“What about your shoes ?”
Every conversation of mine about excess consumption/sustainability has a skeleton hiding in the closet. I have lots of shoes. Depending on who you ask, they are classified as an excess or a reasonable vice. It is usually the men who complain. Women are kinder. We seem to “get” shoes. We can rationalize investing on shoes because our feet seldom change size while our bodies do. We can even tolerate painful shoes because we see it as a trade off. If I go out to an event/wedding/dancing with my girlfriends, we experience pain as a sisterhood. It is never “my shoes hurt”. It’s : “Our shoes hurt. Lets sit down for a bit”. Everyone understands. The wrong shoes can ruin an outfit – we are taught. The right ones can play with proportion and form. It’s all true – in my opinion. Or is it ? My shoe inventory below. [I have a pair in India and some exercise shoes that arent shown in this post.] Items with a * were purchased second hand.
Ballet flats : *Rag & Bone.
Mary Janes : *Carven.
Loafers : *Saint Laurent
Oxfords : Officine Creative
N.D.C Made by Hand.
Heels : *Manolo
Sneakers : Bensimon
Black Boots : *Church’s.
Brown Boots :*Santoni.
Gifted for review : Arete Goods. Repetto
Pants : Hope. Sweater : Everlane.
He Said : There is some difference but its not significant enough to buy all these shoes.
She Said : A touch of pink makes the outfit more playful. The ugly shape of the square toe and the comfortable heel is a middle finger to the painful pretty shoes out there. The plaid adds pattern in a subtle manner. You don’t quite see it unless you have the eye for such things. The Manolo block heels are as comfortable as ballet flats and they deserve to be worn for being the perfect shoe shape. They subtly alter my proportions and make the legs look longer. The ballet flats are a uniform. I can justify owning a few to rotate because I wear them on most days of the year. The red oxfords are my power shoes. You wear them for color therapy and some morale boost. In winter, you need boots. You need two to alternate to give the shoes rest between wears. I have them in brown and black. They maybe insignificant visually, but they feel different. I don’t wear wild clothes. Shoes are the only way I can play with fashion. I need all this.
He said : Did you make all this sh** up right now as we speak ? You have something to say for everything don’t you ? How can I reason with you ?
She said : I know I have excess. I have not been able to de-own shoes. I can’t give sermons on ‘buy less’ after I have finished buying my excess. I know that. Some actionable items going into the future :
- I am currently not looking to downsize but I acknowledge the area of excess.
- Given how much I own, what I can do is put a cap on buying more. I am doing the French 5 challenge.
- There ! The skeleton is out of the closet. Writing this post made me very uncomfortable.
The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum.
– Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
Putting aside the ‘consumption talk’, lets talk shoes.
RULE 1 :
INVEST IN YOUR FEET. IT WILL CHANGE HOW YOU MOVE.
They don’t have to be Manolo’s or Common Projects but they have to be a well made pair. Bad shoes can ruin your feet and add to anatomical troubles that come with aging. Please don’t become a fashion victim. I often look back and wonder “how did they convince women about needing corsets ….” I think the future women will look back at us and wonder about our footwear choices. Heels might one day make it into the academic books on fashion victims. It could be a decade from now or a century from now.
Invest in your every day shoe rather than into an evening wear outfit. Sarees/pretty dresses get worn twice a year to be seen and then forgotten by strangers. The shoes will work on your behalf every single day and help you stay active. Invest in your everyday life.
RULE 2 :
KNOW YOUR THRESHOLD FOR ACCEPTABLE QUALITY.
Even stitches and good leather makes the shoe beautiful to look at. But the shoes should have the right balance and technical construction to make it walkable. I don’t have the knowledge to identify it just by looking at the shoe. I try to stick to the brands from my shoe history that have done good and the heritage shoe companies. I buy gently used pairs second hand to be able to afford them.
RULE 3 :
KNOW YOUR ESSENTIALS.
A brown boot, a black ballet flat, a black loafer, a red oxford – are my must haves.
RULE 4 :
KNOW YOUR BANDWIDTH
I am not into making outfits. I am more of a uniform wearer. I wake up, pick out the garments I am craving the most on that morning and throw them together. I don’t have the mental energy to process through a line up of shoes on an regular basis. I usually have 3 pairs of shoes out every season. I rotate though them for the 3 months and switch them out once the season changes. Having everything out overwhelms me. I know my limits.
My bandwidth : 3.
RULE 5 :
KNOW YOUR PROPORTIONS.
Short legs + block heel + mid/low rise pants = illusion of longer legs
Toned legs Vs lankly legs Vs chubby legs alters this equation.
The horizontal lines created by where the the waist band sits alters this equation.
The hem length of a dress alters this equation.
Pay attention to the ratios and proportions.
RULE 6 :
DRESS DOWN YOUR HEELS.
Let the heels be simple. Heels with embellishments is a bit much.
Let the flats be interesting. The color. Or the cut. Or subtle embellishment. Or unexpected detail.
Wear heels with pants. Wear flats with your dresses.
RULE 7 :
LOAFERS & OXFORDS ARE FOR EVERYONE.
The notions of feminine / masculine are a social construct and ever evolving. Never apologize for wearing shoes with a solid construction. We deserve them.
Menswear inspired shoes on women can add a lot of interest to an outfit given that they aren’t as common on the street. [ I see women wear oxfords with a small block heel in vintage photos. ] Even if they don’t look right, I will continue to wear them. They are durable. They are practical. They are walkable. Comparing the construction of most women’s shoes and an average men’s loafer with the price tags makes me laugh out loud. Best sole per dollar goes to oxfords in general.
Walks can be a great source of pleasure. Oxfords are my equivalent of sneakers.
I like the look of dresses with oxfords.
I like how oxfords look when the ankle shows.
I like how oxfords look when paired with an oversized blazer.
Look for the right shoe shape. Round toe oxfords can look chunky and outdated. Having a sleeker shape helps.
RULE 8 :
SAY YOUR VOWS. SAY YOU NO(s) !
No to tolerating painful shoes. Heels can be too high in an unhealthy and dangerous way.
No to toe cleavage. They are as attractive as love handles. The illusion of an ill fit is something I would like to avoid. [ I read an interview by Mr. Louboutin where he states that he makes shoes for a certain type of dainty foot and enjoys watching women squeeze their feet into these shoes resulting in cleaving. WTF ! Looks like the foot binding days aren’t completely behind us. ]
No to peep toe. I want clean lines on my shoes. Toes are not an attractive body part, IMO. Why do people flaunt it by punching holes in the shoes ? I will never understand.
No to platforms. No to high heels. No to the idea of sexy that came from the shoes worn by strippers and the porn industry. ( No, for me. Please wear what you like. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. )
No to pointed toes. ( I wear a not-so pointed version of them that don’t hurt my narrow feet but I am aware of the inconvenience. )
No to skinny heels. ( I am for block heels. Let them go out of fashion. I will continue to wear them and buy more on the second hand market. )
No to flip flops and thong sandals.
Walk away from shoes that are not make for walking. Have you held a Porselli ballet flat in your hand ? H&M ballet flats fall in this category too. The soles are so thin that you can wear them out in a season. We women buy this sort of thing in the name of ‘feminine’ and ‘dainty’. Mr. Louboutin publicly states that his shoes are not made for walking. We give him awards and hundreds of dollars to experience the pain. Are we ornamental beings ?
Notes to self : Walk away. There has never been a happy ending after a day in painful shoes.
RULE 9 :
RESIST THE SNEAKERS FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.
Eventually, sneakers will conquer all the feet on the planet. I can see it happening. This maybe the last decade for me to wear other kinds of shoes before they become outdated. I can see leather becoming an ethical gray area as the planet gets more polluted. I think I will make the switch eventually. I like canvas sneakers with rubber soles but I want to put them off for now.
RULE 10 :
WORN IN, THE BETTER.
Never apologize for wearing shoes with scuffs, patina, tear and cracks. ( I, however learnt to polish my shoes and shine them. I hide the imperfections. If you clean the shoe soles regularly, you don’t even see the indentations. )
Head-to-toe worn-in clothes with scuffed shoes may not be acceptable in most social situations. One worn in item per outfit however – adds to the effortlessness quotient.
RULE 11 :
IF YOU THINK YOU ARE TOO IMPORTANT TO POLISH YOUR SHOES, YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T BUY LEATHER SHOES.
Dignity of labour. Enough said.
Leather enters my closet as a by product of animal cruelty and tanneries that produce toxic by product. I owe it to the shoe to take care of it.
Leather is skin that you got to clean and moisturize.
Clean your shoes every month. Use shoe trees. Give them a day’s rest between wear. Don’t let them collect dust over time. Don’t let them sit in the direct sun by the window/door. I store mine away in shoe boxes in the garage. I bring out 3 pairs per season and rotate through them. Cleaning 3 pairs per month is a manageable chore. Do it while watching tv. I condition them once per season. If you wear your leather shoes in the rain, seal them with wax or spray treat them.
Some very good products : Shoe trees. Leather care.
RULE 12 :
FEMINISM APPLIES TO SHOES.
I have been called out for walking up to women and saying “I cant believe you wear those heels. They look like torture. Are you in pain ?” Of course she is in pain ! The pain of having me being condescending on top of possibly painful shoes. What she wears is none of my business. Her choice.