Monday, March 07, 2011

Musings from a Sole Diva

Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world.
- Bette Midler

What is it with women and shoes, anyway? Have you ever wondered why we are attracted to and feel compelled to purchase so many of them? Is it our womanly right to have as many shoes as we desire (or can afford)? Why are the words "women" and "shoes" forever linked in infamy? And why do men need 3 only pairs of shoes when the correct number for women is infinity? Am I the only person who thinks of such things? Probably, but indulge me anyway! Let’s take a peek at why, intentionally or unintentionally, every woman channels her own inner Imelda Marcos.

If the Shoe Fits…
Unlike men’s clothing, women’s clothing sizes are inconsistent and all over the place. What may be a size 6 in one designer may be a size 8 in another. There is no consistent method used for creating women’s clothing, and we all are shaped differently. What happens when you think you are a size 10 but instead a 12 fits because of the designer you selected? It doesn’t make you feel good, does it? If you’re like the rest of us, you probably feel disappointed, your self image is shaken, and you may want to rush into a crash diet, right?

For whatever reason, we internalize our clothing size, beating ourselves up if we aren’t the size we think we should be. Feeling rejected, we may find ourselves in the shoe department. Here, if we try on a pair that is a little snug, chances are we won’t have a full-on identity crisis like we did in the fitting room, right ladies? We just go up a half-size. We think of this as the manufacturer’s problem, not our issue. Problem solved - and another pair finds its way into in our closet.

Therapy for the Sole?
I happen to think that there are two things that never reject women – food and shoes. We use both for comfort and as positive reinforcement. Not that either is particularly healthy for us. I would rather have a smokin’ pair of strappy stilettos over a piece of cheesecake any day, but different women use different diversions to get through tough times. A relationship gone bad, issues with friends, and strife at work all seem to be lessened with a little momentary splurge.

But when you come down from the high from your funky new Marc Jacobs stilettos or when the sugar rush wears off, you’re still left with a problem that isn’t remedied. So the diversion of buying new shoes or indulging in some serious caloric intake won’t make the challenges of the real world go away. It just lessens the impact for an hour or two. Problem not solved – but somehow we still end up with more shoes.

The Shoe Hoarder
Psychological factors aside, there happen to be legitimate reasons why we seem to require a lot of shoes. We have a vast array of clothing needs that are very different from men. While traditionally, guys have the option of wearing pants most of the time, or shorts sometimes, women need different shoes for pants, capris, short skirts, long skirts, casual styles, dressy styles, and the list can go on and on. We need specific shoes and heel heights for our diverse wardrobe. Not to mention basic colors and accent colors, and different shoes for the cold and warm seasons! What does this turn into?

A wardrobe full of shoes, of course! Problem solved?? Fortunately, we are limited by budget and space, and eventually one or the other will run out! Hopefully this will happen before the A&E camera crews make their way to your house.

Here’s some stuff I’m not too proud of, but feel I feel the need to get it off my feet….

1. I buy knockoff shoes (sometimes)
Yes, this is the same person who said don’t, under any circumstances, buy a fake bag! A knockoff shoe merely means that a style a famous maker created is produced with a slight variation in style and typically, with less expensive materials. You would be surprised how many high-end and low-end shoes are made in the very same factory, but the label makes all the difference in the price point! On frivolous shoe purchases, such as the 4” faux pony hair leopard peeptoe Steve Madden knockoffs I bought, I spend as little as possible. Shoes like this will spend most of their shelf life in your closet, so I would advise skimping on fun accent shoes such as these.

2. I don’t care what my shoes are made of
I’m a vegetarian - almost a vegan. Have been since I was a kid. But I will buy almost any kind of animal skin or fur to wear on my feet without thinking twice! They just have to be cute. (Next thing I know, PETA will be aiming buckets of paint at my feet!) I don’t care to own a leather coat, I would never wear real fur, but basically I would wear endangered snow leopard cub fur-lined boots if they looked cute enough.

(I am joking, of course. I would never wear endangered snow leopard cub fur! But I do have a couple of non-endangered skins and hairs that I’m not too proud of as a bona fide veg – sorry! I assure you they are really cute though!!)

3. I buy quantity over quality
There are 5 Basic Shoe Styles that every woman should have in her closet. This is where to be sure to buy quality since these are your workhorses and should last for several seasons.

1) Tall black or brown boots 2) Basic sneakers 3) Flats or loafers 4) Basic black stiletto pumps and 5) Strappy metallic sandals.

Once the basics are taken care of, I’m all about quantity, quantity, quantity!! The more shoes, the merrier!!! (Yes, I have a problem – but at least my feet always look good!!)


It’s funny that almost every guy I meet thinks his woman is the only one with a truckload of shoes. I assure them that while yes, we all love shoes (some of us more than others), the clothing that we wear necessitates at least seven pairs of black heels (I am such an enabler!) as well as various combinations of boots, sandals, flats, wedges, platforms, mules, etc, etc.

I tell them that we need our shoes because they complete our outfits. What I don’t mention is that in some bizarre cosmic way they may also complete us.

Kristen Kaleal is a wardrobe stylist who knows that the day she can no longer pull off five inch heels is the day that she will have to admit she is short. And that will not be a happy day. But until then, she's walkin' tall and writing quirky things about herself in the third person.

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