Miss Meghan, Fashion Advice

May 10, 2006


Put some spring in your step: Warmer weather means time for new shoes

By SHARON FINK, St. Petersburg Times, From the Monterey Herald
My name is Sharon. And I am a shoeaholic. At this writing, I own 76 pairs. There is no guarantee that the number will not have risen by the time you read this.

I buy shoes for a reason (and ''they're on sale'' is a reason). I buy them for no reason (as in, ''Oooooo, pink horsehair-with- brown-polka-dot stilettos''). I can't go into any store that has a shoe section without trolling for finds. I buy men's shoes. My dying words will be those of Imelda Marcos: ''They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes.''

After I'm gone, my ashes will rest in a pair of Manolos.

I feel no need to justify my obsession. Everyone has one great love affair. Mine is with shoes.

But fine. You need a justification? Here's a topical one: It's spring. Time for one of the two annual wardrobe changeovers. Time to refresh the warmer-weather options. Time to get a wedge-heel espadrille. Something flowery. A casual flat that's not a flip-flop. Anything comfortable.

Yes, I know. I do need help. No, not someone to talk me out of this. Someone to help me focus on exactly what I want. And need.

Time to call a shoeaholic enabler.

Time to get Meghan Cleary on the phone.

She gives shoe commentary on TV, in print and on her Web site (http://www.missmeghan.com/). She owns ''70 or so'' pairs of shoes (the poor thing is limited by Manhattan living space).

Cleary is the author of "The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You," a clever book that categorizes personality type by favorite shoe type.

''For women I believe that shoes, really more than anything else we put on our body, reveals (our) state of mind at that moment. Modern women have different moods. We have a lot of shoes,'' Cleary said.

''For men it's a little bit different. Men are a little bit more linear with their choices. They don't have as many styles to choose from as women do.''

The revelations continue even after the purchase, she says.

''If they take care of their shoes, that's indicative of their self-esteem and how they take care of things around them.''

With that additional justification for my shoe fixation, it's time for the practical advice.

Focus, focus, focus: It's easy to see what the big trends and obvious buys are for spring: wedges, espadrilles, flats, sandals, mules, slides, sneakers without laces. But what are the best buys?

''The ballet flat,'' Cleary said. ''It's so rockin' I don't even know what to say. Every color, every material, pointed toe, round toe.

"Also, blue shoes. Especially primary blue. I bought two pair of blue shoes in April."

No pain, no gain? Not necessarily: Flats have one downside: There can be little but a thin sole separating the feet from the ground. Buy insoles to add a layer of protection and comfort.

Wedge heels, especially on lace-up espadrilles, look too dangerous for serious walking. But their ubiquity this season might beat down my fear enough that I buy a pair.

Cleary once unintentionally traversed the hills of San Francisco wearing wedges and came away with this advice: "Your balance completely shifts from your feet," she said. "You really have to use your core (pelvic and abdomen) muscles to balance you. It's Pilates."

Shopping science: Cleary's three keys to saving time, money and frustration:

1. Shop during what she calls "the magical cocktail hour," from 5 to 7 p.m. That's when your feet are most swollen, and you'll have a better chance of getting a shoe that will feel comfortable all day.

2. Don't fixate on what you think your size is. Just like in clothes, "shoe sizes are not standard across the world," Cleary said. "I take a 9½ in Christian Louboutin and Sergio Rossi, an 8½ in Nine West. You can't get caught up in that. Buy the shoe that fits."

3. If you're buying a pointed-toe shoe, buy a half-size larger. "That allows you room to put in an insole and gives you a little extra breathing room," she said.

With that done, I'm on to my next task: finding closet organizers to make more room for shoes.