Monday, September 2, 2013

Shoe Love

previously posted on BlogHer

I was raised to be a practical wearer and buyer of shoes. My lesbian mother believed in one pair of sneakers and one pair of dress shoes; white in the spring, and black in the winter for the dress ones. 

Aside: Lesbians of my mother's generation are not known for appreciating the sculpted beauty of a high heeled shoe - in fact some even view them as torture devices designed by men to keep women down.   

When I reached highschool and my feet stopped growing, I accumulated a few more: flats, heels, boots (for style, not warmth) and of course sneakers.  Obviously we had winter boots, too, which I only mention in case you were thinking that my mother was negligent.  While I was excited to pick out my sneakers and winter boots every year, dress shoes were always boring comparatively.  I mean what could ever compete with Moon Boots? Come on!

When I reached adulthood and had a full-time job, I expanded my shoe range a bit, but not that much. I had flats and heels in the obligatory brown, white, and black, but pretty much kept to one pair per color and style. My most expensive boots were still my winter boots, bought for extreme warmth over any fashionability. 

I did occasionally - every five years or so - buy an extra pair just because they were cute. I am rather girly by nature, but I could always fit all my shoes on one of those over the door shoe racks. Shoes weren't fun.  I made it through many years of Sex and the City without once relating to Carrie's shoe obsession.

After I had my kids  my feet grew, and I had to toss out all my shoes except the Birkenstocks and sneakers I wore during my pregnancy.  When I got divorced, it was noteworthy that I had no cute shoes, and I felt one of my first purchases as a single woman should be a pair of "fuck me pumps" just in case I ever needed them.  I bought the cheapest I could find that fit the bill as shoes were still decidedly not fun.

When I turned 35 something in me clicked; it was like the long dormant shoe-whore gene was activated. I still wore comfortable shoes most of the time, notably Birkenstocks with socks in the spring and fall, but I started longing for cute shoes and boots. 

My Go-To Shoes
Maybe it's because I have been about the same weight for so long that I have a perfectly adequate wardrobe, or maybe it's a throwback to playing with Barbies. I don't know, but I have become That Girl.  You know, the one who has five pairs of black boots, none of them practical or even remotely warm.  The one with heels in a wide array of colors including pink and aqua, and only few pairs that actually goes with anything in my closet.  

When I get dressed, I always struggle to find a pair of shoes that go with my outfit because I no longer buy shoes out of need; I buy shoes out of want.  It's like a collection. I even own a pair of orange spike-heel hiking boots, but that wasn't my fault.  I went to Target to buy a men's quilted flannel shirt for myself to wear in the winter, and my boys and I saw these boots, and Big Pants said I needed them because they were on sale ($17.99 thank you very much) and Tiny Pants said I needed them because they were orange and orange was my favorite color.  I told them I couldn't afford both the warm flannel and the cute boots and they unanimously voted for the boots.  What choice did I have, really?

Shoe Love
What's interesting is that the ability to actually walk in the shoes I can't live without is irrelevant and coincidental.  I don't care  if I have any occasion for which they might be remotely appropriate on the horizon or even if they are comfortable. I have one pair of black shoes with ruffles that make my toes numb for a week after wearing them, but I still wear them because they are so damn cute.  

Here are some secrets I recently learned since becoming a shoe connoisseur:

1. I still get really insecure whenever I wear outrageous shoes for the first time. Inside, I am still the practical girl I have always been, and feel a touch foolish. Still, shoes fill me with a childish joy I can only attribute to my Barbie phase.  

2. My most worn shoes are a pair of yellow wedges and a pair of pink platform heels. They really do go with everything. Rarely do I need black shoes, even though I wear a lot of black.  Pink shoes actually can pass for red shoes in the lighting of almost every bar, rendering red shoes obsolete.  In fact, they might look better, but that depends on what you are drinking.  

3. Guys actually notice and comment on shoes.  I always thought men didn't care about shoes - I couldn't have been more wrong.  I get far more comments and compliments on shoes from men than women. 

4. Many straight cis-gendered  (cis is the opposite of trans) guys have shoe envy.  They hide it in jokes, but they have a fascination for women's shoes.  I can't tell you how many football-loving big many men have drunkenly confided that they wished they could find my shoes in their size.

5. Female Strangers get really bitchy if you joke about knocking them out and stealing their shoes. I have no idea why.  They don't find this flattering, but instead get all protective and grumpy about their footwear. Who knew?

6. Shoes make lousy comfort objects to sleep with, no matter how much you love them or how pretty they are.  Even if you put them under your pillow, they are still rather pokey. Not that I would know firsthand or anything.

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