Friday, October 17, 2014

The Married Man's Guide to Women's Shoes and What They Mean

This sling-back pump is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Olivier Luma.
The other Sunday morning, I was late. So I asked my husband to grab my black pumps. He came back with black sandals. I said, “No. Black pumps. Those are heeled sandals.” He went back to the closet and came back with another pair of shoes. I sighed. “Sweetie, those are mules. I need pumps.” Eventually, I found the pumps.

It occurred to me that if a man doesn’t even know what a shoe is called, then there is a whole world of shoe communication that he does not understand. So I’ve written a husband’s definitive (short) guide to women’s shoe types and what they mean. Here it is.

Pumps. A woman wears these with a suit. They have a heel and enclose most of the foot. (Though there are open-toed and sling-back versions, which have nuances of meaning. But that is beyond the scope of this quick reference guide.) When I wear them it means, I can pump my own gas, but if you want to do it that would be great because I don’t like smelling like gasoline.

Sandals. Strappy shoes that expose the toes. There are two main types.
   One, the heeled party type. These mean I plan to have fun and am not opposed to drinking something with bubbles.
   Two, the flat type. These mean Take Me To the Beach. Now.

Mules. Something you side your foot into. As in, I’m as tired as a pack-worn mule and can’t be bothered with fasteners. You should probably pour me a double strength espresso with a twist of lemon.
            N.B. If they are Birkenstocks, it means I’m over forty and I’ve gone through a granola phase.
 This should be nipped in the bud if it threatens to come back. Seriously, do you remember the tofu phase?

Kitten heels. Playful shoes with a tiny, thin heel. They mean I’m feeling girly and playful as a kitten. (Think Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million.) They also mean, after the kids are in bed, I would totally be open to playing hide and seek with Nerf dart guns in the dark.

Sneakers. I can pump iron. I can run like the wind. Okay, maybe not. But I can
beat myself shadow boxing. And just so you know, it means we’re eating healthy tonight.

Stilettos. The name obviously comes from a type of spy knife. Think tall, thin high heel that could be used to stab someone. You think this means “sexy.” You are wrong. This shoe means I-am-feeling-so-confident-that-I-don’t-care-that-these-these-things-are-going-to-give-me-back-spasms-later-today. These shoes mean you will need to find a bottle of Aleve and a tube of muscle pain cream.

Slippers with wool socks. I need a nap, an intravenous drip of a caffeinated beverage, and/or a break from the children. Afterwards, a long, hot bubble bath.
Hopefully, this clears everything up.

Ladies, did I miss any?


  1. And then there: "I always twist my ankles so don't you dare bring me anything with a heel." =)

    Loved this.

    Crystal's Blog

  2. Very good. I strongly recommend the little book How to Tell a Man by His Shoes by Kathryn Eisman. At the very least, it helps a writer to present a recognizable sort of man.

  3. To quote Parker, "What is it with women and shoes?"

  4. Perhaps you need to create a printable pocket guide :)

  5. As a soon-to-be-married man, I appreciate this blog post :)

  6. HA! Brilliant. Erma Bombeck would be proud.

  7. Fantastic! I've been searching for a guide like this!