It’s been said that it’s only a problem when you think it’s a problem or something like that. For those who recall Imelda Marcos of the Phillippines, the wife of the 10th president of the country, she also is rumored to have had more than one thousand pairs of shoes. That’s a problem. Her shoes are now part of a museum in Manila. I say “Good for her!”. Then I quietly assess my collection of footware and realize that the difference between Imelda and me is only 965-ish pairs of shoes. So, it is not a matter of acquisition but more a matter of distribution and discarding of things that have been close to me, quite literally. For a while, I had a policy (probably like IM) that was replace and discard one for one. Get a pair, give a pair. Then I got busy with other things. Hard to imagine that I ignored my own policy.
Spring cleaning is something I don’t really adhere to since I can’t possibly clean the 13 foot tall windows in the loft. Fear of high places and all that. However, sometimes you have to recognize that cleaning also means cleaning out. I get up before the dawn breaks and that would be one of my flimiest excuses for not noticing that I had accumulated a significant number of shoes. In the dark, it never looks like there are so many. Truth be told, some of them have been sitting patiently waiting to be remembered, like old friends who you lose track of but are happy to see you when you do reach out because they remember the good times. Yes, a perfect example of personification. So many of the pairs are no longer viable, i.e. can’t stand up in them and my toes are crushed and they may have been comfortable at one time, for about ten minutes. There was an expression I remember hearing from a much older cousin as she yanked my hair in her attempt to style it “One must suffer for beauty”. I think she was also referring to shoes. As I disassembled my racks and pockets of shoes to identify potential victims of shoe murders, I put together (as indicated by Exhibit #1 above) an arrangement of said victims. I was truly shocked to see that having rows of primarily black shoes (heels, slingbacks, boots, flats and the like), made quite an embarrassing array. I know I am not a centipede nor a fashionista but wow….it is a bit absurd. So, there are a lot more where those come from, hidden in the recesses of the closet, forgotten.
It is clearly time for letting go, step by step. First they all were lined up and then they were prioritized by comfort, then season, then age. Quite a few did not make the cut in any of those categories and they are now placed in an undisclosed location, until they can be moved to a witness type protection program for shoes with memories of things I did. I can’t have them ratting me out…remember some shoes have tongues. I may also eliminate some of my FHB’s pairs, since he doesn’t remember anymore than I do about some whose time has passed, and so must they. They are no longer contributing to my days, collecting dust, losing value. Last year, or maybe the year before, I evaluated my party shoes (weddings, dressy events) and off they went to prom dress land to accompany some girls to their big day. That actually felt all right. I am just not a sequin type of woman although the shoes were artforms in their own right. Moments of nostalgia left to be remembered but no longer in the loft.
I’ve made a shift to include navy shoes in my wardrobe. This is an homage to my mother, who was always making sure my sister and I had good shoes because she had grown up with bad shoes (?) which made her feel ache. She suffered but not for beauty but because of having less choices, resulting in bad feet. My mother wore a lot of navy and it is less harsh than black (there’s a fashion tip for women of a certain age). It’s a bit more hopeful. Our mother wanted to be a fashion designer but as life choices were dealt in her case, she took a more traditional route of wife and mother. Her wardrobe was practical but not designed, and more applied. She had classic beauty as a younger woman and a sparkle in her eyes that belied her inner thoughts. There were time when I would visit her in New York and we would shop for a new pair of shoes for me, courtesy of my mother.
Indulgences, whether shoes, clothing or jewelry feed a need that may be fleeting but important in the moment. Then we move on to practical matters of function or form. Tomorrow will be the day that the discarded shoes take their last “walk” down memory lane. The ones that remain are the ones that are sensible, comfortable and practical. Feet have to keep me going for many miles to come. I think Mom would approve. Problem identified, and solved for the moment.