Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

How many shoes does a girl need?


My sister and I spent some time analysing our shoe collections. We concluded that the elements of the average female shoe collection are:

Flats, heels.
Flats in different colours to match different outfits, heels in different colours to match different outfits
Heels you can walk in, and heels you can't walk in
Boots
Ankle boots, knee length boots, sheepskin boots
Flat or low-heeled ankle boots to wear with jeans, high heeled ankle boots to wear with more formal trousers
Knee length boots with high heels and knee length boots which are flat or have low heels
High heeled boots with heels you can walk in and high heeled boots you can't walk in
Boots, ankle or knee length, in different colours to go with different outfits
Sandals
Evening shoes
The kitten-heeled mules that are out fashion but might come back into fashion
Shoes which the sales assistant said would stretch, but didn't
Shoes which don't go with anything else
Shoes that were in the sale and which were bought because they were so cheap but which you don't really like
Shoes that seemed like a good idea at the time
Ugly comfortable shoes
Shoes so beautiful and uncomfortable that they can only be worn when you only have to stand or walk for a minimum of three minutes.
Shoes to wear at the gym
Shoes to wear round the house
Shoes which you've forgotten about
Shoes that only exist in a partial dimension, having left the other one at a hotel

I hope this explains the matter more fully for members of the a man only needs three pairs of shoes brigade

UPDATE
I do in fact possess a pair of boots of the type used for walking in rough terrain which I was forced to buy for a journalistic assignment to a remote and mountainous part of Turkey several years ago. I also have a couple of pairs of flipflops, but I don't count any of these as shoes, more like protective gear such as umbrellas or earmuffs. Possession of Crocs voids the entire shoe collection.

67 comments:

mq, cb said...

You forgot shoes that have a defined purpose, e.g. walking boots. I also have different categories of trainers: walking to work trainers, gym trainers, running trainers, running through mud cross-country trainers, funkier dress trainers, walk around all day trainers and do the gardening trainers (although I have wellington boots for that as well).

I also have emergency shoes that live underneath my desk at work. They come in navy and black and can be worn with anything. Their sole purpose is to jump into the breach if I suffer a shoe emergency, such as breaking my heel.

Do flip flops count as flats in your world? I think that they're really only for the shower in the gym or a spa but judging by the number of ugly, dusty feet I see every summer, most people apparently disagree.

Toby Wollin said...

Yep - that about covers it.

Nancy (nanflan) said...

I'm doing my best to eliminate the uncomfortable ones that can't be worn. It irritates me every time I see them in the closet and know that I threw money away on them. No more.

Clogs and yoga shoes are a distinct category in my closet. Love them.

Also, living in the Southwestern US, I have to include my collection of cowboy boots and shoe booties.

Phyllis said...

Word – I’m down with this list, although my own collection is smaller. I don’t; wear sandals due to my heinously ugly toes, and I don’t wear kitten heels or mules because they likewise look terrible on me. There is also the category of “shoes you love and won’t get rid of because that need to go to the cobbler”. My 20 year old Tony Lama cowboy boots are an example – they desperately need new heels and to be re-soled, and cowboy boot cobblers don’t exist in Boston.

Manolo is predicting a return to colorful shoes this spring, so it might be time add to the collection since that trend has not been with us for quite some time (I’, seeking Tiffany blue flats myself.)

And thank you for *not* including flip flops! They are good only for the beach, when you need to fetch the paper from the driveway in the morning, or after you have a pedicure.

materfamilias said...

Yes, you've done us all a great service, altho' I'm still not sure how convincing this will be to a man who could manage with just his Blundstones. Although I've been trying to seduce him into complicity, shoe by shoe, so that I think he's up to seven pairs now (well, including his trainers), to each of which he concedes its place.

Jenn said...

My ex use to ask me how many pairs of black shoes women needed. I came up with no less than 20. Flats including ballets, mary janes, casual sandals, dressy sandals, clogs & loafers. Heels: princess, 2" 3" and CFM 4" all in pumps and sandals. Wedges: sandal and closed toe. Boots: half, knee high in flats and heels and cowboy. We then need to address different textures, patent leather, matte finish, tooled leather, various reptiles, velvet etc...I see I was wrong, at least 30 pairs at minimum. Then we can get to colors....

Chaser said...

Linda lives in climate where there is actual weather, so her list differs from mine a bit. Given the southern California paucity of weather, I have the sandal category expanded in a similar way that her boot category is; however, many high-heeled sandals may be categorized by the "shoes so beautiful but uncomfortable you can only wear them when you are standing for 3 minutes or less" category--the kind of shoes you wear to the opera and you think critically about how far the walks from your front door to the taxi and from the taxi to the balcony really are.

I have evening sandals, beach sandals, resort sandals, work sandals, informal dress sandals, dressy sandals...it goes on and on.

dgm said...

That near 'bout covers it, only I second the cowboy boots and the need for a more expansive SoCal sandals list (and, I'm sorry, but in a beach town such as I live in, an expansive array of flip flops is a must or one looks like a big dork).

I would add a separate category for streetwear--casual shoes that are a bit sneakerish but not intended for working out--my own preference being for a variety of Pumas.

Bronwyn said...

But what about the flat thigh-high black suede buccaneer-style boots huh? The ones that go with the looong jersey and thick leggings, that you bought 20 years ago and that are really too young for you now but you keep them anyway? AND wear sometimes when it is very cold and you are feeling youthful.

Anonymous said...

What about the beautiful evening shoes you didn't buy because they're totally impractical and you never get invited to black tie events anymore but then they went on sale and you had to buy them because it was fate? i have at least six pair like that. and what about the Roger Vivier "but they only shipped to the US two pair in this size" so I had to buy them? and what about red? one needs multiple pair of red shoes in addition to black and brown.

texasexile said...

How many shoes does a girl need? I cannot count that high. Of course, I am wearing my new Prada platform boots which are almost identical to the older less expensive pair [Via Spiga] I already owned which are still wearable. But these are Prada, comfy and were on sale!

Princess Poochie said...

I don't think I have any of your following categories:
Shoes missing their mates or

Shoes that were in the sale and which were bought because they were so cheap but which you don't really like or

Ugly comfortable shoes

But I do have many of the shoes that don't really fit but are too beautiful/rare/unworn to give away and what about vintage beauties? Do they get their own category?

There is no upper limit to how many you need - each shoe I own is unique and special in it's own way and is judged and included as such.

Luv
Poochie

jennine said...

check
check
check

have you been snooping around my closet?

how did you know about the mules?
1998 gucci mules... i can get away with them, but i'd rather not.

and the 1997 miu miu square loafers. i don't know why i cant let go...

dana said...

And don't forget the shoes that linger from the types you've purged from your closet...Jennine is on to something here....my brown Espace crinkled leather kitten heel pointed toe boots with the exterior circle pull zipper and my 1997 Blay gray patent chunky square toe heel loafers...so out of style, so not appropriate to my lifestyle, still to die for. I did give the red satin platform wedges with pale blue, yellow and red fringe tape thongs and black waffle soles to the college student babysitter. Boy could those shoes rock the plain black outfit. Especially with a pale blue pedicure. Sigh.

enc said...

I love the way you wrote this.

Jane said...

Great synopsis - not that my hubby would see the point. I also agree with the sandal wearer amoungst the commentators. I'm almost to embarrased to admit it in public but I have found a pair of Mary Jane Crocs out a local store. Although they are still Crocs they definitely look a LOT better than the originals and for the sake of comfort (especially during the holidays) I'm claiming them for my "ugly but comfortable" shoes...

mq, cb said...

I like the "because it was fate" argument although typically I use it the other way. As in, the wonderful thing that I have lusted after and went back to visit in the store several times but which is too expensive/not quite right/probably didn't suit me even though I worshipped it slavishly has now been bought by someone else. So, with some hidden relief because it had been calling to me, I say, "you see. It Was Fate".

Works very well in shoes sales when I am confronted with some implausible beauty which reason tells me is unlikely ever to fit into my humdrum life.

Dain said...

I think "need" has a very basic definition, dependent on actual use, practical and social, and many people tend to confuse it with "want".

My very short list:
(1) perfect pair of pumps that'll do service for most things, preferably in black so it goes with everything
(2) a pair of fancier flats, for when you don't want to bother with heels, ballet flats, etc.
(3) a pair of boots, with a sturdy heel, for mucky weather
(4) a pair of athletic shoes
(5) flat sandals, for the beach
(6) a flirty summery heel, like espadrilles, for pairing with frocks
(7) evening shoes, fanciful and dramatic
(8) and maybe a pair of cashmere slippers, for lounging about the house

In my very humble opinion, you can live on these eight alone, and the list is open enough to accommodate all tastes, so long as they are carefully chosen, the very best and most beautiful. Everything else strikes me of consumer vanity.

LUVVIE said...

Umm, CLEARLY I have a lot of shoe soulmates in you all. My shoe collection is at a measly 60, and thats after a 15 pair purge this year.

My thoughts are a woman cannot have enough pairs of:

--Knee boots (different colors and styles needed) -- Have about 4 or 5

--Pumps (I'm a softie for them. Have too many pairs, including a pair of 4 inch ones I bought that have yet to see the light of day. But they ARE FIERCE)

--Shoes that make people want to rob you in daylight (I prefer these ones actually, b/c I consider myself the Mayor of Flashyville)

--Casual sneakers (LOVE LOVE LOVE Pumas)

Viva la SHOE WHORES EVERYWHERE!!!!

Margaret Nk said...

You said it: Viva La Shoe Whores EVERYWHERE! Need vs. want is relative: I needmy shoes/purses/jewelry and adjust my budget accordingly because I don't need as much food as some other people. And I keep other bills minimal. So you see, I feed my needs! And to combat rampant consumerism: many people benefit from closet purges including friends for whom I must lock my clothes closet or risk losing everything.

nicole said...

Yes everyone shud know the basics of selecting the perfect shoes..not all will know how to walk on "Charles David high heels"
Charles David high heels..gud job done..this blog will make every women learn abt shoes..

Anonymous said...

I used to own at least 35 pairs and moving to a one bedroom with a shared closet, forced me to declutter my collection and only consider walkable shoes that I would wear at least once a month.
Now I own 10:
2 pairs of sneakers
1 pair of beige wedges
2 pairs of open-toed wedges (beige and black)
1 pair of mary jane clogs
1 pair of black flats
1 pair of Birkenstocks
1 pair of brown loafers
1 pair of maroon clogs

I desperately want to buy a pair of red heels and a pair of nude flats. But I have committed to limiting my collection to 10. Fortunately, I think my beige closed-toe wedges will need to go after a couple more wears.

While I hate that I have such a small collection and selection, I love that I wear all of my shoes and that I can justify purchasing well-made shoes.

better shoesclothes said...

They come in navy and black and can be worn with anything. i like them, how to buy one

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