Throughout modern history, women have carried on a torrid, emotional love affair with shoes.
While there is little scientific research to pinpoint the root causes of the fascination, empirical evidence suggests that it's a complicated, primal relationship influenced by at least three of the seven deadly sins – lust, envy and vanity. For many, the attraction is pure obsession.
When it comes to pursuing the objects of their desire, women are prone to irrational acts: buying shoes which clearly do not fit (and never will); accumulating copious amounts of footwear they’ll wear only once (or never); investing in styles that aren't structurally designed for them and may look totally ridiculous; risking embarrassment or permanent injury by teetering on too high skyscraper heels or stuffed into too tight toe-jammers.
All this because of some enigmatic yearning to adorn their feet with beauty.
Like any love addiction, a shoe romance can be excruciatingly pleasurable. Women will fabricate convoluted reasons to justify their insatiable thirst and irrational choices. Yet ultimate satisfaction does not necessarily culminate with possession.
For some it is the thrill of the hunt and the melodrama of courtship – attraction, flirtation, infatuation, fantasies about a fabulous future together, the first touch... In the end, there's either a sublime union, or desperation when it's clear the relationship can never work.
Shoe-obsessed shoppers are driven to make choices based on emotion rather than logic, which can result in physical, emotional and financial suffering. While professional therapy may be the only hope for some – Imelda Marcos and Carrie Bradshaw come to mind – here are a few rational thoughts to keep in mind the next time you feel an uncontrollable urge to splurge. (Our thanks for this information and advice from the seasoned sales ladies in the Designer Shoe Salon at New York's Bergdorf Goodman.)
The most important information a shopper must have is her shoe size. You would think every woman would know something as personal, elementary and constant. Surprisingly, this is not the case. If they're on the trail of an in-demand, ‘must have’ fashion item, many women will give salespeople a range that can vary by as much as two full sizes. This indicates they’re prepared to squeeze their feet into smaller shoes when the appropriate pair is not available... in their size.
"Size is emotional for most women," says Tamara, who has been stuffing size nines into sevens for over a decade. "They resent ‘upping’ their size. It's not that they don't know, but that they would rather not know so their choices aren't limited."
This denial is most likely innate, but the resizing of clothes a few years ago with the confounding "size zero" certainly didn't help the situation. Furthermore, some manufactures cut their shoes smaller than others. And while a knowledgeable salesperson will inform the customer, some women will persist: “I am a size 8. I couldn’t possibly fit into a 9.” The best friend a shoe shopper can have is a salesperson who is genuine and will be honest about what fits well.
Younger women should keep in mind that their shoe size may change during their teens. It behooves them not become ‘stuck’ in the smaller size perception, or they will suffer the consequences later in life.
If you are not certain about your size, most stores will measure your feet. Upscale online retailers have a 'fit model' which states: “Our fit model recommends ordering true whole size; ½ should order the next whole size up.” This is good advice.
A former Ford model, Cecille spent over a decade in LA styling videos, then moved back to NY as the Accessories Editor for Real Simple magazine. She writes about fashion, beauty and fitness and is a consultant and personal stylist for men and women