Why Are Some Women So Obsessed With Shoes?

Notes from the fashion apocalypse.
Aug. 22 2012 3:45 AM

Does Buying Lots of Shoes Make You a Better Person?

Quite possibly.

Still of Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City 2.
Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City 2

Courtesy HBO/IMDb images.

A fashiony pal of mine was standing at a stop light on Madison Avenue and 57th Street when a similarly foncy broad alighted right next to her. The stranger looked down at my pal’s Prada-clad feet and, with an air of breathy reverence bordering on creepy, whispered one word: “Congratulations.”

Simon Doonan Simon Doonan

Simon Doonan is an author, fashion commentator, and creative ambassador for Barneys New York.

Yes, she was actually lauding my pal’s ability to own a pair of designer shoes!

Back in the last century only the shoe fabricator or the shoe designer would have been eligible for that kind of felicitation.

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“Oh! Monsieur Hermès, your top stitches are perfection. They are like kitten’s teeth!”

The notion of blowing hot air up any gal’s dirndl simply because she bought something did not exist.

Times have changed. What constitutes an accomplishment has now become very elastic—as elastic, in fact, as the logo’d waistband on my Calvin Klein underwear, the ownership of which will doubtless, 'ere long, elicit a spontaneous ejaculation such as, “Congratulations on your undies.”

But back to footwear: In today’s world, purchasing a pair of nifty shoes, or better yet, multiple pairs of nifty shoes, is seen as a headline-making, gasket-blowing, praiseworthy accomplishment. I came, I saw, I snagged—and am therefore fabulous!

Pierre Hardy porno-pumps, Tabitha Simmons peep-toes, Reed Krakoff sling-backs, Alaïa ankle booties, Givenchy stilettos and Manolo Blahnik pointy toe pumps.
Clockwise from top left: shoes by Pierre Hardy, Tabitha Simmons, Givenchy, Manolo Blahnik, Reed Krakoff, and Alaïa

In the current everything-about-me-is-fascinating age of Twitter, acquiring those Pierre Hardy porno-pumps, Tabitha Simmons peep-toes, Reed Krakoff slingbacks, Alaïa ankle booties, and Givenchy stilettos is the ne plus ultra of achievement. Shoes are the new Nobel Prizes, or they would be if people were allowed to Nobel laureatize themselves.

How did we get ourselves into this seemingly ludicrous position? When did the vaunting and flaunting of designer shoes, shoe closets, and shoe collections become so vital to any gal in pursuit of social currency?