Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The "Black Shoe" Breakdown

I would love it if someone, somewhere, did a frivolous study on the breakdown of the average woman's wardrobe and the things that are in it. Maybe filtered by age, occupation, location, etc. (But at the same time, not really, because it really would be the kind of study that gets announced and everyone puzzles why someone devoted research dollars to that instead of curing cancer or reversing blindness or getting that male birth control pill on the market. Still, I am kind of curious.) I've seen 17 as a general estimate of the number of pairs the average American woman has in her collection. (When I read that article, I was smirking to myself, all, haha, I'M certainly not like that, and then I actually counted, and, umm, I have almost twice that. Eep. Self-awareness, thou art a jewel.)

That said, everyone knows that old trope about how clueless men look into women's closets and ask why there are so many pairs of black shoes. For my own lifestyle, I've decided that it's actually optimal for me to have seven pairs of black shoes, and this is even with making some pairs do double duty. Plus, I am arrogant enough (I do have a blog, after all) to think that this might be an ok guideline for twenty-something professionals, though 'black' could probably be replaced with any kind of neutral.

Even a minimalist (http://www.missminimalist.com/2009/12/minimalist-wardrobe-how-many-shoes-are-enough/) wants at least six pairs of black shoes around for different occasions! So I feel somewhat vindicated. I will just tell myself that the, err, million other black shoes I own are, for you know, back-up. So I can rotate them, and they will last longer. ahem.

Besides, it's recommended to switch heel heights every day, because flats and heels and wedges are all bad for your feet in different ways, so we should be switching up the tortures. Isn't civilization fun?

--Black Shoes I Need For My Lifestyle--

1) Professional black heels. These are my go-to work shoes--the Ralph Lauren Sachi pumps--and I confess that I actually have two pairs because I love them so. The patent version is going for $49.99 at 6pm, but I prefer the more low-key look of the pebbled leather. The 2.5-inch heel and rounded toe are comfortable and easy to wear, and the little buckle on the heel make the shoes look great coming and going! I like these Talbots heels as well, minus the pointy toes. I can't do pointy toes.

2) Professional black flats. My pair are also by Geox (with Respira technology, which sounds very cool even though I don't quite understand it), except it has a cute silver decoration on the toe instead of a bow. I have to say that the breaking-in process was somewhat excruciating, but they're fine now. Anyway, switching heel heights is important, so at least one pair of neutral flats, if only worn to commute in, are practically a need.

3) Leather boots
I have black boots in three heights, but I suppose that one really just needs one pair...if that pair is comfortable, weather-proof, attractive, and wearable to work. If I had to cut down to one pair, it would be a fairly basic knee-high leather boot (best way to wear skirts in the winter) with a very low heel or wedge.

4) Ankle boots/booties. Because I gravitate towards boot-cut or otherwise slightly flared pants (my pear-shape bias here), I don't have luck tucking jeans or pants into boots. For the rare days I'm not in skirts or dresses, I reach for ankle boots.

5) Dressy shoes, in something frivolous, like satin. Though professional shoes could fill in for this, it's nice to have a party pair that gets trotted out for special occasions and makes you feel glammed up from head to toe.

5) Casual/fun kitten heels or wedges. Again, professional shoes COULD do double-duty, but I think it's better to keep the office pair as pristine as possible and have another pair that can stand a little beating up. For lower-key dates, more relaxed parties, etc.

6) Casual/fun sandals or flats. These, at least on me, wear to the ground in no time, so it's honestly just as well to have two pairs to rotate. Then again, that probably goes for all of these.

7) Shoes for days of long walking. I have a pair of sneakers that fit this bill, but for my lifestyle, far more common are days spent exploring museums or walking around the city. I like dressier shoes for this--comfortable, but pretty enough so I can walk into a fancy restaurant at the end of the day and not want to hide my shoes under the tablecloth.

--Nice, Though Not Strictly Necessary--

Black Power Heels. Yes, the professional heels are probably appropriate for every occasion, but it might be nice to have a stronger pair--higher, shinier, sleeker--for interviews and other times when one needs to project all the power possible. I found a great pair of Tahari platform pumps at TJ Maxx for $39, but to my non-buyer's remorse (there IS such a thing), I left them behind. This pair is similar, except my pair that got away had a sort of patent cap (?) detail on the toe, which appealed to me because my shoes always scuff at the toe and that design feature might have helped obviate that.

Black Wedges
I find wedges more comfortable (even though I know they're also called ankle-breakers). Also, I've always felt that shorter skirts look better on me when "grounded" by a pair of wedges. Then I read this at Wardrobe Oxygen: "The combination of short skirt and high heel is never stylish. Nothing taller than a 3” heel with a skirt above the knee, and consider a boot or wedge to balance out all that exposed leg. A basic pump with a short skirt is very ZZ Top and not a polished look for anyone." And felt so vindicated. And mature for my years. And ate gummy bears in celebration.

Dressy Shoes, an Open-Toe Pair
Closed-toe pairs are like Mastercard, accepted anywhere in the world, but sometimes, it is hot.

Black Killing Him (Or Her) Softly Shoes - Spring
Yes, the party pair was discussed, but there are lovely formal parties like weddings and ballets, and sometimes there are, well, edgier occasions when one might want to reach for over-the-top damn-I'm-sexy shoes.

Black Killing Him (Or Her) Softly Shoes - Summer

Black Killing Him (Or Her) Softly Shoes - Autumn

Black Killing Him (Or Her) Softly Shoes - Winter

Did you notice? Over-the-top knows no season.

Black Statement Shoes
To add some--but not too much--drama to basic ensembles.

--Really, Really Unnecessary, By Any Standard--

Black Bad-Girl Shoes
I own these. I have worn them exactly once. They hit me at not the most flattering spot, but the high heel and platform mitigate that. The main problem is that because they are a smidgen too big, they are a little challenging to walk in. Still, never mind. When I wear them, I mince along on the arm of the man, and he likes it.

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