Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Those shoes at the very top are not a joke. I ran across the photo while browsing through “News Photos of the Week” on the internet recently and the caption read: “A model presents an outfit by British designer Alexander McQueen during ready-to-wear Spring and Summer 2010 fashion shows in Paris.”

I immediately knew that my first weekly Crone Complaint would be about shoes.

I like shoes as well as anyone, and I never want to be the crone in a sweat suit shuffling around the supermarket in battered sneakers. (Well, come to think of it, when I’m on my way to the gym that’s exactly what I am!) I think it was “Sex and the City” that turned shoe-shopping almost into a religion.

I’m 5’4” and have always longed to be taller, so since high school I’ve always wanted some height—at least an inch and a half heel—on my shoes, even walking shoes. Daughter Eleni is only 5 feet tall and she claims that, like Barbie, her feet are frozen in a tippy-toe position from permanently wearing heels. I’ve seen her climb a mountain in three-inch high espadrilles.

That said, I think all the shoe designs now coming into fashion are ugly, inconvenient and hazardous to our health. They should come with warning labels.

I’m not a fashionista, although I have written for Vogue. I page through fashion magazines at the hairdresser and was sort of aware a year ago that the shoes in the magazines were looking a lot like what was previously worn only by a dominatrix for S&M sessions. I think they’re called bondage shoes. Eleni questions the term. She says I’m referring to gladiator shoes.

(Late breaking bulletin—this is what I found on www.starfashionaddict.com “Bondage shoes are for all intents and purposes, a more serious or hard core version of the gladiator sandal. Gwyneth Paltrow has been seen running around town in them as well as Carrie Bradshaw in the “Sex and the City” movie. Over the past year, they have been popping up in stores everywhere, but many girls who love the edginess are still afraid to wear them.”)

Whatever they’re called, my first thought was “Ugly!” and my second was—“Imagine trying to take those off in the airport security line while everyone behind you fumes.”

A third thought: all shoes with lots of straps and buckles make your legs look shorter—even if you’re a six-foot-tall model—and don’t we all want longer-looking legs?

Now, with the current crop of ridiculously high and teetering stiletto heels being shown on the fashion runways for 2010, I can only imagine that orthopedic surgeons around the world will be buying new summer homes, thanks to all the broken bones they’ll be treating.

Broken hips and falls can be deadly, especially to older people, so no wonder my mother used to wear what she called her “ground gripper” shoes during the day. But she still would put on heels to go out. ( She also told me that no decent woman would ever wear red shoes. I have several pairs of red shoes in my closet but always feel my mother’s celestial disapproval when I wear them.)

Just looking at the shoes above makes my feet hurt and I can only feel sorry for the models who have to wear them on the fashion runway. These are serious, very pricey shoes from the following brands: Nina Ricci, Rodarte, John Galliano, Manolo Blahnik, Dior, Alexander Wang, John Galliano, Bogetta Veneta. Why am I not surprised that most of them have been designed by men… who won’t have to wear them?

Of course we crones don’t have to wear them and I’m sure we won’t—nor would I, personally, ever pay $500 to $1,000 for any shoes, no matter what they look like. But seeing shoes like this in the fashion magazines and on the runway is insidious. Subconsciously we will get used to shoes looking like this, and modified versions of these leg-breakers will drift down to the lower-priced lines that we shop in our neighborhood malls. And pretty soon, we’ll find ourselves thinking it’s possible to walk or drive a car in four-inch-high platforms. And it will be a big mistake. Remember the 1970’s and the mini-skirt!

(Is there something that annoys you, makes you feel patronized or insulted… or just a complaint you’d like to share with fellow crones? Tell me about it below or by writing to joanpgage@yahoo.com so I can feature it on Crone Complaint Tuesdays.)


Robin said...

Ah choo's! Bless me. What is it about them that pulls a woman in like a hyped up Hoover? I do feel, however, that there is hope for us crones seeking cute but comfy footwear, even as the rag mags show us the latest chambers of torture. Check out footpetals.com to see fabulous little pads that I buy by the gross. Cole Haan has expanded their Nike Air collection each year. Even Eleni complemented me on my shoes at our family reunion, and they were Aerosoles! Why? Because we oldies are demanding cute with comfort. Sensible shoes may be in our future, but so are Depends. Until then, so as long as we crones don't mind being slightly behind the fashion curve, I think the silly slippers in which we see runway models crash and burn may actually motivate shoe companies that sell to real women to come up with a watered down version of the fashion forward pumps that we might actually be able to wear. It's the trickle down theory that doesn't seem to work in economics, but may work in booties. A last tip about expensive shoes: the website 6PM.com has daily specials on shoes that are irresistible, and they e mail you with their daily deal. How else would I have bought three pair of Cole Haan/Nike Air high heels, retailing at $275 a pop for $39 each?

Susan said...

Well, Joan, something about this topic finally made me respond, not just in a private email to you!

I need to begin by saying that I've known you since grade school, but have stayed in the Midwest, so that may affect my opinions.(As well as stereotypes held by some of your readers!)

When I had my knee replaced a couple of years ago, my orthopedic surgeon said he always checks to see what motivates a woman to have a knee or hip replaced --and what kinds of shoes she wears, or plans to wear in the future. He isn't interested in wasting his time replacing a joint that is only going back to shoe abuse!

Second,we were at our recent 50th high school reunion together. Ahead of time I had seen a newspaper advertisement for SpareSoles and bought a pair. These are basically fancy ballerina bedroom slippers, coming in satin, animal prints, various colors and sometimes bejeweled!

I used them as I intended to. Halfway through the evening I exchanged my shoes, which were getting uncomfortable, for my SpareSoles. In a venue filled with nearly 200 people, who can even see your feet? But when you're on the dance floor, they can see a peaceful face as opposed to one whose feet below are torturing her!

Joan Gage said...

Hey Robin and Susan--thank you both for insightful and useful comments that count as news that we crones can use!

Izzy said...

Hello Jean
I'm beginning to understand how totally on my wavelength you are!!
I've been blogging about shoes this week too but my take is that we need to get into trainer heels to prepare ourselves for the dizzy heights of the Jimmy Choo. Hope you get a chance to pop in and say hello sometime. Loving your blogging, girl.

sasha said...

thanks for sharing this post i like it i always like to read about shoes
my favorite shoes are Trainers Shoes