Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Great Shoe Debate

I have learned a lot of things being married to a French woman for 11+ years. One of those things is how important fashion is to the French, even if they live in the countryside. You would think that if a person lives in a village with more cows than people, fashion might take a backseat. You would be unequivocally wrong. But this is not about fashion in general. This is about shoes. My mother- and father-in-law arrived from France last night and my wife informed me that my mother-in-law would like to buy me a pair of shoes because my wife has informed her that my collection of shoes is woefully inadequate. My response: "I don't need shoes. I have one pair of black, and one pair of brown." Their reaction: befuddled (to say the least). How can a person get by with only two pairs of shoes?
Now, I realize this phenomenon is not unique to French women. There are loads of women from loads of nationalities who think that having only two pairs of shoes is laughable. So how to account for this difference between women and men? Let's explore.
Defining need
Women "need" a different pair of shoes to go with these jeans, or that skirt, or a particular pair of slacks. Let's not forget that when the cold weather comes, women "need" boots. And of course in summer, women "need" sandals. And so it goes. Not only for each outfit, but for each outfit in every season. Men, on the other hand, are much more utilitarian. We have one pair of black shoes and one pair of brown shoes. ( I know this is going to induce horror in a lot of you women, but I'll tell you my dirty little secret. My brown shoes, I've had them for probably seven years. I bought them shortly after I got my current job and I still have them. They haven't worn out yet, so why would I need to get a new pair?) Why do men need only one pair of black shoes and one pair of brown shoes? I'm glad you asked.
OK, so men are much more utilitarian in their shoe selection. That's probably by nature, but there is also the matter of selection. If you walk into a place like Shoe Pavilion, three-quarters of the store is devoted to women's shoes, purses, etc. If you go into that quarter of the store reserved for men, what do you find? Brown and black. And maybe some cordovan. That's it. Women have all sorts of styles that I couldn't even begin to name if I tried. For men, it's brown or black, slip-on or laced. So why do we only need one of each? Because when we do that, we've pretty much run the gamut of what is available to us.
We all know how this works. In every house, the woman gets the bigger closet. Or she takes up more closet space. It's not a complaint. It's just the truth. My wife has more stuff than me, so it's only fitting that she get the bigger closet. That being said, how is a guy supposed to cram a dozen (or however many would be "acceptable") pairs of shoes into his small closet? Be honest, ladies. Even if you want your man to expand his shoe collection, you don't want it to expand into your closet space. Think about that. If we bought shoes like you ladies do, we might have to move our shoes into your closet. And that would mean war. So in the interest of maintaining peace, I contend that it actually behooves you ladies to have a man with a limited shoe selection.
This is not breaking news by any means, but shoes are important to chicks. A group of you ladies will take pictures of your shoes to share with your other friends. You will go shopping with one of your girlfriends and when you look at any pair of shoes, you will discuss what you can wear that pair of shoes with because your girlfriend knows your wardrobe as well as you do. (I know. I've heard it.) You notice the shoes of everyone at work and you know the other ladies in the office are critiquing your shoes. (You can admit it. You might feel better if you do.) Can I let you in on a little secret? The last time I noticed another dude's shoes was probably...never. I don't have to worry what that one dude from marketing thinks about my shoes because he probably didn't notice them. Yes, I know it's hard to believe. But it's true.
I doubt that I have baffled my wife (or any other woman, for that matter) for the last time (even about fashion). In any case, maybe (but probably not) this helps to clear up the great shoe debate for every lady that is befuddled by her man's distinct lack of shoes.

1 comment: said...

So what did you end up with for new shoes? I am probably the one guy who goes against the grain on the male shoe stereotype as I must have 25 pairs of shoes.