So I'm walking out of work tonight with the younger, very adorable woman that works with me. She's mid 20's, wears fitted clothes that accentuate her petite frame. As we're leaving, she says her shoes are killing her feet. They're flats, patent leather (so no give), peek-a-boo toe with the sides cut away. It looked like they have no arch support. This is the conversation that ensued:
Me: (noticing that the sides of her feet and the vamp are rubbed red) Oh, they do look like they hurt. Your poor feet.
Her: Yeah, but I can't wear shoes like you guys do. (There are two other women that work with us, both in their mid 50's and I'm 42.)
M: Of, course you can. We aren't wearing heels.
H: No, I can't wear those shoes.
M: I don't understand. What do you mean?
H: You know ...
H: Older lady shoes. That wouldn't look good on me.
M: ... Shut the fuck up. You know, I used to wear cute shoes before 20 years of standing on my feet all day.
H: (giggling) Goodnight
I did wear cute shoes, and I still own a lot of them ... heels, slides, mules, kitten heels, sling backs, wedges. The list goes on and on. I love shoes. Shoes don't tell you you're fat. They only try to love you. And I wanted them to love me. Throughout college and into graduate school, I worked in shoes. I had a great discount on top of the markdowns. It was wonderful. I owned things I never could have afforded at retail, even if they were a season behind. I learned the fine art of rotating them for even wear, giving everything at least three days off in between to cut down on stinkiness, how to stretch them, basic repair, etc.
Over the years, I've donated and dumped where necessary to winnow down the family - sometimes in order to better see what I have and sometimes to make room for replacements. I'm not embarrassed to say that at one point I had over 250 pairs. I stopped counting. But one thing has become obvious over the last ten years, the over-arching theme is sensible. Thanks to torn menisci and slipped discs, I can try a pair on now and know in a moment whether or not they will spell doom and therefore don't come home with me. I still wear some sexy things for special occasions, but I have to bring sneakers with me in the car. It's a smidgey-poo depressing.
I've never relied on the shoes for my sex appeal, hoping that my charm might win hearts and minds, but wearing fabulous shoes builds you up. It's the same way some women feel about matching underwear and bra sets. I always figured I'd wear the shoes by themselves and forget the underwear, but how far will standing there in sensible Easy Spirits and nothing else get you?