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“Red” Shoe Diaries — Taylor Swift for Keds Fall 2013 Sneaker Collection

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Unlike most pop culture aficionados, I essentially rolled my eyes at all the hubbub regarding Kanye West‘s off-color remarks at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when the ChiTown rapper overstepped the bounds of both good taste and good sportsmanship by souring Taylor Swift’s big moment, yanking the microphone away from the Best Female Video award winner and interrupting her speech to announce that Beyoncé should have won the award rather than Swift. Yes, it was an asinine thing for Kanye to do but, really, doesn’t MTV essentially promote and encourage this sort of behavior? For all we know, the entire moment was scripted. After all, everyone came out a winner: Swift emerged as the wide-eyed innocent who had been bullied on stage, a damsel in distress who had been robbed of her moment in the sun; Beyoncé got to invite Swift onstage during her subsequent performance and allowed her to finish her acceptance speech, essentially saving the day and positioning herself as a kind-hearted, sympathetic do-gooder; and Kanye got what he loves most: attention and headlines. The fact that, just two months before the 2013 VMA awards, Gawker acquired some never-before-heard, obscenity-laden rant Kanye allegedly recorded immediately after the Swift incident solidified my belief that this was a publicity stunt, one which all parties are trying to squeeze for as much go-go juice as possible.

Now, sometimes Kanye makes it hard to root for him — even those of us really, really, really want to do so end up sighing and throwing our hands up in frustration — but there’s something about Taylor Swift that just makes my teeth hurt. Then again, I never went through the I’m-a-white girl-coming-of-age experience so it’s impossible for me to relate to her music. I grew up in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, went to prep school in New Hampshire (holy culture shock!), and then headed off to Harvard and later New York City. I felt like a fish-out-of-water for most of my teens and twenties — too cerebral for this crowd, too ethnic for that one, too liberal for that crew, too old-fashioned for that scene, too sarcastic for this crowd, too idealistic for this set, too ‘hood for this one, too intellectually snobby for that one, too mouthy for that group, too girly for that one, and so forth. It really wasn’t ’til about 26 or 27 that I felt completely comfortable in my own skin and that I realized I really didn’t care what anyone thought of me or my choices and that, moreover, I relished the fact that I didn’t neatly fit into any one category. But no, I never scribbled boys’ names in my notebook (well, maybe in elementary school!); I wasn’t in a marching band or a cheerleading squad; I did not have a crush on the captain of the football team; I never wore cat ears anywhere; heck, I never even rode a yellow school bus. But, if I remove my personal experiences from the equation and try to look at her appeal from the perspective of a tween or teen, then I can start to discern why she’s considered one of America’s sweethearts.

As with most musicians, part of Swift’s appeal involves her image and, yes, her style. Joan Jett had leather pants, studded belts, spiky raven hair, and wide cuff bracelets. Stevie Nicks had ethereal dresses and caftans, berets, and hooded capes. And Taylor Swift has button-down blouses, graphic tees, and nautical striped shirts; cropped colored denim and tailored shorts; Ray-Ban Wayfarers; red lipstick; floral print dresses with corset-like bodices and pleated skirts; and colorful classic sneakers from all-American brand Keds.

The footwear brand has just unveiled its second collaboration with Taylor Swift, which includes 17 styles in shades of red (what else?), navy, aqua, gray, teal, and black. The classic Keds Champion silhouette — with its twill uppers, four eyelet lace-up construction, flexible rubber outsoles,  and low profile — functions as the foundation of each style. Prints, meanwhile, range from a pearl necklace motif to a lush rose print, while other embellishments include a lace overlay along with all-over sequins. Dangling from each sneaker, meanwhile, you’ll find a charm: either a silver heart featuring Swift’s favorite number, 13, or an antiqued brass guitar pick etched with Swift’s logo.

 The Taylor Swift for Keds Fall 2013 collection, then, incorporates new styles like the Champion Rose ($50 at Keds.com), pictured first above in Red and sixth above in Blue); the Champion Sequin ($55 at Keds.com), shown second above in Navy, and fifth above in Teal, featuring an all-over polka dot print and covered in clear sequins that add a hint of glitz; the Champion Vintage Lace ($50 at Journeys.com), a red style with an ivory lace overlay, as shown above third from top; the Champion Pearl ($50 at Nordstrom stores), shown fourth above in Navy, featuring an all-over print involving angled strands of bubble-like white pearls; and the Champion Seltzer ($50 at Keds.com), shown last above in Navy, which features a country-flavored dotted print reminiscent of the fizzy bubbles in a carbonated beverage and which is adorned with stripes laces.

 The best thing about these sneakers: it doesn’t matter whether you’re 22 or 32, whether you’re a Taylor Swift fan, or even whether you know a single lyric she penned. If you like classic, clean, no-fuss sneakers with punchy prints, you’ll find a pair that makes you say, “You belong with me.”

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