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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
The shoe seduction
By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine

If only I had an extra foot
One in 10 women spend more than 1,000 a year on shoes while 8% own more than 100 pairs each, according to a new survey. What is it with women and shoes?

For many females, Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw summed it up perfectly when she was mugged in an episode of the series.

"Please sir, you can take my Fendi Baguette, you can take my ring and my watch, but don't take my Manolo Blahniks," she begged. The heartless thief took them anyway.

Most women would agree the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, had the right idea when it came to footwear, her only shoe crime was leaving her 1,220 pairs at the presidential palace when she fled the country in 1986 during the people power revolution.


There are few items in a woman's wardrobe that she is more protective of, bring more pleasure, are so well cared for and make her feel so good.

Which is probably why one in four women say they would buy another pair of shoes instead of pay the bills, according to the survey by Harpers Bazaar magazine. In the wardrobe of one in two women there are more than 30 pairs of shoes, while 8% own more than 100 pairs each, it suggests.

Carrie Bradshaw
Patron saint of shoes?
It is proof of what men have long suspected, but doesn't explain what is it about shoes that makes them so universally loved by most women on the planet.

Well, for a start, the right high heels have the ability to transform a figure. They elongate the leg and push out the chest, they transform the way a woman walks and, most importantly, how she feels.

"Shoes wield a Cinderella-like transformative power - you can go from demure to seductive in well under 60 seconds," says Lucy Yeomans, editor of Harper's Bazaar.

And they are one constant in an ever-changing world. No matter how many muffins you munch, your shoes will fit perfectly every time you put them on. That can't be said for many items in a wardrobe.

This is why buying them is such a pleasure, the usual issues of shape and size don't come into play. Once a size five, always a size five. You never hear: "Does my foot look fat in this?"

Yes, they're often crippling and give you blisters. Sometimes they render walking impossible, with 55% of men questioned in the survey saying they've had to carry their partner because her feet hurt.

But, as they say, no pain, no gain, and there are gains all round with the right pair of shoes. The female shoe obsession isn't just good for the person wearing them - both sexes reap the rewards.

According to the survey almost half of the men polled had asked their girlfriends to wear their heels in bed and 79% of women have done just that.

Now, isn't it just plain obvious why this season's must-have Christian Louboutin "pony hair pumps" are a bargain at 445?

Thank you Imelda!!! the woman who started it all. I am sorry if I come across as shallow but I do love my shoes and they don't have to be 300 Christian Laboutin. Metallic vintage low heels from Topshop, Havaiana flip flops from Office, gold ballet pumps from French Sole, plum colored boots from Prada and sky-high mustard wedge sandals from Miu Miu. Being a size 4 they look great, they make me feel like a million dollars, walk like a model and make male heads turn in the process..what's not to like??
Sandra, London

I have always said that the shoes make the women. My wife usually wears 4 inch heels, sometimes higher! Anything lower just wouldn't be cricket. Yes she complains sometimes but we both know she looks terrific. As for the bed thing I'm gonna quote the fifth on that one...
Shoe lover

I'm a most atypical female in that I don't really like shoes, and I particularly dislike shopping for them. My mother was a shoe fiend, but I didn't inherit her passion. I've got long narrow feet with high insteps which makes finding a comfortable pair of shoes rather awkward, so once I find a style which suits me, I tend to stick with it. Still, more shoes for everyone else, I suppose!
Nicola, Exeter, UK

I suppose some men find plasters on ankles attractive... ? I can't say it does it for me. But then I think Lily Allen looks alright in a dress and trainers !
Garry, Andover, UK

A worthy column due to the very real importance of shoes. However, also an example of ridiculous statistic-bending. This is a survey of women who buy, read (and are presumably genuinely interested inted in) and respond to surveys by Harper's Bazaar, not exactly a representative cross-section of the community, and probably the sector right at the extreme end of the "buy expensive shoes for no reason" scale. Us lowly students have to make do with three or four pairs maximum.
Matha Hampson, London

All true - you can never have enough pairs of shoes, and boots too. I don't think that there is another single item of our wardrobe that is a much fun buying. I haven't counted how many pairs I own recently but I'd have to admit to around 50-60 pairs. What do you mean? Of course they are all necessities!
Carole, Bristol, UK

I have (at last count) 35 pairs of shoes and i love buying shoes. My son's hate shopping with me because it always means a stop at a shoe shop. I throw outa few pairs annually as fashions change but shoes are sensual, attractive and your feet don't change shape like your body does.. Plus shoes are fun and you must have the in colour. My husband has 4 pairs my son's about 3 pairs! someone has to keep the shoe makers in business? need I say more..
Vivienne Brooks

I am one of the "over 100 pairs" and counting!
Sue Bond, Denton, Northampton

They might own 30 pairs of shoes, but they will complain about how uncomfortable and painful they are and how it is unfair they are forced to wear silly shoes. There's some classic female logic for you.
Rick, Didcot, UK

Please - high heels and badly fitting fashion shoes are the cause of a lot of pain and misery in older life. The bunions and misshapen feet are NOT attractive as one gets past 40. So many of my friends look at my straight feet with their painted toe nails which are bare on all summer days or in just 'jesus sandals' and are totally envious of me. They cannot wear sandals as their feet look too awful and the sandals won't stay on their feet. They spend a lot of time and money with chiropody (or on the NHS when it is our tax money they are spending). You have one set of feet for life! Look after them! (Incedentally I am 48 and not in the chiropody or health care business!)
Lyn, UK

I would love to have a shoe festish, but as my feet are a size 10-11 I have to make do with trainers or the boxes shows come in. Fair enough you can buy shoes in my size but they are generally all wide fitting court shoes which I would never wear.
Lucy, Norwich

So, 30 to 100 pairs huh? That's 26 to 96 pairs too many! I have 4 pairs, one pair of boots for riding my Harley (the ONLY thing worth paying big money for), 1 pair of comfy shoes for round the house, a pair of Converse for wearing 'out' and a pair of 6in heel, 2in sole 'pole-dancer' shoes for Rocky Horror nights (honest!).
Glenn Willis, Kettering

The right shoes make me feel sexy and confident as I stride across town. The wrong shoe makes me feel lumpen and awkward. It's all about distribution of weight and changing the way I walk and stand. The right pair of shoes, for me, is worth a lot of money - they could change my whole life!
Michelle, London

I've given up trying to explain to my husband why my 30 or so pairs of shoes are all essential. He just doesn't seem to get that some days you wear flats, some days a small heel, some days a high heel, some days a boot, and they all have to be in different colours and styles to match the outfit and occasion! A colleague of mine has so many shoes that more than half of them are in storage at her parents home in France. She's buying an apartment with a room just for the shoes!
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex-UK

aaaaah. shoes...... my favourite. I dont own that many - only about 25 pairs but I have been told that its a lot for a bloke... I am a firm believer that you cant have too many shoes... full stop. point blank. now to find a woman that agrees....
Neil, Derby

I disagree with the statement 'no-one ever says "do my feet look fat in these shoes?". I have wide feet which look horrible in these fashionable skinny things that are shockingly overpriced. I have a around 10 pairs of shoes, mostly comfy boots or trainers and a couple of heels for work and I often feel like the odd one out at work when the ladies are cooing over the next Jimmy Choo's. Trouble is, my boyfriend loves ridiculous heels (on me of course!) and has more shoes than me so if I was to have a fetish for them he'd buy them for me! How envious (and annoyed that I don't flaunt this opportunity!) are my friends...
Paula Mead, Ashford, UK

Twenty five ago I was in a hotel bar on holiday with a friend of mine. He saw a girl dancing across the other side of the room and said "look at that girl, her shoes coordinate with her skirt, she must be English - I'm going to talk to her". He did so and being left alone I followed sheepishly about twenty minutes later - I am the one who fell in love with her though and I married her. We are still married. Her shoes ALWAYS go with what she's wearing and I love her for it!
Simon Beechinor, Bedford, UK

I've got to say that I really like buying footwear too. I must have 5 pairs of Flip Flop, essentially all you need in Cornwall, one really nice pair of smart shoes (for the suit) and loads of other pairs fron Vans to Slip on shoes. My only justification for buying so many is when they're in the sale!!! I mean who can say no to half price shoes...
Peter Ayres, Falmouth, Cornwall

What a load of hogwash! I would say one out of 6 of my femail friends has more than 20 pairs of shoes! I have about 10, and the most I have ever paid for a pair of shoes was 40 - they were a pair of calf length boots! I question the sample they've usd for this survey. Personally, I would be happier going barefoot - and I never wear heels. My wedding day, I wore a lovely pair of white satin buckle shoes with a nice chunky heel, cost me 10!
Sonia, Sunderland

"Now, isn't it just plain obvious why this season's must-have Christian Louboutin "pony hair pumps" are a bargain at 445? " You know what? It really, really isn't.
David Barrance, Milton Keynes, UK

No Mr Barrance, it really is a bargain!
Marilyn Dalton-Longley, Leeds, West Yorkshire

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