Find your Keys sole


Colorful fuchsia heels such as these can transform your outfit.


When I moved to the Keys, I was concerned I might be the only person living here who dreamed of stilettos, strappy sandals and sexy sling-backs. After a few months as a local, I attended an event where a woman approached me to tell me what fabulous shoes I had on.

I was wearing a pair of red and ivory Mary Jane-style heels that were, in fact, fabulous. When I looked down, she had on some equally amazing shoes and I knew from then on we would be sole sisters.

We don't all own a collection like Imelda Marcus, who was the wife of a Panamanian president and who amassed more than 3,000 shoes from world-famous designers including Ferragamo, Givenchy, Chanel and Christian Dior.

However, according to a ShopSmart Magazine poll, American women do have some interesting behaviors when it comes to purchasing and wearing shoes. On average, women have 19 pairs of shoes in their closets but only four pairs are worn on a regular basis. In fact, 24 percent of shoes in our closets have been worn only once and 13 percent admit to hiding shoe purchases from a significant other.

Another quite comical fact: Forty-three percent admit they've been injured by their shoes. My guess is this statistic would be higher if they interviewed women in the Florida Keys. Uneven terrain and dock-like platforms can make for some interesting, if not dangerous, situations. It's been my experience that when your heel catches between two slats, your body continues to propel forward at the speed of which you are moving. A body in motion stays in motion.

Now that you understand that more women are like you than not, it's time to figure out whether your shoe collection is meeting your needs.

The SmartShop article about the woman with 19 pairs of shoes prompted me to count my own collection, which was well over 100 pairs (gasp!). To be fair, I'm in the process of selling five pairs. OK, it's still a bit over the top, I know, but I really do wear well over half of them regularly.

The other half are evening wear, winter shoes and shoes reserved for specific occasions that get worn when those occasions present themselves. For instance, my tap-dance shoes will get worn when I decide to take another tap-dance class.

If your shoe collection is a bit overwhelming, it's time to clean out your closet. If you haven't worn them in a year or two, it's time to get rid of them. Sell them at a consignment store or on eBay, or donate them (if they are in good condition) to a worthy cause such as the Monroe County Domestic Abuse Shelter and Florida Keys Children's Shelter.  By cleaning out the clutter, you'll be able to find your shoes more quickly and may actually wear them more.

So the SmartShop story says only four pairs are worn regularly. Four! This is quite pathetic, ladies.

Shoes can completely change the look of an outfit. I recommend moving the shoes you wear most often to a less-easily-accessible place so other beauties can make their debut. Put a few colorful pairs in front and don't be afraid to mix it up. When you normally would reach for your black patent-leather heels, opt instead for a bright fuchsia heel or go for black and white wedges. A little color or a different silhouette will create a whole new look.

And about that 13 percent who admit to hiding shoe purchases from significant others?

Not that I've ever done this before but here are a few good hiding places I discovered in my "research." The trunk of your car is a great place to store shoes until the opportunity presents itself to be moved into the house and immediately into your closet. If arriving by mail, explain they're a gift. He doesn't need to know the gift is for you.

Kitchen cupboards are also a useful place to put shoes -- if you are surprised in the kitchen after a recent shopping trip. Quickly put the boxes into your cupboard and he'll just think you're prepping for dinner. Just be sure to remove them promptly if your significant other happens to do a lot of cooking.

Beyond tennis shoes and flip-flops, following are footwear essentials for every wardrobe:

  • Black heels: These are a necessary staple that can be worn with a plethora of looks. From work outfits to casual nights out, a simple pair of comfortable black heels is a must. Go for black leather or black patent leather for a little more oomph.

  • Colorful heels: You must own one brightly colored heel that can transform your outfit. It will make a plain black dress more interesting and elevate a classic look to instant chic. My favorite statement heels are in yellow, fuchsia, red and royal blue.

  • Metallic strappy sandals: Gold or silver strappy sandals are the perfect shoe to be paired with evening wear for weddings, galas and formal affairs. Metallic sandals also look fabulous when paired with jeans and will make a casual look more sophisticated.

  • Ballerina flat: Comfortable and stylish, these darling must-haves work for day or evening and always look fashionable.

  • The Wedge: For Florida Keys girls, we need a high-heeled shoe that can handle the terrain, and the wedge is it. Much more comfortable than their stiletto counterparts, the wedge can work around the clock and looks great with casual and formal apparel. Try a pair in a neutral hue such as black or tan and you'll find they go with everything.
Marilyn Monroe said it best: "Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world." Put another way, fill your world with fabulous shoes and walk toward your dreams.

Leah Maki is a fashion-obsessed style blogger. More of her fashion advice can be found on her blog,

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