Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Not-So-Secret Vices

I’m not the sort of person who has a lot of vices, but when I was asked by a glossy magazine about a year ago to list the ones I did have, I confessed to champagne, handbags and shoes.

I’ve always enjoyed champagne and had a penchant for beautiful handbags. When my husband bought me a black quilted Lady Dior bag about ten years ago, I began a small designer collection that brings me great pleasure. In fact, he has just bought me another beautiful Fendi handbag for my birthday. I love my handbags, and I actually use them on a daily basis. But that is another story. I promised yesterday, and last Thursday, to talk about shoes.

I love shoes. To paraphrase Lily Allen, “it’s not my fault”; it’s hereditary. I’m a third generation lover of shoes on my Mom’s side. The thing about shoes is that, like handbags, size does not really matter all that much. It’s not like you can do anything about the size of your feet. They just are. So unless the store does not stock the size you need, size is rarely an issue with shoes. No sales person has ever raised an eyebrow when I’ve told them my shoe size and I’ve never come home from shoe shopping feeling tired or discouraged about how big my feet are. This is not the case when I go shopping for trousers.

My husband is one of those rare men who really enjoys shopping - for our home, for our son, for him or for me. (I know how lucky I am!) He has a good eye, and will encourage me to try things I would normally never consider, usually with very good results. He enjoys buying things for me, or encouraging me to buy them for myself. So when we went to Harrods on my birthday, it was almost a given we would end up in their amazing shoe department.

Harrods covers seven floors and a whole city block. Their shoe department covers half of one of those floors. They stock almost every shoe manufacturer and designer you can imagine, from Louboutin, to Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weizman and everyone in between. Imagine - shoes, almost as far as your eye can see. It’s shoe heaven.

To be fair, I had intended only to look. I have quite a few shoes in my collection already, and I had just bought a fantastic pair of black pumps at Russell and Bromley a few weeks before. But as I passed the first display, the shoes pictured above caught my eye. They were by Solea, limited edition pumps for summer. They were nothing short of incredible, and with a sensible heel and comfortable body, they were right up my street. Plus they had a teal bow. I had to have them. Luckily they had a pair that fit. I purchased them and made ready to leave the shoe department clutching my green Harrods shopping bag.

But then I saw these.

I swear I had a pair like this back in 1979. Sometimes the good stuff really does come round again. I paused, and the saleslady was there for me. “Do you like wedges?” she asked. Do I - who lost the ability to wear serious killer heels without experiencing agonising pain a very long time ago - like wedges? ABSOLUTELY. Wedges give me height without pain, and as someone who is only five foot three inches tall on a good day, height is something I crave. And these were a blast from the past that I could wear almost daily. (I try not to, but when I’m at home, I tend to live in jeans.) Before I knew it I had tried these curiously inexpensive French Connection shoes on, and was amazed by just how comfortable they were.

In the meantime, several pairs of wedges had now appeared at my feet. I put my “I’ve bought enough” face on, and prepared to be strong. But then I saw these babies by Carvela.

I did try to resist, questioning what yellow shoes would go with. But when even my husband said, “What won’t those beautiful shoes go with?” and started listing outfits I had that would be flattered by them, I was lost.

My son (who has accompanied me on shoe shopping trips before - and had to carry the results) had abandoned all hope all this point and was sitting in a chair rolling his eyes heavenwards and praying for patience. My husband and I had become so comfortable in this wonderful shopping environment we were talking with other shoppers, sharing opinions and having a wonderful time. (To be fair, there was an extraordinarily pretty lady with her personal shopper trying on incredible shoes to distract my husband - and I was distracted by the shoes she was trying. Her one pair of apricot beauties cost more than the three pairs I was about to purchase, and the heels were so high they would have sent me to the emergency department after only a few steps - but they were gorgeous.) In short, we were having fun.

I knew if I didn’t leave I would spend more money though, and I figured three pairs was enough for one day. (I’m not telling you the largest number of shoes* I have bought in one day - you’d think I did not have an ounce of self control if I did.) But as the shoe department was not the only place we had bought things in Harrods, I knew it was time to go. So I paid cold hard cash for my purchases (the only way to go with impulse buying) and walked away from shoe paradise very happy, having only actually covered an eighth of the department.

Yes, my name is April and I am a shoe-a-holic - but as vices go, is it really such a bad one to have?

*more than three, but less than nine, and every single pair was on sale (and I still have, and wear, them all)

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