Today's question is one that has perplexed men for ages: What is it with women and shoes?
Not every woman is obsessed with shoes, but it is usually a safe bet that she owns more pairs than the man in her life.
Men only need a few pairs of shoes and each has a specific function:
Dress shoes. We wear these whenever we have to put on a suit. Funerals, job interviews, and those pesky holiday parties your office still throws are the only times these shoes are needed. They are usually uncomfortable but can last for more than a decade because they are worn so infrequently. When they start becoming comfortable, they need to be thrown away because the wear and tear will be showing on the outside. Purchase the right pair and they will never go out of style.
Casual shoes. This category gives men the most difficulty. Words associated with these shoes include “dress casual” (which makes ZERO sense), “smart casual,” and “business casual.” These shoes are usually comfortable and do not need polishing, We will substitute sneakers if given the slightest opportunity.
Sneakers. We all need a set of sneakers even if we haven't done anything athletic in the last dozen years. These are the most versatile shoes in our closet. As a matter of fact, they are so versatile that they rarely even see the closet. These shoes should be kept clean and cycled often enough to prevent “funk.”
Work/Winter boots. In warmer climes, sneakers may be substituted for work boots. However, any time “manly” tasks are performed, work boots are appropriate. These tasks include auto repair, home improvement, and yard work. Cowboy boots can be substituted in certain locations but, as we all know from that Sienfeld episode, they may limit your athletic ability. It just doesn't get more macho than work boots...all the Village People wore boots of some sort!
FTW shoes. The original meaning of “FTW!” was “F@ck the World” and not “For the Win!” even though Hollywood Squares predated the widespread use of the Internet by a good twenty years. When you wear these shoes, you simply don't care what the world thinks of you. These shoes are “thrown on” and not put on. Tying of laces is discouraged as it slows down the “throwing” process. Any shoes may fall into this category including old, loosely tied sneakers and even sandals AS LONG AS THE TOES ARE COVERED! Man toes are disgusting and no one wants to see those gnarly, yellow nails you are growing in tribute to Howard Hughes.
Flip flops are not FTW shoes and really should not be considered shoes in the first place. Because they can only be worn around the house and in locker rooms to prevent Athlete's Foot, they are more slipper than shoe. A good rule of thumb is that they may be worn anywhere your junk may be exposed without getting arrested. No man wears flip flops in public.
If your buddy shows up at the bar in a pair of flip flops, feel free to send him home to change. Ignoring him is also an option. Why? Because you are in a bar with strangers and alcohol so the chances of a fight breaking out are elevated. Flip flops make a fight inevitable. Your buddy will be worse than useless in flip flops. He will not be able to chase nor run from the bad guys. Any sudden lateral move, often necessary in a fight, runs the risk of severing a big toe. Plus, he cannot flank and sneak up behind your opponents. You cannot sneak in flip flops. ”Blap, blap, blap” is a dead giveaway. Sneakers are the minimum for bar wear.
The only advantage your buddy may have by wearing flip flops is hanging that razor-like big toe nail in the bad guy's face like Karate Kid, but we all know that was just a movie. (The remake was barely even that.)
(Speaking of Hollywood Squares and flip flops, this guy probably wore them all the time. Great comedian):
Women have MUCH more difficult decisions to make in footwear.
Is it hot or cold outside? This directly affects the next question: Open toe or closed? Woman toes are somehow not as nasty even if they show the signs of years of being squished into pointy shoes with heels. You know the look.
Heels were originally invented and worn by men. French men to be exact. I know, total shocker. The purpose was to show off that most manly of muscles; the calf. This practice of heel wearing spread around the world and even George Washington was said to have very masculine calves. Of course, that was all back before the French started losing every war. You can't run away in heels.
(Go to the 50 second mark for proof that the French invented heels for men):
Heels fell out of fashion for most men in the 1800's (after Napolean) although they did make a brief reappearance in the Disco era and can still be seen in some all-male reviews in New Orleans. Sometime in the early 1900's, women figured out that heels made their calves look great and we are all eternally thankful for the discovery.
When are heels appropriate? That depends on the function and the height of the men in her life. For some reason, women feel the need to be no taller than the men they date. You won't find a tall woman in heels if she is dating a jockey. This makes no sense given that heels would make slow dancing so much more fun for both parties.
“Flats” are worn for comfort and to minimize the woman's height. She probably does not want to walk for six blocks in stilettos. Even when comfort is at a premium, short women tend to eschew flats. Apparently, slow dancing in flats with a very tall man is not fun for her even though the men seem to have no complaints.
Shoe type also depends on the outfit (men have clothes, women have outfits). Cute little boots do not go with little black dresses even though strappy slingbacks may go with jeans. Summer dresses require open toes and may be worn with or without heels.
Heels tend to leave holes in Yoga mats so women also require sneakers. They may even require work boots because of their vocation or leisure activities, but men are better off avoiding women who wear only work boots...those women are not interested men.
While men may have more than a handful of pairs of shoes, additions must have a specific use. Any shoe with plastic or metal cleats/spikes is extra manly. A pair of brown dress shoes is a nice touch, especially with brown suits. Several pairs of old sneakers may be worn as FTW shoes. Even casual shoes may be recycled into FTW shoes as long as black socks are never worn with shorts. Ever.
Women need all the same shoes men might need PLUS all of the permutations caused by the added variables of their wardrobe. They may wear flip flops at will and can even go to the store in slippers.
I thought about not mentioning this, but one important pair of shoes that every woman needs is her FMP's. While wearing these high heeled pumps may not indicate her desire for sexual activity that evening, she knows damned good and well that they will arouse desire in those around her. She likes that. (FMP stands for Bleep Me Pumps, but you all knew that...)
Why do women need so many shoes? Because their lives are complicated. Put any man in a plain, black tuxedo and he looks good. Life is easy for us. The woman who is with that man, however, needed to figure out how colorful she should be at the event. Even if she chooses a little black dress, it would have to be a complimentary shade of black. What length for the hemline? How low cut in the front? Backless? Are we going for slutty-sexy, refined sexy, or classy sexy? Is it hot out or cold? How much is she going to be on her feet? Does she have time to paint her toes? Is she having that dry, flaky problem again? Is he short or tall?
Only after she answers those questions can she pick the right pair. And heaven help her (and the guy she is with) if some other woman has on the same shoes.
Disclaimer: While we find it disturbing that Tom knows what “sligbacks” are, we would remind readers that Sex and the City (the series and first movie 'cause the second one blew) had many instances of female nudity which justified him watching every episode...