Following the shoe theme, I’ve been challenged to write about my favourite shoes. Now, depends what you mean by favourite. I have a gritty old pair of walking boots that have walked a good 500 miles and still look set to walk 500 more. But when I think back through my favourites over the years, there’s one thing that unites them.
Red. I love a pair of red shoes. In fact I bought a new pair of red ankle books (see photo) just last week in Amsterdam. I tried not to; I saw them in the window, stopped, started to walk on, pointed them out to my husband, then found myself in the shop trying them on.
‘Everyone needs a pair of red shoes,’ said the saleswoman, who may have had an ulterior motive. I smiled weakly, not wanting to tell her I have at least four pairs on the go at the moment, if you include the Dutch felt slippers I’d bought the day before. I knew that there was no way I was leaving without them. They were comfortable, neat, stylish. And red.
Why red? There’s something rebellious, joyful and frivolous about a red shoe. Neutral colours are more practical, but do they lift your heart? Has anyone made a film about a woman dancing in navy brogues? Does the heroine of Chocolat attract scandalised attention in beige courts? I think not. Red shoes show that you don’t care what people think; that you still feel free to choose the shoes your six-year-old self would have chosen, that you’re proud and passionate and free.
I’m sure that’s part of the appeal of Christian Louboutin’s red-soled stilettos. Even boring black shoes can reveal your inner red, flashing away as you walk down the street. But why hide it? In my experience, red shoes go with most things. And even if they clash, they look wonderful.
My mother still has my first pair of little baby shoes. And I can blame my addiction on her – they were a lovely shade of cherry red.