The importance of footwear

Living in the Midwest, I thought I did a fair amount of walking.

Then I moved to Manhattan.

I should get one of those pedometers to figure out just how much I walk in a given day or week. I’m guessing it’s a lot, between the blocks to and from the subway, the walk to the grocery store or movie theater or the restaurant, the walk to the park after work on a mild evening, the walks in the parks. And on and on.

And this walking, it happens no matter what. When you live in a city as dense as this one, and you live without a car, the walking is everything. It happens in rain and snow, on hot days and cold ones. It happens without packages, ribbons or bows…but I digress…

So much walking means you very quickly learn the value of the shoes you wear to do said walking. Heals, those leg-slimming, posture-killing inventions of fashion, are sadly a thing of the past for me. More than ever, I calculate my outfit for the day based on my shoes, and sort out how high a heal I can muster based on expected walking for the day. Errands after work? Sorry pumps. Flats it is.

All this thought about footwear has impacted my shopping habits, too. Where I once snagged a pair of heels based on their looks, no sense of when or where I’d wear them, today I’m more pragmatic in my purchases. Which isn’t exactly something I’m bragging about.

During my winter in Utah, I invested in a couple pair of Sorel snow boots; I couldn’t have known then just how handy they’d be in a snowy, slushy New York City winter. Where I once could’ve gotten away with something less hardy in winter, darting between home > car > work > car > home, such luxuries don’t exist when you walk as much as Manhattanites do.

And what of those rainy, gray days where the cabs zipping by really do splash dirty water up on unsuspecting pedestrians? That inclement weather requires important footwear consideration as well, and this Spring will likely see me investing in my first ever pair of wellies as April showers do their worst. Boots that aren’t more than a fashion statement anywhere else become a necessity here.

So one by one, my shoe rack – which hangs on the inside of my closet door, the most space-efficient place for it, another adaptation you learn in NYC – my shoe rack full of heals and strappy sandals is being edged out by more frequently-worn flats and practical boots, better suited to the wear and tear and weather a New York pedestrian battles on a daily basis.

As the weather improves, I’m sure I’ll be able to indulge in less utilitarian footwear now and then – I can’t possibly be expected to give up heals entirely! Like so many other aspects of life in the city, I’ll do my best to evolve. In this case, my shoe selection in particular.