Shoes, Glorious Shoes

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As Nancy Sinatra once warbled: 'These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do - one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.' Ooooh, Matron!

There are two types of shoe. One is comfortable, 'sensible' and functional - and the other is to be looked at, fantasised over - and is quite simply a sex stimulant. These are unashamedly 'FUCK-ME!' shoes.

A couple of years ago, I was staggered by a sort of shoe shop in Hampstead where my then fiancee bought a lovely pair of swaggerers.We took them back a few days later after the shank had snapped in half.We were told, 'Oh. These are fashion shoes. You're not meant to walk in them.'

NOT made for walking

After I had done my usual loud-mouthed expose of the shop's products to all of the other potential customers - both inside and looking through the windows - we got our rightful refund. However, it made me think. There are shoes that are 'fashion' shoes and there are ones that are functional.

Ladies, if you want to do the 874-mile trek from John O' Groats to Land's End, then wear a pair of comfy trainers. If you want to attract someone in a bar - or wherever - then 'fuck-me' shoes are the answer. Horses for courses... whores for causes.

A reasonably well-known catalogue shoe supplier claims that sixty per cent of women wear the wrong size of shoes. They don't explain in their advertising blurb whether the shoes are too big or too small, they just say 'the wrong size'. But they do show several sequences of women with pretty feet liberally adorned with plasters. Perhaps they're not wearing them for the purpose for which they were designed...

Proper shoes

For 'shoes' in this article, also please read 'boots'. Today's shoes can be very, very sexy - and boots even more so. However, unlike fifty or so years ago, the modern lady is more prone to pulling on footwear that is built for both comfort and speed than something that actually looks good and shows her off to her full potential.

While it might be that 'manners maketh man', any woman can look a million dollars in the right pair of heels, so perhaps one can say that 'shoes maketh the woman'. Shoes are the accessories that complete an outfit and can be a real confidence booster. Of all items of clothing, footwear is probably the most practical, varied, weird - and least appreciated by most people.

Among many who may have said this, it was, allegedly, Gloria Hunniford's mother who once expounded, 'Always spend as much as you can afford on your bed and on your shoes, because if you're not in one, you'll be in the other.'

How true - and if your feet aren't comfortable, then neither is the rest of your body. However, there are times when shoes - and boots - go together with bed.Very often they can be the pre-cursor to bed.

Passionate about footwear

This is purely about footwear - a fetish for feet themselves is different matter that we'll cover another time. However, apart from the sexual frisson that can be generated by the right look, shoes also appear to have a strange hold over certain obsessive types who buy them just to possess them. To some people, footwear is a hobby. In a similar way to stamp-collectors and numismatists, people actually do collect shoes.

It is not known quite how many pairs Imelda Marcos owned, but a conservative estimate is well over 3,000.When she and her husband were forced to flee Manila in 1986, one couldn't help wondering if the First Lady's shoe fetish was somewhat akin to the Nazi obsession with jackboots. A little later, PC World ran rather aggressive ads claiming that they were 'stamping prices down'. It does make one wonder if a foot obsession is, perhaps, not a very healthy one.

During the 20th century, fashion moved faster than ever before and shoe design changed to match it.While the functionality remained the same, shoe styles followed the changing trends - and in some ways, themselves dictated the overall look. From Wizard of Oz Dorothy's sparkly red court shoes to Elvis's blue suedes, shoes have become an increasingly important statement.What 'rugged' man doesn't own a pair of Timberlands to go with his Wranglers?
And name a woman who hasn't got some unbearably uncomfortable 'dancing' shoes to go with the obligatory 'little black number'?

Today's styles

The only sight better than a well-turned ankle, is, maybe, one encased in leather - BUT, BUT, BUT - we live in rather dreary times when it comes to everyday fashion. Too many women wear baggy tracksuit bottoms and the ubiquitous trainers. [Stilettos with tracksuit bottoms a distinctly dodgy look! Ed] There is no way that a trainer can look sexy, whatever bells, whistles, flashing lights and go-faster stripes the like of Nike et al add to their over-priced designs. (Made, usually, I might suggest, in an Asian sweat-shop for about two dollars. [Don't go getting feisty or political! Ed]

Glamour and romance

Going back to the post-Second World War era, when there was a joyous phase of liberation and optimism, shoes in western cultures probably reached their zenith of style and elegance. The late '40s and '50s were a time of re-found glamour, and the beauty of the shoes of that time is very much reflected in the high-end 'sex' shoes of today. At this time when fabric was not yet off the ration, shoes were one sure way to add oomph to austerity fashions - which ironically often rather resembled uniforms, and as such, were potentially very horny - just needed to get the shoes right!

You only have to look at recent music videos by the likes of Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani to see that girls at the leading edge of pop culture still emulate with proper reverence the glamorous, glossy-lipped, wasp-waisted pencil-skirted, post-war American chic - setting the whole look off with seamed stockings... and high-heeled, peep-toed shoes. Think back to Dior's 'New Look' of 1947, when at last fabric was in good supply - the fitted jacket over the ultra-full calf-length skirt would never have had its elegance and appeal if paired with comfy suede flatties or trainers!

This same high-heeled look, exaggerated to an extreme degree is one of the foundations of modern fetish wear - a bold, attention-drawing statement which also gives the wearer the superiority of height.

The all-male view

OK. I can't deny that trainers may be more comfortable than a pair of patent stilettos or thigh-high boots when running for a bus, but they don't do a girl any favours. To appear at her best, a woman has to sport heels (unless she is a librarian, one of the 'sensible-shoes brigade' or both, when a pair of brown brogues or flat pumps will suffice. Here I go again. Stop me Annie!).

Relatively speaking, a woman's legs are longer than a man's in proportion to her total body-length. So, whatever general shape she has, it is made more attractive by lengthening this feature. This is the beauty of high heels. They accentuate the thighs, lengthen, slenderise and tone the calves and create a more alluring posture with the buttocks and breasts pressed outwards and the belly held in. Just take a look at Marilyn Monroe teetering along the platform in Some Like it Hot.

So, when I talk about footwear here, I really mean sexy footwear.

The styles that work

For those of you who read issue 1 of SHM, there is a recurring theme - colour. Again, as with basques, the shoes that really, really work are black. Red is a distant second - 'red shoes, (or red hat) no knickers' as the old saying goes - but white and silver also feature. Brown is too rural and rustic to have pizzazz and all other colours of the rainbow and beyond simply don't cut the mustard. Not surprisingly, then, black is the preferred choice for that sexy look - not only in its own right, but black can be worn with any outfit. The femme-fatale look requires black shoes - and a Goth wouldn't wear anything but.

This applies for men as well as women. Black gives a solid foundation to the whole body image. It is almost like a statement that says 'I build my lighthouse on rock, not on sand.'

Which brings me to the 'hooker look'. Ladies of the night the world over have recognised the impact of accentuating the length of their legs with high heels as they advertised their wares - and if you're feeling like playing the tart, the right shoes are a must. Ironically, 'working girls' sport appropriately 'fuck-me' shoes when on duty, while working women, who spend their earning hours on their feet as opposed to their backs, wear functional footwear. As such, the wearing of high heels is an indicator (for ordinary girls, that is) of not working - of lovely, decadent leisure... and having fun!

While there are high-street shops that offer sexy shoes and boots, there is an increasing number of fantasy footwear specialists. One of the most impressive is Fantasy Shoes of Barking who supplied some of the images that accompany this feature.

Their web-site is
Phone 020 8594 8555 or e-mail

Tips For Good Shoe Wearing

Wear the highest heels that your legs can sustain
Don't get drunk when wearing the above heels - or you'll fall off and make a spectacle of yourself. This applies especially to wedding receptions and when leaving an Essex pub around midnight!
Always wear stockings. Tights just don't work with any shoe type. You could possibly get away with holdups, but, really, you should have the sussies as well
Never, never, never wear trainers unless you're preparing for next year's Marathon - and even then, only wear them when it's dark!

Ladies and gentlemen
Unless wearing amazing knee-high (or higher) boots, don't wear shoes with laces.Wear slip-ons just in case the knots become too difficult to untie when required and 'the moment' is gone!
Never consider Wellington boots unless you're digging for victory at the allotment or you are a Welsh hill farmer with rather recalcitrant sheep
Always look after your shoes and keep them as clean as you can. This is not a joke - a lot can be told about a person by the way that they maintain their footwear

However short you may be, don't wear lifts in your shoes 'cos you'll just look a pillock when you take them off. Remember, we're all the same height when lying down...

A brief History of Shoes

Whether for reasons of necessity or vanity, it can be assumed that shoes have been around for as long as there have been sharp, rocky terrain, extreme temperatures, and human ingenuity.

c. 8,000 BC
Native Americans in Missouri left evidence of the earliest-recorded shoes

c. 3,300 BC
The 'Ice Man' died in the French Alps, and was buried with a pair of primitive shoes stuffed with grass

c. 3,000 BC
Egyptians painted murals of shoes and shoe-makers appeared on temple walls

100 AD
Greek slaves were distinguished from free citizens, always being depicted bare-footed

200 AD
The Roman emperor Aurelius proclaimed that only he and his successors might wear red sandals

15th Century
Knights adopted long-toed shoes, called crackows, with points up to twenty-four inches long. Sumptuary laws dictated the allowed length of the toes.While they may have been exceedingly difficult to walk in, they were undoubtedly effective weapons in mounted combat

Early 16th Century
The high heel was invented - possibly, by Leonardo da Vinci

Mid 16th Century
Chopines, platform shoes rising up to thirty inches, become all the rage in southern Europe

Early 17th Century
Shoelaces became a fashion statement

Mid 17th Century
Louis XIV, a short man, started a whole new movement in platform shoes. Some were five inches high and decorated with miniature battle scenes

Around 1700
A mistranslation from the original French fairy tale turns Cinderella's fur (vair) slipper into a glass one (verre)

Mid 1700s
The shoe production-line was devised - workers could now concentrate on specific tasks, rather than making an entire shoe

Late 1700s
The first shoe factories appeared, though it would take another century before factories replaced custom shoe-making. The first retail shoe-store was opened in Boston Massachusetts

Early 1800s
Flat shoes and Grecian-style sandals became popular

Mid 1800s
The first 'trainers', then called variously 'plimsolls', 'daps' or 'sand-shoes' were produced

Late Victorian Period
A buttonhook becomes an essential part of every woman's wardrobe, as high-buttoned shoes become the fashion norm