Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life Is Too Short for Comfort Shoes

What is it about shoes? They are either the cause of great frustration or great delight among women. Perhaps because we, even more so than men (hi, let me generalize & stereotype a bit here) are on our feet more, running around & doing more, taking care of other people more, trying to live up to expectations, & having to work twice as hard for half the pay (was that my outside voice?).

Our feet take a lot of abuse. They either hurt & we want to swaddle them in comfort shoes, or decorate them in the most fantastical, gorgeous, & outrageous footwear as if to sartorially say "take a hike!" to all those expectations & duties & suchlike that seek to weigh us down.

Wow, that was a lot of ridiculous pontificating about what goes on our feet. Sorry, that's what you get from a writer who spent way too much time in higher education analyzing the queer-feminist implications of Victorian literature ;-)

I used to wear rather practical shoes, a lot of flats & low-heeled boots. I reasoned that this was required because I walked a lot & took public transit, as I don't drive a car. Then, in 2002, I went to Paris, France, & was amazed to see women of various ages walking all over the city, & it seemed that every one of them wore gorgeous high-heeled shoes. Mostly elegant pumps, kitten heels to spindly stilettos, even on the cobblestone streets in the Marais & Left Bank. These ladies walked purposefully, swiftly, sometimes walking tiny little dogs or arm-in-arm with a gentleman or taking a child somewhere. They were doing the business of life & doing it with style.

I realized, then & there, that I was wasting time with clunky, boring flats. I needed to get on a heel & get going.  Life is too short for comfort shoes (or for cheap liquor either). There is a place for practicality, but it need not be every single day. And practicality doesn't have to mean dull either. I'm with Sal of Already Pretty when she rhapsodized in her Ode to a Pump -- there's just something special about a bit of heel that makes a gal walk straighter.

I'm sure this post (if it's read!) will get complaints about "but I have Serious Foot Condition X that requires Special Comfort Shoe X." Ok, fine, but do you really need to wear that every day of your life? Can't you switch it around for part of the week? Are you *that* disabled? If I really was that disabled, I would invest some money in having fabulous custom shoes made (or orthopedic inserts that could fit into any shoes or whatever). Because you have to live with Serious Foot Condition, but you don't have to let it rule your life. Don't use it as an excuse to be boring.

It's like saving the "good china" just for once a year at the holidays. That means you miss out on it all year long. If you say you can only wear cute shoes when you go out to a fancy dinner or to the opera, but you hardly ever go to those places, well, wtf? That's a waste. Wear the cute shoes to get groceries, if that's the only time you leave the house. Live it up while you can, right now. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow!

(Shoe images from Zappos.com.)

20 comments:

  1. Life is, indeed, too much for these things.

    My friend's mum is thinking about giving away a lot of her old shoes to me -- we are the same size, yay -- and while a lot of them are 3" - 5"+ inch platforms that I really want, I might grab a couple of stilettos (she's giving away a ton of them), too. Y'never know ..

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  2. I can't phrase it more perfectly than lifeofglamour, sadly, but I agree.

    I've also heard it about clothes: having "nice" clothes that you only wear for "nice" occasions and having boring clothes for everyday wear is like having a gorgeous parlour you only use for "special" occasions.

    It's pointless and no fun.

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  3. In my own defense, I clomp around in Chucks and Docs because I'm saving my feet. Not for heels -- for running. As someone with bad feet, I'd rather wreck them being active than in a pair of pumps.

    I do own heels, and wear them occasionally, but I have a sartorial preference for the juxtaposition of feminine clothing with decidedly non-feminine shoes. I also don't like that the current options are sky-high heels or flats. I'd love it if shoe companies brought back the 2" heel walkable pumps that were everywhere in the 30s-40s....they were cute without being crippling. The only medium heels I can find are clunky and unattractive.

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  4. Well said! I'm totally with you. The "formal" living room is our everyday living room and we use the crystal glasses regularly! All while wearing awesome shoes. :-D

    A big part of wearing heels without pain is taking care of your feet. I stretch my toes and ankles before the heels go on and after they come off, and I almost never experience even a tinge of discomfort wearing heels all day, nearly every day. Good fit is also crucial for comfort.

    Thank you for posting this encouraging message for the women of the world! :-D

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  5. I looove heels, and wear them often. I put Foot Petals inserts in them, and it helps a bunch to make me feet not ache after a long day.

    My sister also pointed out Heel Condoms to me today (far more fantastic than they sound!) I definitely want to get some of those, now.

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  6. Very well written! It was a good reminder for many of us to make ourself stylish. A bad pair of shoes can ruin the whole outfit or turn a dull outfit to something nice. I have to change to workwear shoes at work (when going out to the production lines) but I can alternate. So I travel to and from work with heels. I can say that thigts and nylonstockings looks quite ridicilous with workwear shoes. My sister in law and her daughter went to paris for a short trip. Put on some flat heels for walking a lot. They were even pointed at their feet by other high heeled french girls.

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  8. I'd rather be comfortable.. there's no way I can walk for more than 20mins in SMALL heels. I want to enjoy whatever I'm doing.. not bitching to myself about how much my feet hurt.

    On the other hand, I DO understand your point. The bottom line is I'm a baby and I just can't suffer for fashion.

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  9. I have tried to up my heels recently. I can get to 2 1/2" without too much discomfort (I have intermittent plantar fasciitus - insoles are my friend). My problem is, I am klutzy and not only will twist an ankle or slip of a stair, but I will also accidentally scrape or hit my foot on objects all day and scuff the shoes. I keep special stuff for special occasions, because everyday use trashes them pretty quick.

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  10. I know what you mean. One rainy day I tucked into a table by the window at my favorite tea shop, halfway up a steep cobblestone hill in Geneva, and after watching at least a dozen women walk by confidently on spindly stilettos I realized I would either have to conclude that Swiss women were magical creatures or it really as difficult as I was making it out to be to walk in heels. I am still not big on major heels, but I do insist on cute shoes always.

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  11. Ooh, this makes me look at my chunky Vans with an extra wary eye. I'm wearing my new boots today and I definitely feel more confident than when I'm in my skate shoes. And there are some gorgeous heels out there. Totally drool worthy. Maybe even pain worthy. Thanks for the inspiration. I think I'll wear my one pair of heels tomorrow.

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  12. Ahh, the debate. I love heels, but I stick to 2" or less, and non-skid soles. I <3 my Fluevogs!

    And yes, I wear hiking boots or black leather hiking shoes with skirts and dresses (and socks and leggings!) in the fall and winter. If I have to walk down the mountain because of a snowstorm, I want to be prepared! (I carry a headlamp, too! So dorky..)

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  13. I had a similar experience in that I had taken to being lazy about my mode of dress working in a very casual office where the uniform shoe might have been flip-flops. I may have pined over my "dressing up" days, but didn't give it much thought until a stylish young lady came to work with us. I noticed how smart her casualness looked, often wearing jeans with classy heels. For some reason I'd always thought this a no-no. She inspired me to start dressing up for myself, with or without occasion, and to improve my shoe collection. I haven't looked back.

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  14. I live in my adidas track shoes, mainly for practical purposes. I am on the sales floor of a tobacco shop for at least eight hours a day and then I go to class. Awesomely cute heels just aren't practical in those settings. It doesn't mean that I don't have a rather large collection of highly impractical shoes stocked up for special occasions!

    I can't wait to finish school and get a job where I can wear my highly impractical cute shoes to work.

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  15. That does it. I'm wearing my lace-up Fluevog boots tomorrow!

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  16. High heels -vs- flats ... I have to go with flats. I'm on my feet all the time while teaching and/or running about in archives. I need to be comfortable. Besides, I have a really bad arthritic toe that can't stand being in heels for too long. There are some exceptions, of course, but not many. :( Ah well.

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  17. I prefer flats over heels any day. I walk a lot for I do not own a car. Where I live buses aren't very good service wise so I end up walking to my destination or to the train stop. Shoes nowadays are just ridicuolously high. I see women walking on them and it's funny because they look like fearful ballerinas. If I'm going to be walking all stiff like that then I prefer my Vans. I'll wear cool looking flats to work or to social gatherings but heels are a no-no at least in these times. I do agree with some of the comments; i do like 2" heels. Those I've worn and they are pretty nice but it's hard to find nice looking 2" heels anywhere anymore. I think it depends on the person. I believe life is too short to also massacre ones feet for the sake of fashion, but then again.that is my personal belief.

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