Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What do your shoes say about you?

Working at a shoe store has me thinking about the story my own shoe collection tells about me. First, I used to be a hoarder, keeping shoes that I hadn’t worn in a decade just in case they might come in handy, wearing my go-to sandals until they fell off my feet, replacing soles and heels until the cobbler shook his head at me. But right now I have nothing in my shoe collection that I haven’t bought in the past two years.

In February of 2007 my house burned down, and with it went my wardrobe and all my books. The books are a story for a different post, but the wardrobe was a chance to reinvent myself, at least sartorially. Our insurance reimbursement was structured such that we received only the depreciated amount for categories of lost items, until we replaced those categories, at which point we would receive the rest of the replacement amount. In effect, the insurance company handed me approximately $12k for clothes and shoes, $7k of which we would only get if I spent the money. It was … indescribable.

At any rate, my new wardrobe is way more fashion-forward than my old style. Gone were the sweat pants and old smelly tee shirts I had clung to post-pregnancy. Gone were the sensible flats and conference pumps that I wore to make me look older. (I’m old enough now that older is not a look I’m going for!) I splurged at Anthro and picked up unusual finds at boutiques. And the shoes … well.

Don’t get me wrong, my closet also contains sneakers, flats, flip-flops, and even a pair of Dansko clogs (although I think the patent leather on the clogs gives them a tiny bit of flair). But I have a decent collection, as this picture attests, of Take Me To Bed shoes. There are the Take Me To Bed And I’ll Live Out Your Childhood Dorothy Fantasies shoes, all shiny red and ruffly. Then there are the Take Me To Bed Or I’ll Kick Your Ass black gladiator sandals, with a heel substantial enough to do serious damage. I have Take Me To Bed And I’ll Grant You Three Wishes fairy princess shoes, so silvery that they catch headlights as I walk down a nighttime sidewalk. And my most recent acquisition, my Take Me To Bed gold metallic sandals with a 4” stiletto heel and delicate ankle straps, Nike Air cushioning, and enough Va-Va-Va-Voom in them to make me consider not taking them off until someone’s begging for mercy.

What do all these Take Me To Bed shoes say about me as a person? I like to think they say I’m a confident, mature, sexy woman who knows how to find balance, not just on stilettos but in other ways too. I’m not suggesting that high heels are somehow empowering from a feminist perspective (though I don’t think they necessarily aren’t). But I know how I feel when I wear a hot pair of shoes. I stand straighter, I walk with purpose. My gaze stays up rather than scanning the sidewalk ahead of me. I meet the eyes of the people I pass, and I smile. Because whatever my shoes might be saying, it’s what my eyes and my heart say that matter.

Of course, for when I don’t feel like saying anything at all, I’ll let my knee-high red patent leather boots speak for me.

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