Originally created 02/06/01

Frigid toes

Erin Dunn had the pants laid out, the shirt laid out, the shoes laid out - and no cold snap was going to stop her.

No matter that 40-degree temperatures would leave her toes chilled in the sandals she had planned to wear that day.

She blames it on her mother.

"The first thing she said to me was that it was supposed to be warm - it was supposed to be in the high 50s," protested Erin, a 15-year-old Greenbrier High School sophomore whose toes are adorned with black nail polish and four toe rings. "I already had my outfit planned."

For the record, Erin's mother, Rhonda, wanted it known that she opposes the idea of wearing sandals in the winter. That hasn't stopped Erin - and many of her peers - from wearing strappy shoes and other revealing fashions this winter, even though they leave tender toes and other body parts vulnerable to the chill. It's the latest trend, and area parents can at least be thankful that the sandals and flip-flops and Birkenstocks haven't been worn in the snow, as some die-hard teen fashionistas have done in cities farther north.

"They're comfortable," said Todd Payne, 17, a senior at Glenn Hills High School who wears Birkenstock clogs. "I like the style. I like the way it looks. I've worn them all winter."

He wears socks with the open-backed shoes when it gets too cold, but, like his schoolmate Naumbyia German, he eschews closed shoes.

"It's all about style and how you want to dress, Naumbiya said. "I feel like it represents my look."

"It's fashion," agreed Mickey Edwards, a manager at Shoe Carnival on Augusta West Parkway. "If you look at the fashion magazines, they're showing a lot of shoes with open toes, sandals. That's what you're seeing on the runways."

The sandals - wildly popular last summer - stayed on the shelves because shoe stores had so many in stock. Then, when customers continued to buy, stores obliged them by putting more out, workers said.

The sandals trend is expected to continue, and stores already are getting the new season's shoes in, Mr. Edwards said. "There's still a lot of emphasis on open footwear," he said. "It seems to be from an emphasis on feminine shoes, sexy shoes."

Erin has already bought her first sandals of the season.

Clothing stores also continued to sell clothing that bared flesh to the cold weather this year. Midriff tops and skinny T-shirts with short capped sleeves remained popular. A lot of customers at The Body Shop in Augusta Mall would buy short-sleeved shirts and top them with a cardigan sweater, said April Stevens, a store manager.

"I think people follow what they see on TV," Ms. Stevens said. "And no one on TV ever wears weather-appropriate stuff."

It's February, and stores are getting their spring stock in on the racks and shelves, as they do every year. Customers can expect some of the skimpy, clinging trends to taper off during the spring season, Ms. Stevens said.

"We're starting to get sizes that are cut bigger - which is good because more people can wear them."

Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.


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