A woman's right to shoes

Yesterday afternoon, flush with excitement from a shopping trip, I called my husband into our bedroom. I had just returned with two new pairs of heels and was curious to hear what he thought. It's extremely out of character for me to get excited over shoes. I am not the type to get all swoony and lustful over a pair of pumps. I don't carefully store my shoes in special acrylic tissue-lined boxes. I don't have a religious moment while trying on a new pair. And I certainly am not ZOMG THIS SEASON'S MIU MIU PUMP IS OUT I MUST HAVE IT *GRABBY HANDS* SQUEE!!!

Frankly, sometimes I think there's something wrong with me. I think I must be the only female on the planet who does not lose it over a pair of shoes. Consider the following quote:

"There's one pair that I always like to wear. Sometimes when I'm alone in my hotel room, I look at them and I think how they are the only things in my life that know exactly what I've been through all day. I often feel like my shoes are the only part of me that know exactly what I'm doing because they're always with me." - Lady Gaga
A Daily Express study reported that the average woman will spend $25,000 on 469 pairs of shoes in her lifetime. So why are shoes such a "thing" with women, coveted by both Carrie Bradshaw more than any other accessory and frequenters of popular street style blog Jak & Jil? When it comes to status, shoes win approval in ways shirts cannot — the 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?

Science has explored why women love shoes as recklessly as they do, and they've discovered that the brain sends out a barrage of mood-booting hormones during a new purchase. "The neurotransmitter dopamine is released, providing a feel-good high, similar to taking a drug," says Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. ""Shoppers rationalize shoes as a practical buy - something they can wear multiple times a week - so they hold on to that pleasurable feeling longer," says Lindstrom.

Furthermore, buying new footwear stimulates an area of the brain's prefrontal cortex termed the collecting spot. "Shoes are a collector's item, whether women realize they perceive them that way or not," says Suzanne Ferriss, PhD, editor of Footnotes: On Shoes. Consider how shoes are often stored prominently on shelves, or in custom-made acrylic boxes. "They're like sculptures," says Ferriss. Collecting shoes causes an adrenalin-like rush similar to that a baseball card collector feels when landing a new find.

Back in May, a British survey revealed that the average British woman owns 20 pairs of shoes, eleven of which she barely wears. The total value of the average lady's shoe closet? £720, or around $1,189. That means about $660 worth of shoes are sitting idle. The survey also noted that women buy an average of eight new pairs each year.

So. There are all these women buying shoes, talking about shoes, wearing (and not wearing) shoes, and budgeting for shoes. I get the feeling that, as a woman, I am supposed to like shoes too. Everywhere you look, women are waxing methodical about their shoes, glazed looks of transcendent bliss upon their faces. Female role models, whether they be singers, models, actresses or stylists, are constantly speaking of their love for heels. It was widely reported that Rachel Zoe and Victoria Beckam trolloped through their pregnancies in five inch stilletos. And it's hard to ignore the fact that a pair of pumps can transform an outfit and do pretty miraculous things for your shape. Much as bras and corsets are worn to encourage a womanly, hourglass shape, heels are worn to elongate the legs and raise the derriere. In a pair of heels, you stand taller. Your stomach is more tucked-in. And if you're petite, that extra four inch of heel is an enticing confidence booster.

So how did my husband react to my new heels? "Eh," he shrugged. "They're...okay." (Then again, this is a man whose sole emotional moment in the course of our 13 year marriage took place while watching The Rookie. A movie about baseball.) And I sort of agreed with him. I will never have a passionate love affair with shoes. It's just not me.

Tell me - what's your relationship with shoes? Do you get a rush from buying a new pair? Do you get excited over this season's must have heels? How many pair of shoes do you estimate you own? Which pair is your favorite? Or are you like me and just not a shoe person?


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34 comments:

  1. I can't believe I just read *grabby hands* squee! on your blog. hahahaha. :D Personally, I have a serious love affair with shoes. I buy too many of them... many which never see the heat of asphalt. It's a problem for my budget. :/

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  2. I love shoes possibly more than I love my husband (shhh....don't tell him I said that). I get excited when I slip them on my feet, shop for them, and see them. I have a serious shoe problem.

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  3. I have big, wide feet and from the time I was little always had to wear boring, not to say ugly, shoes. I think up until last year I routinely had maybe four pairs of shoes and sneakers: one brown and one black (both in men's sizes), one pair of sneakers, and something resembling a dressy flat shoe. But then I hit 48 and decided to ditch the jeans and T-shirts I'd been wearing every day for years, and along with that went the discovery that they actually make decent-looking shoes in large, wide sizes. (Thank you, Zappos, Shoebuy, Endless.) So I went a little nuts: Heels! Platforms! Boots! Gladiators! I also wound up buying a lot of cheapo (we're talking $12) clearance shoes in regular width but a size up because I could squeeze my foot in them, most of which were not a good idea in terms of comfort. Now I'm swinging back somewhere toward a happy medium--no more clunky men's shoes, but not a huge number of 4-inch things I can only wear for half an hour--but I'm glad I had a chance to try a whole bunch of new things. Now I know what I really like, what looks good on me, and what feels good. And I feel like I've given a great big hug to that twelve-year-old who had to wear ugly shoes to school in sixth grade. :)

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  4. It's interesting because I just recently became obsessed with shoes. I rarely bought a pair of shoes but now my shoe options are looking a little sad! LOL. So my shoe love comes in waves, mostly out of necessity than anything else!

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  5. I was off yesterday, but we had a Buyer meeting after close and so I went in. There was an amazing shoe buy yesterday (a boutique owner selling last Fall's stock of Sam Edelmen and more, brand new) and I found a pair of, really, of all things, I know, platform, shearling lined, studded purple clogs. And I need them. So I put them on my hold, and I woke up early today to put together a bag of things to trade for them. I am getting dressed now, to be there at open to sell my things and get my purple clogs.

    I think that pretty much explains how I feel about shoes...

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  6. I love shoes and spend a lot of time looking at them on the internet. I have very specific styles that I like and dislike, and have a particular fondness for the shoes of John Fluevog.

    I find that reading fashion blogs has introduced me to new shoe styles and designers and has been detrimental to my bank account.

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  7. I'm the same as you (or maybe was). Always cared more about clothes, less about shoes. Never wore heels. But I'm going in the opposite direction now. Now that I'm 45 I start to wear heals, feel more confident and actually love the extra pair of statement shoes. A one tone outfit with a statement colour shoes. Great! We'll see how it goes.. I don't think I'll go overboard with shoes because in the end, where do you store them?

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  8. I was going to say I could care less about shoe's. And I don't really care about this area you're talking about. But I have spent well over $500.00 in shoe's in the last couple months. I bought these *incredible* carbon Specialized bike shoe's. Fit me like a dream, clip in without me even thinking about it. Then I had to get Shimano mountain biking shoe's because I was just trashing my carbon shoe's on the canal. I was way past mileage on my running shoe's and they started to give me blisters so that was a must. I also really needed a heavier weight hiking boot. These shoe's save my joints, my bones, my feet. They help me get to that next mile. Is it the same? Probably not but no matter how or why we buy shoe's. They are without a doubt what helps us take the next step! Whether its with confidence at a new job interview or the last step in a triathlon. That's kind of cool if you think about it.

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  9. I, like Metsy have a serious problem with shoes also, which extends far beyond rhyme or reason. I think its borderline OCD.

    I have had a moment similar to Gaga in that quote where I just sit and stare in adoration. Lol.....

    Great post....

    www.dazzledandfabulous.com
    www.dazzledandfabulous.blogspot.com

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  10. I understand your apathy toward shoes! Shoes and I have issues. I'm limited in the styles of shoes I can wear, and as a kid found shoe shopping a traumatic event. Now, as a mid-20s professional with a strict budget, I struggle to find an appropriate and comfortable pair of dress shoes I can do lots of walking in. This summer I've tried on probably 80 pairs of shoes at various price points, and bought two--both of which had to be returned.

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  11. I also have a love affair with shoes.... I save photos of my dream pairs on my desktops so that I can look at them throughout the day. Also, my husband has to store his shoes in the guest room closet because I take up all the space in ours (and because he wears a size 13, so his shoes are like boats and take up an obscene amount of space, PLUS he has almost as many shoes as I do!)...

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  12. I love this post! I'm not a shoe girl either - despite having just wrapped up a job marketing luxury footwear!

    My weakness is good denim.

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  13. I love shoes!! I own over 70 pair and most get worn throughout the year. Very few remain neglected on my shelf. My blogpost today shows 3 pair I saw in the mall yesterday. One pair that is incredible and I'm hoping they get my size in with their next shipment. I am a shoe/boot freak.
    It might be shameful > but there it is!!

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  14. I would like to have a love affair with shoes, but it's my misfortune to be one size up from where most of the cute/sexy/stylish shoes end. I have to take what I can find (which rarely comes in a colour other than black or maybe brown) and frankly, I feel as if my shoes let the rest of my outfits down most of the time. So, by default, I am not shoe-mad, although I can understand the obsession perfectly.

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  15. I like shoes, but I am not in LOVE with shoes. I don't own all that many. I like finding cute ones at good prices, but I'm not as obsessed as I know a lot of women are. I'm much more in love with purses! You're not alone!

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  16. haha love your husband's reaction "meh" I personally LOVE shoes because I think unlike clothes, you can find something that fits. When your jeans start getting too tight, it can bum you out. But your heels will never make you feel that way :) It's a great accessory that can always make you feel fabulous!

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  17. I love shoes, but they aren't an obsession of mine. I recently donated probably 20 pairs that I never wore or will never wear again. I love heels, but find that I only wear them at photo shoots or events. It took a long time to get to this mentality, but I no longer buy a shoe if it's only pretty and I won't wear them that much. I think I have a much more practical (read: boring) mindset when it comes to shoes. I'm all about the classic shoe and shoes that I will get lots of use out of. Clothes, on the other hand . . . well, I love me some clothes.

    I loved the *grabby hands* "squee" line. Funniest thing ever!

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  18. I don't think you are the only woman that doesn't go gaga over shoes, but I am certainly in the camp of overly obsessed with footwear. Shoes do things that dress, shirt or pair of pants can't. And I wholeheartedly agree with Gaga. Our shoes carry us through the world and I think every woman deserves ones that are not only comfortable (her discretion of course) but also that make her feel unstoppable.

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  19. You know I'm a shoe ADDICT! But I've committed to only buying quality pairs since early this year, when I realized how many pairs I got rid of that were cheaper, impulse buys. I spend more now, yes, but I take care of them, taking them to the repair once a season. That way they last for years...I have some Gucci sandals in my closet from like 2001, I think! Also, the higher-end pairs are usually more unique...like wearable pieces of art. For me, shoes make the outfit. So they are worth the money.

    This buying philosophy also keeps my closet from being filled to the brim with shoes. If I were independently wealthy, however, I could see needing several walls of a room to be able to house my collection.

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  20. I must admit I lllllloooovvvveeee shoes!! The shapes, fabrics, colors, heights, etc always put a smile on my face. As much as I love clothes, handbags, accessories...shoes trump them all for me. A gorgeous shoe take a simple outfit to show stopping.

    I would never spend money I don't have on shoes I can't afford, but I look forward to looking at them all (the ones I can afford and can't). I don't think it anything wrong with women who do not have such an emotional tie or reaction to shoes. We all have things that get us going, which makes us each special.

    Great post (as always) dear!!

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  21. Interesting post! I have a lot of shoes, many which I wear, some of which I do not.

    My big thing is, I usually wear my favorite shoes out within a year, maybe two. So while I have nice shoes, I rarely wear, I always have a pair that I am always wearing.

    I don't really buy shoes as much as I used to. I'm really picky and usually fall between an 8 1/2 and 9, making it near impossible to find the right fit. But I always look anyway.

    Courtney

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  22. Great post :)

    I'm a total shoe addict but I'm a fickle shoe lover!! I don't love any one pair more than another and I often buy very cheap pairs of ballerina flats in the sale and wear them until they fall apart, chuck them away and happily move on to the next!!

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  23. I think you summed it up pretty well. I love the idea of shoes, but when it actually comes down to it, you'll be hard pressed to see me at work in anything other than my Nike Mary Janes. I've always had, what I lovingly refer to as, cankles. Some types of shoes just refuse to stay on my feet. It's always a crushing moment when I've been lusting after the image of the perfect pair of pumps and I finally try them on and they refuse to stick without it seeming like a method of torture banned by the Geneva convention.

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  24. Maybe you haven't met the right shoes yet!

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  25. I am definitely a "shoe person," by which I mean I love and appreciate shoes. But to me, they're still just a material item. Sure, they can change a mood, but so can a good hair day or just a nice chat with a friend. Buying new shoes is not a priority for me, or even a large part of my spending, but I do appreciate them. They're pretty.

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  26. Gawsh your posts are awesome!!! I am definitely not a shoe addict, not that I don't love or appreciate them but really I know my life and my life is spent walking and I can not teeter around in high high heels so I have a few awesome "big girl shoes" that I love and then the rest of my shoes are way more practical in nature and I don't really feel like I neeeeed to constantly fill that part of my closet.

    Really love all the info you cited, that bit about the collecting is really interesting and yeah I can totally see how it's really easy to rationalize a shoe as you wear them everyday. But man that Lady Gaga quote!!! That is some deep deep shoe love.

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  27. My boyfriend did not understand my love of shoes until I explained it to him like this:

    I wear a size ten in shoes. Always. At JCPenney, I might wear a 10 in jeans, but at Forever 21, a 12. I might wear a MED t shirt from Kohl's but an XL from H&M. My shoe size is constant - I know they will fit, but I can be choosy and pick what I want. Everything in the size 10 aisle at Payless will fit. On fat days or fit days, this stays the same.

    What bigger mood booster do I need on a bad shopping day?!

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  28. i love shoes....and while high heels and i are no longer good girlfriends, i fawn over them, snap pics of them, instagram them, tweet them all the time because there is just something about a shoe that you love that (pun intended) puts some pep in your step

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  29. This is a great post! Over the past couple of years I've definitely become FAR more interested in shoes...graduated college, moved to an urban area with lots of thrift stores nearby, and started reconsidering and revamping my style after realizing I'd gotten into a rut in graduate school. So now I have a LOT of shoes. Probably far too many (certainly more than I have easy storage space for). However, most of them were purchased at a local store where they sell used clothing/shoes/accessories for $1.50/lb. So while I definitely have more than the average 20 pairs from the study you saw, there's no WAY that I paid that much for them! (And somehow I feel that this justifies owning more pairs of shoes than I wear regularly. Hmm.)

    I think one of the reasons that shoes may be so popular is that it's easier to wear an eye-catching pair of shoes than a whole eye-catching outfit... I'd wear (and have worn) barbie-pink heels, but would feel less comfortable walking around wearing a dress of a similar bright color. So a shoe can be just a touch of something fantastic that livens up an otherwise standard outfit.

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  30. ~ * ♥ * ~

    I love me my shoes! I can't really explain why, but I do. It made me so happy recently to get them all out of their boxes and put them away neatly on my new shoe rack. It holds fifty pairs and luckily I still have some spaces to fill! Terrible I know, but I try to be very good and wear every pair, although some are definitely bought out more than others. :D

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

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  31. I didn't get into shoes until I had mastered the other parts of dressing. For many years, I figured a pair of black, a pair of brown, and a pair of khaki shoes were adequate.

    Eventually, though I began looking at shoes as a way to add excitement to an ensemble and began the collector's craze!

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  32. Hi, my name is Shonda and I am a shoe addict! I love shoes! They can make or break an outfit. I use the "collector" thing as my excuse for owning so many. I currently have a few hundred pairs (all price ranges). I get the most excited about shoes when I find a pair at a great price that you know you will probably never see again. I don't understand how one cannot love shoes! You can always find a pair shoes in your size, unlike some styles/trends of clothing. Great blog! This is my 1st time visiting! I'm a 30+ style blogger too!

    wwww.1ststatestyle.wordpress.com

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  33. Hmm. I have a lot of shoes, but I have to say, I am not a "shoe person" because I don't get all gushy over decorative shoes for a life I don't have. I don't collect them just because they're pretty. If I have a pair of shoes in my closet that I never ever wear, I don't consider it normal, I consider it a mistake. My ideal shoe closet might have a couple of dozen options (different colors and occasions and seasons) and every single one of them would fit me perfectly, and be so comfortable that I could imagine wearing them on a ten mile trek (no matter what they look like or if I'd really DO that to them).

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  34. I wish I could be a shoe person. I would be one, if people would make shoes for me. But in a discussion on a woman's right to shoes, it needs to be acknowledged that manufactures have a right not to produce the shoes I need.

    If I go onto Zappos and do a search for my size (10, AAA width), my selection options decrease by a factor of 20 compared to regular width shoes (and even wide width has 11x more options than narrow). This isn't to sound bitter, because I'm not - I love how my narrow feet look and personally find them much more attractive than wider feet - but I have very few shoe options out there. What does exist rarely comes in color, as designers seem to think that as soon as your feet get skinny your style shrinks, too.

    I would be such a shoe person, if only designers would let me.

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