Finding a Mate — A Valentine’s Day Tale

Her heart beats faster and faster – it’s an irresistible force she’s powerless to resist even though she can already feel the pangs of guilt. With breathless anticipation, she staggers on Jello-like legs approaching the site of her assignation. This love affair has been consummated many times, but desire always springs up anew –- never totally sated.


Her eyes widen like an addict about to receive a fix as the elevator door opens. Trembling, she turns the corner to the familiar place. Finally, she smiles, inhaling deeply to steady herself — pausing to take it all in. “Let me know if I can get you a mate,” says the shoe salesman.

Guy Bourdin for Charles Jourdan Spring 1979 Bourdin Estate 2014
Photo: Courtesy A+C

Yes, a mate – that’s precisely what we are supposed to want for Valentine’s Day. But who’s to judge if the heart wants not a soul mate but a sole mate? Some believe that an unquenchable yen for shoes is sexual.

The Kiss
Photo: Miles Aldridge

In the film “God Save My Shoes” (on Amazon Prime), Christian Louboutin remarks that there is a carnal relationship between a woman and her heels. (Funny how men who mistreat women are also known as “heels.”) Are shoes really “weapons of mass seduction”?

Sexual references go hand in glove or foot in shoe. A low-cut shoe is said to show “toe cleavage.” A particular type of extreme high heel known to push the chest out and raise the wearer’s booty (no bootie) is known in certain circles as the F@ck me pump or the Hooker Heel.

S&M Shoe by Christian Louboutin

There are shoes that are pieces of art – sculptures not really made to be walked in or defiled. In the film, they are referred to as the “S&M shoe” –- the wearer just “Stands and Models.” At the end of the film, Kelly Rowland suggests talking to your lover clothed only in a pair of shoes if you really want to get his attention. At the risk of getting too fetishistic, I will stop here.

Kelly Rowland and her Funky Shoes

On the other foot (sorry), some women are not trying to capture the male of the species – they buy shoes that they think are beautiful – often not even to pose in but just to admire. We are taught young about the integral relationship between women’s footwear and attracting a man, thanks to Cinderella. But of course, Hollywood couldn’t stop there – several of my all-time favorite movies/TV shows have shoe morality tales.

“Legally Blonde” film scene

Remember the scene in “Legally Blonde” (a movie I can recite line for line) when Warner (Matthew Davis) breaks up with Elle (Reese Witherspoon) over dinner as she thinks he’s about to propose. She bolts sobbing out of the restaurant but won’t get in the car, choosing to walk along the side of the road instead.

When pleading and niceties don’t work, Warner resorts to a different tack with “You’re gonna wreck your shoes.” Realizing that he has a point, she relents by climbing into the passenger seat. (Fun fact: Did you know that Elle sports a different hairstyle in every scene?)

“The Devil Wears Prada” Andy with Shoes

“The Devil Wears Prada” has a Cinderella moment – when Andy (Anne Hathaway) is outfitted courtesy of the Runway editorial closet — made-over from head to toe complete with thigh-high Chanel boots as the piece de resistance. “Yes, these ARE the Chanel boots,” she replies to her former detractors playing the role of evil stepsisters.

“The Devil Wears Prada” Chanel thigh high boots

Later, First Assistant Emily (Emily Blunt) calls her out on her transformation to stylish siren: “You sold your soul to the devil when you put on your first pair of Jimmy Choos, I saw it,” she scolds. Andy’s unsupportive, selfish boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) — now labeled the REAL villain of the film by the Internet — is not a fan of her career or her new look. Dude, she showed up with a birthday cupcake after the Met Gala! Get over it!!!

Alicia Silverstone holding shopping bags in a scene from the film ‘Clueless’, 1995. (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Then there’s Cher (Alicia Silverstone) in “Clueless,” explaining why she’s still a virgin. Dionne (Stacey Dash) jokingly states that Cher is holding out for Luke Perry. Cher’s response: “I am just not interested in doing it until I find the right person. You see how picky I am about shoes, and they only go on my feet.”

Sarah Jessica Parker pair of Manolo Blahniks that she wore in “Sex and the City”

And who could forget the most famous shoe tie-in ever – Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) in “Sex and the City” and her fascination with Manolo Blahniks. “Hello Lover” is how she greets a particular hot pink fringed pair spotted in the boutique’s window. Unfortunately, these “babies” meet an untimely end when Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) goes into labor.

Rachel Brosnahan in some sick shoes

In the first season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime, Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) tries out as a stand-up comic with a late 1950’s take on heels. “You know the saying, ‘Walk a mile in a man’s shoes?’ I mean, think about that. The perspective that gives you. Well, I took it to heart, put on a pair of my husband’s shoes, and, my God, were they comfortable. I get it now, why men rule the world . . . no high heels.

They can walk faster, and their backs don’t hurt,” she quipped, then announced that she was divorcing her husband but keeping his shoes. IRL Brosnahan recently spoke about how she runs around in “tiny vintage heels” for most of the show. (Looking forward to season 4 on February 18 – just praying they don’t go too woke!)

In her book “All About the Dress,“ designer Vicky Tiel professes a shoe vs. man reference of another sort. “Don’t have sex for shoes” is the warning her father once gave her, and she took it to heart. “He explained that if you have to ask a man to pay for your shoes, he might confuse you with a prostitute. I obeyed. I have yet to own a single shoe paid for by a man,” she writes.

“Single White Female” – Death by Stiletto Pump

Hollywood also sees the most extreme of women’s shoes as a danger – a way to stop a man literally dead in his tracks. Case in “point” — “Single White Female” and the macabre scene in which a stiletto heel expertly aimed like a nunchuck at the guy’s forehead becomes a murder weapon.

Talk about killer heels!

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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