Emma Baird

Shoes and women’s fiction #amwriting

Mary Janes with cat detail on front

My lucky shoes – sort of

Ever noticed how often shoes turn up in women’s fiction—and specifically on the front cover? I’ve treated you to a picture of my favourite pair of shoes (to look at, not to wear as they are murderously uncomfortable) that incorporate one of my other great loves.

So what is it with shoes and women’s fiction? Let’s start by blaming Cinderella, the only woman in the kingdom whose feet fit the delicate glass slipper and endear her to the prince. (And thus cementing femininity to the owners of small, slender feet.)

It isn’t women’s fiction, but the Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy clicking together the heels of her shiny red shoes is another enduring image. Did you ever covet those red shoes if only for the promise they might magically transport you from one place to another. And that must be a metaphor shoe manufacturers all over the world seek to exploit. Wear our shoes and you too will be lifted instantly from your dull world and your mundane existence.

Carrie Bradshaw must take a bit of the blame too. Sex and the City famously featured an episode where the fictional heroine was robbed of her Manolo Blahniks* at gun point. And it is that theft, rather than the bag or the money that bothers her the most.

Chick lit tends to run with the assumption we are all shoe mad. It’s not a huge leap. I called this blog High Heels and Pink Glitter when I started it and I even mocked up a chick lit book cover using that too-common image of bare legs and sandals. I have plenty of acquaintances who love shoes, even just to look at if not to wear. In my many years of wearing high heels, the decorative value is hugely disproportionate to any wearability. The only heels you can walk in are block ones of not more than three inches and wedges. Even then, I don’t advise you to travel far by foot.

But yes, the assumption is often there that a heroine’s adoration of pretty, delicate, impractical foot wear is shared by us all. Here are two:

“Paris is a heaven for all woman’s obsessions: hot men, great chocolates, scrumptious pastries, sexy lingerie, cool clothes but, as any shoe-o-phile knows, this city is a hotbed of fabulous shoes.”

Kirsten Lobe, Paris Hangover

“Besides, I’d seen a really nice pair of shoes yesterday in the mall and I wanted them for my own. I can’t describe the feeling of immediate familiarity that rushed between us. The moment I clapped eyes on them I felt like I already owned them. I could only suppose that we were together in a former life. That they were my shoes when I was a serving maid in medieval Britain or when I was a princess in ancient Egypt. Or perhaps they were the princess and I was the shoes. Who’s to know? Either way I knew that we were meant to be together.”

Marian Keyes, Watermelon

It isn’t a trope that is going to vanish soon, but women’s fiction that veers toward the comedic or romcom often turns it on its head by featuring heroines who prefer sneakers, Birkenstocks or trainers—the comfy stuff most of us wear 99 percent of the time.

Here’s my own take on it from Highland Fling:

“I made a token protest and gave in. It was always better not to argue with my friend, who is the oldest of four sisters and well-versed in giving orders. Besides, the dress was fabulous—a mustard floral frill skater dress she’d matched with a deep purple and silver crochet cardigan. The belt was silver too, so as predicted it matched perfectly. I argued in favour of my Converse trainers to give my outfit a fierce edge and lost. No, she said. For such an occasion, high-heeled cork wedges were the only options.”

 

*By the way, two years ago Marks and Spencer’s created a lookie-likey version for a mere £35… You’re welcome. 

Cinderella Missing a Glass Slipper?

 

Katie Holmes can now wear heels this height

Does anyone else build their outfit from the shoes up? With a wedding dress, in most cases this might seem pointless as the shoes won’t be visible under acreages of tulle and satin sinking to the floor.

But as any shoe freak will agree – that really isn’t the point. When you’re wearing kickass shoes, you move and stand differently (as any chiropractor will warn against). In an interview, Sarah Jessica Parker once said she put heels on for head and shoulder shots and that snippet of info has stayed with me for years.

Oh – and when you’re 5ft 2” marrying someone who’s a foot taller than you, a four-inch heel is going to help place you higher than your partner’s stomach in pics.

My photographer friend tells me there has been an increase over the last few years of brides getting the photographer to take shots of their heels. Naturally, these babies ain’t from the Primark end of the market – they tend to be Manolo Blahnik’s with the label prominently on display. Ooh, a girl can dream…

Anyway, I’ve attached a pic of my favourite shoes (I talk to them occasionally) and some sites where you can find cut-price designer shoes:

http://www.piperlime.com/products/discount-designer-shoes.jsp

http://www.bluefly.com/Contemporary-Shoes/_/N-8kqi/list.fly

http://www.buymyheels.com/

http://www.stylesequel.com/shop/shoes

The gorgeous girliness of wedding planning!

My name is Emma and I’m getting married next year.

Apparently, the average UK wedding weighs in at just over £14,000 – so are weddings only for the wealthy? Does anyone really need favours? Or pipers or printed invites or make up trials, garters, special underwear and a £500+ cake?*

Now, I can think of plenty of ways to better spend £14,000 plus (which is not to say that financial common sense comes naturally to me; in the quest for the perfect complexion I have six bottles of foundation in my house). My budget is £7,000 and over the next few months I’d like to share with you (and invite you to share with me), my ideas for a wedding which might be cheap, but which won’t look it. Along the way, I’ll probably meander off topic and include musings on food, the bridal industry, shoes, diet & fitness and skincare.

*I don’t condemn you if you do. There sure is a lot of powerful marketing around the bridal industry and it’s a strong woman (or man?) who doesn’t get sucked into that quicksand of spiralling costs.

**Subject to change on a weekly basis. And £14,000 – that’s a flippin’ lot of skincare (or whatever else floats your boat).