The Shoe Culture

Whenever I wear 5 inch heels at my office, I get an abundance of looks and the occasional inquiry, “How do you walk in those?” Of course my initial response is “Very well, thank you.” The last thing I want anyone to know is how hard I concentrate on not tripping while teetering around. I make it look effortless and completely second-nature, that is until my heel gets caught on something. Perhaps a better question would be to ask, “Why?” Why do I perform a balancing act just to walk around in heels higher than a hotel in Dubai? The simplest answer is… because I can.

We’ve already touched upon how heels empower us to feel confident, sexy, in control, but they also project those same things to others. The red sole of a Louboutin instantly clues an observer to what kind of woman the wearer is, or the woman who wears a chunky heel versus the women in the stiletto. Shoes have a culture all their own: as a status symbol, power trip, sign of maturity, etc… The list is endless.

When I was a child, every year around this time my father’s company would host their annual Christmas party; and, as tradition dictated (not to mention multiple growth spurts) I got a new dress with shoes to match. For me the dress was always inconsequential, in fact I can barely remember any of them. BUT THE SHOES. I remember, when I was 8, it was the 1st year my mother let me wear party shoes with a heel without straps. A shoe with a heel without straps was the equivalent of being given the keys to a new car. They were the height of maturity. It meant I was now old enough to wear heels that didn’t require extra bits to keep them on my feet. I was officially a little lady. Of course, now I love Mary Janes and am very grateful for that strap, but the symbol has stuck with me as has the memory of those 1st pair of heels. (Did I mention they were 1 1/2 inches high? very glamorous for an 8-year-old)

Even in  broader sense, shoes have come to be a dividing line between classes. When depicting destitution, an image of a barefoot child is invariably used. The absence of shoes tells us as much their presence. If i were to ask anyone on the street to describe Oliver from beginning of Olivier Twist, undoubtedly, most, if not all, would say barefoot. ON the flip side, if asked to describe the Artful Dodger, barefoot wouldn’t even be mentioned. Why? Because Dodger sees himself as a gentleman, and a gentleman wears shoes.

When present shoes can be a deciding factor, if subconsciously, in our opinions of others. Female politicians are judged upon their shoes. They have to be able to find a pair that doesn’t make them look too wealthy, too sexy, or too masculine, AND they have to have a heel. It can be just 2 inches, but it has to be there. Beyond the shoe itself, heel height is the source of femininity and power.

Feminist have argued that stilettos are a form of female subjugation and trivialize women as mere sex symbols. Perhaps that has become true, but it is historically inaccurate. Heels were created by men for men. They displayed poise and balance while showing off calf musculature (remember hose was originally worn by men as something to be seen not hidden under a skirt). Henry VIII was noted in fact for being very proud and vain regarding his legs and regularly wore heeled shoes to present them to their best advantage. Given that pedigree is it really so unusual that in the age of micominis, women would want to give every lift they could to their gams? The high heel, while now considered more of a feminine attribute, still displays the wearer as poised and balanced. AND, if she is very good, graceful. So a female politician, CEO, etc… must wear a shoe with a heel because not only are they in charge, but they do all that a man is doing but in heels.

Which brings me back to why I wear skyscraper heels… Because I can, and I walk in the very well, thank you.

Ladies, Get in Touch with Your Inner Witch!

The joy of fall is in the air, and by joy I mean the advent of boot season. Not that I believe boot-wearing to be dictated by any season, more that the new fall collections bring us more options we didn’t know we had. And oh, here comes the lace-up thigh-high. Thank you, Christian Dior (aka John Galliano). They scream me “I’m a street-walking, sexy witch!” And just in time for Halloween.
My obsession with thigh-highs began (as I’m sure many of yours did) with the “Real Wild One” sequence in Pretty Woman. When Julia Roberts walks down Hollywood Boulevard in those patent leather boots and mini, I craved 2 things thigh-high boots and skyscraper legs to wear them. I neglected to specify skinny as a giraffe, so now I’m stuck with soccer/rugby player calves. Needless to say, many truly amazing knee- and thigh-high boots will never fit. Enter the lace-up, an adjustable solution. And now this boot, in multiple colors including a gorgeous cranberry.
Now, some of my dear friends will say, these boots are bordering on the whorish and costume-y. Their response, we empower you to be different, confident, and bad-ass. I say, there is nothing wrong with a little witchiness, and whole lotta leather.
Just remember, who’s wearing who… the boots of course.

The Classics – Nude

I am a firm believer that all colors and patterns are equally open to shoes. I probably won’t wear most of them but to each her own, I say. For the most part, nude shoes fall into this category. I understand that they “go with everything” and that according to all the latest style buzz, nude is the new black. BUT really? Why would you where a shoe that blends in with skin? Why hide a magnificent shoe behind such a dull color. My other objection is that nude highlights the outfit over the shoe. In my mind, this is not acceptable, so mark my surprise when I willingly bought a pair of nude Louboutins. Yes, those nude Louboutins in this week’s picture. Why nude you ask? Why not black (my personal stand-by)? Let’s be honest, the heel alone is 6.25 inches high, the platform a staggering (literally) 2.5 inches. In any other color these shoes run the risk of looking “hookerish,” and not that there is anything wrong with that, but I’m not pairing $1000 for a pair of street-walkers. This is the shoe that nude was made for. This is the shoe that proves that Monsieur Louboutin is a genius, a mad, amazing genius.
I recently read an interview he did with a London magazine saying that he didn’t design shoes for women, he designed shoes to make women look appealing to men. The Lady Daf proves this 100%. The stilt-like heel and platform give you impossibly long, lean line no matter if you are a squat 5’3. And, in the nude, men would need to spot the tell-tale red sole to know that line was an illusion we paid for.
I admit despite their fabulousness, that I haven’t taken them outside for a spin yet. This is partly owing to the fact that one has to re-learn how to walk in order not to break something (you can ask the newest housewife in Beverly Hills, Brandie, all about that). I wear them around the house and admire the ingenuity and sheer daring. Which begs the question, why with such an example of perfection would you buy any other shoe in nude?

The Classics – Red

Not for the faint of heart, the red pump (any style) is meant for the woman (or female impersonator) who wants to advertise their brazen sex appeal. Unlike the classic black, the red pump wears you. Wear with caution for they are unforgiving. If you have just an ounce of doubt, a moment of self-consciousness, they will know. Red pumps are for the confident, but they don’t make you confident. When you slip those shoes on, you already know you are going to conquer the day, eat up the world, make men beg.

Yes, I know that this week’s pump is the same as the last only in red. I want to illustrate the difference the color of the shoe makes. Try it. One day wear a pair of black pumps, the next (with the same outfit) wear a pair of red pumps. People will notice the difference and you will feel the difference…

Let me give you an example… In the early days of my current job, I was wearing a truly perfect pair of red patent leather pumps (Charles David, which I still own), and from out of nowhere, I was stopped in the middle of the hallway but this woman who said to me (and I quote), “You don’t know me, but those are really bitching shoes.” What a perfect description of the red pump, “bitching.” That’s exactly what you become when you wear them, Alpha Female, the bitch of the pack.

The Classics – The Black Pump

Once upon a time, we were teenagers running around chasing every trend as if we would die if we didn’t get those neon green, pointy-toed slingbacks, or tie-dyed leg warmers, or (God forbid) parachute pants. And then, our mothers stop us in the middle of this rampage to impart a little wisdom: “There is nothing more classic or versatile than the perfect black pump.” And thus, a dark cloud of bad fashion begins to lift. From that 1st pair of black pumps, our wardrobe begins to shift from those fashion moments to those fashion forevers.

The black pump is like chicken soup for your wardrobe woes. It is our security blanket supporting our fashion risks. The perfect black pump makes you feel confident, sexy, and competent. They are like a Jane Austen novel: some see them as cliché or old hack, but they always make you feel good whenever you read one, no matter how your day, week, month, year has gone.

For my personal collection, my go-to pair is the Tribute Toos by YSL. Ironically they were the are the designers of the last shoe of the week, the fringed nightmare. But these pumps are perfection personified. At a teetering 5+ inches of stiletto heel with a hidden 1 inch platform, these are guaranteed to make any girl (or transvestite) feel powerful, tall enough to take over the world in any hostile circumstance. They afford the wearer a certain perspective that is wholly unique.

This is the month for classic shoes such as these pumps. During the holidays we need all the comfort we can muster. While meeting with friends and distant family, a pair of well-chosen heels is essential to surviving this season.

Shoes Gone (Horribly) Wrong – Part 2

This week’s question is WHAT in God’s name were they thinking? Note the pump I’ve chosen to illustrate this. Someone thought it would be a good idea to put a mohawk on a perfectly great black pump. It honestly makes me sad that someone truly believed that putting a vertical fur strip on a shoe would make it high fashion. That’s like putting a studded collar on a chihuahua and calling it ferocious. Coco Chanel believed that overly added accessories completely ruined an outfit. YSL should have remembered this before letting this shoe out on a runway.

We should all remember Ms. Chanel’s philosophy at times, and not just because we’ve all made major fashion faux pas. Why do we insist on dressing up things that are better left simply put. This shoe would have been better without the mohawk, just like a design memo is better in Arial not Brush Script.

Shoes Gone (Horribly) Wrong – Part 1

No, you are not on LSD… the shoes you are seeing are the new Balenciaga Loafers for Fall 2010. They are the hit of the season. But, let’s be honest here for a minute, if someone hadn’t told you they were the “it” shoe, would you want them? They look like the end result of someone quite literally piecing together left over bits of shoes, bits that were left over for a reason. They can only be described as the shoe equivalent of a patchwork quilt without the charm of Midwest Americana. At 1st glance you may even have to ask what is that? Possibly a crime against shoe fashion. You are then forced to ask: What were they thinking? A question that brings me to this week’s theme… the art of giving (and receiving).

Many of us have a friend or too that believe they know us so well, and possibly they do. But then, they give us a gift, something which they truly believe we will like. You open the box and find these shoes, or worse: a neon orange, stuffed Tweety bird; a shirt that says “Climb Aboard”; a dress that screams “I’m a Bangkok Hooker.” The list goes on. And now, you have to hide the horror on your face. You have to bite your tongue from asking one of 2 things: What is it? AND What the hell were you thinking? This is NOT a time to be honest. Meanwhile your friend is ecstatic over the gift and thinks you will cherish it always. Then, inexplicably, Your mind takes you back to your childhood and all that stuff that was crammed in the attic, and you realize why God invented attics.

And that’s where those horrible gifts and fashion blunders belong…

Stay tuned for Part 2.

The Search for the Unattainable Heel

Note this week’s Shoe of the Week… practically perfect in their simplicity. The hourglass wave of the heel and the hidden platform eking style and taste. I don’t even like leopard print, and yet I want them. And, as you’ve probably ascertained by the title of this post, I don’t have them. I could only find them at a small shoe boutique in Miami and by the time I contacted them they were sold out in my size. Let me rephrase that… I called the store twice, the second time I got the store manager who sent my e-mail address directly to her Brian Atwood representative. Unfortunately nothing came from my perseverance. The shoes remain unattainable.

Unattainability is the great struggle of the individual. Whether it be a promotion, a horse, or even the perfect pair of high heels, we can’t have everything. BUT that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. With all that has happened this year and last, most would deem it a waste of time and energy to pursue such a trivial item as a pair of heels, no matter how amazing they may be. (I know some of my readers think there is nothing trivial about a pair of heels, and for that I salute you.) I could say the same for that promotion you may not be completely qualified for… Why not forget it and try again the next time it comes up, in, oh say, 10 years?

Striving for the unattainable is what we as high-heeled sashayers do. We wear completely impractical shoes that can be both uncomfortable and illogically priced. Many, mostly men, asks us why. My answer… I try my hardest to obtain the trivialities because it reminds me to keep trying for the crucial. When you can own that perfect pair of heels you hunted down for hours, days, weeks, it makes you feel even more empowered to go for that ultimate job or significant raise. So do it already!

PS. if anyone reading this has the inside line on this week’s Shoe of the Week in a size 9.5, 10, or 11 (I’m not picky), let me know ASAP.

The Harder Side of the Shoe

You may think from the title of this post that we are going to be discussing the sole of a shoe, as that is the harder side of the shoe, but you would be wrong. Some of you may have noticed the fierce shoe of the week. Each week I’ll post a new shoe which will be the inspiration for the week’s post. The Louboutin studded Prive pump you see is not only the latest addition to my personal collection, but also the perfect example of this week’s theme.

Note the shape of the shoe: the curvature of the side, femininity of the sweep to the peep toe, the ladylike roundness of the heel. There is no doubt that without the studs, this shoe would be the perfect staple black pump. And that is exactly what “being nice” is to people, the staple and standard that we fall back on. When someone screws us over we defy our instinct to tell them the truth: that we hope they suffer some grievous bodily harm, possibly while running away from the law. Instead, we say things like “I hope you find happiness” or “I’m so glad you’ve found someone who fits you.” AKA the staple black pump response.
Now note the studs… the cold, pointed metal firmly stamped into the subtle black leather. With these studs, the shoes are transformed into something harder and truer to our real nature. Rather than hiding our harder, darker side, we proclaim it through tough footwear. BUT, also note that the studs don’t detract from the original curvature and femininity of the shoe. It’s still there, it’s just not so nice. It says “no, I really do hope you have a crappy life,” as I, myself, recently said to a certain someone who had been dicking me around for 10 years (but that’s another story).

My friend commented to me that we say these nice things in some karmic hope that something good will happen to us. But does good actually happen? Do we really feel better for swallowing that negativity? I doubt it. After I told that nameless person how I really felt, a weight was lifted from me. I felt empowered. Now this is not to argue that we should be mean by default, but to express that rightness of saying something “wrong.” Just like, these shoes are not meant to be worn everyday, but on certain occasions need to walk out and shine.

Welcome

Hello! and Welcome to the latest blog involving the fast and influential world of shoes. So, put on your favorite pair of heels and let the sashay begin.