In response to a post on Shoe Smitten asking for a show and tell of shoe collections, I Iooked at my closet (and spare bedroom) full of shoes this weekend with pride and a little embarassment and snapped a photo to send in. I refuse to admit to any specific numbers by the way - I only checked the "46+" box! But it got me thinking, about why women love shoes so much. It's such a part of our lives. The love of footwear is a journey: honed, developed and grown into an eventual full out obsession almost from the time we are born.
Our adoration starts at a young age; as a baby girl we get our very first pair of cute little pink booties, and then the shiny red Mary Janes, and next a pair of beloved black and white saddle shoes. Even the socks made for baby girls have bows and straps and lace embroidered into the fabric, just like the fancy embellishments on a shoe. Yes, we start loving footwear young indeed.
Eventually, from baby girls we grow into little girls who watch Disney films. Enter Cinderella and her lovely glass slippers; Cinderella who has a fairy godmother and mice helping out with the chores, Cinderella who gets the handsome prince and a pimped out castle in Disney World. We start to wonder, “maybe it was the shoes that made all the difference.” Then when Mom thought we were old enough to handle the Wicked Witch, we were allowed to watch The Wizard of Oz. If you thought animated simple clear shoes were cool, then the sparkly, vibrant, Technicolor, ruby red slippers were etched into your mind forever. After seeing that movie, "red" and "heels" go together forever in your mind!
Then we get a bit older and go off to school. There we participate in a multitude of after school activities. The options are endless--dancing in perfect pale pink ballet slippers, become a short stop and get brand new black Nike cleats, glide across the ice and get figure skates and warm boots, cheerleading in Reebok cheer shoes, basketball in Air Jordans, tap dance in capezios, the list of activities with matching shoes could go on for quite some time.
Eventually from tweens to teens and all bets are off. Now it's time to "fit in and to be cool." What’s considered cool of course, changes; the Candies, Jellies and platform clogs of yesteryear (yes, I’m dating myself) have turned into today, where cool consists of 50 different styles of UGGs, sparkly Chuck Taylor Converse, oversized skateboarding shoes, and an extensive variety of flip flops, just to start the closet collection, and we haven't even mentioned the heels!
Once our teenage self moves off to college we begin to become the woman we want to be. At this point, we start develop our own real sense of style and shop, not for our parents, or our schools, but for ourselves. Maybe we experiment with Birkenstocks and combat boots (don't remind me - it was only a phase) or maybe we buy our first pair of real stilettos. We browse and shop. We discover the classic chic of the Audrey Hepburn look in cigarette pants and black ballet slipper flats. We're bombarded with the likes of Carrie Bradshaw and powerhouse celebrities in red soled Louboutins. We read all the fashion bloggers and Vogue, Elle, and Glamour and start to equate fabulous shoes with power and success. Finally it makes sense--when we wear heels, our legs appear skinnier, our butts look better, we look taller and thinner, and we definitely feel more confident in them.
Eventually we get married and have children (ok-some of us, like me, remain single).The married ones race between PTA and soccer camp; we cook, clean, and chauffeur the world from place to place. As we get older and gain a few pounds, we realize that no matter what our dress size, we'll always fit into our shoes. We can always slip in to the cobalt blue scalloped edged pumps, the champagne colored velvet peep toes, and the over the knee, too sexy for a mommy, black lace up boots. We ’ll always have our shoes.
The future perhaps? As we age, our preferred heel length will undoubtedly become lower and lower until we may be in loafers the majority of the time… and really, so life goes. Of course one day we’ll pretty much just shuffle around in comfy slippers, enjoying retirement. But by then our granddaughters will be scouring through the attic reviving our old footwear as vintage, bringing new life to them through their love of shoes, and so goes the circle of footwear life!