With the almost apocalyptic heat we’re experiencing, people are wearing as little as they can get away with and that goes for on their feet as well. While shopping recently, I saw an entire wall of fancy flip flops. I am not a big flip flop fan but I admit shoe shopping calls to me. Sometimes I imagine the universal question is not “Why am I here?” but “Where is the closest DSW?”
I will not claim gender rights to this love of leather, canvas, rubber, plastic and various other “man made uppers.” I’ve known men who have as much passion as women when it comes to their footwear – just witness the almost surreal debacle in stores last year over the newest Air Jordans. The ensuing fights were equal opportunity lunacy.
From slippers to the most expensive shoes (reportedly the pictured pair of solid gold, high heel sandals, encrusted with 30 carats worth of diamonds, with a price tag of $228, 452), we love our footwear. Almost as much as buying them, we love to read about them and look at pictures of them. I hear shoe catalogs are grabbed out of the mailbox faster than copies of Time, People or O.
The library knows what people like to read and can offer more books about shoes than there is room to list them. For example, if you want to know the history of shoes, check out Where Will This Shoe Take You? : A Walk Through the History of Footwear or Hot Shoes: 100 Years of Sneakers from Start to Finish. If you are Imelda Marcos and think some of those 1,000 plus pairs you have in your closet are becoming outdated, try A Closet Full of Shoes: Simple Ways to Make Them Chic. For some fun fiction, pick up Shoe Addicts Anonymous, which is also being made into a movie with Halle Berry. My personal favorite (title) is Don’t Make Me Choose Between You and My Shoes.
The perceived importance of shoes can differ from country to country, culture to culture. Most of us go shoe shopping with style, color and perhaps price in mind. However in some countries, where going barefoot is the norm because of poverty, shoes are less about style and more about warmth, protection and possible survival. Organizations such as Shoes for Humanity, Soles4Souls and the Barefoot Kids Foundation collect “gently used” shoes to distribute to those in need.
To interject a touch of whimsy, I ask you, how would the prince have found Cinderella without the glass slipper? Wouldn’t Dorothy still be languishing in Oz if she hadn’t grabbed those ruby shoes? Footwear plays a big role in fairy tales and fantasy, as evidenced by the stories of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Puss in Boots, The Shoemaker and the Elves—as well as the aforementioned Wizard of Oz and Cinderella.
Take a look in your closet. How many pairs of shoes do you have (or will admit to having)? Someone said if you have more than three pairs – one for work, one for play and one for “dress-up” – then you have too many. What say you? How important—or unimportant—is what you wear on your feet?