Everyone's looking for a career edge. People try affirmations, $1,000 workshops, and DayTimers heavy enough to double as barbells. There's a more potent career builder: shoes.
Until I started working on this column, I was shoe-oblivious. I mean, I have three pairs: black, brown, and sneakers. My wife has I'm not exaggerating 68. When I overhear women talk about shoes, they swoon over the darn things. I don't get it. I'd no more jabber about shoes than I would about jock straps.
But men (and women who aren't shoe fetishists), should read this column. You'll understand Shoe Obsession Disorder and how to use that understanding to boost your career.
To answer the question, "What is it with women and shoes?" I googled "women and shoes." Here's what I learned:
Houston Chronicle writer, Kathy Gibson, began her article, Shoe Obsession Disorder: "Contrary to popular belief, Cinderella's stepsisters were not desperate for Prince Charming they were desperate for her glass slipper. Unlike shopping for jeans (which is about as much fun as going to the gynecologist), shopping for shoes is an exhilarating experience. Feet don't have hips, feet don't have thighs. Feet are our friends."
Jane Eldershaw, author of Heart and Sole: The Shoes of My Life (St. Martin, 2004), adds "Shoes are fun! Shoes are little personalities just waiting to be put on. Shoes can be instant sex appeal or instant comfort or instant glamour. Just add your feet. With the right shoes you can slip on a whole new image…And shoes are fun to buy. You don't have to diet to fit into them. And you can sit down while you try them on!"
Laura Ball, in the Vail Daily News, is perhaps most instructive: "(With shoes), you get to dream a little. And we do love it when men compliment our shoes, because it's like looking right into our souls." Windows to their souls! Wow. So, I guess, if I want to understand a woman, I'd better look at her shoes?
Whether you're male or female, here are perhaps more potent shoe moves to boost your career.
Say, "Great Shoes!" Ball wrote, "My grandpa said, 'Whenever I compliment a woman on her shoes, she loves it, she just lights up…It's better than any line I know.'" So, at work (or socially), if you're trying to connect with a female co-worker, and especially right before asking for a raise, it couldn't hurt to exclaim, "Great shoes!"
Take a colleague to the shoe store. Want to bond with a female co-worker? Instead of asking her out to lunch, ask if she'd like to go shoe shopping. Men, I'm not sure you should try that.
Women, buy conversation-starting shoes. My client, Annie Shea, who admits to suffering from Shoe Obsession Disorder, says you can get a great shoe fix cheap at Target, which has gorgeous and/or comfortable designs, including those of famed designer Isaac Mizrahi, for $15-25. At that price, you could own 30 pairs for the price of one Blahnik, which, despite the worst imaginable shoe name except maybe for Blahshoe) will set you back $500-700. Why? Because, on Sex in the City, Sarah Jessica Parker told a robber, "Take anything but my Blahniks." Compelled to spend more than $25? Still no need to spend three digits. Try DSW Warehouse, which offers good and hoity-toity-label shoes at real discounts.
Of course, you're aware that curing your shoe shopping addiction will save you money and perhaps your marriage, yet you still buy shoes costly enough to feed a small village. Maybe this will deter you: Many women feel competitive about clothes. So, if you spend big bucks on those hoo-hah designer-label mules, some of your co-workers may think, "Well, just who does she think she is?"
Buy higher heels. As far as I'm concerned, high heels are instruments of self-torture, but Shea responds, "Heels may be uncomfortable, but they make you taller, which makes you confident." Cheaper than psychotherapy unless you're buying Blahniks.
Keep 'em shined. Keep those leather shoes polished. If not, in our shallow society, you'll probably be devalued. The good news is that at Nordstrom, just steps from those budget-busting Blahniks, you can get a heckuva shoeshine for $2.50.