If the Shoe Fits
(or how my boots are made for walking – pun intended)
This one is kind of on request and also kind of expected from me, as the shoe-lover I am. I tried to cover it in Mix and (-game-set-) Match‘, but apparently that wasn’t enough. Next to that the hope was expressed, this would be an extra long one… I will give it my best shot. And I cannot really talk about my shoes without talking about (my) feet now can I? Don’t worry, no pics of feet…ieuw.
I honestly couldn’t say when it started, must have been during my childhood. Because the first shoes I lovingly remember are a pair of Mary Janes (you might know the girly shoes with straps) in a ruby red patent leather. I must have been about six years old, or so.
After that, there’s a big hole in my memory where it concerns my shoes and we will leap into my early teenage years. Looking back it’s not that big a mystery where my love for shoes is coming from, since my Mom had a nice collection of her own too. I guess it bounced off to her kids, because we all suffered from the same deficiency lol.
I have been telling you about how I had to earn my money to get the ‘extra’ stuff: the things I did not really need, but wanted anyway. It has been a good thing you know, not much in life’s for free and raising 4 kids (still) costs a lot. I didn’t mind at all. I was free to spend that well earned money on almost anything I wished, not that my wishes were that disturbing. Extra clothes, music in form of vinyl’s, cassette tapes and later on CD’s and of course…Shoes.
The money I earned ever since I turned 11- at that time it was allowed to have a summer job at that age – might not have looked like much, but for me, 50 euro’s per week was as if I’d struck gold. It meant 200 euro’s after 4 weeks of work and that would be all mine to spend during our holiday in Spain. And let me tell you, prices there were so much more attuned to my purse 😂
The years we weren’t able to go on a holiday, there was nothing lost, since summertime also means Sales Time. And how I love Sale. Having learned early on to make the most of my money, sale was always a good time to spend it. Another wise thing I learned from my Mom. I wore so many different types of shoes, boots, heels, sandals you name it. I am sorry there are no pictures of them left, but then again, I would most likely need more pages for this article…
To be honest, my feelings about spending money haven’t change a bit. I will always go straight for the sales corner, whether it’s in an actual shop or online. There is always something nice to find there, if you’ll take the time to make the effort to search. I have been told to work as a ‘lucky charm’ when people go shopping with me, they will most often achieve their shopping goals, for much less money. It’s quite the sport.
People also have been telling me my whole life, they simply cannot understand how I always manage to find the things I do, that particular color shirt, that last pair of shoes in my size… And my size is one of the most common ones, which I can tell you with the utmost certainty, since I have been working in a shoe store for over 7 years. So it’s not like there should be a lot left in my size when sale season arrives.
What is a really big help for me, is that I would not go for anything that is all the rage at that moment, I’d rather not. By now all you guys know, my fashion taste is not a common one, that’s just me expressing myself and refusing to look like a dressed mannequin in the H&M shop window. Hence looking like about 10.000 other women. Sorry I really don’t wish to offend any one, every one is free to dress the way they like, and so am I.
And I Do like some stuff at H&M (jus as an example), that’s not even it. However, the same ‘rule’ goes for my shoes. Of course being able to walk on them is a must and I will get back on that later. I did own the ‘mandatory’ sneakers, but next to that, my eyes were always drawn to, well, first of all, colors and second of all, a level of originality.
I’ve said it before, loving almost every color available, leaves me with a closet filled with multiple rainbows and an infinite possibility to combine any outfit. Getting that all-over, color-coordinated, Fashion-OCD-look, down to a T. It would be foolish to leave shoes out of the equation now would it? (Btw, this whole covid thing has me wearing my boring sweats, so it’s really high time to get dressed up again, before I use this as a reason to start a new sub-collection).
So when looking at shoes, any ‘missing’ color will definitely capture my attention. Doesn’t mean though, that I will buy anything if is not fitting or simply not my style. If I have learned anything during my shoe-selling years, it’s that my feet are ‘special’. Well there you have it, there’s something special about me haha.
I will try not to bore you with too much details, but the shoe store I worked in was not a large retail chain, but a specialized one. I have learned a lot about feet and anything that could be wrong with them that could cause serious issues. But also, the importance of being aware of not only knowing the size in length, but just as important, knowing their width. Or in my case… The Opposite.
To give you an idea: any good store, selling good quality shoes, are not only measured by length but as mentioned, also by their width. This is indicated by letters, starting with (when I worked there) C as the most narrow one and ending with M+ being the widest. No two brands fit the same and sometimes even similar pairs from the same brand fit differently, it all comes down to millimeters. I should know, I have (had) about 20 pairs of Docs, I am not counting…
When I was a young girl I loved to walk on the well known ‘ballerina’ shoes. They were easy, available in every color and cheap. I never stopped to wonder why these things never seem to properly fit. They were fine when I bought them, but after the leather ‘broke’, not so much… Afterwards, I cannot keep from wondering how I ever managed to walk on them, ever.
My first pair of Dr. Martens I bought about 25 years ago, for only 25 euro, since it was an odd pair: one was a size bigger than the other. It happens, when the salesperson forgets the final check before closing the sale, unfortunate… but in this case most fortunate for me. See, most people wouldn’t buy that, thinking they would look like a fool. But honestly, one whole size is but 6,6 millimeters… Anyone invading your personal space to be able to notice that, you should hit in the face anyway.
So I found out, I have narrow feet. Since nobody in my family was really aware of those things until then, when buying shoes, I always ‘compensated’ the size with buying a smaller one. You see, it’s easy when somebody explains to you: the smaller, the narrower the shoe. And so I mostly walked on shoes that were actually too small for me when I was younger, just to make them fit better.
Any consequences you might ask? Yes, most definitely. But I will not bore you with that either, just hoping to make you a little aware of what you’re buying. So here’s a short list if you’re interested. If you’ve never bought shoes that didn’t seem to fit afterwards / ended up in the charity box after wearing once / were just-too-small-and-you-knew-it-but-just-had-to-have / had to buy other shoes while shopping, because your feet were bleeding (me) / etc / you can skip it 😋
I learned my feet fit very well in the C/D width, depending on model and brand. And believe me, the general, common brands don’t make these. If you have narrow feet like me, laces or straps might be the only thing that actually works for you, to keep your shoes literally tied to your feet so to speak. That’s why I love my sneakers as well as my Doc Martens. And believe me I had soooo many shoes. I still have multiple pairs (not even sure how much 🙄) in storage in The Netherlands. And the sneaker collection I only just started here, since I wasn’t allowed to wear them in the store.
Working in a shoe store did not really help, no surprise there. Safe to say I accumulated quite a collection during these 7,5 years. And once I learned what to look for, almost all of them fitted me really well, either with or without additions. Sure it’s hard for most women to give more thought to the fit than the way the shoes look, but walking around with a pained face doesn’t make you look that good at all.
If all else fails, there are multiple ways to help make the shoe fit – at least – better. I know what I am talking about, why? I would never recommend Doc Martens to anyone else with feet as narrow as mine and we did sell them there. They are simply to width a fit. But with a little help – there is a multitude of insoles available – I can walk on them for hours. And that’s the most important thing of all: Nobody But You can feel and thus decide, if the shoes fit to your comfort.
It only gotten better after arriving here, since they sell the youth sizes here – which they don’t in Holland. Made for younger, narrower feet, they fit me perfectly, are softer and on top of that, they’re cheaper 🥳
Softness is most definitely required, since my feet don’t seem to have any extra natural cushioning, I will feel any little thing and my skin will be tortured with every step I take. Walking barefoot is a Big No for me, unless I am on the beach – try finding flip-flops that fit lol – It sounds really bad like this, but I’ve gotten so used to it, it’s no big deal to me.
If and when you buy the better quality shoes, it is also totally worth the time and effort you’ll spend on taking care of them. Another thing I had to learn. The first thing you would see when entering our last home in The Netherlands, would have been 2 closets with neatly stacked shoe boxes. Yep, after wearing they would air for a day and then… back in the box they went. Keeping them well polished is not only to make them look better, they will last longer too. Of course having enough shoes to rotate for about 4 weeks does help too 🤐
I have been walking on all kinds of shoes, for instance, heels, very high heels…When I met Steve, I had several pairs of those. When I look around now, I just cannot even fathom how women are able to move around, other than that, most of those shoes are just ugly in my opinion, but that’s just me.
I still wear heels during very special occasions, with straps mind you – the last pair I bought for the wedding of my very dear friend / sister from another mister / colleague, the one hoping for this article 😉 – a couple of years ago. They haven’t been out of my closet since…but I Do treasure them! And even after so many years, while searching for ‘the perfect pair’ Sale was my Friend.
The most funny thing always happens when I go to a store to buy shoes. Any sales person is immediately, silently, put to the test by me. You see, in Holland, the same thing happens in most (shoe-) stores: most of them don’t actually know what they are talking about, it’s all about the sale. I was very lucky not to have to lie to my customers. What they needed was a good pair of shoes, for sometimes very troublesome feet. If they liked them, well all the better. But if I could not find them anything properly fitting, or to their liking, I needn’t push for a sale. Better luck next time.
Most shops don’t work that way, and buying shoes for me is sometimes hilarious. I try to never be too obnoxious about it, unless the sales person is really pushing me, but most of the times I just… Smile and Wave hahah, well not wave really. If they try to sell me some BS next to a pair of shoes, I cannot stay quiet and I have all these answers going through my head as if I am at a multiple choice test. It’s always very trying when none of the answers would apply, since silence is not my forte.
Every pair has a little story, but then a book would be better I guess, or maybe a sequel. Will I ever stop buying shoes haha… How About No… Well, everything’s on hold right now, but I am pretty sure they will be calling me anytime soon now. Since I hardly ever buy things for the normal price – I mean, why would I – I always find ways to satisfy a shoe craving. And yeah, sometimes they’re worth the wait, sale is always right around the corner you know 😉
Wishing y’all a very nice weekend, have a nice walk, or at least dust off those shoes ❤