It’s Spring – at least in parts of America!
And Spring is a great time to clean, downsize, and declutter! (I have a birthday in May so I’m super-energized to clear out as much old stuff and old energy as possible!)
Earlier in the year we cleaned and organized our vegan pantries, fridge, and cabinets. The next few posts we’ll be focusing on our vegan closets, as we put away our flannel sheets and fleece blankets; and swap our boots for sandals and our sweaters for tank tops!
Today’s post is about Shoes and is geared mostly to the ladies, as women are PROGRAMMED to be obsessed about shoes from childhood.
Fairy Tales And Children’s Stories
Remember Cinderella – about the young woman who lost a glass slipper? That story taught us several lessons as young girls: (1) Smaller is better; wear the smallest shoe size you can possibly jam your feet into; (2) Women must suffer for beauty (remember the stepsisters cutting off their toes and heel in order to fit into the glass slipper?); and (3) Men are so stupid they will not remember a woman’s face, only her shoes, so if you want to snag a husband, girls, make sure your shoes are memorable.
Or how about Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and her magical shoes? Quick – what color were they?
They were red, of course! Who can possibly forget how styling Judy Garland looked as she walked down the Yellow Brick Road in those ruby red slippers?
REALITY CHECK: In the book by L. Frank Baum, the shoes were silver, not ruby red.
“The Silver Shoes,” said the Good Witch, “have wonderful powers. And one of the most curious things about them is that they can carry you to any place in the world in three steps, and each step will be made in the wink of an eye. All you have to do is to knock the heels together three times and command the shoes to carry you wherever you wish to go…”
Of course, all Dorothy wanted was to go home to Kansas and Auntie Em, but lesson learned: The right pair of shoes can take you to any place in the world.
And Puss in Boots?
Without those boots, he would have been just another cat walking around upright and talking, wielding a sword despite not having opposable thumbs.
Nothing to see there, folks! It was just the BOOTS that made him special!
Fashion magazines have always been enablers, but in the 2000’s women were introduced to an entirely new kind of magazine – ones specifically about shopping. In this genre’s heyday these magazines included InStyle, People StyleWatch/PeopleStyle, and Lucky. (Lucky unabashedly admitted on its cover it was “The Magazine About Shopping.”) Often you could find blurbs on the covers such as “New Shoes! 40 Must-Buy Pairs!” ” Oy vey – I need to go out and buy 40 new pairs of shoes???!!! As well as a bag I apparently can’t live without – I’m just supposed to trust them!
Thankfully, most of these magazines have now folded – in part because of blogs and social media. I’m also guessing lingering effects of the Great Recession may have had something to do with Lucky shuttering down in 2015 and StyleWatch/PeopleStyle folding at the end of 2017. Only InStyle remains.
Ok, of course there were movie versions (multiple movie versions!) of Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, and Puss In Boots. The HBO series Sex and the City (see below) somehow had enough shoe fans to make it to the big screen twice.
But let’s also consider two of the biggest movies of the 90’s …
Pretty Woman … Who can forget the incandescent 23-year-old Julia Roberts in those thigh high, super-shiny, black vinyl boots that snagged Richard Gere’s attention? (It’s not a coincidence movie critics nicknamed this movie “Cinderella in Boots.”) I and every other young girl watching the opening scene made a mental note of Julia getting dressed, zipping up those boots, and covering the scuffs with a black marker. (Yep, that’s one trick I’ve used more times than I care to admit. Thank you, Julia!)
Forrest Gump … We all so strongly remember the line “Life is like a box of chocolates …” that what Forrest said next sitting on that bench was almost a subliminal message. “Momma always says there’s an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been. I’ve worn lots of shoes. I bet if I think about it real hard I could remember my first pair of shoes. Momma said they’d take me anywhere. She said they was my magic shoes.“
Four words – Sex And The City. Does anyone remember anything ELSE about that show, except the shoes? (OK, maybe Carrie’s beautiful hair.)
Five words: Manolo Blahnik’s, Louboutin’s, Jimmy Choo’s. Did any of us know those words before that show? Did any of us need to know them?
Which brings me to:
In America, a Saturday lunch with the girls (perhaps including a mimosa or margarita) and an afternoon shoe shopping together is now considered an almost de riguer female bonding activity. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a BOGO going on SOMEWHERE, every weekend. (Cue up Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet … “Ohhh, there’s a BOGO Soooooomewhere …”)
The American Diet
There’s a reason the standard American diet is called S.A.D. The weight gain and health problems it promotes usually leads to other diets. A new one seems to be popular every year! Low fat, no fat, Slimfast, Atkins, Zone, ketogenic, South Beach, Master Cleanse, Paleo, Cabbage Soup Diet … it’s no surprise the average American woman’s weight tends to fluctuate, not just by a size up and down but multiple sizes! That’s not even including normal monthly hormone related weight fluctuations!
But shoe size usually doesn’t change with weight unless you have major weight gains or losses!
It’s one of the reasons why shopping for shoes, purses, makeup, and jewelry with your girlfriends is so popular! No matter the height/weight/style preferences of your girlfriends, you can all have fun shopping at DSW together!
And you can get your shopping fix without feeling bad about yourself. (Unlike if, say, you were shopping for white jeans or swimsuits.)
Or, at least you won’t feel bad about yourself until your credit card statement comes.
Most people notice their weight drops and then stabilizes when they adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet.
It’s not a guarantee you will automatically reach what you perceive as your “ideal” weight – you may have to do a little extra work for that! (Like exercise.)
Rather, most people do drop a few pounds (often, quite a few pounds!) and then their weight stabilizes without actually having to count calories, carbs, or fats. No more wild weight fluctuations.
The “Organization” Trend
In the past few years, minimalism has become quite popular (perhaps due to all the downsizing from foreclosures during the Great Recession.) Also, millennial women seem to focus more on purchasing experiences rather than things – unlike Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers.
Before that, however, in the heyday of The Container Store, Get Organized, and Martha Stewart, getting organized did NOT mean decluttering or downsizing. It did NOT mean mindfully examining your “stuff” and your reasons for buying it/keeping it. Or why your “stuff” was no longer working for you.
Getting organized just meant buying storage systems to store your stuff in so you had space for MORE stuff!
And yowza are there a lot of options for shoes! (Google it if you don’t believe me.) You can buy shoe racks, shoe shelves, shoe cubbies, shoe trees, over-the-door shoe bags, under-the-bed shoe storage. Don’t forget some cute little baskets to toss your flip flops and house slippers in. And as long as you still have some empty spaces, it never feels like you have that much stuff.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m a big fan of storage solutions, since I have an older home with limited/awkward built-in storage space. (Think small closets behind a door – no walk-ins.) And if you have a small living space – say a studio apartment or a dorm – storage solutions can be invaluable.
But sometimes, we need to ask, “Am I WEARING my shoes – or simply STORING them?”
My Personal Story:
I admit, I was influenced by all of the above. As a member of Generation X, I read the fairy tales and watched the movies. I bought the magazines and took at least some of the shopping advice. I only watched a few episodes of Sex and the City – but no matter; my friends did, and we had multiple shoe shopping bonding sessions. (And their splurges on designer shoes made my own splurges on Aerosoles seem quite frugal in comparison.) I also bought a lot of shoe storage over the years.
The result? I had literally dozens of pairs of shoes in my closet(s), but I still had mornings when I had absolutely no shoes I wanted to wear!
Or, I had them – somewhere – but despite all my organizational systems, I couldn’t find them. (Were they in my bedroom closet? Or the guest bedroom closet?)
Or, I could only find ONE shoe. For awhile I blamed this on Scruffy, who liked to chew and hide my shoes in his puppyish years. (In general, JRT’s are convenient to blame – nine times out of ten, if something’s missing, they’ve stolen it, mauled it, and most likely destroyed it.)
However, Scruff has mellowed with time and now destroys mostly toys. And my cell phone and credit cards. And most of the mail. And he tries to pull the whiskers off my cats and those silly floofballs let him.
But he leaves my shoes alone.
I finally had to admit the problem was not Scruffy – but ME!
Thinking I was being a clever girl, I began buying two identical pairs of my favorite shoes, reasoning I’d at least be able to find one pair! That resulted in the Two Left Feet Syndrome – I would indeed be able to find two shoes of the same color and style, but they would both be for the same foot!!!
The frustrating thing was, I’d done major shoe purges before. (It was a great feeling, a few years ago, when I finally donated my last pair of leather shoes!)
But even though I dutifully donated or trashed a few pairs of shoes each season and bought a few more “needed” pairs, I was STILL frustrated and stressed every time I got dressed.
I realized for things to be different, I had to be different.
I couldn’t just continue tossing a few shoes and buying a few shoes each season. I needed to mindfully think about my shoes, why I was keeping some and, equally as important, why I was letting go of others.
I had to actually listen to the “yes buts” in my head and not tune them out as background noise …
“Yes, these shoes hurt my feet … BUT, they were so expensive!”
“Yes, these shoes do not go with anything currently in my closet … BUT, they are perfectly good shoes!”
“Yes, I haven’t worn these shoes in four years … BUT, they would be PERFECT if Prince Harry decided to send me a last-minute invite to his wedding!” (And surely, an invitation is forthcoming – I mean, I named my cat after him!)
Amazing fact about Prince Harry’s future bride, Meghan Markle – she eats a vegan diet five days a week! (I’m not going to say she eats a plant based diet 5 days a week, because a plant based diet allows for animal products, and 5 days a week, looks like this gal doesn’t eat any!) Can you imagine the potential impact “Princess Harry’s” influence might have on England?
I’ll be honest, mindfully clearing my shoes was more stressful than I thought it would be. At times I had to walk away, take a few deep breaths (and maybe a good stiff drink) before walking back and adding several more pairs of beautiful but useless shoes to my donation box. The more shoes I put in the box, the more anxious I became.
Yet, the sense of peace I get now when I look into my closet is amazing.
My shoes now fit into one closet, not three. (Do keep in mind I have 1960’s style, small closets.)
All my shoes look good, feel good, and are relevant to my current life (not just the life I wish I lived, used to live, or imagine living).
And although I have fewer shoes, I feel a sense of abundance. I went from feeling I never had enough shoes to feeling slightly embarrassed because I have so many!
In my next post I’ll share my shoe shedding process. Especially if you are a new vegan, or a vegan just getting around to updating their shoes, I strongly recommend you follow this process and take the time to mindfully think about your shoes. Because there’s no point in replacing all your leather shoes with non-leather or vegan ones if you’re just going to make all the same mistakes again! Take the time to think about it so you’re maximizing your money (as well as your style and comfort).
How about you? Are you (or have you ever been) frustrated by your shoes? Have you ever felt your relationship with shoes with slightly dysfunctional? When you buy shoes, have you ever had the feeling you are trying to purchase something a little more than footwear? Millennials, do you feel your Gen X older sisters were a bit insane in regards to their shoe shopping habits?