Aspirations are a funny thing. Normality to one can be a life dream to another. I have always been quite driven. My mother is a strong female role model and has never been fixated on how well I iron (thank god) or if I have someone to look after me (you have yourself). She raised me to never let the man get you down, persevere to the end point, value education and there is nothing that you cannot achieve (unless it is catching a ball or playing the violin – she knows my limitations).
I have had many aspirations throughout my time on the planet, some I have achieved with great success, others I have spectacularly bombed. However, something I have always wanted to achieve was one pair of red-soled shoes (yes, I am absolutely that shallow). I was and am fascinated by them. The expense, the shape, the sole, the status, the pure red shiny sole that is so iconic, I needed a pair in my life. It took a quarter of a century to get the first pair. Looking back, I played it safe. Black, 120mm heel, peep toe (WTF) and with a hint of pony skin (synthetic nice vegan readers) ….. but erm, leather shoes…. Sorry vegan huns. I no longer have them to photograph as I wore them so much they fell apart, it was a sad day, may they rest in peace in shoe heaven. I didn’t appreciate anything other than the red sole at the time, I wore them three years straight, with everything. Not cool. Desperate.
So fast forward several years, a credit card balance that would wipe out world famine but seven glorious pairs in the wardrobe. I get a pair a year (one year there were two pairs) this was a VERY good year. I have two styles, six pairs of ‘So Kates’ (Starting at £525) and a pair of ‘Pigalles’ (Starting at £495 - saving!). So Kate I always go for 120mm and the heel is a lot finer, Pigalle are a good starting point as the heel is slighter thicker until you adjust to the arch. Slipping them on there are no words to convey how amazing you feel in them. Once you break them in (the initial wear is like crushing glass into your feet then soothing said feet with bleach and vinegar) they mould to your feet as the leather is so soft. The arch that they give your foot creates an illusion of longer leaner legs and they hide the mangled trotters that are my toes. As my Mum always tells me ‘pride is painful’, this will go in my obituary.
The walk and the flamingo
‘How do you walk in those?’, ‘Wow, those are so high’, ‘Oooooo those look painful’. If I wanted comfort I would wear a kitten heel and treat myself to a slingback. Walking and dancing is an art in these shoes. You use muscles that are exclusively sponsored by Christian Louboutin and you don’t need to go to the gym as you use your core more than any Pilates class. The first time you wear them you feel like an elephant on a beach ball, once you perfect the art and the skill you glide on them Naomi and Cindy style circa 1995. A little tip that I have adopted on a particularly long wear is the 'flamingo'. Balancing on one foot and doing a really sexy skilful stance (or in reality a precarious wobbly lift of the other foot) to enable blood flow. My friend explained that horses do it all the time, her horse Tino (Valentino in full – obviously) did this all the time, he just didn’t paint his soles red. Missed opportunity.
The arrival of the red sole
Oh dear god, this is a VERY exciting day indeed. I like to track them on their journey, I am sure that they only travel Business and not in the cargo hold (clutch pearls at thought). They arrive in a not so stunning DHL bag if you don’t buy them in store (buy from Selfridges if you can as their boxes are pretty inside). But then the magic happens. The brown box, the dust bags, the tiny little heel tip dust bag, and the ribbon, oh the ribbon! My last pair were inspired by Erika Jayne and the bubblegum pink against the red was elation that is incomparable to anything that I can imagine exists in reality. You try them on, ON A CARPETED SURFACE whilst standing on your hands as if there is even a glimmer of returning you CANNOT allow them to touch anything. You need to be sure! Breathing oxygen on the red sole is a risk. They are inspected (more than your hair was checked for nits as a kid) and do not even think about scuffing as the red comes off like your bra at the end of the day, instantly. It flakes on the lightest of surfaces, there is nothing that you can do. Accept it and move on. I get mine resoled after one wear as otherwise, it is just too sad. The first pair got sent to a special London shoe club, now I don’t do this, it is pointless. Buy the vibram red soles off eBay and take them to a reputable cobbler (Tony at Timpson in Fenwick Newcastle is someone I put more trust in than a surgeon) he is the best.
To conclude, life is too short, buy the shoes. You will not regret it. If you do and it all goes wrong, I am a size 37 and I will happily accept castoffs, I have no shame, in my Loub game.