Shoes

Or shoo-ess, which is how my grandmother pronounced “shoes.”

I went browsing through a shoe store tonight, one of those massive warehouse-like places with quiet carpeting and aisle upon aisle of shoe. I love shoes.  The number I have is enough to make me feel guilty.  But as I meandered along the clearance shoes, I couldn’t help thinking:

I don’t get it.

How did we get so obsessed with shoes?  How is footwear so vitally important to an outfit?   To someone’s image?  To the sense of their innate coolness?  How can an amazing pair of shoes redeem the boring-est jeans and t-shirt?

The store fills three or four aisles with dangerously high, skinny heels.  I ignore those.  I can’t walk in them for more than two minutes, and anyway I don’t need to be any taller than I already am.

A couple more aisles have more wearable shoes, some adorable, some boring and sensible, even ugly.  I always gravitate toward the ones that are cute but too casual for my current job and too dressy for dressing down.

Then there’s the 25 leftover pairs of boots, on clearance now to make room for the two or three aisles of sandals, flip-flops, peep-toe, and strappy little numbers that will be wearable in a few months.  Or, I guess, next week, for people who actually have spring break and go to warm, sunny beaches.  I just don’t understand why they sell things that are so far ahead of the current season.  It’s February, for Pete’s sake.  There’s snow and slush and ice on the ground.  Meanwhile, the poor elegant boots are displayed like lepers.

Most of all, I don’t get the arbitrainess of fashion: why cotton canvas is casual but silk is dressy, flats are one thing and heels another, all the combinations of toes and straps and buckles and so on.
(This is something I’ll write more about another time, since I think about it a lot.)

I don’t get it.  I love shoes, but I don’t get how they came to signify so much.

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