Ohhh, shoes, how would I live without thee? Well, the story goes, when I was born my Father took one look at my very narrow feet and shook his head, and swore that I would cost a lot of money. My grandmother had extremely narrow feet and had to special order every pair of shoes, so, it would be my destiny to have the same curse, the horrible shopping trips, the sobs, and the end result, a pair of f ugly shoes in brown with straps.
At the age of 9, I sat in front of my grandmother’s closet, her shoes were neatly stacked on the door and the bottom of the closet, I stared at each and and every one of them. It would be the last time I saw that closet, and my grandmother. There was something pretty marvelous about seeing all of her heals neatly stored in her closet. They were pristine, polished, and varied in different heights and colours. That stack of shoes will always be etched into my memory, and forever what I will want to duplicate, or so I thought. That same year, we were living in the Philippines, and we got a special tour of Malacanang Palace, we were lucky, the tour included a private look see of ever corner, including seeing all of Imelda Marcos‘ shoes and wardrobe. To see the rows and rows of colourful shoes, was bewildering, she had every colour in 3 different heights, the rainbow hued rows of floor to ceiling shelves made my imagination run wild, you can read about the extravagance, but to see it in person, made you dizzy. At that young age, I didn’t really comprehend extravagance, I just wanted to emulate it. So, from a young age, I was addicted to shoes, and I always wanted to have a suitcase full when we travelled I was forever trying to put my whole wardrobe of shoes into one suitcase, I never cared about the clothes. So, at the age of 9, I dumped all of my shoes into a suitcase and left out pants, underwear and socks. My Mother was horrified, as for the first time, my suitcase was not inspected before departure, and an emergency shopping expedition ensued upon landing in Canada.
To this day, I love my shoes, but I learned not to travel with so many, or to ever care for rows of shoes like Imelda, but to go back to that lovely closet my grandmother had, of perfect rows of shoes that were always 100%. Two is the ultimate number, plus, one pair of running shoes if you are as active as I am. As a woman, you are probably thinking that it is impossible, but it isn’t, you probably never bought the right basic shoe. I vowed when I started working that I would order my first pair of Stuart Weitzman heals, and I did. A pair of fantastic plain black leather, they are slightly wide as there was nowhere I could buy 4A shoes close to me in Canada. Simple, elegant, completely understated shoes, they look good with a pant suit and skirt or for a cocktail party. They are ultimately, my go to shoe. After 10 years, they still look like new, and they haven’t gone out of style. So my love affair with a good Stuart Weitzman shoe began – I hunt for bargains, and it is my goal to have a wardrobe of basic shoes, just like my Grandmother. (except hers weren’t Stuart Weitzman’s they were Seymour’s and a smidgen of a British shoe maker.
The next time you go shopping, or you are packing. Think about what you are wearing, if you will be standing a lot, walking a lot, and if you will be attending multiple evening events or going to the park with your children, or maybe both.
I never leave home without a pair of black ballet flats (I started wearing them long before they were fashionable) – great for walking, look great with casual clothes, and I have managed to wear them with a nice suit while walking the streets of Paris for a set of meetings. When my son came along, I started to wear them to the park. Just follow my grandmother’s guideline, always buy leather and polish your shoes. There is something rather sad about women who don’t bother to polish a pair of beautiful shoes, yes, I am talking to you ladies! Since I grew up with military grandparents, polishing shoes was a daily chore, and damn it, your beautiful heals look spectacular!
Choose a heel height for a basic shoe that you can walk more than a few blocks. Travelling for work means unexpected walks, and sometimes you land in a country that there are no taxis. No one needs to hear your complaints or your whining about not being able to walk, because of your shoes, sorry, but it is not a cute excuse, nor is it professional.
As the rule goes, the flats are for everything, and can be put in your briefcase during a meeting. The comfortable heals are for the meetings and the evening events. The rotation of two shoes, gives your feet a break, and also keeps you fashionable. The running shoes are for going to the gym or running outside.