“These boots are made for walking, so that’s just what I’ll do!”
I am writing this blog post during the 6th week of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so walking (apart from up and down stairs) is something which I can only do during the exercise hour each day. It is no surprise to me how much I’m missing it, as, since childhood, I’ve regularly been out walking, rambling, and hiking in the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Peak District.
I posted a question to one of my business networking groups, asking what outfit they are most looking forward to wearing once they can go outdoors again. I was interested that the first reply was: “I’m looking forward to no longer wearing trainers or slippers”. And that got me thinking…
What are our shoes saying about us?
Our shoes send out messages about our personality, our grooming (personal care) and even our wealth. We look down at someone’s feet and shoes, often unconsciously, as we are making judgements about them. We take the shoes as visual clues to the person in front of us, and as part of the body language which we are reading all the time when we are talking to someone. If someone is smart or trendy, yet their shoes are poor-quality or scruffy, then we recognise that they are giving out very mixed messages, and question their authenticity.
My father owned a small business as a shoe repairer and was always careful about mine and my sister’s feet. We had our feet regularly measured, and although he never earned much money, my parents always made sure that we had the best quality shoes that they could afford. He recognised how shoes affect the bones, shape and growth of children’s feet, but he also valued the way that shoes said so much about us and he wanted us to look smart.
Fashion, quality and comfort
Unfortunately, sensible shoes are rarely fashionable, and as a young teenager I wanted to be like my friends and to wear whatever was ‘in’ at the time. I remember really coveting my best friend’s stretch, patent boots, which my dad said were shoddy, wouldn’t keep the snow out, and certainly wouldn’t last longer than one winter. He was right of course – an early advocate of sustainability before its current vogue – but that didn’t stop me, as a fifteen-year-old, wanting them for what they ‘said’ rather than for their practicality.
And, of course, once I could earn money myself, I could buy what was fashionable instead. Now that I’m an adult I’m grateful to him for some well-learned lessons, and make sure that I look for quality and well-made shoes again.
Are your shoes speaking to you?! What are they saying?
So… let’s come back to being in lockdown and wearing comfy shoes, or slippers, beneath your desk. What are the messages you are giving to yourself? Given that no-one else can see your lower half in a Zoom meeting, what you wear on your feet is only for you and your family. Try asking yourself the simple question: How does it make me feel?
If the answer is a negative one, why not try wearing your best and favourite stilettos, or boots, or deck shoes, or trainers, or sandals (or whatever your go-to style is) when you’re working. You will look down at your feet and smile. And that is so good for your morale and mental health right now.
Your shoes need to express your personality just as much as your clothes
We need shoes that are in our colour, style, are comfortable and good for our posture. However, to express ourselves, they need the right features to give them 'you' - whether that is a bit of an edge, or quirkiness or sparkle.
The most important thing for me is to wear shoes that don’t make my feet work to keep them on, as well as to walk in them. I love shoes that look feminine, but if they have a strap, so much the better!
It is important not to compromise on the health of your feet, but also their appearance. I recently got stopped in Birmingham when I was wearing my pointed, shiny, bronze, animal-print, block-heeled flats – for a compliment from a complete stranger. That made my day!
Practical tips for lockdown - or indeed anytime when you are indoors
Now is a good time to wear any new shoes which have not been outside yet, or ones that you wear very little – this is usually because they are suited to a special occasion, or are not generally comfortable to wear for a long period of time. Wear them around the house; break them in; get them bending as your feet bend. Then you will know how they function on your feet for when you need or want to wear them outside; they will also be much more comfortable as you will have moulded them to your feet.
Buy some extras to make your shoes 'you' - it is easy to get shoe buckles, bows, shoe clips and even straps that will add some personality. While you are stuck indoors, you have the opportunity to browse online for these little extras. I've just got myself some sparkly shoe clips, which immediately dress up my plain pumps!
Get your shoes repaired and they'll last for many years
While we are on the subject, why not sort through your shoes, and have a look at those which need to be heeled, soled or stitched and put them on one side? Once shops reopen, you can take them to your local shoe repairer. In this time of trying to help the planet by wasting less and recycling more, shoe repairs are the perfect way to recycle your shoes and boots so that you can wear them year after year.
Be kind to your feet, and feel great as a consequence
Your footwear may not give messages out to anyone else, but please make sure that they are giving you the best vibe they can! Look down at your feet and see how fabulous they are.
So why not give your feet a pamper – maybe a nice massage, or a pedicure. And give them the most gorgeous shoes to flatter them! It will repay you a hundred times in the way they make you feel!!
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