Shoe Love: The Final Answer

A young blogging friend of mine down under in Australia recently posted about her February blues, including the fact that she would rather shop for shoes than shop for boat stuff. And that got me thinking. Why are women so shoe-driven? Others have brought up the whole ‘shoe’ issue as well. Who could ever forget Tate’s classic post on Dani’s shoe “problem”? Why do some women enjoy shoe shopping so much more than shopping for boat stuff, especially sailboat hardware?

My thoughts tend to wax philosophical and archetypal on all this, but rather than bore you to death with those esoteric kinds of things, I thought I’d bring it down closer to earth. Why is it that women like me would much rather shop for shoes than for boat hardware? We love our boats, right? We do, we do! So why is it that when we go shopping for boat stuff with our men many of us end up wanting to say, “Oh, just pick one of the shiny round things with levers and let’s move on for the love of Pete!”. Hmmm. Unless we begin to understand, this does not bode well.

This called for a field trip. Since I was headed down to the marina today to check on Moonrise and to view a Hunter 31 for a friend, I decided I would let today be my day to experience shopping at West Marine and Nordstrom and then compare experiences. After collecting data all afternoon, I submit to you my completely scientifically drawn conclusions which support my hypothesis about 100%. Shopping for shoes is way better than shopping for sailboat hardware. And here is why:

I present exhibit number 1:

Regard, if you will, this display of boat fasteners.

Regard, if you will, this display of boat fasteners.

Let’s reflect for just a moment on the above display. How would you describe the visual impact of this display? Hint: words like solid, boring, grey, wall come to mind. Sort of like the low lying cloud cover in Tacoma on any given mid-winter day (except today). This display creates an emotional impact that is not unlike my old boring physics professor back in high school. Sleep beckons. I want my bed. My eyes are glazing over at an alarming rate. The sheer amount of ‘sameness’ is astounding. How can that many things look exactly alike and yet, apparently be so different?

Tangentially, this reminds me terribly of when our son, Andrew, was growing up and he was an avid collector of swords. When I use the term ‘avid’ in this way, what I really mean is that he was driven, consumed, pointedly focused on swords and sword accoutrements for most of his growing up years from about the age of 21/2 until he was well into his teens. One day, in a combination of desperation and exasperation,  I exclaimed that I could not understand why he needed yet ANOTHER sword, since one sword looked very much like another. He looked upon me as though I had just revealed myself as the ignoramus I undoubtedly am. He was seriously horrified and I fear that at that moment I fell from grace, just a bit.  Unfortunately he then took that opportunity to begin to drone poetically about the many small details that made one sword different from another, dragging his collection out and pointing and exclaiming in just the way my physics professor used to do equations. My eyes began to glaze over in the same way that they do when standing in that aisle at West Marine. Are you seeing the pattern here?

Enter here exhibit number 2:


And these are boat shoes!

At Nordstrom I approached the shoe department with as open a mind as I could possibly have after seeing this selection of Sperry Topsiders in fabulous spring colors! Boat shoes that are pretty! What we have here is color, form, texture, all in one usable package of comfort! I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the prettiness factor here. It is positively uplifting. Do you see how even though these shoes come in very few actual ‘styles’, the selection of colors allows the shopper to avoid that dreadful feeling of doom thrust upon them by the monotony of boat hardware?

On to exhibit number 3:

All I can say is 'Oh My Dear Blessed God!'

All I can say is ‘Oh My Dear Blessed God!’

Now, back at West Marine, we turn around and are slam blasted by a wall of black, orange and silver. Did someone forget that Halloween is over for awhile? The complicatedness of this aisle had me getting out my cell phone to check messages and email just for a chance to rest my eyes. How does one go about choosing from this display? How would one even begin to know what to look at? Isn’t there some way they could make this visually less overstimulating? Where are the jack-o-lanterns? I don’t want to have to paw through hundreds of things that all look alike to me until I fondle them closely. I save my fondling for more exciting things. This is not the kind of tactile experience I am looking for when either shopping or fondling.

And so:



Now this is a display that is approachable, touchable, and, let’s face it, adorable! What colors! Each pair in its own little box assures me that I will not get one pair confused with another. These shoes each shout ‘choose me! I’m terrific!’ and I believe them. None of these shoes hangs languidly on a wall, blending in with its neighbor and having no developed sense of self. These shoes are proud. They WANT to go home with me.  And the price/comfort ratio of this Ugg brand of shoes works for me because even though they are pricey, they fit my feet like a glove. Do you see the intersection of form, function, and beauty here? This is the whole experience.

And, unlike our wall of black and orange brain death above, there is nothing in the least complicated about this. Shoes either fit and feel good or they don’t. And they are either leather or they aren’t. Many styles will work with many different clothes. They are flexible in usage. Boots with jeans? Yes! Boots with a dress? Why not? Boots with slacks? Absolutely!  Pretty easy. The worst part is picking only one pair.

And that brings me to price. Let’s just look at the prices of anything boat related compared to the price of good shoes. The most I would pay for a pair of shoes is around 150$, and they would have to be boots for that price. Or I would have to want them really really really bad. Generally, around 100$ is as much as I feel comfortable paying. So I could buy a pair of shoes for every single day of the year and, if I throw in a pair of boots for each season, it would cost me $36,000. That sounds like a whole lot of money until you start adding up how much sailboat hardware costs. A brief, but careful perusal of the Defender website showed the average price of sailboat hardware to be between approximately 140$ and 5 gazillion dollars, plus ownership of your first child. Even if we bought low end stuff, the equivalent of shoes from Target,  the same amount of sailboat hardware would cost us $51,000 and be way less useful since a lot of it would be completely wasted.


So I rest this case with complete confidence that I have spent about as much time as I can reasonably be expected to spend on this subject. Tomorrow I will have to go back to Nordstrom and take a further look at those brown boots. These are Doc Martens! Amazing.


18 thoughts on “Shoe Love: The Final Answer

  1. I’m not sure it’s right to compare shoes with boat hardware.

    Depending on where you’re going, shoes are optional, the hardware to keep the boat together isn’t. lol

    It’s nice being a guy where we can get away with two or three pairs of shoes and not have a problem with it. I show shopping for clothes, I’m in and out as fast as I can grab something and swipe my card. But going to a hardware store, that’s where ideas start flowing and I can take my time 😉

    • Oh, Daniel. I love how men get creative in hardware stores. But let’s be clear: this post is about the EXPERIENCE of shopping, how satisfying it is. I would be the last person to think that boat hardware isn’t important. Yes, I’m sure it IS nice being a guy. I remember many times as a girl child wishing I had been born one. I’m so glad I outgrew that phase, however.

  2. Wow! You need a long rest on a tranquil beach or that pair of brown boots. And by the way when you go to Nordstroms get me that pair of red high tops in the last photo!! I gotta admit I agree with every word of the above dissertation.

    • Mesmerizing! So that explains the look I see on Mike’s face when he is staring at those kinds of displays! Now I get it. 🙂

  3. So this is what you ladies do up there in the winter, lol. Fun post. I love looking at all those nice shoes. I love shopping in general, though I have memories of going into a hardware store with my Dad for HOURS when I was a little girl. My sister and I would be so bored, we’d start laying out tile in designs on the floor.

    In the middle of a boat refit I LOVE looking at and buying boat stuff. I think it’s because we need so much. In fact I make my clothes last as long as possible right now. Every time I think of buying something fun like shoes I say well I can have these shoes or nice and clean cabinets, hinges that aren’t corroded, fans, nice boat sheets and on and on.

    But when Sundowner is all ready to go I think i’d much rather look at sandals than Caulk type! That for real.

    • I love that vision of two little girls laying out tile patterns while waiting for dad. very cool.
      Yes, I imagine that when we are ready to refit some boat in the future, hopefully near future, I will get completely engaged in boat stuff shopping, but it will be a whole different kind of fun. I admit to haunting the hardware store when I was building my pond, particularly when designing the waterfall and filter systems. I spent hours in the plumbing aisle with just that focused expression your dad must have had. I can get into it, but it’s a whole different kind of fun, like I said.
      Oh, and I walked out of Nordstrom with no shoes, by the way. I can’t imagine what the staff thought I was doing, photographing all their displays. It was worth the trip for the looks alone. I am easily amused.

  4. I enjoyed this post immensely!! Brilliantly written and so so so true.

    It just goes to show that even continents away all boating stores look the same. I was standing in front of a black and silver ‘wall of brain death’ just like yours, although I did find the really teeny pulleys super cute. Another plus, the boating store we were at on Saturday just gone (yes I got dragged to yet another boating store!) had ladies shoes, albeit functional ones, but I still managed to find a pair I like!

    Sadly it appears my days of sparkly impractical heels are behind me and a road walking in dreary, flat and functional shoes ahead of me.

  5. Cute post! I guess I’m the strange one, cause for the past few years I get really excited about looking at (and sometimes buying) boat stuff! I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for clothes or shoes …

    • That’s because you have a boat that you are going to go voyaging in. Some of us are still kind of ‘stuck’ in that area, so we need things like looking at shoes (not necessarily buying them, you understand) to keep us going. Since this blog is supposed to help me stay focused, i have to do whatever it takes to make that happen, and lately it gets harder. Summer is coming, however. I foresee a time when I will be more excited about shopping for boat things, although it’s hard for me to believe I will ‘enjoy’ it in the same way. It’s a different kind of enjoyment.

  6. to heck with all of that… it is meaningless to me, as I have more than 2 pair of shoes, and I don’t have a boat yet… what did you think of the Hunter 31? that’s what I want to know! LOL…

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