every female star who sashayed down the red carpet these past 12 months.
The Nudist — most often worn in a buff shade — carried Jennifer Lawrence's fantastical Dior concoctions, blended in with sleek minimalist ensembles, and had even professional clotheshorses gripping their toes in an effort not to slip out of their footwear's tenuous form. Which begs the question: Why, out of all the kicks in the world, would celebrities keep reaching time and time again for this option?
There's nothing wrong with a basic, no-fail shoe. (Those of us without the means to hire a stylist rely on them!) With '90s minimalism trending, it's not entirely surprising that the single-strap sandal — a 2014 favorite — would worm its way back into pop culture, along with slip dresses and plaid and brown lip liner. Yet, there seems to be more at work here than just ease or the cyclical nature of fashion (or celebs' fears of being skewered by the fashion police). Trends are a reflection of the times, and when times are as bad as these, it's logical that we're using our clothes to recede into the background, or to retreat to the uncomplicated staples of our youth.
Indeed, while much of our world seemed on the brink of collapse in 2014 — Ferguson and the harsh reality it and similar events brought to light, the CIA torture report, ISIS, ebola, campus rape, on and on and on — fashion, and pop culture in general, remained steadfastly, assuredly normal. We sang along to all-American sweetheart Taylor Swift, we put on our sweatpants and slouchiest tops and never took them off, and we took care not to appear too frivolous or insensitive to the outside world. Hence, the Nudist being the shoe of the year.
That's also why we wish it weren't. We value the power of a sole with a "cushion-like" platform, as The Guardian points out, and the ability to be worn with practically anything. But, consider other tumultuous eras in history — the 1960s, or even the '90s — when fashion was used as a tool to stand up to and rebel against oppressors, or at least against the prevailing political and cultural leaders. Perhaps it's time for style to get louder again, rather than be silenced. It's not a time for safety and comfort, but for fearlessness. Perhaps in 2015.