I am not a Barbie or a ballerina, Or, why I created this website

I am not a Barbie or a ballerina.

That is my mantra, every time I go shopping for work shoes and see the latest rogue’s gallery that pass for women’s professional shoes. “Why do you hate us?” I want to ask the designers and manufacturers. “What are you thinking?” I want to ask the women who encourage them by buying such nonsense. I fume silently.

Okay, that’s a lie, I’m pretty vocal about my displeasure. I complain about the selection in women’s shoes to anyone who will listen and ask for men’s styles in my size. Then I get out my little soapbox and talk briefly about why women suffer disproportionately from bunions, hammertoe, plantar fasciitis, and a host of other maladies.

Me in my tutu. And last pair of ballet shoes.

Me in my tutu. And last pair of ballet shoes.

But honestly, it’s not just my achy feet talking. It’s my equally offended ego.

Men get power shoes. We get…..ballet flats. I don’t know about you, but the last time I wore a tutu, I was 6.

Men get stability. We get….wobbly heels that make walking difficult, and walking meetings unthinkable.

Men get comfort. We get…..to keep a pair of slippers at our desks for when the pain becomes unbearable.

And to top it all off, men get classic styles that last for years and go with everything, while we get to repeat this madness every season.

In short, men’s shoes protect their feet – which, really, is the point of shoes, isn’t it? – while women’s footwear makes us vulnerable. To pain, injury, and overspending.

Here’s my story: I am a Professional. I work in an Office. I do many things there, some more interesting than others, but at no time do I fight, seduce, or pirouette, which seems to be what most designers think women do all day. (Honey, I’m off to the arena; hand me my briefcase and my gladiator sandals.) I frequently counsel executives on the best way to present their messages, which means when I walk into the boardroom, I need to look like I belong there. I need shoes that say “I am competent. I am confident. I get things done.”

And that, in short, is why I created this website. I hope to show the shoe industry that there is a critical mass who would buy high quality, American-made women’s wingtips, women’s cap toes, and women’s oxfords, and we need a go-to brand that produces them consistently. These menswear-inspired shoes look sleek and chic with slacks and suits. They’re neutral and don’t require a frantic change of handbag on the way out the door in the morning. Best of all, when you wear that kind of shoe, you feel as confident as you look.

If you think wearing shoes like that is a radical idea, ask yourself this one question:

Would a man carry his shoes to work in a bag?

Let’s stop the madness. Please join me.

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'I am not a Barbie or a ballerina, Or, why I created this website' have 12 comments

  1. March 15, 2016 @ 4:32 pm Elizabeth W.

    Leslie, I am with you on this!

    Reply

  2. March 1, 2015 @ 3:20 pm Karen F

    I wear orthotics and had foot surgery, so I cannot wear a high heel or even a dress shoe. I get my shoes at SAS and online. I actually have a wingtip type shoe. The most encouraging trend for me is that the places I’ve worked lately let you wear sneakers and jeans. I think a movement for comfortable shoes is long overdue!

    Reply

  3. February 15, 2015 @ 12:29 pm NanetteM

    Leslie, great cause and great looking site! Luckily I now work from home and dont need to wear heels anymore! But when I do want to dress up a bit, shopping for them and wearing them is torture! Mostly because my mother and grandmother have passed down they’re amazing bunions and hammertoes! I have even scheduled surgery in a month! Im not sure I’d wear wing tips but it does amaze me that shoe makers cannot construct a woman’s shoe that is made well, feminine, and supports a real foot! How about shoes for Bunions!

    Reply

  4. February 13, 2015 @ 8:12 pm Kim J

    I have a pair of Cole Haan Gramercy oxfords in a shiny metallic bronze and I LOVE them. Fashionable and comfortable!

    Reply

  5. February 11, 2015 @ 8:44 pm Becky G

    “Would a man carry his shoes to work in a bag?” That says it all. Great post, Leslie. Even though I admit I enjoy pretty shoes and like having more variety than most men when it comes to my daily work shoe choices, I believe in providing women options that include everything you’ve outlined above. It’s all about personal choice and thinking outside the box (the shoe box, in this case) to expand what’s possible. I applaud you!

    Reply

  6. February 7, 2015 @ 10:09 pm Gena F.

    Great web site and great cause. I was going to suggest you check-out Fratelli Rossetti but not American made. If you would like to take a look here’s the link:
    http://www.fratellirossetti.com/us-US-en/Collection/Woman_Spring_Summer_2015.aspx

    Reply

    • February 8, 2015 @ 6:25 pm Leslie Myers

      I looked at Fratelli Rosetti, and they indeed have some gorgeous menswear-inspired shoes! Thanks for sharing a resource – that’s one of the goals of this site!

      Reply

  7. February 7, 2015 @ 2:09 am Linda G.

    Leslie, this is such a crazy good idea! I too moan over the task of looking for stylish but functional shoes that take good care of my feet. I gave up heels 20 years ago, but because I have really narrow feet, a laced shoe fits so much better than the flats or ballet slipper styles. Add my voice to the call for something more!

    Reply

  8. February 6, 2015 @ 2:45 am Julie M

    Free at last! This is such a good idea, Leslie. I’ve always felt like the odd girl out to suggest that heels are comparable to the ancient practice of Chinese foot-binding. To hobble and impede. To hurt.
    I like a different way. Shoes that are comfortable and reasonable. Shoes that exude who I am, not what has been ascribed to me.
    With the constant desire for shoe manufacturers looking for that elusive market segment, we will offer this market segment to them on a tailored silver platter: Shoes that look cool, feel good and have an air of elegance as a result of quality design and fit.

    Reply

  9. February 6, 2015 @ 12:42 am TJ

    My shoe choices often lean towards the description of nun shoes or sensible shoes…leaning heavily on the ever popular closed heel clog – in black – I call them my Maria shoes (Maria von Trapp, Sound of Music – aka nearly nun shoes) I also call them Carrboro clogs – from the town in which I live, where the leaning left population embraced comfy feet decades ago. I only realize how ugly my shoes are when I leave my zip code!
    Always in a quest for comfortable shoes – I too have looked for wing tips – going so far as to try boys sizes – hoping they might work…but the shoe is chunkier than I’d like.
    My plea – a great flat…but how about a good heel too – not the teeter on top heel – but one that I can walk from one end of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas to the other about 6 times in a single day – because people – that’s what my job requires me to do a few times a year at trade shows. (the pedometer says that’s about 5 miles, in heels – with a lap top slung over my shoulder!)
    We can round up a test market for you fast – real women and real shoes, working for a living in the real world.

    Reply

  10. February 5, 2015 @ 6:11 pm Ellen H

    What a cool idea! I thought I was one of the few women who did not enjoy shopping — shoe shopping is the worst — along with jeans and bathing suits 🙂

    Reply

  11. February 4, 2015 @ 3:57 pm Beverly B

    I am SO on board with this, Leslie! My favorite work shoes *ever* were two-tone wingtips similar to the James Lug in your survey. Love this inaugural post!

    Reply


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