We’re Running out of Shoe Related Puns

We are only a few weeks away from getting WORN #9 to the printers, which means soon enough there will be new copies of WORN on the stands (that’s good). However, this means that they will be replacing our shoe issue, currently on stands (that’s bad). While WORN #8 will still be available for sale certain places (hintedy hint hint), we can understand if you’ve already read it several times, cover to cover (it was a pretty slamming issue, if I do say so myself) and are now looking for another way to fulfill your footwear fix. Fret not, dear readers, for I have scoured the blogosphere to find you three websites necessary for the Louboutin lover in all of us. Without any further a-shoe (oh look, I still had another pun in me)….

Shoes and Your Mom

Shoes and Your Mom is a spin-off of the personal style blog, Lulu and your Mom. While Lulu remains the ringleader of both blogs, SAYM is a buying and selling community that is run just as much by the people who frequent it. Like an incredibly stylish version of Craigslist, the site is a service aimed at those needing to clear out space in their closets. Through Lulu and her two interns, sellers display their shoes (and dresses and coats and other items of clothing) that are up for sale on the site, for prospective buyers to browse and purchase. One of the perks of having an online market based on a popular blog is that all the items are screened before they are put up for sale, so it isn’t necessary to dig through pages of cheaply made knockoffs in order to find a pair of Marc Jacobs flats. There is also a diverse readership, which means that many different shoe sizes and tastes are accounted for, ranging from a pair of gold Prada mary janes to white slouchy Balenciaga boots.
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Shoes: Your Life Pretty Much Depends on Them

We at Worn Fashion Journal understand the importance of great kicks (just check out our most recent issue dedicated entirely to them). A sleek set of heels can pull together a bland outfit, stand on their own as miniature sculptures, or just make your feet look great. However, sometimes shoes go beyond their regular duties, especially when it comes to the tribulations of fictional characters on the silver screen (and no, I’m not just referring to Carrie Bradshaw’s Manolo Blahniks — although those should get an honourable mention*). The main characters in the following three films have a relationship with shoes that extend beyond mere obsession. In these stories, the footwear forms an integral part of the story (and, in two out of three cases, are easy on the eyes as well).

1. Cinderella (1950)

We start with a classic story, one that everybody is familiar with. The heroine? An orphan taken in by her evil stepmother and stepsisters, forced into a life of scrubbing floors and befriending musical mice (no, really. They sang to her). The shoes in question? A pair of glass slippers, bestowed on the heroine by her magical fairy godmother. While the talking animals only showed up in the one Disney version of the movie, the basic story — whose origins date back as far as ancient Greece — is the same no matter which adaptation you find. Cinderella is transported from poverty to royalty, not just because of her fairy godmother, or the handsome Prince Charming who rescues her, or because of a pack of singing rodents (although they were all major factors in the outcome). No, it’s because of those glass slippers — dainty, yet somehow strong enough to support the weight of a full-grown woman fleeing down a flight of stairs. The slippers served as a matchmaker between prince and orphan, freeing Cinderella from the evils of housework forever.

2. Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Like Cinderella, this is a story that everybody is familiar with, if not for the plot itself then for the urban legends that surround it (Munchkin Suicides, Pink Floyd sync ups) or the various retellings of the story from different perspectives (The Wiz, Tin Man, Wicked), or different symbolic interpretations (the munchkins are a metaphor for the American working class, guys!). It’s easy to let the hype get in the way of the really important aspects of the story: glittering ruby slippers. Without the slippers, the Wicked Witch of the West would have no incentive to go after our heroine Dorothy, and without any Wicked Witch, the evil flying monkeys would not have existed. While the phrase “evil flying monkeys” should be enough of a reason in itself, the shoes go one step further (pun very much so intended). Dorothy, once rid of evil flying monkeys, learns that all she needs to do to get home is tap the heels of those sparkling shoes together three times and voila — she’s at home in Kansas, asleep in her bed. Granted, in eschewing more traditional forms of travel she’s missing out on those awesome little bags of pretzels they give out on flights nowadays, but it’s quite efficient nonetheless.

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Book Review – Shoes: A History from Sandals to Sneakers

As an unabashed dilettante, this is precisely the kind of fashion book that appeals to me: broad in concept, rife with details about niche topics, and lushly illustrated with highly saturated colour photos and antique illustrations of the dreamiest, most audacious shoes I will never wear. It looks like a coffee-table book, but the essays are academic in tone, so you can feed your smarts and your eyeballs in a single go.

The collection chronicles the development of (mostly western) footwear, zooming in on specific moments and cultures in fashion history to deliver a broad genesis of the modern shoe and our attitudes toward it. The fantastically illustrated essays present snapshot perspectives on shoes as symbols, as aesthetic phenomena, as bearers of status or power, and as material things that must be put together with the resources and technologies available, yet still conform to the mores, fashions, and cultural constraints of their times. The topics vary widely, bouncing from, say, the evolution of 19th-century army boots to the rhetoric of sneakers to accounts of the sumptuary laws restricting platform heights in the middle ages. My sole complaint is the western, highly Eurocentric bias of the book’s historical arc. While there are a few essays on other cultures’ shoes, these felt more like a genuflection toward cosmopolitan internationalism than an earnest attempt to figure a truly global account. Otherwise, though, I’m a big fan; it’s a great primer on shoe history, and the illustrations truly are drool-worthy. Now, the really pressing question is, how am I going to secure myself a nice satiny pair of 15th-century pianelles in time for the weekend…

Giorgio Riello and Peter McNeil (Eds.), Berg, 2006
reviewed by Emily Raine (originally published in Worn Fashion Journal Issue 8 )