Finding the Perfect Pair

SnowshoesMy apologies for the light posting the last few weeks. Between travel and the craziness of December, combined with finishing up client projects, blogging dropped a bit on the list of things to do. However, a topic has stuck in my mind the last few days and it has to come out—shoes.

“Why shoes?” you ask. In part, because the variety of shoes available blows the mind. For example, this morning I went snowshoeing (thus the picture on the right), and I wore my trail running shoes. These particular shoes are different than my regular running shoes. Then there’s my everyday footwear. I usually wear a pair of Doc Marten sandals (yes, even during winter) with just about everything, much to my more stylish mother’s chagrin. So, in theory, my closet should be empty of all other shoes because these are the only three pairs I wear regularly. Sigh. I wish it was so.

My closet is home to approximately 30 OTHER pairs of shoes. And I strongly suspect that I’m not alone in my ownership of multiple pairs of shoes that rarely see the light of day. Let’s leave behind the number of shoes people may own and look at why people choose the shoes they do. For reasons I won’t examine too closely, I spent some of last Saturday in a shopping mall. Anyway, I passed the time by people watching and ended up with one central idea, “What possesses women to wear high heels, to the mall, in December?” Everywhere I looked, women were wearing tiny, spindly, tortuous-looking footwear that looked impossible to maintain one’s balance in, let alone walk without falling.

Our shoes are an excellent example of storytelling in the marketplace. Manolo Blahnik, maker of famous footwear, said in all seriousness that, ” My shoes are special shoes for discerning feet.” (link) Discerning feet? That’s a new one for me.

Using logic, not emotion, how many shoes does any one person need? I definitely don’t need 30, and yet, that’s what I own. So how did this happen? I listened to the story that I needed to have shoes that specifically matched individual outfits. I listened to the story that I needed to have shoes that specifically matched certain activities.

While I like to believe I’m a savvy consumer, and I suspect many of you do, too, our shoe-buying habits give us away. During the next few days as you give and receive gifts, think about the stories you’ve been told and how they may or may not relate to our habit of buying more shoes to join our other shoes in the closet.


(Image courtesy of m.prinke)


6 Responses to “Finding the Perfect Pair”

  1. December 20, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Since shoes are what is considered a “small ticket” purchase, I guess they’re often an impulse-driven buy. I suspect this might be even more true for most women, who might see shoes more as a fashion accessory, at least in some situations. In that case, I wouldn’t feel guilty for having 30 pairs of shoes. At any given moment, I have about 10 pairs of dress shoes and another 10 pairs of athletic shoes.

    What I find much more interesting about shoes is how both the quality and the styling of most mass-manufactured shoes (at least for men) has deteriorated over the past 20 years or so. With most manufacturong being outsouced to cheap-labor Asian countries, you find a lot of signs of poor quality. I’m talking about extensive use of rubber, moulded plastic, and designs that are obviously conceived to run quickly through a factory or sweatshop — resulting in ugly, bulbous shapes, poor fit, use of glue instead of stitching, seams that don’t quite meet, etc.

  2. December 21, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    I have heard that (and you can quote me on this ’cause it was on tv and everything on tv is true) – shoes are the NUMBER ONE REGRETTED purchase for women, regret that is felt even just minutes after the purchase, then I’m sure wears (no pun intended) off.

    …guess it sums up the impulse buy phenom’.

    Shoes. I think I wish I owned more, but I’m too utilitarian to own shoes for style only – and i’m too cost-conscious.

  3. 3 Britt
    December 26, 2007 at 6:50 am

    @Joe: Even more so than an impulse purchase, how often to people, men and women, go shopping for new shoes when they buy a new outfit? We’ve been told it’s part of the package and often believe that nothing currently in the closet will work for our purposes. In regards to quality, as with many things of late, the general public seems have settled for cheap over long lasting and/or attractive.

    @t h rive: I suspect you’re more accurate than not. Fews look as good in a store or make less sense once brought home than a pair of shoes.

  4. December 31, 2007 at 12:45 am

    I am very tame in the shoe realm (one pair brown and one pair black dress oxfords, one pair brown / one pair black cowboy boots, one pair sneakers – or urban hikers or whatever they are called now). I have noticed that I’ll often keep the old, ripped out sneakers a little too long after purchasing new ones, justifying this by saying I need another pair to mow the lawn or for fishing or what have you.

    While my shoe collection is fairly modest, my T-shirt collection would fill a closet. I’ve become a repository for T-shirts and could probably start a museum. I’ve lost count but at one point earlier in the year I estimated a grand total somewhere north of 200 T-shirts.

    I am presented with these every time I turn around. Attending a conference can sometimes net you six or seven free T-shirts, new business associations at work often bring a flood of “swag” including T-shirts, my family loves to buy me T-shirts as souvenirs from travel, some organizations provide their members with yearly T-shirts, et cetera.

    I have been the benefactor/victim of all of these means of distribution and more! Because I work in a very relaxed atmosphere and can utilize the garments, I guess I just feel that it is a waste to get rid of them. But enough is enough – not only can I not hope to use all of these T-shirts, but they take up valuable real estate which could better be used for something else. I am now in the process of winnowing down the pile as part of my year-end organizing.

  5. 5 Britt
    January 1, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    @Shannon: I, too, have a significant pile of t-shirts that I force myself to go through at least once a year. I have a hard time parting company with them, even though I donate all my old clothing, so I know they’re going to a good cause. However, it still feels like I’m throwing them away.

  6. January 4, 2008 at 9:28 am

    I’m not too bad on the shoes, but that’s because it is difficult to find shoes I like in my size. i have a bag problem however….

    Yet for both the bags and shoes there are 2-3 that i wear/use consistently and the remainder sorta just ‘hang out’ and wait ..

    we won’t go into the yarn stash… and I know i’m no where near as ‘bad’ as many i know …

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