Saturday, February 25, 2006

How much is enough?

My husband has become in recent years somewhat of a clotheshorse. He signed up with listserves and became active on forums devoted to men's clothing. He started ordering custom-made shirts and pants and suits. He found a tailor nearby where he goes for all his bespoke needs, as he has learned that even high-end ready-to-wear doesn't really satisfy him. He's still a bit of a cheapskate, like me, so when he finds an exotic place that can produce high quality clothing that fits, he's ecstatic. He orders bespoke shirts from Italy and Hong-Kong. He orders shoes from London and Paris. He orders custom-made shoes and bespoke suits from Eastern Europe. He combs intently through swatches and catalogs, engages in passionate debates on the best double-welted shoes on the Internet, has regular appointments with his venerable 80-year old Italian tailor, and every morning asks for my advice whether the outfit he put together that morning, neatly displayed on his mahogany valet, "works," down to the color of the socks.

So we were talking about shoes, bien sur, the other day, and he mentioned his 16 pairs of shoes, and how he needs a better place to store them so he can see them properly. I wholeheartedly agree, and mention casually that I would like a better storage space for my 45 pairs of shoes.

"45 pairs?" He raised a surprised brow. "And here I was almost ashamed I had as many as 16 pairs of shoes. Have you been purchasing shoes secretly lately?"

Apart from the fact that yes, I have, but I didn't mean it to be in secret--I just buy and wear for all to see, right?--the question got me thinking about how many pairs is enough for a woman. See, I don't think 45 is all that unreasonable. First, women's outfits are so much more varied and colorful than men's. I have red, green, blue, yellow, white, pink, and multicolor shoes, all colors that he wouldn't even dream of wearing. I have knee-high boots, mid-calf boots, ankle boots, and booties. I have numerous pairs of sandals, again a category of shoes he would never wear (and I admit it's hard to find tasteful man's sandals, otherwise known as mandals). I have dressy shoes and I have casual shoes. I have high heels, mid-size heels, and flats. I have leather and satin shoes, I have suede and cotton and nubuck shoes. They go with skirts or pants, with different types of fabrics (again, fabrics used for women's clothes I think are much more varied than for men's clothes). So altogether, I don't think I have too many shoes. In fact, at the time of the count, I was expecting no less than three deliveries of shoes from three different places! (In all honesty, I had to get rid of some pairs shortly after, but that's a topic for another post).

But still, his question did give me pause. Do I have too many shoes? How much is enough? How many shoes does a woman need to have? Does the word "need" even belong here? I know my husband, with his keen scientific mind, and with the help of his internet friends, worked out a formula regarding the number of shirts, suits, jackets, pants, coats, ties, socks, and shoes that the well-dressed man must absolutely have to get enough variety in his wardrobe. As far as I know, such a formula does not exist for women, and only a man's sick mind could devise it.

But seriously, how much is enough? Is there a limit other than your limited storage space? Help me out here!


At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband regularly wears only one pair of shoes. He owns two other pairs (one just like the first, and one pair of flip flops).

Me, on the other hand....I'm not even sure I know. Might well be more than 45! But once you mix in colors, styles, heel's quite easy for them to add up like crazy. (And I don't even own any boots!).

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Cristina Hanganu-Bresch said...

Men's footwear is a more complicated matter, and I may pursue it at some point, enlightened as I am by my husband's tireless efforts to acquire the best shoes his money can buy. His 16 shoes go with his 16 outfits (jacket+pant, or suit) that he alternates wearing. I'm afraid we, women, are more complicated than that, and any suggestion that I should have a limited no. of outfits and/or a limited no. of pairs of shoes would make me raise my waxed brow in contempt.

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