What’s the deal with the shoes?

I’ve been asked this several times, and I actually answered it once in the OAQ:

Think of it as a broadening of scope. I grew up surrounded by lots of gorgeous legs, by dint of attending a Catholic high school during a period when skirt lengths were becoming, um, less conservative, and shoes are a logical extension of that interest. (So are underpants, I suppose, but those aren’t on display. Usually.) Besides, they always invite comment, even if it’s only “Yech, I wouldn’t wear that.”

But you perhaps weren’t asking me specifically; you might have been posting a grandly-general rhetorical question. Fortunately, there’s an answer for that, too:

When it comes to status, shoes win approval in ways shirts cannot — [a] Daily Express study stated that four out of every 10 women judge other women based on their shoes. It Bags had only a moment, and it’s not like there’s a Tumblr devoted to pants. What makes shoes so special?

Not that I have any real statistics to base this off of, but perhaps part of it is that shoes are so object-y (Colorful Adjective Usage: “It’s Summer and I’m Tired” Edition). Whether you want to invest in something special or are simply yearning for a quick fashion fix, a good, chunky thing is more satisfying than fabric. They stand on their own, they’re more 3D, and while other accessories have these qualities, none of them are quite as trophy or collectible-like. Advertising genius and fashion obsessee Cindy Gallop has hers showcased alongside an entire wall of her apartment, framed by twinkling lights. Jane Aldridge, of the popular fashion blog Sea of Shoes, owns around 85 pairs, and has said the fun in collecting comes from their art-like, sculptural quality. I have to agree — my pair of Miu Mius sit on a shelf in my room, next to a foot-tall Stephen Jones hat and a rare early Warhol book.

Another possible explanation is that shoes are easy. As Browns founder and owner Joan Burstein once said, “Feet don’t have fat days or bad hair days, which is part of the reason women are so obsessed with them.” True! Plus, a good pair of shoes can improve a lazy or boring outfit in ways other accessories can’t.

If you’d like to see her Miu Mius not sitting on a shelf, this is the link for you.


  1. Nicole »

    3 July 2010 · 5:43 pm

    Interesting…Shoes aren’t bad looking and her summary about why shoes is pretty good and I think it probably is valid… but is she really just out of middle school and spending that much on clothing??? Are there really other people with monthly allowances talking about spending $500 on shoes over there??

    I guess I’m just hopelessly not with it.

  2. CGHill »

    3 July 2010 · 5:58 pm

    I’m thinking she might have wangled a discount from the usual $495 list, since she is a recognized fashion blogger and has consulted on one actual clothing line, despite her tender age. (She just turned 14.) And rather a lot of her garb is vintage thrift-store stuff.

    But no, she’s not on the reduced-price lunch plan, or anything like that.

  3. Nicole »

    3 July 2010 · 7:48 pm

    I don’t frequent the fashion blogs, so I wasn’t sure her creds. I mean, more power to her for having that kind of exposure and drive at 14. She does write well, I’ll say that much from looking at that post alone.

    Chances are she’s not on an allowance from mom & dad if she consulted on a fashion line. :)

  4. Donna B. »

    3 July 2010 · 9:08 pm

    In this house, it’s the male who is obsessed with shoes. And clothing and accessories. I need a new pair of Crocs and keep 6 pair of more “respectable” looking shoes for occasions warranting them. Those occasions are few. I have one watch, my wedding ring is the only jewelry I wear, and I’ve used the same brown purse for over 15 years.

    I am fashion unconscious and care only about comfort and durability.

    Just to give you an idea how fantastic some of my husband’s shoes are, the last time we went shopping in the tourist section of Nogales, Mexico vendors were trying to buy his boots instead of sell him something.

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