Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Ugg Boot and other Unsuitable Footwear

Like most women I know, I love shoes. Shoes are the ultimate accessory and can make or break any outfit. This is why I have so many pairs (and Fiance will confirm that I am talking about a pile of shoes that could probably challenge Everest's claim to being the tallest mountain) - for every outfit I compose, I have at least two sets of footwear that are capable of bringing the outfit together, and dictating whether it is smart, or casual, or quirky, or comfortable (as well as being entirely colour co-ordinated, of course).

But like many things, making an appropriate footwear choice can be a complicated affair. No matter how far ahead you plan your outfit, life can throw little things at you which instantly make your shoe choice entirely unsuitable.

Let's take my recent hot topic of disgruntlement - the weather - as a perfect example. You cannot do a look other than casual when it snows - glamorous heels just don't cut it when trying to wade through the powdery stuff. Although they did once, when I was able to use a particularly thin stiletto as a built-in crampon that actually helped me to walk when caught out in an unexpected snow fall - but it's not something I'd recommend, given that the second time I had to get through snow in heels, I ended up abandoning the effort and walking barefoot.

It is because of the barefoot experience that I will now not venture outside during snowy times unless I have donned a pair of wellington boots. They make your feet invincible, allowing you to walk confidently through the worst the conditions can throw at you - snow, slush, water, mud - you can skip happily through them all, knowing your toes within will remain clean and dry. But even wellies have their downsides - the first is their inflexibility, and the resulting hindrance of your travelling speed. This was proven all too recently when I missed a bus to work because I was incapable of moving at the necessary speed to get to the stop in time. My second issue with wellies is their lack of heat insulation. Even when wearing three pairs of socks, my toes quickly go numb when wading through the snow - and I physically couldn't wear any more socks and still be able to squeeze the wellies on.

But without doubt, nothing compares to the wellington boot when it comes to snow. Yet even with the increasingly cold and white winters we have experienced over the last couple of years, many women still haven't embraced the practicalities of a solid pair of wellies, instead opting to head out in their fashionable wool-lined Ugg boots (or any of their more reasonably priced equivalents).

At first glance, these may seem like perfect snow shoes - they are flat, flexible, have a good grippy sole and are lined with soft and fluffy niceness, designed to hold your toes in a warm cuddle of comfort. However, you should not be fooled by the apparent appropriateness of this popular boot because they hate you for wearing them in wintry conditions.

Let me expand. I ventured out in the snow last weekend, and saw a worryingly high percentage of female shoppers walking round the city centre with expressions of pure misery painted across their faces. There was a single cause for all the sad females - their warm and cosy boots had not protected their feet from the snow, but instead had maliciously soaked up the melting slush and transformed into sodden lumps of fabric attached to the end of their legs. The lack of waterproofing renders these boots not warm and cosy, but damp and cold and to be avoided at all costs in bad weather.

This isn't the only problem with Ugg boots. I have a pair - well, I have a more reasonably priced Rocket Dog version - which cause me their own problems even when the weather would not result in them turning into water hoovers. When I wear my boots to work I become electric - and not just because I wear them so awesomely.

It turns out that I don't pick my feet up properly when I walk, and the rubber soles and wool lining thus combine together to turn me into a walking charge of static electricity. This is unfortunate, because it means that this happens when I touch metal things:

My inability to open a door with a metal handle without receiving a static induced electric shock has become something of a hindrance. This is especially upsetting because I need to pass through two such doors on the way to two vital locations - the kitchen and the toilet.

I thought I could resolve the situation by touching the wooden door before the metallic door handle, thus earthing myself and stopping the shock. I have had to ensure that I drop an anecdote about the situation into as many conversations with colleagues as possible, lest they start to question my method of opening doors - which, in its current form, has evolved to stroking the door and tentatively reaching for the handle, before jumping dramatically backwards (usually accompanied by a swear word or two) and shaking my hand vigorously. It's the kind of behaviour that would draw a questioning glance without insider knowledge as to what I am doing and why.

Of course, the other foolproof method of avoiding shocks would be to ensure I don't wear those particular boots to work anymore. In fact, that is the tactic that I am likely to embrace, because I can already feel a Pavlovian association forming between the act of opening a door and receiving a shock, and being scared of doors is, quite frankly, an affliction that I can afford to live without.

To conclude: Damn you all unsuitable footwear. I love you, but you have the power to make me fear inanimate objects.

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