Understanding Lust: Why Shoes?


A Daily Express study reports that the average woman will spend $25,000 on 469 pairs of shoes in her lifetime. Say what?

I’m not sure how much to make out of this (the circumstances of the 3,000 women surveyed should be considered), but the thing I want to know is, why shoes? I was thinking about it the other day (Deep Thoughts: “It’s Summer and I’m Tired” Edition) before the study even came out. Why are shoes such a “thing” among women, coveted by Carrie Bradshaw more than any other clothing article or accessory, lined up on display in the homes of many a The Selby subjects, and frequenters of popular street style blog Jak & Jil? When it comes to status, shoes win approval in ways shirts cannot — the Daily Express study stated that four out of every 10 women judge other women based on their shoes. It Bags had only a moment, and it’s not like there’s a Tumblr devoted to pants. What makes shoes so special?

Not that I have any real statistics to base this off of, but perhaps part of it is that shoes are so object-y (Colorful Adjective Usage: “It’s Summer and I’m Tired” Edition). Whether you want to invest in something special or are simply yearning for a quick fashion fix, a good, chunky thing is more satisfying than fabric. They stand on their own, they’re more 3D, and while other accessories have these qualities, none of them are quite as trophy or collectible-like. Advertising genius and fashion obsessee Cindy Gallop has hers showcased alongside an entire wall of her apartment, framed by twinkling lights. Jane Aldridge, of the popular fashion blog Sea of Shoes, owns around 85 pairs, and has said the fun in collecting comes from their art-like, sculptural quality. I have to agree — my pair of Miu Mius sit on a shelf in my room, next to a foot-tall Stephen Jones hat and a rare early Warhol book.

Another possible explanation is that shoes are easy. As Browns founder and owner Joan Burstein once said, “Feet don’t have fat days or bad hair days, which is part of the reason women are so obsessed with them.” True! Plus, a good pair of shoes can improve a lazy or boring outfit in ways other accessories can’t. If I had the energy, I’d make a chart: T-shirt and jeans…with Chanel flats! Tank top and cut-offs…with Chloe platforms! Simple suit…with YSL heels!

And, of course, a lot of the staple quality comes from their roles in the lives of fictional characters. Like, maybe they weren’t really that big a deal, but then Carrie Bradshaw was like, DUH THEY’RE A BIG DEAL, EVERYONE KNOWS THAT! (Obviously Carrie Bradshaw was not the first or only to declare this, but she’s one of the most advocating shoe-hoarders out there.)

I find that, for me at least, there’s a bit of comfort in shoes, even the 4-inch shapeshifters that always elicit a shake of the head from my mom. For some reason, a pair of shoes brings back memories more intimately than an article of clothing. If I’m having a bad day and hang my head, it’s soon back up and facing forward if my eyes were met with a pair of my favorite platforms. And on a shitty day, I don’t even care how materialistic that is, because they’re just so pretty.

So we have the object quality, ease and flattery, and status. Any other theories? Also, shoe-stocking shops everywhere, you may pay me using cash or check. Or, shoes.

Women’s $16K Shoe Bill [Daily Express]

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