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October 24, 2003

Pointy Toes

Dear Friedrich --

Are women in L.A. still wearing long, pointy shoes? (Does this shoe style have a name, do you know? Evo-fashion maven that you are ...) They're still being worn in NYC, a fact that amazes me; it seems to be something more, if only slightly more, than a fad.

How do the shoes strike you? When I first noticed them, probably about a year ago, I found them appalling and amusing -- semi-fun to look at, but sheesh. These are shoes so slim and elongated that there must be an extra inch of shoe out there in front of the toes. How do the women wearing these things not trip over their own feet? Yet, despite its absurdity, the fashion is still with us. (Always a good question: why do some fashion-things stick around for a time while so many don't catch on at all?) Interesting to note, too, that the women wearing these pointy clown shoes aren't just the usual fashion-victim crowd. The shoes seem to appeal to a larger percentage of women than the usual, ghastly high-fashion fads do.

Even so, they're such an extreme kind of taste thing that ... Well, hard to imagine that many men find them exciting. In fact, I find it hard to imagine a woman wearing these shoes to please any man, a few nutty pointy-shoe fetishists aside.

And just for the record: women aren't decking themselves out in absurd shoes BECAUSE OF ME. Happy to admit that I like it that women often take care with their looks. Happy to admit that I like it that women are often enthusiastic about decorating themselves and making themselves appealing. But -- picture me here pleading my case before a judge -- it would never occur to me to insist that any woman wear wobbly, dangerous shoes. Well, over-wobbly, over-dangerous shoes, anyway. And of course I'd never insist, just gently suggest.

But still! Fond though many women are of presenting their own preferred behavior as something they're really doing for someone else's sake, I think it has to be said that the current pointy shoes have "women sometimes get carried away with fashion fads purely for their own sake" written all over them.

Or do you think I'm being unfair?



posted by Michael at October 24, 2003


They are major uncomfortable to wear. And they are all over the place.

Shoes are one area that I have totally abandoned the fashion ship. It takes a truly extraordinary occasion to even get me to put on heels anymore (I wore a fancy dress to a wedding a few weeks ago, and relented to wearing heels. But I put them on in the car just before entering the Church!). Flat shoes that go with a lot of things are my vehicle of choice. I remember in my younger days wobbling around on spiky high heels even at work. I laughed to myself while watching some early-twenty interns at work 4-5 years ago wobbling on ultra high heels with ultra short skirts (Ally MacBeal style) in recognizing that I had officially abandoned sex appeal for comfort, at least in the work clothes department!

What I'm really amazed by is women over 30 who are still wearing pointy shoes etc. They have more fashionista endurance than me!

But...according to a recent posting by the 2B, the women wearing pointy toed shoes are just...proving their reproductive fitness, right?

Posted by: annette on October 24, 2003 1:29 PM

I just kid my wife and oldest daughter about whose shoes are able to kick whose shoes butts in a fight. They're all pretty scary.

But isn't the trend toward elongated, pointy toed women's shoes much more than one year old?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on October 24, 2003 2:22 PM

Annette -- Glad to hear you opt for comfort. The newish pointy-toed shoes really do look like torture devices. Cute as high or pointy shoes can be, there's also a lot to be said, IMHO, and even in terms of advertising-your-repro-fitness terms, for women who are comfy, happy, and confident too. I wonder if FvB and I are in total accord where art-and-pleasure and evo-bio go. I suspect FvB's a little more hardcore than I am -- that he's more prone to interpret everything in those terms. (Though I could be doing an injustic here -- FvB? Corrections, pls.) My view, based on nothing but hunches and a lot of reading, is that our basic pleasures and preferences (sweetness, rhythm, tonality, narrative, etc) are rooted in evo-bio factors, but that we also capitalize on these basic preferences and skills to create experiences that we enjoy (or don't) for their own sake -- cuisine instead of just-wolfin-it-down,love-makin' instead of just a grunt and a hump, mozart instead of just something to whistle. We elaborate it and take it to extremes just because we enjoy doing so. Which is what I'd argue the women with their pointy toes are doing. Maybe there is a cross-cultural preference for the appearance of long, slim legs and elegant feet that heels and pointy toed shoes can give a woman -- beats me. And maybe there's a built-in pleasure a woman can take from looking elegant and alluring. Seems to me, though, that when it gets absurd (much high fashion, for instance), it's taken on its own life and begun to be enjoyed for its own sake. What's your hunch about this?

FvB -- I'm probably my usual 3 or 4 years behind the times. There's a particular style of pointy-toed women's shoes, though, that I've only noticed in the last few years -- the ends of the shoes really do go out an extra inch beyond the end of the toes. And the shoes are kinda angular -- very mannerist exaggerated. Did they become fashionable more than a couple of years ago? A little help from the fashion-conscous crowd, please?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 24, 2003 4:16 PM

*grin* If you really want to know, it has to do with the current body type that is in fashion. Grab a 17 or YM or Cosmopolitan or Glamour or Lucky magazine. Lucky is better, because it's devoted solely to fashion.

Look, really look at the women in those magazines. They have no hips. None. No butt. Their boobs are inevitably fake. Don't believe me - go look at the most expensive pair of jeans in a) the gap, b) american eagle, c) victoria's secret. The jeans are cut extremely low on the hips, and with narrow, straight legs.

Men's jeans currently have more thigh room than women's, and so I buy men's jeans.

Excuse me, what real woman has a narrow, straight leg? None. zilch. The current model has no thighs. Go look at the current Victoria's Secret catalog. The women have fake boobs, but no hips and no thighs. The "look" essentially about the same figure as a prepubescent boy - because even a pubescent girl will have some hips.

I often wonder about the psychology of a fashion trend towards androgyny. BUT:

The shoes are supposed to a) be feminine, because obviously no other part of the wardrobe is, and b) make your legs look longer and thinner. Women swear that wearing high, pointy heels elongates and slims the leg because the visual line of the leg is extended.

There really is a logic to some classical fashion trends, and one of these days, I'm going to write several long posts about it, but not today.

I think there is some small truth to the leg elongation theory, but since I have a 32" inseam, I've never felt the need to deck myself out like that. I don't actually own a pair of heels.

Posted by: Courtney on October 24, 2003 4:57 PM

I'm not sure what you are talking about.

Low-heeled pointy-toed shoes are enjoying a vogue. These shoes are magically are "professional" even when mules or slingbacks (even though the slingbacks look stupid.) If you are talking about those shoes, M. Blowhard, I think the low-heel is a factor. Also, most of them at least look like they’re well-made and frequently have precise details such as slim leather bows. Even really expensive and reliable shoes were getting a bit shabby-looking for a while there, so now even the illusion of craftsmanship is a selling point.

If you are talking about amazing killer diva stilettos, they've been around... as long as Sex and the City has been on HBO and I'm not aware of a neighborhood or social niche in which these bad boys are common, everyday wear. If there is such a place, tell me now.

Right now, the shoe that says “I want marry a baseball player and beat him with a cell phone in a drug-addled rage” is an extra-high tight thigh-high boot. No one every wears those in real life, but they are trotted out and exclaimed over every six or seven years.

Speaking of shoes – isn’t it sad the Imelda had so many, many shoes and they were all dowdy little old white-lady church shoes?

Posted by: j.c. on October 24, 2003 5:15 PM

Those are the ones: about an inch-high heel, not-stilettos, very slim overall, with long long toes. So they radiate "professional"? Really? I can see how the heel-height would signify professional (although the ones I've seen have been pretty sharp or stabby looking). But how about those long, long toes? How do they radiate professional? They radiate "I'm going to die on the escalator" to me. But I'm sure I'm just not privy to the ever-ongoing conversation that is fashion.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 24, 2003 6:39 PM

I think these subtle shoes just happened to show up right when women were pushing the line some more so the shoes got over. All I know is, until these shoes came along, no mule passed muster with the banker-blue suit guys.

We've come along way from that darned floppy bow/scarf/tie nonsense.

Posted by: j.c. on October 24, 2003 7:49 PM

Maybe it's just that I work on a college campus, but ze goyls aren't wearing flats here! ;)

Posted by: Courtney on October 24, 2003 7:55 PM

Oh, I think I get it. The professional gals needed shoes that were stylish and professional. Traditional highheel style was too uncomfortable or hooker-ish. But as the heel shrank, something else had to seize the "style" duties, and the elongating toe did the honors. Is that about it?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 24, 2003 9:16 PM

Right now, the shoe that says “I want marry a baseball player and beat him with a cell phone in a drug-addled rage” is an extra-high tight thigh-high boot.

I vote this the most entertaining, well-turned sentence I've come across in over a year of blogging.


Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on October 25, 2003 1:50 AM

extra-high tight thigh-high boot

Fetish alert. And wasn't that Tawny Kitane (sp?) beating up on poor ol' Chuck Finley? That's what you get for marrying a hoochie mama from a hair band video. But who among us hasn't done that?

FWIW, everytime I see those shoes, I want to desperately cackle "I'm melting! I'm melting!"

Lastly, I can't believe that there is a single male power broker who gives a tinker's damn about women's shoes, short of the ones that the stripper in front of him has on.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on October 25, 2003 10:08 AM

M. Blowhard, I've never been able to suss out how women's attire becomes OK at work. You maybe be right.

Scott - Male power brokers are attuned to an irritated by anything that doesn't scream "I am a soulless professional who will give up everything for the good of the bottom line."

I’m waiting for the women who went to good schools to realize that, ugly as they are, a good class ring can really make an impression.

Especially during a performance review.

Posted by: j.c. on October 25, 2003 11:37 AM

I guess I'll never be a power broker, then. All I care about is the bottom line, and if you make that right, I don't care if you're wearing fishing waders, a bandana halter top, and a fez. Even if you're a lady.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on October 25, 2003 6:29 PM

Time to go to work for Scott. My place of emploment has specifically forbidden me from showing up wearing a bandana halter top.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 25, 2003 6:42 PM

Heh. My mom once caused a traffic accident wearing a top made out of three bandanas. She pointed the spot out to me when dropping me off at grad school.

Posted by: Courtney on October 25, 2003 8:01 PM

An attractive woman in a sexy pair of shoes is simply a beautiful sight. And, on a winter morning, can raise the temperature in a classroom five degrees.

What would Herbert Muschamp say---another idea du jour for the next Frank Gehry building???

Posted by: c. a. debelius on October 25, 2003 10:56 PM

I think the difference between Scott Chaffin's comments and c.a. debelius' comments illustrate the difference between the private sector and academia.

I think the original question of this thread was whether pointy-toed shoes qualify as "a sexy pair of shoes." (It appears it does for some, or at least debelius, while I am uncertain if shoes that appear to be either "scary" or "witch attire" would generally fall into that category for others. Meaning...which fashion is "sexy" is a matter of taste and perception, which brings me back to the how-is-this-evo-bio question).

As I remember, a goodlooking guy in a turtleneck and a crewneck pullover---skier style---can raise the temp in a classroom, too!

Posted by: annette on October 26, 2003 7:27 AM

If you can find an attractive, intelligent, good natured woman who will give you the time of day, who cares what shoes she wares. If that even becomes an issue I suspect someone’s priorities should be re-examined.

Posted by: shipshape on October 26, 2003 10:03 AM

I think we ought to throw a parade in honor of shipshape!

Posted by: annette on October 26, 2003 10:09 AM

We always called shoes that are hot but are either dangerous to wear or guaranteed to bring on a vicous backache "j.c.c.f.m.n.p's" --short for Joan Crawford Come Fuck Me Now Pumps.

And annette, dont you think the guy in the turtle neck with a pullover will bring the temp even higher if he has a bit of an accent--preferably similiar to either Cary Grant or Sean Connery.

Posted by: Deb on October 26, 2003 6:44 PM

Only if he repents that crack he made a few posts ago about women of a "certain age" losing thier minds.

Posted by: Deb on October 26, 2003 6:51 PM

Deb---I forgot shipshape said that! Maybe we should just send him a cupcake. Plus, I don't think that Tawny Kitane chick was "of a certain age" when she beat her jock husband up. BUT...I bet she advertised current fashion well! Let that be a lesson about judging reproductive fitness from wardrobe, right? (Remember, I've got a cell phone and I know how to use it!).

Posted by: annette on October 26, 2003 7:48 PM

These shoes have been all over New York for the past few seasons, though this year is definitely the worst. In a city where you walk everywhere, they're even more ridiculous than somewhere you can drive.

Myself, I stay with the common-sense New York women who buy high-quality comfortable shoes that don't make us look like Witchy-Poo...there's a lot of us. Actually, I was amazed at the selection of fashionable flats and sporty shoes when I moved here from Texas.

The way fads work though, is that once they reach a certain level, everyone wears them because there's *nothing else* out there to wear. (This is how I once came to own a pair of metallic gold loafers in the 80s). If I need a new pair of heels in the next six months, I'll be hard-pressed to find something un-pointy that is the least bit cute or fashionable. So I'm hoping the shoes I have will outlast this ridiculous trend.

I think these shoes, along with platform-type heels, will stay around until flared 70s-style pants go out of style, since they're the only things that work with them.

If there's any evo-bio component, it's the same as the drive behind all high heels. Pointy toes are just this season's embellishment.

Posted by: emjaybee on October 26, 2003 9:41 PM

annette, it would have been really sweet if it had been a pink Princess phone--remember those?- rather than a cell phone.

Posted by: Deb on October 27, 2003 9:46 AM

Oh my, I love those shoes! I'm a grad school prof, and when I stand in front of the room to lecture, attention must be paid, believe me.

They are not quite as uncomfortable as you might think, because one's feet are not actually confined by the narrow toe box; rather, the toes barely extend into that elongated space.

Elaine Showalter has written very persuasively on the non-mutually exclusive nature of brains and love of high fashion.

Posted by: Maureen on October 27, 2003 10:46 AM

Thank you Annette.

Awww Deb, I am sorry if I hurt your feelings about the crack I made about older women loosing their minds. For the record I have dated older women.

Also for the record, wasn’t Tawny Kataine having some sort of medication reaction or on drugs at the time? So her brain chemistry was a little out of whack…. Wouldn’t you agree if you change a person’s brain chemistry you may actually change a lot about the individual…

Posted by: ShipShape on October 27, 2003 3:05 PM

Ok, shipshape, you can have your parade AND a cupcake.

You didnt really hurt my feelings. I just learned a long time ago there are two things that should NEVER be discussed lightly in mixed company unless it's a doctor/patient thing. One is female "biological functions" and the other is a males inability to get or maintain an erection. Neither are particularly funny at the time.

And I am married to a younger man!

Posted by: Deb on October 27, 2003 5:21 PM

I am glad my banter was not injurious. However, I don’t know Deb, I kind of think all is fair in love, war, and the realm of humor. I do agree that a lot of things are not necessarily funny at the time. But they can be funny. To be able to joke about a thing tends to take the edge out of it. I can see how the second example could be rather embarrassing. How does one talk of such things in polite conversation though? I’ve spent a few minutes and opted to not make any of the comments I wanted because they were a bit lewd. They would have been funny, but lewd. All I can say is that I can see how it could be unpleasant to not have the plumbing work right. I have not had that problem as of yet. And should I, it would probably be at the worst possible time and from a third person perspective, with the kind of luck I have, it would probably be hysterical.

How much of an age difference is there Deb?

Posted by: ShipShape on October 27, 2003 6:52 PM

Three cheers for intelligent attractive female grad professors in sexy shoes! (Surely there is an unpublished poem by Walt Whitman on this topic? "The expression of the body of man or woman balks account...")

And I'll be the last to complain if those provocative pointy shoes replace the 'tattoo-at-the-base-the-spine' look so popular among my own undergraduates. What are they thinking?

Let's throw a parade for Elaine Showalter, Maureen and Deb! (But I want a say in the shoe selection---!) :-)

Posted by: c. a. debelius on October 27, 2003 8:27 PM

ShipShape, lets just say I didnt rob the cradle when I married him. And it's enough of a difference that he doesnt let me forget it either, the rat.

And you are right. Humor can take the edge off of most things uncomfortable. I can usually think of lewd remarks myself, especially when dealing with the opposite sex's plumbing. It's just not polite to speak them. ;o)

Enjoy your parade....I'd rather have a cupcake, preferably with chocolate mocha icing and a creme cheese/apricot filling with just a hint of almond in the cake. Carb cravings, another symptom of....

Posted by: Deb on October 27, 2003 10:38 PM

c. a.

Absent Whitman, I found a little-known version of Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird":

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the [pointy-toed shoe] is involved
In what I know.


Posted by: Maureen on October 28, 2003 4:47 PM

Well I think these pointy shoes can be pretty nice and sexy on certain women. they look so sharp and fashionable and might i say, they have been around since the 50's. i think women look great with these pointy 4 inch stilleto heels. In my high school all girls wear these shoes everyday, atleast the hot ones.

Posted by: Nico on June 6, 2004 3:06 PM

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