It is one of fashion's biggest stereotypes ['a truth universally acknowledged'?] that women are addicted to shoes.
Men especially love to complain about this, they cannot grasp why women would need more than two pairs of shoes per season if men can happily [and stylishly!] live with that quantity.
I myself - although a woman [if, perhaps, a rare type?] - have for a long time not completely managed to understand this. Whilst of course I like shoes as part of the big world of fashion, I certainly prefer clothes. I find it so difficult to find myself shoes I like that also fit and look good on me [oh, that elusive holy trinity] that often I don't even try to shop for them. Consequently, my 'shoe wardrobe' is rather modest - and this, I have come to realize, often proves seriously limiting to the variability of the rest of my wardrobe.
And that was when the penny dropped.
The thing is that shoes are the foundation of a wardrobe - certainly of mine. When planning what to wear, more often than not the first question will be: what shoes? and the rest of my choices will have to be built upon the choice of shoes. This may indeed be because we [usually] own fewer shoes than clothes, but also because:
- Shoes, more than most other parts of any outfit, are indispensable. You do not have to wear a skirt, a jumper, etc, you can always replace them with something else you'd rather wear - but shoes? Non-negotiable.
- Shoes are the piece of the outfit that are most affected by the weather and other practical considerations [raining? how much will I have to walk? carrying anything heavy? city or countryside environment? etc]. Which is one of the first things one considers when deciding on what to wear and which can often really limit the possibilities.
- Shoes also often play the most important role in determining the comfort factor of an outfit. Which, as we know, is key to how good we feel in what we wear: rarely does one glow in shoes that pinch, feel out of place or are being ruined by rain or mud. Again, a key consideration when one is getting dressed.
- Finally, shoes can completely influence the 'success' of an outfit, partly in terms of flattery and partly in terms of vibe. A dress that looks great barefoot can be killed with trainers [yes, this is typically the case with shorter legs] but even with too high heels [which can over-emphasize curvy hips or thighs and make that dress overly clingy in places]; or made look way too 'office-like' with heels when we are dressing for a weekend lunch - etc etc.
So, ultimately, if we do not have the right shoes to wear with an outfit [or to wear it well], we will, more likely than not, not wear the outfit.
Which means that in order to be able to use our clothes to their best potential, we must have a variety of shoes for different weather, occasions and vibes.
Yes, my minimalist side is genuinely cringing at this - I'd much rather be able to wear everything with just two pairs of shoes - but experience shows that, unless one lives in the middle of the forest and never ventures into civilization, this is very much the case. The more varied a life one lives, the more shoes we will need to cater for it. Especially women like me, whose legs are less than endless, and who therefore will not look good in just any type of shoe, in particular when it comes to flats.
Now, of course there are women who take this to an extreme and genuinely end up with way more shoes than they actually wear. But this is not what we are talking about here.
So the next time you get told off by your significant other / feel guilty for wanting to buy a pair of shoes, think about this:
- Do these shoes fill a gap in my wardrobe?
- Will they enable me to wear some of my existing items that I don't / don't often wear?
- Will they enable me to get dressed more easily for certain occasions/types of weather?
- Do they provide a useful second [no more please: a third is quite unnecessary] alternative for a pair that I wear all the time?
If the answer to any of the above is yes [truthfully - no cheating here, especially with the last one!], you are legitimately in the clear for making the purchase without being labelled / worrying about being an addict : )