There are boob men and ass men, and there are shoe women and bag women. The woman who has a PS1 in black, green, and snakeskin does not require the Nicholas Kirkwood chevron-print shoe with square-shaped kitten heel in all available color ways. Perhaps one has both, but, well, I bet she has to work terrible hours for that cool sounding job, anyways, and don’t you think her highlights look sort of green?
But a woman chooses. The choice sometimes happens early: I have a friend who, since middle school, has been wearing nothing but pointed-toe shoes with big bows in middle school, and carries all her belongings in her pockets. For some, the choice may come later, when one’s first full-time job and the limited income that usually accompanies it necessitates a decision. And for others, the choice may be happening at this very moment.
Allow me to speak definitively: the choice is shoes.
Nothing good has ever happened to me when it comes to bags. I have frequently left them behind at restaurants, my workplace, and once, the bedroom of a friend whose collection of very rare editions of The Odyssey I was attempting to replace with Tracy Anderson Method DVDs. A bird once relieved itself in an obscenely overpriced Chloe bag of mine, and another time, a Ferragamo clutch was destroyed when an entire pack of cigarettes was crushed to a Wheaties-like pulp at the lambskin-lined bottom. A vintage suede Courreges bag my great aunt gave me with much fanfare was simply ruined in an aggressive New York rainstorm. Her last words were, “Mon Courreges.”
Rain can ruin a pair of shoes, but then, that is your fault, because there are shoes designed for the rain. There is no bag designed for the rain, unless it is one of those PVC clutches, and I can’t even believe you just brought that up.
But philosophically speaking–and philosophy should generally trump practicality–bags are pay to play fashion. You buy the bag as a talisman to tell the world you have taste, no matter what you are wearing. But really, you’re just telling the world that you glanced at the woman on your left, and the woman on your right, and had several thousand dollars to spare. It’s no secret that brands use bags to prop up the rest of their enterprise; the best-selling Celine trapeze bag makes it alright that not everyone is buying the several thousand-dollar striped coat. Sometimes I press my ear to pricey bags I bought in the salad days of my interest handbags and hear it say, “You’ve been had.” I live by myself.
Bags are taste, but shoes are style. Shoes require a sense for proportion, not only of the object of desire but of one’s self, they ask careful, elegant questions about what get-up certain sorts of events require, and they are absurd fantasy objects we pay a lot to smash against gum-stomped concrete. Bags are a frigid denial that a woman’s body exists, a shield to hold in front of the body to defend your outfit, or hair, or attitude–”Who cares if I’m wearing yoga pants to my friend’s cocktail party? My bag is Marc Jacobs!” A shoe, on the other hand, is a sensual extension of the female form.
Yes, there are it-shoes, but while it-bags frequently come from bigwig designer houses, it-shoes remain the province of cultish designers who seem, without fail, to design with graceful humor. Charlotte Olympia’s designs land like a punchline from Myrna Loy as the infamous Nora Charles. Sophia Webster’s girliness seems to have been frothed up from coquettish giggles. It seems like Tabitha Simmons shoes come in pairs because each needed a play date. And LVMH may now own a stake in Nicholas Kirkwood, but Kirkwood’s M.O. is clearly luxury at its quirkiest.’
And besides, seeing a shoe from seasons past is a joy. Once a bag becomes passe, it is passe. A good shoe goes on as such in perpetuity. Ferragamo, after all, just launched a wildly successful campaign based on the Vara, a shoe they’ve been producing for 35 years. The Celine trapeze was tired after just a few years.
Here’s some shoe porn to get you through the day: