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Shop Till I Drop, Part 2 Or: Right Shoe, Wrong Size

April 13, 2004

Fashion is for the weak.

Every time I try to find shoes, I’m invariably caught up in the pain in the ass which people call fashion.  I am NOT fashionable.  I dress myself tolerably well with help from friends and family.  I manage to do so by keeping things simple.  Basic fashion items which can be easily mixed, matched, and will last a couple of years before I either give them up as hopeless or wear into oblivion.  My jeans being an excellent example of this.  Up until this past week-end, every pair of blue jeans I owned had holes in them, save one.  I had gotten rid of the hand me downs from mother and sister which were several sizes too big and was left with only those jeans which had somehow managed to survive several years of college in some form of intact.  The last hold out being the jeans I wore to 12th Night several years ago which were the first real and undeniable sign that I had been gaining weight.  In the cramped bathroom of a friend who I had then only known for a few days, I struggled to pull on the jeans….  and ripped a belt loop.  I repaired the loop once, but never bothered after that.  Those jeans were my goal.  They were the defining size for my body.  If I could fit back into them, I would be happy.
But this isn’t about jeans.  It’s about shoes.

Men who are stunned by the vast array of shoes in their woman’s closet should take comfort.  It could be worse.  There are shoes for all occasions.  Your woman may have 6 pairs of black shoes, but you can be damn sure that only one pair of those shoes will go with a given outfit on a given day.  Heel height, toe shape, straps, and other factors will all determine whether or not a pair of shoes is up to the task.  If a woman works in a professional environment, she will need closed toe flats, low heels, and high heels in each color.  If you’re lucky, her flats will also combine with her “masculine” shoes.  Loafers, in other words.  Or some equivalent.  She will also need sandals, of which there may be several colors and heel heights.  Evening shoes are a whole different category.  Flip flops, beach shoes, boots, and bedroom slippers are safe in that a woman may only have one or two pairs of each of these.  There is also an array of “cute” shoes, which were usually purchased on the spur of the moment because they simply couldn’t be resisted.

Where a woman is going and how she wants to look for the people who will see her will add to the factors which lend to her choice.  Also, how she feels that day or would like to feel that day.  It may be sexist to say that a woman dresses for the people who are looking at her, but for most of the female population, it’s true.  Why do you think women in advertisements usually wear high heels?  Because it makes their legs look longer and more desireable.  They could be mopping the floor and be wearing heels.  I personally mop the floor in bare feet.  It’s easier to wash one’s feet than it is to wash one’s shoes.

When shopping for shoes, I try to look for practicallity.  Again, something that will stay in style for a few years, won’t wear out, and can be worn with lots of different outfits.  Which means something classic, simple, and not too flashy.  Comfort is a big thing.  Fashion is not comfortable.  This season it’s absurdly long toes.  Curl those babies up and you’ve got elf shoes.  Considering that people gererally walk heel-toe as opposed to toe-heel, the tips of those shoes will be curled up in a few months anyways, so you might as well tie a bell on the tip and get it over with.  I can’t imagine any woman thinks that her feet look good in these shoes.  Extremely tall women, perhaps, but not your average American woman, and certainly not the skinny little misses who wander around campus in them.  Kinda makes you wonder how far apart their classes are.

I prefer a nice rounded toe.  Maybe a little square, but not a lot.  Chunky heel so I don’t fall on my ass trying to totter around in stilettos and a strap around the ankle so its not constantly sliding off my foot.  It’s a very classic look and you’d think it would be easy to find.  Noooo…..
The worst part about shoe shopping is that I always seem to be a half season too late.  No matter when I shop, the shoe I want has always just gone into clearance.  You’d think this would be a good thing, but it’s not.  My size is *never* available by the time they get to clearance.  I can spend a whole day looking for shoes, find the perfect one in a size 7 (slightly too small), the same shoe in size 8 (slightly too big) and see everything but that shoe in size 7 1/2.

A friend once told me, a long time ago, that problem was that I knew what I wanted.  I know what color, what shape, what features, right down to the shape of the heel.  I have my range of acceptable substitutes, but for the most part, I know exactly what I want and I’m not willing to settle for anything less.

Though I might be willing to compromise, if they’re cute enough.

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