Personal Aesthetics: In shoes

I’ve been trying to decipher what makes or breaks appeal in women’s shoes ever since I wed. For some reason that men just aren’t able to grasp (I think it’s tied to the static size of the body part in question; Cathy seemed to confirm this last week.), women are infatuated with shoes. Actually, it may be more than an infatuation.

My wife and I engaged in a discussion on aesthetics last weekend on the way back from dropping her crocheted bamboo sculpture off at a show (She won took third place, although she was more giddy about learning how to spin than getting a ribbon and a check.). Topics included shoes and the human form.

On shoes. I recently bought two pairs, one online and one on sale in Kohl’s. I hate buying shoes. I’m cheap out of necessity as much as thriftiness, although I don’t like spending a lot on shoes regardless. That’s limiting right off the bat. It’s also difficult to find my size — which seems to be the most popular size for men — on sale. Further, I really don’t like a lot of shoe design. I don’t like pointy toes. I don’t like square toes. I don’t like a lot of busyness, something that afflicts nine out of ten common tennis shoes in our day and age. I just want an elegant, durable and comfortable piece of footwear. Why does that seem so difficult to come by?

My wife possesses the gender-specific ability to very quickly assess cute factor in a shoe. Within milliseconds of viewing, a particular design will elicit a groan or a cocked head, sweet vocal affirmation and an adorable smile. What I want to know, however, she isn’t always able to quickly enumerate: “What qualities of the footwear’s design is she reacting too?” What makes it good or bad?

Back to my own recent selections. One of them she really likes, the other she quite dislikes (and feels free to tell me so every time I wear them).

This first pictured pair she does like. Apparently they are just loaded with cuteness (oh joy, just what a man wants to slip into every day), although she isn’t fond of the pre-scuffed look on the toes. When pressed for details, she specified that the wide laces are a most definite asset.

This second pair she absolutely does not like. Granted, I am not a fan of the black sole creeping up the toe, and don’t like the material of the black meshiness. She pointed to the mesh as the worst offender of this design. But overall, it’s a solid shoe in my opinion. I did purchase it more for function (no laces, good for cycling) than looks — in fact, this purchase was almost solely functional, although I’d never spend money on something I didn’t agree with aesthetically, so help me God. I suppose that’s a foreign concept to most females?

The debate here revolves around personal aesthetics as much as anything. Both my wife and I groan constantly when we troll the shoe departments. We inevitably end up suggesting the worst pumps or boots or sandals we can find to each other for a good laugh. It’s amazing to me the hideous concoctions people try and peddle in the realm of footwear. But it’s also amazing that such things keep getting made. If there weren’t a market (i.e., an aesthetic) for the 95% of shoes my wife and I love to deride they’d quit making the things.

Apparently there are enough varied visual values to warrant the continued production of 10 million new female shoe styles a day though. I don’t have a source for that number; it’s just my estimate.

Adding: At lunch my wife reminded me that I was going to post this in order to create a forum where she and others could interact with respect to the shoes in question, and any others under the sun. So please feel free to comment on why you do or don’t like the pictured footwear . . .


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

2 Responses to Personal Aesthetics: In shoes

  1. jbjanknegt says:

    I guess your young enough that your feet don’t hurt. Wait until you have to factor in shoes that give you good arch support and fit your heel snugly, then try to find some that are aesthetically pleasing as well. Good luck!!

    I like the first pair of shoes… kind of like the old Converse low tops. I had lots of Converse in many colors. My daughter, now thinks Converse are cool. She has a pari of black high tops. They have zero arch support, though.

    I have a pair sort of like the second ones. Brown sued with the black creeping up over the toe. Mine don’t have the meshy part which does detract in my opinion.

    I just wore out a pair of Justin Roper work Boots that I wear around the artfarm. Man, they were like wearing slippers. I miss them greatly. I bought a new pair of work boots but still haven’t gotten them broken in good.

    I also had a pair of Van’s skateboard shoes that were very cool and comfortable and lasted forever. I’d like another pair of those.

  2. pNielsen says:

    The ones on the top are not all that comfortable. It is odd to me that they don’t build in better arches to canvas shoes. But, ya know, they were only $13.

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