The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 January 2004

Fuel for the sole

Jennifer Alfano, in the February Harper's Bazaar:

The following statistic will either make you laugh with guilt-tinged understanding or cause you to think I am a victim of mass consumption. $23,159. It is not the sum left on my mortgage; it is the amount I have spent on shoes in the past eight years not including sneakers, flip-flops (except one Hermès pair) or the dozens of shoes I've tired of and parted with.

Quite apart from the fact that twenty-three K would make a huge hole in my mountain of debt, this is a fairly startling number, if only because I don't think I've spent that much on all items of clothing combined in the thirty-two years I've had to buy my own.

Then again, sixteen pages away in the same issue, "Shoes of the Season" features six pair one supposedly must have, and having them will cost a total of $3510. What's worse, none of them, at least to my eyes, seem all that compelling; the best of the bunch, a rounded-throat pump from Prada, earns that status merely by having no blatantly hideous faults. (Manolo Blahnik is conspicuous in this group by his absence, and I didn't see any flip-flops, from Hermès or anyone else.)

This is, I suppose, one of those things I'm not supposed to understand, like the item I found today in the supermarket labeled "Free Range Chicken Broth". How the hell did they get it into the can?

Posted at 4:39 PM to Rag Trade

That's your Y Chromosone preventing you from seeing the logic, dude. I also will have to live with that lack of clarity (I guess). I understand it no better than I did after reading this panel discussion on the subject.

Posted by: CT at 6:15 PM on 10 January 2004

That's INSANE! I just got back from Kohl's with 3 pairs of dress slacks AND a sport coat and only spent $125 (yay clearance sales!) What's that old line? "You don't have to spend a lot of money to look like a million bucks."

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip at 7:27 PM on 10 January 2004

Hey, it's her twenty-three grand.

But needless to say, I'm neither "laughing with guilt-tinged understanding" or thinking she is "a victim of mass consumption." I just think she's flat-out nuts.

And I LOVE shoes. And sandals. And flipflops.

Posted by: Vickie at 8:53 PM on 10 January 2004

As for the free-range chicken broth, I think they left the can on its side in the middle of the road, and when the chicken crossed...

Posted by: McGehee at 9:02 PM on 10 January 2004

Women & Shoes.

We (men) will NEVER understand.

Posted by: David at 9:28 PM on 10 January 2004

The Curmudgeonly Significant Other could give Miss Alfano a run (?) for her money.

The C.S.O. owns 160 pairs of shoes and 22 pairs of boots. She's filled two large Rubbermaid ToteLockers with "out of season" shoes, which are stored in our basement -- spotlessly clean and humidity-controlled, of course. The "in-season" shoes occupy all the floor space in all of our closets. I hesitate to estimate the total retail price of these items; I paid for most of them, and I'd rather not revisit the agony.

Do not suggest to the C.S.O. that a pair of shoes she hasn't worn in ten years might be better deployed in someone else's closet. I did so exactly once.

I have it on highly reliable authority thatafter our first date, when the C.S.O.'s friends asked her to describe me, the first thing she said was, "He has five empty closets!"

The punchline? Oh, yes: the C.S.O. claims to hate shoes. She's most frequently to be observed wearing a pair of battered sneakers. Around the house, she invariably goes barefoot.

There are, indeed, some things that Man was not meant to know.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 5:55 AM on 11 January 2004

Leave this woman out of the ranks of female shoe-freaks. I prefer to own one or two comfortable pairs of shoes that I wear until the soles have worn through. Then I go to Walmart and buy another pair. I found a pair of suede shoes -- I don't know what they are called, they aren't pumps, they are like walking shoes that don't have laces, you pull them on and there's a bit of elastic that stretches to help them go over your foot -- that cost under twenty dollars. And I usually don't even like to pay that much.

I put my disinterest in shoe-collecting down to childhood memories of my mother and grandmother taking ten hours (or what felt like that) to decide over the proper shoes for me; I hated having to take shoes off and put them on over and over, having to hear over and over "is there enough room in the toes?" (nothing less than a gaping void at the end of my big toe would do) and so on.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:14 AM on 11 January 2004