Saturday, August 05, 2006


Before I could go into the birthday party yesterday I had to buy a pair of shoes to replace the ones that The Yellow Dog used as a chew toy. I've had to buy shoes for Princess for the same reason. In fact Yellow Dog has chewed so many shoes that if he comes inside, Princess and I race to secure our shoes in a place above shoulder height. Looking at all the possibilities, yesterday, got me thinking about shoes.

Shoes truly make a statement about who you are. Change your shoes and your projected image changes and, possibly, your self view changes. Let's look at the possibilities.
  • Strappy high heel slides raise your stereotypical feminine image. A sway of the hips compensates for the added height and unstable foundation. Care is taken not to trip or step on non level surfaces (at risk of breaking an ankle) leading to a perceived sense of frailty. Stooping to pick up something is more difficult so others are called upon for assistance. Added height provides pound trimming length and graceful lines.
  • Classic Birkenstock sandals create that "of the earth" image. The perfectly molded foot bed and lower than flat heel seem to firmly root you to the earth. Movement is slow and thoughtful. The longer you wear these the slower you get because the straps stretch, so keeping them on your feet while moving quickly becomes difficult giving you plenty of time to contemplate the protection of the earth or yourself. Expect to look as if you have gained a few pounds while wearing these. Honestly, I think you do gain weight.
  • Tennis shoes are for the all action woman. Tied on for greater stability, the tennis shoe gives the wearer the freedom to move, without worry. The newer tennie shoes add a little height so you present a lean, vigorous and healthy image. Unfortunately, tennie (tennis) shoes don't work well for all outfits, though the tennis shoe manufacturers are working to create dressy styles that seem as if they could cross some borders, but don't be fooled.
  • The flip-flop (even the sequin studded varieties) project a casual image with that rubber popping sound that says, "I am so cool. I just came from the pool." Variety is the hallmark here with high, low, sequin, fabric thong, rubber thong, and the classic shower shoe. You are too cool to break a sweat, but you usually have a nice tan on nice legs.
  • The hiker (boot or walking shoe) is like the tennis shoe in that you have that tied on freedom of movement, but you also have the freedom to move off of the pavement. Women wearing these shoes are generally making the statement that they are a more active earth person who can handle most tasks unassisted, making it the consummate shoe for the feminist. Mud, water, and dew laden grass are not a problem, though looking and feeling great in a dress could be.
  • The mid height pump is the all business, all class shoe. For summer, lets throw in the open toe varieties (as long as they aren't too high or too strappy). Pump people are keen on tradition, have a business like attitude, and are immune to the swayings of the fad driven fashion industry. Expect to find tailored type clothing and a keen sense of order above the shoes.
  • The ballet shoe seeks to do too much and sometimes succeeds at little. A cross between a pump and a tennis shoe, the low to the ground, yet more classic look is a favorite of those who overdo. Style is sacrificed for comfort and freedom of movement, yet the attempt at a more polished look hints at someone who likes order and could be self sufficient, but likes to have a man around.
  • The high wedge, another cross selection, is high enough to bestow the length of line of the high heel sandal with more substantial foundation and straps that scream power. This person wants it all - sexy femininity, long lines, style, and action. Expect business from this person who is willing to forgo comfort for style while maintaining a demanding pace.
  • Doc Martens make that I am too angry to be a part of society statement. Rebellion is only a heartbeat away.
  • The compromise is the shoe that attempts to be stylish without sacrificing comfort or stability. It usually fails on all accounts, but gives the wearer a sense of stylish conformance, a little height (but not pound reducing height), and enough of a base as not to be dangerous. For the most part, people who wear this shoe have just taken off one of the other shoes on the list.
If we pretend that shoes don't make a difference we are fooling ourselves. If you wear shoes that are worn, dog chewed, or scuffed people assume that you don't care about yourself or that you can't afford nice shoes. If you wear expensively styled shoes in good repair you scream success. The same goes for your handbag, if you use one. Think about the classic movie scene in The Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal Lector places Clarice Starling as a wan-a-be.

Shoes matter. Women have been shoving their feet in shoes for centuries to make a statement or prove who they are. Think geishas or Cinderella in glass slippers. Think "barefoot and pregnant." And, though men have it easier their shoes speak volumes too.

What shoe are you today?


JoVE said...

Interesting classification. Doc Martens actually make a few different styles including ones with straps (are they Mary Janes?) so I tend to think of them as sensible with a touch of femininity. Also good for feminists. And high heeled strappy always say drag queen to me. My cousin (who is a drag queen) has a very funny story about how life changes when wearing these which centres on how far down it is to the toilet.

I think the flip side of this discussion is, of course, the impact of limitations (or not) on your movement. How vulnerable are you in shoes you can't run away from an attacker in, for example.

And what kind did you buy?

wisteria said...

What would you guess - just curious? Then, I promise to fess up.

mull-berry said...

Matte-silver flip flops with "platinum" nail polish (one coat only) for me this summer.

I'm guessing for the party, you got a pair of "ocean-design" flip flops.

zilla said...

I, too, find myself more curious about your shoe selection than I am interested in revealing my own. Do tell!

I love the Tightwad Gazette's Shoe Program: 3 pairs of white sneakers -- the newest pair is for being seen in ( church or parent-teacher conferences); the oldest pair is for mowing the lawn in; the in-between pair is for everyday wear (the grocery store).

But I don't subscribe to this program, because I am anti-shoe. Yes, the soles of my feet are green after mowiing what's left of my lawn this morning, and I resent winter because it means flip-flops no longer cut it for a trip to the grocery store. Having revealed that, I will admit that the shoes I adore the most are 1940's style open-toed, ankle strapped high heeled pumpy things I imagine Rosie the Riveter wore when she was hoping for a little attention from a man who was denied the privelege of serving his country for nothing more debilitating than flat feet.

I dig hot shoes, but danged if I want to wear them. I'm the barefoot contessa at heart.

I loved this post and I think it would be a real gas to start a triptych photo meme: the pair you wear most often; the pair you own but wear the least; the pair that reveals the most secret part of you.

Shoes! Not panties!

I dare you to get it started before I get my high speed connection back!

Frankie said...

Great post!

I'm also curious what you got!

I have shoe envy. I just can't do shoes. I have extremely wide feet and it's next to impossible to find shoes that fit. Plus my right foot/ankle swells.

I'm currently sporting a pair of name-brand sports flip-flops in black. They are velcro fastened and almost all the velcro shows because my feet are so wide. In the winter I wear Nikes and/or hiking boot-type tennies. But any time of year, I prefer bare feet. I'm like zilla, I have green-stained feet. lol

My shoes are ugly, but there's not much I can do about it.

And I still call flip-flops thongs. Does that date me?

wisteria said...

Jove, Yes Doc Martens do make those tough Mary Janes and Birkenstock makes a not so Birkie design, too. I suppose, I just needed a stopping place.

Also, those drag queens know how important shoes are to the feminine image. That is why most, but not all, choose the strappy heel. They want that beauty queen walk and length.

wisteria said...

I bought The Compromise. I wanted comfort in a style that was not so casual as a flip flop and not so dressy as a strappy heel. Now, you will have to wonder what my regular shoes are.

Zilla, I think this would be a great meme. Even though I think they are fun, I feel others don't want to be tagged. This one should be fun. I will try to start it today.

Mother Crone's Homeschool said...

This was a great post, and very thought provoking. It drove me to mentally take stock of my closet, and to decide that I am utterly shoe-schizophrenic. I love my Birkie's (sandals & clogs)in the usmmer, but also some wedge, open toe clogs, some funky flip-flops (when I am feeling so cool from the pool). I love tennies, and I also live in Land's End all-weather mocs, in various colors. I love clogs of varying height and style; and funky boots. I have classic 40's pumps and Italian leather ankle strappy jobs. The only limit for me is basic comfort.

That being said, I realize that I 1) have more shoes than I need, and 2) realize my shoes choice reflects my mood of the day, and can sometimes change my mood as well. I am not set by a constant standard or "look" , but how I want to project and feel on a certain day and place.

fashion said...

yeah!...i agree with your comments, shoes really make big difference in everyone's i choose my favorite timberland shoes....i feel the difference