Hello, my name is Mary and I’m a shoe-holic.
Well, not to the point of Imelda Marcos, who owned over 3,000 pairs, but I counted up today and I have – um – sixty-five pairs….
It includes four pairs of slippers, eleven pairs of shoes and boots bought solely for fancy dress together with a further five pairs now relegated to fancy dress. I own six pairs of flat sandals for summer, and a further four dressy pairs, three pairs of evening shoes and then we start on the high heels, kitten heels and loafers. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the trouser shoes and boots for winter, must we?
And I love them all! I wear them all. Some of the pairs now in the fancy dress chest (We honour fancy dress (Costumes for my American friends) in this family: clothes for fancy dress are housed in a 17th century oak coffer in the dining room. You walk past it every time you enter my studio) have been almost totally worn out and are no longer fit for decent society – but I still love them and long for the chance to wear them just one more time.
I like to think that this is what one of my friends calls a “soft” addiction. A “soft” addiction is one that doesn’t harm anyone and – really it doesn’t – if you discount the sensibilities of my very lovely (but Classic – very Classic) husband and various other Classic friends who feel mortified to be seen in public with shoes like these……by the way – these are my Fiorangelo shoes and easily the most expensive in my collection (who said “you were robbed!”?). I still don’t know exactly how much they were because I both signed and paid the credit card bill with my eyes shut!
Mostly I don’t pay full price for my shoes. I search discount shops, charity shops and lurk on ebay. I believe my postman and I are twins separated at birth, in that we’re both small, neat compact persons with sandy hair, blue eyes and full of mischief. Jon would qualify for the term “dapper” and oh, does he love his shoes! He has at least thirty pairs at home, all neatly arranged on a shoe rack (he tells me – I haven’t seen for myself: we don’t have quite that relationship you understand); some of them more than twenty years old. If a pair of shoes arrives in the post, then I unwrap them so Jon can see and appreciate them too.
Which brings me to another point. Yes, I have sixty-five items of footwear, but some of them are very old (and at this point, sorry, I have to bring you this link to another Monty Python sketch which is very funny but has nothing to do with shoes. Thank goodness these are milkmen (in the script it says “some of whom are very old”) and not postmen otherwise you would all be getting ideas about me!)
These are my oldest pair of boots and were a gift from my ex-husband (who is very good at presents) when he was still my husband some twenty two years ago….
There is actually a reason for this terribly self-indulgent blog today and it is that I wanted to share with you my latest acquisition in the shoe department.
Oh, I have wanted these shoes, lusted after these shoes, longed for these shoes ever since I first saw a pair on e-bay two years ago. These are iconic shoes (in a small way: we’re not talking Dior or Jimmy Choos here) and I missed out on them then. Last week another pair came up in my size and – well, let’s just say I bid as much for them second hand as if they’d been new and leave it at that, shall we? We’re talking Irregular Choice turquoise and gold paisley shoes with pink swans and clear perspex heels (sigh). Does that sound hideous to you?
I just can’t wait to wear them!
Now – just because I spent a lot of this afternoon photographing them and because I know at least some of you will appreciate it, I’ll take you on a quick trip around the collection. Not all sixty-five, because I’m a merciful woman and because some of them are, well, really quite ordinary and boring: my dark brown suede funeral shoes, for instance and my driving shoes and trainers; not interesting at all. So, only the interesting ones and the ones you can tease me about later.
Apart from the decorating shoes and black boots above, these are probably my oldest shoes – I was married to my lovely Alastair wearing these, and danced all night long in them too! They are Roland Cartier, and were bought from Harrods (but only because I worked in London at the time)
Summer sandals get a lot of hard wear as they go up and down the sea wall at our summer home, down onto the beach and into the Brightlingsea mud. It’s rarely worth spending a lot of money on them and Tescos does me just right. The pink flowers however, are clips and this is the third pair of pink sandals they have adorned. I have another two pairs of similar clips in yellow and green and blue and turquoise.
My dressy sandals are much more fun.
Funnily enough the multicoloured ones seem to go with everything in my wardrobe (they were an e-bay bargain – I don’t think anyone else wanted them) and the turquoise ones were bought in a designer discount shop in Brussels. These are the only shoes I possess which break my cardinal rule: shoes must always be comfortable, but rarely look it. No – these are sitting down shoes, not dancing all night shoes. Shame, but as Keats says: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” and these are certainly a joy to have in my wardrobe.
We do need our flatties as well as our heels and so I have a number of kitten heels and loafers. This is my third pair of Boden pink kitten heels with bows. As you can see, they too are wearing out and my chances of coming across a fourth pair this long after Boden did them are slim indeed. I have a similar pair in brown with turquoise velvet ribbon bows.
Oh, and I have a pair in brown dalmation too, which go with my little bomber jacket in brown dalmation corduroy….. (You know – you really don’t have to wonder about me, I wonder about myself sometimes! It wasn’t so much that the “Good Taste Fairy” passed me by as that she stuck a large “Does Not Apply” sign on me at birth.)
Of course, I do have a number of shoes I can work in (given that my work demands beautiful shoes: sad, isn’t it)
So, from top left, clockwise (but it might not be if this is published differently from how it looks as I’m writing – so use your common sense here): Irregular Choice pink polka dots (my first introduction to that wonderful company), River Island Tricolour (not incredibly comfortable, but OK for a networking meeting), Charles Jourdan red slingbacks (bought in Brussels in that same shop: these have walked through York floods and have borne up bravely, bless ’em), Jaime Mascaro woven leather (I have these in Oxford Blue too – easily the most elegant shoes I own and incredibly comfortable), New Look Coffee suede heels (which called to me all the way across Revalare (a now sadly defunct new to you shop) in Borne. They were next to a pair of purple Kurt Gieger shoes which didn’t want to know me at all!), dark brown rosette shoes (a gift from a friend for whom they didn’t work – thank you Alison), and Boden Pony-skin leopard print heels (note the red soles – they got into trouble with Louboutin for that, as the French designer has the trademark rights to the red sole!)
And, just to round up, the pair that caused my husband to cover his eyes and groan (Jon the postie likes them though)
Look – they are as beautiful on the inside as on the outside (Irregular Choice again – oh, and believe me when I say that all my Irregular Choice shoes are on the conventional side of their designs: they get far, far more wacky than this!)
just in case you are wondering how I keep all these shoes…
Yes, I keep about thirty of them in this little chest of drawers in my wardrobe (look – you can see the dalmation jacket middle left above the shoes), with more in the clear plastic shoe boxes you can get from Lakeland. There are more in the drawers under the bed and of course, some live permanently in the oak coffer in the dining room – and very appropriately too!
And that’s just with Alastair….