New Shoes!

Dear Feet,

I am writing to apologise for my conduct over the last few years, having realised how inappropriate it was, and having realised how much I was asking from you whilst giving so little in return. I want to apologise for all those years of ballet pumps and vintage slip-ons, of Topshop and River Island sneakers with no padding and no structure and no support, for those boots I bought last winter and which have probably clocked up a wearing time of about six months actually on my feet despite the fact that they gave me corns and blisters and I never did ‘wear them in’ as I hoped I would and then claimed I had. For all the times I ‘forgot’ to wear my insoles or pack more wearable options and for the number of pairs of shoes I have bought from places which probably have no business selling shoes to anyone, let alone freaks like me.

I appreciate now that you are my feet, and you will continue to be my feet for the rest of my life, and that I want the majority of that life to be spent capable of using my feet to get about. I’m sorry, little toes, for constantly ignoring you until you were nothing more than a giant red corn with what may once have been a toenail. I’m sorry for overlooking the giant callouses on the tips of each toe and on the balls of my feet, and for refusing to admit how much pain they put me in.

I should probably also apologise to all my friends for constantly bitching about my footwear, about how difficult I find shoe-shopping and how painful all my shoes end up being; to my parents for not heeding the advice they drilled into me since I was small about how I should always wear and own sensible shoes. I hope I never have cause to give any of you pain ever again,

Yours Humbly,


Yes, folks. Yesterday I went into a Proper Shoe Shop, got firstly misdirected to the kids’ shoe section (I think the manager didn’t really take in me as a person so much as the fact that I was with my mother), and then finally had my feet properly measured and looked at. And then I tried on all kinds of different styles and makes of shoe until we found a pair that are primarily very comfortable and which also look actually really nice. On a spectrum from ‘I-straighten-my-hair-and-wear-everything-Grazia-tells-me-to-wear’ to ‘festival-going-hippy-with-dodgy-taste-in-purple-headgear’ they do fall definitely right of centre, but they are also not dull old Ecco lace-ups like I was half-expecting. They’ll work well with the kinds of clothes I wear and what’s more I walk differently in them. Far more elegantly. If you look, carefully, at pedestrians on a busy street, look at the women especially, think about it, and it soon becomes obvious that a lot of them are either in pain or desperately trying to stop their shoes from falling off their feet, and those of us in that group walk weirdly. Far more attractive are those who walk properly. I practically glide. Well, as near as I’ll ever get to gliding. I’ll never be the most elegant of people.

Anyway. New shoes. I cannot put into words the love I feel for these shoes. And in the winter I shall buy a pair of sensible boots from the same wondrous shoe emporium.

And yes, photos to follow. If I can work out what’s gone wrong with my camera this time. Or if I can be bothered to upload photos from my iPhone to my computer, or whatever. Promise. Perhaps.



Filed under Beginnings, Fashion, Happenings, Life

20 responses to “New Shoes!

  1. mikel

    Feet a much overlooked and abused pair of friends that usually make it very plain that you are abusing their friendship in no uncertain terms.
    Have to admit the things people wear on theri feet never cease to amaze me, especially the ladies.
    I have had occassion to drive through town (about 12 miles south of unitown) in the wee small hours and I have actually stopped at the side of the road to watch some of the young lasses walk up the road. Obviously several sheets to the wind, walking (in their minds at least) a straight line up the pavement wearing high heels that must be in excess of 4 inches high – matching the length of their pelmets, too short to be skirts. Wobbling just doesn’t come close and if it was not for the painkilling effects of the alcohol they’d surely be in screaming agoney.
    Ho hum, fashion

  2. s’all to do with the way society expects women to dress, lyk.


  3. Oh what rot!

    High heels are wonderful, elegant creations! And I resent the implication that in believing this, I must ‘buy anything Grazia tells me’. Grazia?! Try Vogue, darling. Besides, liking heels has nothing to do with being told what to wear. It’s to do with confidence – heels are instant posture fixers! They instantly make anyone look better. And I actually find them more comfortable than flats.

    I can walk perfectly well in high heels, thank you very much. I think it’s a necessary life skill for any woman to be honest. I find it truly embarrassing when I see women who can’t walk in their heels. Poor heels! I find it equally unfathomable that some women would wear flats on a night out – I mean, pack some for the end of the night, of course, but to wear them for the WHOLE EVENING? Wrong, plain wrong. Heels make dancing so much easier! I don’t find heels uncomfortable, but would rather have my tootsies complaining a bit than look anything less than my best.

    I’m sure your shoes are lovely, but I doubt they will make you more elegant than a woman who knows how to properly work her Louboutins (or highstreet equivalent).

  4. Height of heel on its own does not an elegant shoe make. Lack of heel does not a comfortable shoe make. I wear three inch heels to work because they’re the comfiest things I own, aside from walking boots, and they look smart. Equally if you’re wearing heels, and you’ve had a bit to drink… you’ve still had a bit to drink. That’s not elegant, sorry.

    I’d wear flats on a night out. Bugger that elegance comes solely from your shoes (pardon the pun). On the other hand, I see exactly what Laura means about confidence – I think it’s a height thing rather than a posture thing, though.

    As for the Inequality Inherant In The System, Society can do whatever the hell it likes. You can’t blame it for everything. Society expects men to be testosterone-fuelled boy racers. You build your own prison.

    Dammit, chaps, I think you’re ALL wrong.

  5. excellent! 🙂 A good bit of controversy is always delightful.

    I was joking, partially, in my comment.

    On the other hand, I’d maintain that a pair of well-made, supportive, flat shoes are often, if not always, more comfortable than heels.

    I also think it’s ridiculous to say that the ability to walk in heels is a necessary life-skill for a woman. And I always wear flat shoes on a night out. I’d prefer to be able to walk, than look like a giraffe on stilts. Which is never actually going to happen to me anyway, as I’d just look a bit more like a mouse on twigs, but there you go.

    I think people who look comfortable are also more attractive. And I find that people complaining about the discomfort of their feet, no matter how elegant they may look in their sky-high heels, are not really ever that attractive…


  6. Well, I’m always comfortable in my heels. Always. I’ve been shopping in Paris wearing four-inchers and my feet only began to whimper slightly by about 6pm.

    And, if you read my post, you’ll see that I criticised people who wear heels if they can’t walk in them. I’m saying that if you know how to wear your heels, it is hard to find a more elegant item of attire.

    “I’d prefer to be able to walk, than look like a giraffe on stilts.”

    Oh, of course, every girl who wears heels looks like this. I’m sure I look like this when I go out. Thank you for telling me how ridiculous I am.

    I’ll throw out my shoes now so I can become less ridiculous and more ‘comfortable’.

  7. Oh bog off Laura. We don’t all think you’re terrible, you know. Incidentally, on Wednesday, I’m buying a pair of absolutely gorgeous shoes from work – you can critique them on Wednesday night, yes? I’ve been drooling over them for-bloody-ever. They’re slightly higher than my usual so I can only just walk in them, but they are sodding stunning. Feel free to point and laugh.

  8. As a fellow orthoses and sensible shoes (which are SO hard to find to fit) wearer – yay!

  9. Sorry Fi – I have issues with the hormones at the moment. I very much look forward to seeing your shoesies!

  10. Flix

    On a spectrum from ‘I-straighten-my-hair-and-wear-everything-Grazia-tells-me-to-wear’

    Haha, brilliant.

    Pictures, please? I was so hoping for one at the end of this post, it’s a perfect entry for a photo.

  11. Jenny

    To clarify: I rarely wear heels, I don’t know why, but I don’t. I am, however, quite capable of walking elegantly in them for a full day or night (oh, children, you should have seen me at a recent cocktail party I went to, I felt like, I don’t know, Audrey Hepburn or someone, if that iconic black dress had been made of flame-red satin instead of black), and dancing for hours on them although yes, by the end of the night, they burn rather. I do also agree that a woman who walks well in heels does look very elegant although I do also agree with Clare that it is in no way a vital life skill for a woman. That said if you’re going to wear heels then bloody well learn to walk properly in them and if you can’t do it then *don’t*. I also think mid-height heels are more elegant than really high ones but I do see why higher heels are more flattering to the leg if you’re wearing a shorter skirt (which again I just don’t tend to do).

    No, my problem is that for years I’ve been buying ill-fitting shoes, be they boots, brogues, ballet flats, whatever – and they’ve been either too small or too large or just the wrong fit on me, not supportive enough for everyday wear on my somewhat eccentric feet (yes, I do have to wear orthoses, technically for most of every day). It’s partly because I don’t choose to spend enough on each pair of shoes, and mainly because I don’t get them fitted properly and with my feet I can’t really get away with hoiking a pair of size sixes or sevens off a rack in New Look and waltzing out of the shop, like people with more normal feet can. The consequence of which is that I walk slightly awkwardly in a lot of my shoes, and it’s clear that they’re hurting my toes or rubbing or making the callouses on the balls of my feet and the tips of my toes worse.

    I also have absolutely no problem with Vogue magazine – I almost never buy it but when I do I think the things in it are utterly beautiful; I was mainly making a dig at weekly-magazine-readers and probably therefore being awfully un-PC and classist, for which I should probably take the opportunity to apologise now.

    Finally I think by far the most sensible statement in this thread so far is Clare’s assertion that people who look comfortable look more attractive. I’m not saying (and nor, I believe, was Clare) that we should all go around in dungarees and baggy t-shirts, at all. I think this point is best made by pointing out that of those of you who I have met in real life, you all dress beautifully and look very attractive, because you look comfortable and at home in what you wear, even though that ranges from Laura’s highly elegant and thought-out style with stunning shoes and a selection of beautiful skirts, to Clare’s magic-carpet jacket and ancient indian trousers.

    As for pictures – yes. Soon. When I get into my house and onto my own computer, I will take some photos on my iPhone and put them up here (I now have no other camera. My birthday cannot come soon enough).

  12. “As for the Inequality Inherant In The System, Society can do whatever the hell it likes. You can’t blame it for everything. Society expects men to be testosterone-fuelled boy racers. You build your own prison.”


    Just don’t waste money buying shoes that don’t fit. Problem solved.

  13. Jenny

    See, you try them on, and they seem like they *do* fit, and they’re pretty, and not too expensive, and fashionable, and not like something your mother would buy you from Start-rite, and then you wear them round uni for a day or perhaps a week and you realise you’ve got it wrong *again*, that they were too pretty and you just overlooked that that slight crush on your little toe or the sharp ankle-blistering back that definitely seemed softer in the shop was actually worse and more of a problem than it appeared. So you fail again. Which is why this time I went to a shoe shop where an assistant took hours helping me to find a shoe that *is* entirely right and a week later and my feet are happier than they’ve been in months.

    And yes. I shall join you in applauding. I am who I am and I don’t think I’m forced to fit into a gender-defined role which society has laid out for me. I’m just a sucker for nice shoes.


  14. “Oh, of course, every girl who wears heels looks like this. I’m sure I look like this when I go out. Thank you for telling me how ridiculous I am.”

    wasn’t a personal attack. You look elegant in your heels, because you’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into doing so. And you clearly have a shoe-related instinct which means that what you buy looks damn good on you.

    There are some people who don’t have that, or the time/effort/money thing, and they are the ones who tend to look like zoology on stilts. I’m one of those.

    Also, I love how on “Jenny’s Scale of the Well-dressed”, you’re at one extreme, and I’m at the other. Hurrah.

    As for the whole ‘Socially defined roles’, when I made that comment, it was a joke. That social role thing is far more complex and subtle than I made it sound, and if you really want me to go into it, I will.

    I’m not, and never will be, the sort of woman who declares (even if through mis-timed jokes and over-simplification of things in times of anger I have made it sound as if this is the way I am) that ‘we must all wear black and men’s clothes, and fight for equality in the workplace, and chain men up to be our slaves and become lesbians and raise all children to believe themselves androgynous’. What I want is a world in which the pressure to BE ‘feminine’ is lessened. And the pressure to BE ‘masculine’ is lessened. Which would mean that people are free to be ‘”testosterone” fuelled girl’ racers or that men could … something. I tried to include a long-winded example about men being able to buy bath stuff without it having to be labelled ‘man cleanser’ to protect their manhood, but I don’t know if I was making sense.

    What I want is for people to be free to be people, and I will happily explain (somewhere else, perhaps in person, or in private) what I mean by that, elsewhere. When people are prepared to be open-minded. Which often times they’re not.

    Time to make my cake.


  15. Jenny

    Only that there are different types of well-dressed!

    And yes – more feminism blog entries please and I will try to play devil’s advocate a bit less! I can see that there are ways in which girls and boys are under pressure to ‘be’ one way or another. Equally I do think that a lot of that is literally in our genetic and hormonal make-up. Cave-men evolved to hunt deer with sharp sticks, cave-women evolved to make fire and pick berries and bring up their young and keep the household (cavehold?) going. And to a point that is how we are built – I could find, if I was prepared to pay, a study which I saw once when I subscribed to the New Scientist showing how different thoughts and emotions and so on ‘lit up’ *entirely different* areas in men’s brains as compared to women’s brains (and the way the synapses fire in gay men and women is different again, ditto transgendered people, it’s all very interesting). So even if you *did* want to bring up all children to believe themselves androgynous, it almost certainly wouldn’t work, not for every child. Read The Wasp Factory. Mental it may be, but it’s highly interesting on this point and an excellent book and I don’t think you read enough truly modern literature. When you get time, that is.

    Gender roles will change again – think about the dandyism of the early nineteenth century, all scent and tight trousers and stuff. And I think people *are* free to be people. At least in our society. And I think for that we’re very lucky. I don’t think very many people at all feel under pressure to be more girly, or more manly. Although I think there is actually greater pressure on boys to be manly than there is on girls to be girly, both in childhood and to a lesser extent as adults.

    Anyway. Lecture. Good luck with the cake – I expect pictures.


  16. mikel

    males and females are wired differently as you say Jenny, there have been quite a few studies that show the brains are wired in a different way. Look at the books such as why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps or Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. There are loads of them, quite interesting reading too!

    I know of two children – twins, one boy and one girl who were brought up in exactly the same way, none of that pink for girls and blue for boys nonsense. all colours were used for both. Grandparents were instructed on pain of death or worse do they buy things like dolls only for the girl or cars only for the boy. In other words as much as possible a gender neutral upbringing. Obviously not all external influences could be removed but in the home that was certainly the case.

    Totally naturally at about 4years of age the two of them started to gravitate towards the more traditional ways – seemingly without guidance. The lass was inclined a bit more to the pink things dolls etc, the lad to the more “boyish” pastimes and toys. Although both still still played with dolls and cars and so forth, there was a slight inclination that became more pronounced as time went on for each to focus more on the more “traditional” types of toys and so on. Now that could certainly have been influenced by their friends to some degree, I can’t really say for sure but there certainly seemed to me a natural difference that appeared so is it nature or nurture that defines the role of the sexes in life. Seems to me its a bit of both.

    Anyway if we were all the same the world would be a much less interesting place and viva la difference!

  17. “males and females are wired differently as you say Jenny, there have been quite a few studies that show the brains are wired in a different way. ”

    But how much of that is down to nature and how much is down to nurture? We can’t really tell at the moment.

    “seemingly without guidance”

    You say that, but of course there’s guidance. However much parents try to practice “gender neutral upbringing”, you can’t cancel out the rest of society. And society says men act one way, women another. Do those kids not interact with other children who may not have the same gender-neutral upbringing? Do they not see any TV? Do they live in a complete bubble from the rest of society?

    The “male and female brains are wired differently” card is played far too much, IMO. They are, but only in response to years of societal programming!

  18. Jenny

    What I was talking about was literal actual how the brain works stuff which I think from what I can remember of the study was completely independent of socialisation and other post-birth influences. Different emotional and cognitive centres are quite ltierally completely differently located in the male nad the female brain. That said I do not like or agree with Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus or any of those kinds of books; those I think take it all too far. I think the ‘wired differently’ card is played too often as well; but I was just pointing out that we are really not the same. And I agree, Dickie – I don’t think a gender neutral upbringing is possible, and to a point I would argue that it isn’t necessarily desirable either. Of course girls and boys hsould be able to play with trucks or dolls, climb in trees, collect handbags, and all the rest of it, regardless of gender, but as Clare says bringing up children to think of themselves as androgynous is taking it too far, I think.

  19. “Different emotional and cognitive centres are quite ltierally completely differently located in the male nad the female brain”

    Yeah, but why is that? The brain is incredibly plastic at birth, so how can we know for sure whether differences are genuinely natural, or whether it’s down to the brain responding to external stimuli? I’m genuinely asking here, so if you know something I don’t please share!

    I’m not closed to the idea that there are some differences between male and female brains (because there are fairly significant differences elsewhere, let’s face it), I just don’t think it’s quite as different as people make out. And of course if you look at developed brains there will be significant differences, cos of the plasticity of the brain and the way it reacts to the environment.

  20. Jenny

    I’m afraid I don’t know! However give me something in between months and years and I should be able to tell you, depending on my next years’ modules etc.

    It is all highly intriguing, I think is all I can possibly say at the moment.


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