Women Really Are Shoe-Aholics, Study Shows — And The Problem Is?

Golden Lotus shoes
Image by Linda N. via Flickr

Well, it’s true. Women are shoe-obsessed, according to a British study of 3,000 women:

In analyzing the spending of some 3,000 women, a British pollster finds the average female buys seven new pairs of shoes a year, and for a 67-year period. At close to $400 annually — which may even be lowballing when it comes to North American women — the grand lifetime total tops $26,000.

It’s an astounding figure, to be sure. But with no male comparison, critics say it’s yet another example of shoe purchases having become shorthand for female frivolity.

“It really is a very feminist issue,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. “Men’s excesses are often seen as somehow positive — ‘He works hard, so of course he should have that Rolex’ — whereas women are constantly belittled for them.”

The new survey, conducted by OnePoll for Gocompare.com, doesn’t address male shoe budgets.

Pollsters do, however, report that a quarter of women rarely divulge their shoe purchases to their partner “as he doesn’t understand their obsession,” and that “predictably, 29 per cent of ladies say shoes are the one thing they can’t resist buying, regardless of whether they can afford them.”

This year, I’ve beat the average — nine (so far.) Two pair of athletic shoes; three pairs of flats; a pair of dressy pumps and three pairs of sandals. That’s not typical for me and seven of those (she whimpered) were on sale. None cost more than $100. It adds up, but the number, for me anyway, is less the issue than their longevity.

I blogged here about the recent loss of our local shoe repairman, Mike, who closed his shop a month ago. I keep my shoes (and clothing) for many years, sometimes decades; a pair of monk-straps and loafers date to 1996 and still — thanks to Mike — look new.

Every women knows that new shoes are are easy place to indulge quickly and painlessly. No calories! You can gain — or lose — 5, 10 or 50 pounds — and still wear gorgeous shoes.

Unlike much of life, new shoes are forgiving. If you’re anything over a size 12, looking for beautiful, well-made clothing, good luck with that. Buying shoes doesn’t demand squeezing into a dressing room, or waiting for one. And, if decently made and cared for, they last, unlike much clothing that stains, tears or can’t be altered.

Men, too, have their sprees.

For my Dad, it was safari jackets and Irish tweed hats (and pipes.) The sweetie has an enormous collection of caps that I know will only expand further — and all those golf games add up to serious coin.

They just don’t fit into a closet.