Yesterday, I was minding my own business when I got a text from my housemate. It was a picture of a shoe rack and he’d captioned it, “you need this.” Fast forward four hours, and I’m kneeling in the hallway outside of my apartment. I’ve pulled out every pair of black boots I own and I am shaking them, one after another, at him while I yell things like “Does this one look like this one? I mean, do you think they serve the same FUNCTION? Do you think I could wear them with THE SAME OUTFIT?!” And then I went into the bathroom and cried.
Somehow what had started as a (SEEMINGLY!) relaxed conversation about shoe storage turned into a not-at-all relaxed argument about how I needed to get rid of shoes. My partner joined in, the two of them standing in the doorway, trying to tell me that I have too many shoes. Why don’t you just throw some out, they asked? I HAVE, I argued, pointing out that I got rid of EIGHT PAIRS of shoes just two months ago. But how many new pairs have you bought, asked my partner? JUST TWO. Why do you need so many shoes, they kept asking?
This is a fair question, though it is one no femme would ever ask. Those two are butch as hell, and own fewer pairs of shoes than I pack for a weekend away. To my logic, the minimum number of shoes NEEDED in a well-rounded wardrobe is around 17. (Need here is an obvious exaggeration, as I am fully aware of the class privilege embedded in being able to own shoes for fashion and not basic function, but bear with me.) I *need* at least three pairs of black boots: a flat boot, a casual heel, and a dressy heel. Ditto brown boots. Plus, a pair of snow boots and a pair of rain boots. That’s 8 pairs of boots, which does not include nods to trends – an ankle boot, perhaps (I own two pairs of black ankle boots, a flat and a heel, TOTALLY DIFFERENT SHOES) or maybe a “fun” colour (like my favourite blue boots or my lace-up khaki boots). It helps to have at least two pairs of closed-toe heels, one black and the other whatever colour goes best with your non-black clothes. I mean, you cannot wear boots to every occasion. A pair of closed toe flats is reasonable as well, right? In the summer, you need at least one pair of black open toe heels and another pair (probably brown) of open toe heels. You need at least one casual heel (a platform, maybe) and one casual flat sandal. And some flip flops. Plus, on top of all of this, you need at least one pair of workout shoes. 17, not counting the “it helps to haves.” In fairness to my housemate and my partner, I own WAY more than 17 pairs of shoes. I probably own about 40 pairs of shoes, and I don’t think this is unreasonable and I definitely don’t think this makes me, to use a word that got tossed around a few times yesterday, a HOARDER, or anything like that. I’ll venture to say it makes me a fairly normal femme-presenting person. If my friends Amy or Sue ever told me they thought I had too many shoes, I’d listen. But you know what? THEY WOULD NEVER TELL ME THAT! Because I don’t.
I definitely-DEFINITELY-overreacted yesterday, but the idea of someone trying to get rid of my shoes made me a little bit feral. I don’t know why I love shoes so much. Maybe it’s because as a curvy size 12, shoes (and hair and makeup and accessories) feel like the one place where I can have fun, free from the tyranny of clothes that are designed for a size two and sized up with no consideration for boobs, bellies, or butts.Or maybe I just love shoes.
In the end, I apologized for yelling at them, and we agreed that the solution was more storage, not fewer shoes, though I promised to cast a more discerning eye at the shoes I am holding on to in case they come back in style in a few years. But I already know: The turquoise laser cut flats I bought on clearance at Target last summer and have only worn to take out the trash? Those can probably go. My vintage black pumps that I like to look at because they are pretty but never wear because they are also totally uncomfortable? Those I’ll never part with. Why? I don’t know. I just love them. Am I alone in the world? I doubt it.
By the way, I just bought these. You know, to replace the rain boots I threw out in the last purge. Because you know what? Turns out it that even though it didn’t rain much last Spring, this one is damp as hell. This is my theory: YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT SHOES YOU’RE GOING TO NEED!