Today I walked into one of my favourite designer consignment shops to see two shelves of newly-landed shoes which would make Carrie Bradshaw drop to her knees.
Manolos a go go. Dolce and Gabbana. Louboutins. Gucci. The full fantasy.
They’d all been consigned by the same person who turns out to have feet exactly a half size bigger than me, but you can do a lot with an insole, koala toe grip and sheer determination.
But the moment I picked up the first pair of Manolos – cornflower blue suede sandals, with one of his perfect heel shapes, just the right height – I knew I wouldn’t be buying any of them.
They all had secretary soles glued on to the bottom of them.
By which I mean those sensible thin rubber soles you get a cobbler to glue on. And the key to what’s wrong with them is right there in the word ‘sensible’.
Nobody ever bought a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s wonderful shoes to be sensible.
They’re a fantasy, a magic carpet which fits around your feet to transport you to a world of glamour with every – rather uncomfortable and slightly precarious – step.
If you want sensible shoes, stick to your Birkenstoks.
But at some point it became an accepted idea that you should apply these nasty cheap plastic soles to every pair of magic carpet shoes you buy, to make the exquisite leather soles last longer.
What it actually does is subtly put the balance of the shoe out slightly – and it extinguishes the dreams and glamour as efficiently as Ebenezer Scrooge’s candle snuffer.
They were even on the soles of the Louboutins. The red soles. I could have wept.
These shoes were never made to walk in. You’re not supposed to wear them to get public transport into work. That’s why I call them secretary soles, because the idea of extending a shoe’s life in this dreary way brings to mind the office girls of the Mad Men era. Miss Turnstile getting the El train to mid-town.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I used to be a secretary who got the London Underground to work. You need shoes that will survive the escalators and an unexpected rain shower.
So get sensible soles glued on to your work shoes, by all means – or if you run to designer footwear, buy them from the special range Prada does every season for real life, which have rubber soles as an integral part of their design. They are heaven.
But please don’t put those ghastly bits of cheap plastic onto salon shoes, which is the correct name for this genre of footwear, meaning shoes to wear inside – or to the odd party, or wedding. They’re for wearing in a salon – as in the French word for room. Indoors, innit?
You’re not supposed to wear them to tramp pavements, something they should only touch in the short space between the taxi and the restaurant door.
Get secretary soles put on to magic carpet shoes out of some misguided idea it will extend their life – and you’ve ruined them before you’ve even worn them.
* with apologies to W B Yeats and his beautiful poem The Cloth of Heaven, which ends with these beautiful lines:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.