All talk in recent weeks has been about high heels and the outrage we (quite rightly) felt on behalf of Nicola Thorp when she was sacked for refusing to go out and buy heels to replace her smart, but flat, shoes.
Maybe I’m naïve, or maybe just optimistic, but I found it almost impossible to believe that we had reached 2016 without already dealing with this, quickly and quietly, or that it was something that needed someone to organise a petition over.
Anyone who has ever happened across a vintage book in a Charity Shop, or more likely, a reprinted, repackaged version of the same book, sold as a hilarious joke wedding present, will surely have expected such a ridiculous “rule” to appear within its pages. Perhaps alongside this little gem from an article in Housekeeping Monthly, May 1955, advising women on the best way to greet their husbands when they returned from work:
Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
Maybe that is where the rules on heels came from in the first place. Maybe all of those poor husbands were tired of seeing work-weary people and needed their offices jazzing up with a secretary in a heel or two. Not over 4 inches mind you – you don’t want the women looking down on the shorter chaps in the office. That would be degrading and terribly upsetting for them.
I have no doubt that sanity will shortly return a semblance of order to the workplace chaos – either by making it illegal for women to be forced to wear heels in the office, or by making it a legal requirement for Bob from Accounting to do something about that terrible nose hair.
My problem with shoes is far shallower than the current political furore, but just as important and irritating to me.
They don’t fit.
Everyone has one foot slightly bigger than the other – boobs as well, but that is a very different issue.
Not only are my feet at least a half size different to each other, they are larger than most other ladies apparently, leaving my affordable, comfortable and appropriate footwear choices mainly in the flip flop and low heeled boot racks.
Trainers are OK, after a lot of padding and fiddling with laces and insoles.
Heels in a Mary Jane style with a strap to keep the smaller foot securely in place work too.
Flip flops and sandals in similar open-heeled territory seem to be OK, as long as I scour the length and breadth of every Accessorize in the land to find the LARGE size in the style that I want.
Because, as with bras (I seem to want to talk about boobs here too, don’t I!) I am most definitely “in between” with footwear. My closest actual shoe size is a 7½, but that is a rarer gem of a shoe to find than a Nick Clegg supporter .
Yes, I want fashionable shoes – is that a crime?! Having a pair of mismatched, large feet most definitely is it seems.
Every wedge, every kitten heel, every biker boot I pick up is a size 5. Literally. Every. One. Occasionally M&S comes to my rescue but inevitably the shoe itself, whilst a decent fit, lacks a certain je ne sais quoi in the desirability category.
So, I head over to the retailers dealing with the larger footed ladies. This means you are either 6ft tall and have feet starting at a size 9 (nope to both of those) or you are in the plus size category and therefore have very wide feet (nope to that too). Just in-between!
And so to the bra comparison. As with having size 8 feet, the retail universe has decreed that if you need a bra that is 38 inches round, you must therefore have massive knockers of at least a D cup, but more likely a double J. (Nope – only for about 3 days when I was pregnant)
Oh! Sorry…then you must require old lady underwear with no underwire, lace or sex appeal. (Again, nope.) Please check the adverts in the back of your puzzle magazine for details – why don’t you order a stairlift while you’re there?
Seriously clothing makers. Either get more stock of the size 8’s and the 38C’s or stop taunting me with those charts on the back of the labels telling me you do make them in the sizes I need!!!
Anyway, back to the shoes.
I am constantly left having to try on every type of shoe in every store in a 7 and an 8 – if such mythical sizes were to exist – in the vain hope that one style in one of those dimensions might be suitable. It very rarely is.
The one bastion for modern women in the shoe department has to be the Ballet Pump. A simple, often cheap, yet flexible option for adding the perfect detail to an outfit. Not a heel in sight, an acceptable bedfellow for a trouser, jean, skirt or dress – this must surely be my Hero Shoe?
I’ve avoided them for many years, what with the size disparity between my feet, but this summer was going to be different, I thought. After the merry dance around the high street, I finally found a smallish size 8! They felt OK in the store – looked good with my skinny jeans – and so I fell for it. Off to the till went I, proud ballet pump owner and wearer!
Fast forward a day of “wearing them in” around the house. What I actually did was mostly sit on the sofa in them, occasionally trotting off to the kitchen to make a coffee, which is very much NOT the same thing. Nevertheless, it gave me the bravado to don them for a weekend BBQ, 7 doors up the road. How very stylish I looked.
An hour later…
Awful, hateful things. Scrunched up toes, desperately trying to cling on to the sweaty inside of one shoe, whilst with every step, the heel on my other foot was wincingly friction burned before I’ve even made it to the kitchen to refill my Pimms.
If alcohol doesn’t help with uncomfortable shoes you haven’t even had to walk to the train station in, then you know you’re not going to win this battle.
Fortunately, I was only 7 doors away…so I went home to change into my LARGE flip flops from Accessorize. Bliss.
When I am rich and famous, I am going to have my shoes handmade in the right size for each of my feet, but until that day I am going to have to be satisfied with an annual proportion of 10 months in boots, 2 months of flip flops with a couple of evening heels thrown in for good measure.
Almost forgot my guilty pleasure…wearing Crocs to put the bins out.
Onesies for grown-ups have happened. One day my pretties we will be acceptable in public, one day…