11 April 2016

Windows: My First Heels

[Ed: As Madam is tied up (no not like that) with work these last weeks with no time to chat or post (apologies to all I hear in the background), she asked me to go through her notes and find something of interest for you to read. On trying to encipher her jottings I came across this story concerning her first pair of heels and how they were acquired. I asked if I should let it lose on the world. She was affirmative to this, as she was going to follow-up on the note she made on her Heel Collection page anyway.]

[Ed. So here it is.]

One holiday in the early 80s we were in the near from a town called Street in Somerset, the HQ of the shoe company Clarks with their so-called ‘village’. The town was just full of shoe shops and as MrsA took then, as now, every opportunity to look for shoes we spent ages checking out one shop after another. The only consolation after walking miles wearing out the ‘souls’ of our shoes looking for new ones was being allowed to go mad in a bookshop buying a backlog of 15 Terry Pratchet paperbacks.

[Ed: Checking my log this was 1982 and they hadn’t been back for quite some time and the founder of Amazon was still at high school.]

You may say that it is normal for a girl to constantly scan the shoescape, but in the case of MrsA it’s also very frustrating, as she has very small feet (2-3 UK) and finding something that looks good and fits is for her a nightmare. Usually when she is occupied rummaging around in the small sizes, I’m sent off to buy at least one pair of men’s shoes (boring) so that she doesn’t get a guilty conscience when she, on the rare occasion, finds something to take home for herself.

So when I’m told to do my own rummaging, I am always on the lookout for heels in my size, 43EU/9UK (not so boring but equally frustrating). It’s an almost hopeless situation in a "normal" shoe shop, but I look anyway. In the 80s I really don’t remember seeing anything in large sizes, these days either women’s feet are getting bigger or the manufactures and outlets are getting in on the needs of girls like us who would have to look to ‘special’ shops on- and off-line. Things are getting more liberal and these days ‘a sale is a sale’ whoever their for.

After countless shoe shops we entered a small long dingy establishment. MrsA stayed at the front in daylight and I slowly wandered to the back and there in the gloom bathed in a ray of light from a single window I saw them! It was like a vision, imagine something like the blessing / god sequence from Monty P’s Holy Grail - I didn't hear the choirs, but near enough! There on a well past its sell-by date discarded display case was a pair of black patent leather court shoes with four inch heels.
I could not believe it; they looked like they could fit! 
I started to get nervous.
So often in the past my excitement was dashed when I looked at the size. Usually 2 sizes too small and the only way I would have been able to put them on, let alone walk, was with serious toe bending!
I took a deep breath and turned them slowly over.
They were 7.5UK! Was I dreaming? That’s the largest I’d seen in a long time. But something was not quite right. 7.5UK was my boy size equivalent to a 9UK girl size, but as before they really looked like they could fit! Could they be sitting here banned to the backroom because of some production glitch? 

Just then MrsA startled me by tapping me on the shoulder. I turned round forgetting I had the shoes in my hand. She looked at the shoes and back up to me and asked “Do you want them”? I looked at her dumfounded and then heard the Monty P. choirs! I slowly nodded, without another word she took them out of my hands and went off to the front of the shop to buy them. I could have gone with her but held back being at that moment totally embarrassed, studded and excited all at the same time. I thought it would be better to say out of sight at this stage. The shoes were obviously not for her and I didn’t want the assistant to put 2&2 together. She probably did anyway, MrsA came back for me handed me the bag and we walked out of the shop with my prize clasped tightly in my arms!

I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel. That evening I tried them on under the scrutiny of MrsA. We had been on our feet most of the day and even in those days I was having problems with my legs and plates, but swollen or not I went for it. I unpacked them and looked them over in detail; they were from Bally (petal), elegant and well made. The 4 inch heel had the angle and shape typical for the style at that time.
[Ed: Dug out this poster from 1982 to add a bit of atmosphere.]

I put them on and in semi-cramped pain I spent ages trying to strap them up. The buckles were to put it mildly on the small side and I was not use to bending over and manipulating anything on the outer side of my feet, an odd feeling I must say having Mrs.A sitting there looking on. After a few under the breath frustrated rude expressions my side, MrsA took pity on me and buckled me up.
I stood; the pain went up a notch. I walked around as best I could as the pain started to migrate towards my squashed toes. After a few wobbly minutes I sat down and when Mrs.A asked how there were, I lied through my teeth and said ‘a bit tight’ but on the whole ‘ok’. I must say I can’t remember much more about the evening only that after removing them we laughed about it, with me throwing in jokingly a few red herrings as not give her the idea I was in heaven with my very own heels!
>As they were ‘a bit tight’, next day it was decided to keep an eye out for other heels in larger sizes. No idea whose idea this was, but I was certainly game! I suspect she read me better than I thought. So for the day we repeated ‘the walking the streets of Street’ scanning for shoes. You can imagine I was in a totally different frame of mind compared to the previous day. MrsA was still looking for shoes for herself, but this time I had a mission! I took every opportunity to ‘officially’ check heels at the other end of the range and I didn’t have to wait until she and everyone else was out of sight!

After a luckless morning we went to the Clarks village and had lunch. I’m not sure when and where we found them; it was not as spectacular as with buying the patent leather ones. As you can see from the picture they were open toe sandals. They were larger than the Bally’s and so didn’t cause the level of pain as before, but they didn’t hold me that well either as I was swimming about too much in them. This made it difficult to walk in as much as I could judge within the confines of the hotel room.
No matter I had now two pairs of heels.

Since then over the last 30 years I had plenty of occasions wearing them when MrsA was not around. They became more comfortable due to the leather forming to my feet. When the opportunity arose I would combine them with tights or stockings from my mini stash. For a brief period we had in the wardrobe two lovely semi-frilly dresses one white and the other black that ‘almost’ fit me. Either MrsA had mistakenly bought them without looking at the labels or she had wanted to give them to someone, obviously not to me as a present, can’t really remember her motive. Luckily the waistbands were elastic and allowed me to pull the dresses up to my waist. The rest was just too small for my statue, although with the white one I got my arms through but my back was fully exposed the zip out of reach and anyway useless. In combination with my heels and stockings I could enjoy the look and feeling for brief periods.
After a few months we talked about them taking up space and she suggested giving them to her niece, I agreed of course, I had no real choice. I don’t think she knew or thought I was ‘wearing’ them at every opportunity and checking to see how I would react. It was just her way to ask me beforehand when giving things away. Anyway they ‘hung’ around awhile before her niece visited and took them.
I missed them a lot. Well over the years the heels
stayed out of sight, I think I was too shy / embarrassed to get them out and wear them in full view, what excuse would I have had.

After time I thought she had forgotten about them but it was not so. The only time I had ‘officially’ to wear my black heels after the initial wearing, was an evening at home watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show which had come out on VHS tape. We had gone to the movies to watch it a few times and experience the audience participation with their flashlights, water guns, rice, toilet paper etc. We didn’t ‘dress up’ but had some of the props with us second time round and got into the swing of things. Quite a number of the audience took the opportunity to drag it as the characters, all great fun.
Thinking about this we decided to make an ‘event’ out of viewing the film at home. We would both dress as far as possible like Transylvanians. Well, MrsA reminded me that I had my heels which surprised me some what. Of course officially I had nothing else and so we bought some black stockings. I needed suspenders but we couldn’t find any in my size, so MrsA made me some
Makeup was no problem and as she had lots of different nail vanishes (like I do now), we painted each other’s fingers in different colours. All this was for me more fun than watching the film! And so we had for a few hours our ‘private’ film showing dressed for the part. We never got round to dressing up again, apart from at Carnival time with classical costumes.
It’s a shame but there it is. I should have hinted in some way, talked about it while the opportunity was there, but typical me I kept silent.

The blue and red heels I threw this year, they were way over the top but I still have the black heels. The leather has, let’s say, ‘matured’ over time, the heel tips have long disintegrated and the buckles just un-do-up-able. But they were my first and I can’t throw them away can I?


  1. Those sort of experiences (having and wearing heels and then pretty outfits) only managed to convince me that it wasn't really about the clothing for me.
    I did like how my legs looked in those three inch heels though, and how they changed the way I walked too. I still do!
    I wonder if Mrs. A would still secretly like to see you dressed?

    1. I must say after reading through what [Ed:] posted that there are indications in there that Mrs.A was not averse to seeing me in heels, stockings and suspenders. This was just a one off ‘happening’ from our youth, not something one necessary repeats that often. I must say the buying of the heels was an experience, I’m not sure her side what was behind it, just making me happy? Could be. It has always been her way of being happy when I’m happy.

      Still I’m not sure if she would like me coming down to breakfast Sunday morning in a dress, ballerinas, light makeup, press on nails and earrings. Two things could happen, she faints in shock or runs upstairs and sometime later appears in similar attire so as not to be out done!

      Your right it’s not just about the clothing. If I had the chance to choose from my extended wardrobe more often, then it would I think only bring that aspect of me up to par on who I am anyway.
      I express the inner self in how I act and react to the world around me, first as a person and second through my perceived gender. It would be nice to compliment my true inner gender with some ‘outer’ gender characteristics and become at last complete.

  2. Hi Abi,
    Either the first or second pair of shoes I bought were by Bally: a pair of ankle strap 3 and a half inch heels in patent grey, sometime in the early 80s. I still have them somewhere tucked in the back of a closet, although the finish is starting to flake away, but they've lasted better than some of my others, especially suede ones, where the nap has gone all shiny or started to moult (do shoes moult?)
    The other pair from that time were a pair of size 8 white strappy sandals with 3 inch heels, which fell apart a while ago.
    While I can't compete with you in the heel collector stakes, it's still a bit embarassing to look in the closets and realise I have accumulated far more shoes and boots for Susie than I have for me (I have 2 or 3 pairs, Susie probably nearer 16, some of which are woefully impractical).


    1. Um, we seem to have parallel experiences with our first shoe buy (also the 80s). Do shoes moult? I think the suede would, depends on what your feed them and what you brush them with and if the nose is damp or not ... or am I thinking of something else?
      Anyway, as to collections, again we are in sync. Impractical oh yes! have a few along those lines, as commented on in my collection gallery. No matter we must persevere for the sake of fashion and use the 5 inch added elevation to get to the top shelf in the wardrobe without a ladder.

    2. What's the most impractical pair of shoes you've bought? Mine are a pair of 5 inch gladiator sandals blinged with silver chains that I can't even stand up in.
      Shoes sizes seem to vary enormously. I have a pair of 7 and a half (UK) MJs that I can wear comfortably and a pair of 8 and a half T-straps that pinch my toes. Try before you buy seems to be the advice but I'm not that brave in somewhere like New Look or Primark.

    3. Impractical pair of shoes? Well as I can’t embed a pic here you will have to go to my heel collection page and browse down to the ‘orange section’. The 6.9” platform sandals look nice, glitter and all that, but are just un-walkable, there alright when stationary (just) but any movement means ankle breaking imminent. Ok maybe a professional heel walker would be able to command them, I can’t and won’t.
      If you scroll back up to the ‘silver section’, the 5.7” sling backs from Andres Machado was a waste of money, they were dirt cheap (12€), again no hold just swimming about all over the place.
      I must say, as I always buy blind, I haven’t had that many bad buys. I do well with the wide fit from Newlook, although the workmanship is not always the best. The black pair that look like a glittery spider web has started to come apart around the top over the toes. As the material is thin and the sowing under par they didn’t last long. I have of course also bought for the ‘look’ [Ed: Collector mania} and not always for the walkability. Wear, sit and admire from all angles.