I promised a good friend that I would write a blog about ironing after I spent a marathon four hours on that most loathed of household tasks on Sunday, but I would prefer to inflict on you my thoughts on something entirely more interesting and cheerful: a woman’s obsession with the perfect pair of boots.
Any self-respecting shoe addict will appreciate that the footwear in our wardrobes tends to fall into three loose categories: shoes to throw on for the school run, trip to the gym, trolley dash at the supermarket, etc; shoes that can be worn out to the pub with friends, which are comfortable to walk there in but not exactly on the sexy side; and killer high heels that cause a stir, attract attention and literally cripple you within ten minutes of wearing them, but that you cannot take your eyes off when you are wearing them, to the point where you find yourself gazing at them in admiration and occasionally stroking when you think no-one will notice (they do). I have a number of the latter because, when it comes to sexy footwear, I am like a moth to the flame. Essentially, no matter what size I am from the knees up, my feet (I am a size 3 1/2) always look good clad in red suede with a high wedge. However, these shoes were not meant for walking. A friend and I were discussing Posh Becks the other day and the fact that she is always in sky-high heels, but then we figured out that she actually doesn’t have to walk anywhere. She is driven, delivered, collected, but never has to run after a bus or stagger home from the pub in the wee small hours through the rain.
I recently heard a pair of wedge-heeled, Italian leather boots calling to me from a rather expensive shoe shop window and went in to investigate further, since boots weather appears to be upon us all to quickly. Now I am sure you are picturing me as a tall, slender, Kate-Mossesque beauty; I’m not. I am the very antithesis. At 5 foot, I am the Ugg boot of women: comfy, warm and prone to sagging in wet weather. Therefore, purchasing a knee-high pair of boots that will fit my shorter than average calves is generally a difficult and trying (very shoddy shoe pun) process. As I stared with delight at the leather boots before me, I considered whether this would be the pair that would zip up over my ample legs. I was suitably attired for the task in skirt and tights, so asked the assistant for my size and made myself comfortable on the teeny-tiny square stool provided.
I have to say I let out an audible gasp when she brought out the boots and I knew that I had to have them, come hell or high water (or the bank manager on the phone). When something gets into your head, only throwing money at it will keep it quiet, I find. I slipped my foot into the first boot and hoped like hell that the zip would do up; it did albeit a little neat. Relief. Then came the second foot. Bearing in mind that we apparently all have one side bigger than the other, from feet to boobs, I slipped my other foot in and pulled like mad on the zip. It went up halfway, then needed quite a tug to get it to the top. I stood up and it became apparent that I would not be running marathons in these particular boots, but that they did indeed look spectacular. I was ignoring the fact that the legs were so tight, I couldn’t actually bend at the ankles, but I reasoned that the leather would give a bit with wear. After striding backwards and forwards in front of the mirror (and resembling a clown wearing stilts, to be perfectly honest), I was sold and sat back down to hand the boots back to the assistant with those joyous words, “I’ll take them!”
However, when it came to taking the second boot off, I couldn’t get the zip back down. It felt like it had snagged on my tights, and no amount of tugging and pulling would budge it. By now, I had started to sweat profusely in panic and the assistant – a skinny, pointy-faced woman with bold, pencilled-in eyebrows – had realised that something was amiss. In order to cover my embarrassment, I told her I would wear them home and got her to package up my old, scruffy boots, thinking that by the time I got home, the new boots would have loosened a bit.
This was not the case. Half an hour later, in the privacy of my own lounge, the boot would still not budge and I was puce in the face from the exertion, not to mention ripping my fingertips to shreds on the zip. I called a friend who, after howling with laughter for a good five minutes, offered to come over and lend a hand. She grabbed the bottom of the boot while I pulled down on the zip. Imagine the scene: she is holding my leg up at a 45-degree angle so that my skirt is riding up my thighs and flashing my crotch while I am turning purple and sweating. She then tried to pull from the bottom and I could feel my tights tearing but no other movement whatsoever.
An in-depth discussion then ensued about the best way to free my leg with minimal damage to the boot. It was no use; the scissors had to come out. I wanted to weep as the scissors sliced through the beautiful soft leather, but my relief was palpable when I finally felt cool air on my sweaty calf (now clad in a shredded stocking). I was furious. I had blown a ridiculous amount of money on a pair of boots that lay shredded on the carpet, not to mention the damage to my tights and my ego. In a fit of fury, I threw on a pair of oh-so-comfy Converses over my shredded tights and stormed back to the shoe shop, sliced boot in hand and still-giggling friend in tow. I demanded to speak to the manager and then presented him with the case that I had been sold a defective pair of boots and therefore deserved a full refund. His face when I thumped the boot down on the counter was priceless; he was momentarily speechless and gaping. I told him I was adamant the zip was faulty and therefore I could not be held financially responsible; his face easily showed that he was convinced my sweaty, chubby calf was to blame. But since the customer is always right, he agreed to refund me in full. However, he got the last laugh. He refunded me in credit vouchers, knowing full well I would never set foot in the shop again.
The next time it happens, I am going to take Winnie-the-Pooh’s approach when stuck in the rabbit hole: starve myself until my legs shrink enough to free themselves. Because there will be another time.