Monday, 12 December 2011

Heels and flip-flops

Thank God it's winter, because I can wear boots of one sort or another most of the time. And that means much, much less pressure on my ordinary shoes. I'm now down to only three pairs of flats that I can wear out of the house. One of the black ones is for really dressy occasions. The other black pair is for smart casual, and has become my default pair of evening shoes. And the third pair, champagne-coloured, is OK for daytime shopping, but is getting somewhat tatty, and by next summer will be fit only for the beach.

I don't normally wear heels. I assure you it's true. I actually have no high heels whatever, and only three pairs of medium-heeled shoes, which I hardly ever put on. Whatever the gain in better leg and bottom shape, they make me look taller, something to avoid at all costs. But the main reason for my not wearing heels is that they put undue weight on the ball of each foot, and make my toes feel crowded and uncomfortable. There is no way that I will sacrifice comfort for fashion, or do it for the sake of a girlier appearance. If it is really girly, that is: I don't see very many natal girls or women sporting heels away from situations where they are more-or-less obligatory - as part of a job dress code perhaps, or to look conventionally alluring when tottering from nightclub to nightclub. They must be hell to wear all day.

So no heels in my life! Strike one against my being a girly role model then.

It must already be apparent that I haven't got a vast collection of shoes, and you'd be quite right. And yet I am perfectly aware of the massive impression a really big shoe collection can make. I recall one girl at the office some years back who confessed to having nearly two hundred pairs of shoes. That may not be so terribly unusual - many of the women that I've discussed this topic with over the years wished they could afford just as many. It's not merely to have something suitable for absolutely any outfit or any occasion. It's just as much to possess enviable objects of beauty and style, as many as possible, each pair a reassurance that the owner is worth it. Shoes represent happiness. The more shoes, the more happiness. They also represent female power. Each fresh addition, needed or not, adds to the prestige and self-confidence of the woman who has made the purchase. Expensive shoes with high heels are even better than super-posh bags: bags do not go click-click-click as you walk along, and do not turn heads in anything like the same way, to announce your arrival. Even the storage problem at home is a positive thing, that says 'this lady puts shoes before most other things in her home'; and a spare room entirely devoted to shoe racks is a status symbol that will crush and silence most other women. As Imelda Marcos knew.

Well, I'm no Imelda Marcos. Strike two against me.

What about the other end of the feminine footwear spectrum? Where's my crocs and my flip-flops? Oh dear, none in the cupboard. I have worn thin-soled ballet pumps, but again my head tells me that these are not good for my feet, and they are impossible to wear on pebble beaches and rocky pathways and any kind of hard ground. I didn't get them out last summer, and they may never get worn again.

Strike three; and I'm out, my feminine credentials in tatters, with very little to throw in that might redeem me. Because I have no illusions about the Dubarry boots: they're nice, and they look quality, but let's face it, most women either haven't heard of them, or associate them with a huntin', shootin' and fishin' country lifestyle as far removed from suburban life as it's possible to get. The epitome of 'county'. Footwear for snobs. And not footwear for glamorous girly girls. I also have pale blue wellies with hens on them, which are cute, but like the Dooberries they have no heel, and no pizzazz, and Jessica Rabbit wouldn't be seen dead in them.

Where does this leave me? Lacking in femininity? Less of a woman? It depends on what you think maketh one. I'm not going to worry.

Boots on: let's get some fresh air.


  1. Dubarry boots not well known? Not sure about that - my partner would have a pair like a shot if she could get in them !!

    I don't think your femininity is in doubt if you are basing it on stereotypes - the fact that you thought long and hard about them.... and still went ahead despite talking about saving?


  2. Oh, I don't doubt my femininity one bit - indeed the subtext of this post is that high heels and a big collection of footwear matter very little as female indicators, and nobody proves anything with them.

    If you're quite sure that Dubarry really is well-known, them I'm obviously pleased. But even in affluent and countrified Sussex, not many women are actually wearing them. I dare say that's because of the high cost. Alas, a significant part of my remaining cash went on buying them, and it will be a long time before I can afford anything comparable again! But it was worth it. They are so comfortable, and are my footwear of choice if going out. And I certainly get what I interpret as covetous looks from other women - not that I want to make anyone feel more than very mildly envious!


  3. I never quite understand why women wear high heels. When I see someone on stage like Kylie tottering around limiting her dance moves through fear of falling over I don't quite understand why she'd want to do this to herself.

    But what I do know? I'm a transman after all.

    Love reading your blog. :)

  4. Well you must have seen the pics on my blog (Gallery) where I photographed several pairs of very high heeled shoes I possess. However, I agree with you, these shoes only ever came outon special occasions and almost never get worn these days. I do have middle height more chunky styles that get a lot of wearing though. A note for LL Cool Joe, I actually found dancing in high heels far easier than just walking in them. High heels are great if the floor/ground is nice and flat and if you can sit down most of the time! Although boots are nice to wear I wouldn't wear them on a night out. I have four pairs of boots only one of which can be worn when going for a walk, the others are fashionable with mid height heels. I am not sure having plenty of shoes makes me any the happier but I do love shoes and would fill a room with them if I could afford to. As it is my collection is probably modest at around 30 pairs or so. About the toes being squashed: I find that the lower to middle heel heights tend to make my feet slip forward which can 'squash' the toes in the front but funnily the very high heels don't do that, they make the toes bend allowing them to sit flat on the floor. Of course higher heels can cause problems elsewhere can't they?

    Shirley Anne xxx


This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford