Confessions of a Shoe Hoar-der!!



The following is an exchange I had with a delightful friend and client Michelle Zimmerman. She is known for her fabulous shoe collection that she carefully curates and wears. I have been planning for a while to get to the core of her shoe hoarding inclinations, so I sent her an email loaded with probing queries, and here is the result!




How many pairs of shoes do you own?


I actually had to go COUNTING to find out how many shoes I currently own...but now that I are the answers. 131 pairs (and this number changes, of course, as I buy and sell doesn't include snow boots or slippers...but it does include a few pairs of athletic shoes!


What do you look for in a good shoe?


I can admire all shoes, but can only afford some! Let me say that I am not wealthy, in any way, shape for form, so MOST of my really expensive shoes were purchased on eBay, and some were purchased used. As many people are aware, a good pair of Manolos (Manolo Blahnik) or Louboutins (Christian Louboutin) will usually run you between$600 and $1200, and since I have a mortgage to pay, I must eschew certain shoe-buying behaviors. I am always on the prowl for deals, but even eBay cannot deliver a pair of Manolos orLouboutins for a decent price, so these are two makers I don't have in my collection. (Sad, but true.) That said, with any passionate pursuit, LOOKS MATTER, so if a style is attractive to me, comfort usually takes a back seat. (Besides, there are a bevy of cushions and accessories that one can purchase to alleviate a disagreeable shoe...not to mention professional stretching, should the upper be leather.) Generally, LEATHER uppers and LEATHER soles are the most preferable (as they're most breathable, supple and long-lasting), and most of your high-end shoes provide these two little luxuries. Of course patent leather uppers and man-made soles are very common and sometimes unavoidable. I do my best to stay away from "man made materials," unless the shoe is completely frivolous, in which case, I deem it disposable and relax my standards a bit. Name brands do matter as well, and I find BALLY, Salvatore Ferragamo and VIA SPIGA to be the best quality and style for the money when you're buying used (Goodwill, eBay, thrift stores, etc.).



What trips your shoe trigger?


Since my collection contains most of the basics one might need, I can be excited by a new texture (suede, treated leathers, fur, etc.), style or color. Color blocking is hot right now and I've dropped money on at least one hot pair of color block platforms that I simply adore. I usually gravitate toward a higher heel with a platform, as I'm assured my calves will look their best with that style. (All heels elongate the leg and do wonders for a gal's self esteem, you know. I am determined to wear heels until age prevents me from doing so. Since my 92-year-old grandmother still wears a low pump here and there, I think I'll be OK for a while.) How do you store them all? Each pair is stored in either its original box or a clear plastic shoebox. (My favorite are the IRIS brand, sold at Office Depot...clear lids too.) I print off easy-to-read labels for the sides of the boxes so I can find what I need quickly. I'm a very visual person, however, and have contemplated taking a picture of each pair and affixing THAT in lieu of a label to the outside of the shoebox. I am probably over capacity at the moment, as I have shoes in my sons' room AND the basement as well as my two closets. **Sigh**




How do you keep track of all of them?


I don't really have any kind of tracking mechanism, but I store them loosely by style...(boots on the floor, pumps on the shelf, off season in the basement). Where do you find them? Everywhere! I buy them from stores, Internet retail (Zappos, Piperlime, etc.), eBay, second hand shops (East Towne Women’s Shop on Broadway is one of my favorites) and GOODWILL. I have been lucky enough to run across Ferragamos for as low as $3.99 at my Goodwill. I've also spotted BALLYs, Stuart Weitzman, Via Spiga’s and Joan & Davids, among others.


How long having you been posting your "shoes of the day" on FB?


I would have to guess that it has been 2-3 years now. It's the first thing I do when I get to work in the morning! What are your favorite 5 pairs of shoes? I'll run with the assumption that the favorites are ones I actually OWN, here. Let's see... #5: YSL black low-heeled pumps with a HUGE buckle in the front...reminds me of a pilgrim's shoe...but I love them. #4: Tory Burch black pumps, complete with gold "Tory" logo on the toes and matching gold stripe at the base of the heel. #3: GUESS OTK suede platform boots...whenever I really need to feel sexy (and warm!) #2: Cesare Paciotti hounds tooth stiletto pumps with contrasting deep red heel and strap. The shape of these is pure sexy. Pointy toe...a classic stiletto. #1: My absolute favorite pair is a pair of black satin stilettos with Swarovski crystal heels from Gianmarco Lorenzi. (I only wear these on carpet at present...they're just too precious to me!) I bought them brand new from a seller on eBay for $92. I think it was the best deal I've ever gotten! What shoes don't you have but wish your did? I'd give my right eyeball for a pair of Christian Louboutin Lady Pages or some black Pigalle 120s.




What is it about shoes that make them so exciting? I remember SJP on “Sex and the City” sort of making shoe obsession ok, is that true?


That's EASY! When a woman puts on a pair of shoes, she instantly sees the woman she wants to be that Conservative? Demure? Athletic? No makeup needed, no hairdo...just simply putting on a shoe can transform the way you feel...then everything else will follow. Many times, I will choose a SHOE first and design my outfit that day around the shoe. (True shoe-o-holics will nod in understanding.) Of course the other thing about shoes is that they're all so different, which by nature, makes them something collectible! If you find a great pump, you may just need to purchase one in every color!!





What about the Imelda Marcos (Extreme shoe hoarder and dictator’s wife.) debacle? What did you think of that? Did it give collecting shoes a bad name?


I think it gave Imelda a bad name, mostly. Truth is, women have adored footwear long before Ms. Marcos came along. Any tips for aspiring shoe fanatics/ collectors? eBay! I cannot say this enough! It's the best kept "secret" in shoes! You can find both new and used, but the biggest plus is, once you know your size in your favorite makers, it's a candy store! Shoe brands they don't ever SELL in Milwaukee will be available. I've even purchased a new pair of stilettos (Made by RENZI, a division of Gianmarco Lorenzi) directly from ITALY. Of course you'll want to watch out for counterfeit knockoffs. As with designer handbags, certain shoe designers are being knocked off in great numbers due to the high price these shoes command. (Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Gucci are probably the MOST copied brands. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Louboutins still command hundreds of dollars per pair, EVEN IF THEY'RE if you see a new pair going for under $200, it is probably fake.)

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