Every so often, a star rises out of nowhere based on merit alone. In this case, it is Jane Aldridge. Her appreciation for beauty and how it speaks without words shines like a meteor on her blog, Sea of Shoes. This is especially true in a world hooked on shopping malls and the Kardashians, where intellect and fashion do not often mix. When you meet Jane’s mother, Judy, it is no surprise that her daughter has a superstar’s eye for taste and quality. Jane has inherited Judy’s passion for the art of dressing and the immense joy of hunting for that singular vintage find. For example, Judy’s studded Givenchy minidress from the ’60s that she wears over jeans and Jane’s Yves Saint Laurent belted ’70s one with balloon sleeves are among some of their favorite prizes. However, Jane has fallen head over heels for Judy’s motto, “Shoes are the only thing that you can’t compromise on.” Jane has fond memories of her toddler years, walking around in her mom’s ’90s Fendi slides and houndstooth pony hair Pradas. According to Jane, this was “around the time that 102 Dalmatians came out and I wanted to be Cruella de Vil.” Jane can also make any flea market find look like the newest Miu Miu, like the red bandana top she found recently in Tulsa and wears with the perfect chunky Chanel pump. There is the one exception to Jane’s uncompromising shoe rule in the form of her used, platform “hooker” cowboy boots, which to me are a sign of her aesthetic genius. These shoes would turn her idols, Janet Jackson and Prince, right on their heads. Walking into Judy’s closet is like entering a retrospective on the most memorable shoes that have walked the runway in the past twenty years. They even stand on shelves like the objets d’art that they are. My eyes gazed past many that I regret not jumping on when I first saw them, like her Ann Demeulemeester, ultra-medieval lace-ups. Once you are exposed to a mother like Judy and her strong sense of self expression and visual thought, it would be hard to be ordinary or fit in with the crowd as an adolescent. I love how Judy encouraged Jane to find her distinct voice, consistently allowing her to go to school in shoes that would land her in the principal’s office and then would selflessly “make the trek” to bail Jane out with an “acceptable pair.” Today, Jane’s impulses, originality and raw and honest feelings towards personal style have found a home on the internet and though barely out of high school, she has gained a foothold against the dominance of the marketing machine, magazines and their detached, advertising-driven messages. Despite Jane’s affection for the girlyness of crinolines, volume and a defined waist, underneath she is a force of nature. In an ocean of mediocrity, she and Sea of Shoes are making a heartfelt, giant, yet humble step towards, “standing alone,” but only in the perfect new platform, pony hair Alaias of course.