Happiness by the foot


‘The surprise and delight of shoes’

I love shoes. There’s something about looking down and spotting a snappy pair that makes me smile.

Check out (hah) these leather Vans. (Smiley face goes here)

My Mom is the same way. I look forward to my Kid of the Month Club visits not just because I get to see my super-fun Mom, but also because I get to see her super-fun footwear.

Mom in one of her many pairs of cute shoes. Her even cuter accessory? Youngest Younger Brother Doug

What is it about shoes that so delights? Well, compared to clothes, which can mysteriously “shrink” — or even lengthen — in your closet, shoes that fit well when you buy them pretty much stay that way. (As for clothes that get longer, see ‘Skirting the Issue’ for a tale of trailing taffeta.)

Shoes also seem to be an immune to “mutton dressed as lamb” syndrome. (In case you’re not familiar with that particular phrase, it refers to an older woman wearing clothes designed for younger people. It’s not flattering — either the phrase or the wearing.) I’ve written a post about this called “Just Because It Fits Doesn’t Mean You Should Wear It.”  But with shoes, as long as you have good legs — and, even more important, good balance — even heels are okay when you’re, um (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) over 70.

As for the surprising aspect of shoes, it’s fun to top off (or underline?) a conservative outfit with a jolt of the unexpected. Just yesterday I attended a big fancy meeting wearing black and white — plus these babies:

If I followed the Yellow Brick Road in these, I wouldn’t be able to see my feet

A quick note about when and where to wear cool shoes. Don’t waste your time if you’re going out to dinner. You’ll be seated at a table and no one will see your feet, much less your kicks. Concentrate instead on fun up top: necklaces, scarves, fun frames. A tiara.

What was I wearing on my feet? Who knows, and who cares? It was all about that tiara, baby

Shoes get a better chance to shine when worn to places people can actually see them. Think cocktail party or art opening. Someplace you’ll be standing. Or, if sitting’s more your style, think lectures. Recitals. Especially boring ones where people’s attention — and eyes — tend to wander. Trust me, your fellow coop board members will appreciate a fancy upper.

I broke my rule and wore the Vans to dinner. Where they drew no admiring glances. And actually disappeared into the floor

You can even surprise yourself with shoes. If you buy them off-season when there are deep discounts (like I do) then put them away, you’ll get a big kick out of “discovering” them months later. “Gosh,” you’ll say to yourself as you open a Tory Birch box stored with your summer clothes, “I forgot all about these! What fun!”

Look what I found in the back of my closet! Thank you, Tory Birch

New York City. May 2023




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4 thoughts on “Happiness by the foot

  1. Ruth Meisenheimer

    I used to shop with your Mom at a factory shoe outlet place. She would have an armful because they would fit someone in the family! We had such a good time. Who doesn’t love a bargain? Shoes were always fun to buy, but now the main thing is comfort!

    • I used to go to that shoe outlet! I remember with particular fondness a bright shiny patent pump with a grosgrain bow. Orange. They were a half size too small, but I could not resist them!

  2. Cute. Love ’em all! And I have a love-hate relationship with shoes. I love them, so many of them hate me. Or, specifically, they hate my bunions. A youth in pointe shoes ensured, ironically, that I can’t wear sweet ballet flats and anything that doesn’t have a really long vamp. D’Orsay flats and pumps are my friend. I know you’ll know what those are. God help me, I’m tempted to try the fabric flats made for bunion sufferers. Have you tried those?

    • Hey Becca! Glad you liked my shoe selection (!) I hear you on the love/hate thing. You no doubt noticed I wiggled out of the whole shoes-that-hurt thing by saying something weakling-like about shoes “fitting well when you buy them.” Honestly, finding shoes that “fit well when you buy them” could be a whole post (!) So sorry your years of ballet means you can’t wear ballet flats. Irony indeed! My tootsies aren’t in bad shape, for someone 70+, that is, so I haven’t gone the fabric flat route. Yet (!)

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