Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Character of Shoes


Once upon a dirt mound, the only way you could tell me from the boys was by my purple Kangaroos. It took a long while before I embraced the joys of being a girl. What brought me over to the soft and scheming side?

High Heels.

What shoes one wears where and when make a statement about the characters we play in real life. Stilettos on a beach? Wedges on a hike? How about sandals in swamp? Lucite to dinner with the in-laws? Cross-trainers in a board meeting? Unless you work for a sneaker company or happen to be starring in Reality TV … uhm, no.

96% of “public” time I will be seen in heels – be they pee-toe pumps or knee-high boots. The other 3.5% I will be in sneakers (accessorized by a beastie or child). High-heeled sneakers are a happy compromise for “urban rugged” occasions like flea markets or car shows in parking lots. 0.5% you might catch me in my Bog of Eternal Stench boots -- if it's flooding. My public character is one of a delicate flower with enough grey cells to know that mud and pumps do not mix.

Now, footwear doesn’t typically play a big part in a story, unless they’re the means to a goal (say, a pair of ruby slippers) or part of the conflict (ballet-boots or pony shoes in erotica tales). However, as a writer, rest assured that when I map my characters I know what sort of shoes they’re wearing. 

Does my hero wear combat boots, loafers, or Jesus sandals? If I told you he was an immortal warrior with a penchant for flip-flops that have a big ol’ daisy between the toes, how does that change your perception of him? It’s a quirk that’s important enough to mention but not on which to dwell.

I have a heroine who wears titanium shod knee-highs with talons arcing from the toes. What do you think the odds are that she’s a fragile girl? What if, by the end of the story, she’s traded those boots for silk slippers? Would you wonder what happened to bring about that change? Would you even see it as a change?

Shoes. They really do make a statement. What does your favorite pair say about you?


  1. My favorite pair says a lot of things: "free spirit" and "don't eff with me" :D

  2. Probably my favorite pair are these rhinestone heels, jewelry for the feet. And I only have those because I can't find any *&%$^ glass slippers!

  3. Want...those...cat boots!

    My favorites are my black gladiator sandals: "I'm Spartacus!"

  4. Of the two pairs I currently own, my preferred pair says "ask me about my Rivendell real estate business".

    The other pair doesn't really say anything, per se; it just angrily mutters something about kerosene and fascist beauty standards.

  5. Michelle, would those be the satin pair or leather?

    Jeffe, real wearable glass slippers: http://www.qbypasquale.com/qshoe.html

    Laura, I think we should hit the town in the cat boots, no?

    Darchala, I'll give ya a Ring next time I'm in Imladris -- flaming combat boots optional.

  6. My faves...my boots with the chain on the back in winter say BADASSSSSSS and a backless pair of heeled sandals in the summer say FUN!

  7. I'm afraid nearly all of my shoes say, "these are really comfortable and I don't give a rat's ass what you think about them." This gives me pause - perhaps I should begin to care? But I somehow doubt that at this age in life I will. Shoes - something comfortable to protect the feet and make it easy to walk.

    I know. Blasphemy.

  8. OMG! what is my credit card limit again?

  9. Alas, most of my favorites I can no longer wear, due to stupid back problems. But I do love me some big and chunky platforms...