What’s With The Hooker Shoes?

I was lucky enough to be invited to a really, really fancy party a couple of weeks ago. It was purely a case of nepotism: an old friend and coworker has found herself running an incredibly swank penthouse for a very old magazine that uses it for a lot of fabulous parties and photo shoots, and she invited my wife and me and a few of our other less fancy friends to see how the 1% lives.

My wife, sadly, was buried under her postgraduate curriculum, so I went stag. After I signed in, I was escorted to an elevator that took me up eight stories and opened directly into the penthouse, and then — on a tip from the elevator operator — climbed the stairs that wound around the all-glass elevator at the center of the penthouse up four stories, joining the three other glamour tourists in our party at the top floor balcony, with a 180-degree view of lower Manhattan. It was a fancy party indeed, the kind that gets mentioned in the society pages and photographed for the back of the glossy magazines, though I suspect that it was one of the less fancy parties to be held in this venue.

The view was amazing and the penthouse was breathtaking, and there were a lot of very attractive, well put-together, professional-looking people wearing obviously expensive clothes. Not to put too fine a point on it: It felt like a whole lot of Midtown people, which is a culture nearly alien to the East Village circles I tend to run in.  I felt like an anthropologist, observing the customs of a curious tribe of people who shop for clothes more often than presidential elections and use shampoo and hair product and moisturizer and makeup like Sephora stockholders. Metrosexuals, and the women who love them — I observed them one and all with fascination. As I am but a man, I admit without shame that I tended to observe more of the ladies than the gentlemen.

One person in particular I found especially striking. She was on the short end of tall, had long, dark hair, and was wearing the hell out of an elegant little black dress. She had a little more makeup on than I would prefer, but that was par for the course in this crowd.

I had just about decided that she was the one. The one I’d love for the whole rest of this party. You know: the kind of love where you furtively enjoy someone’s sex appeal from across the room when (and only when) they happen to be directly in your field of vision, without any effort or notion to approach, speak to, or otherwise engage them. These are the cheap thrills of the married and faithful.

As a formality before making it official, I took her all in one more time from the top down: Beautiful, long, dark hair. Very pretty face, probably the beneficiary of some racial mixing (never hurts, always helps). Cute little dress on a lean, well-toned but still-curvy figure. Then I got to the hooker shoes.

She is projecting “professional” with those, but not the kind she means

Hooker shoes! Four-inch (plus?) heels in shiny black patent leather, with at least an inch of platform. Distractingly prominent shoes. At first I just felt like I was looking at one of those “One of these things doesn’t belong” puzzles from Sesame Street. I was viscerally confused. This girl is gorgeous and obviously has a great job and makes money and probably lives in a sweet apartment filled with great-smelling pillows. So why is she wearing shoes that look like they should be pacing a sidewalk, pausing occasionally beside rented sportscars?  

Hooker shoes! When did hooker shoes become what attractive, well put-together, professional-looking women wear with their obviously expensive clothes? As Herman Cain might say, I don’t have the facts to back this up, but there’s a whiff of Kardashian on this, and if my knee-jerk suspicions are correct, that will be a much more destructive legacy than anything she’s done lately to the institution of marriage.

Not only did these shoes sour my budding relationship with this person, they drew my attention to the shoes of everyone at this party. Have you ever shopped for a car, and decided on a make and model, but had trouble actually finding one suitable for purchase? Say you’re looking for a Subaru Forester. Suddenly, every third car on the road seems to be a Subaru Forester.

Likewise, my wife has a fixation on badly-plucked eyebrows, and points them out whenever they appear on our TV. I never used to notice them, but now I see them everywhere and compulsively throw a soft elbow to point them out to my wife even when she isn’t there.

I got an easy chair facing the door at Starbuck’s and was watching it so intently that I didn’t notice this eight-point buck sitting right next to me. My hands were shaking as I took this photo.

Anyway, now that I’m noticing hooker shoes, I’m noticing that they’re all over the place, on women who from the knees up seem like they really shouldn’t be wearing hooker shoes. I realized that some pictures would be helpful for this piece, so I went to the Starbucks by my office — on Hudson, by all the ad agencies, where there’s no shortage of attractive, well put-together, professional-looking women in obviously expensive clothes — and in a period of about five minutes took photos of about eight pairs of hooker shoes. (Sadly, most didn’t come out. It’s hard to take pictures of people’s shoes on the sly.) Suffice to say, it was a target-rich environment.

There are a couple of things I would like to share with the hooker shoe community. Unfortunately, I highly doubt that even one person who reads this will need this advice, because I can’t think of even one person I know, from close friends to bare acquaintances, who wears hooker shoes, and I don’t think this blog is reaching a lot of people who don’t know me personally.

The first is: I can’t think of even one time in my life that I’ve heard a man say, “I had a great time with Stacey last night. She is charming and intelligent. She is an excellent dancer, the wine she chose was delightful, and she ordered for both of us in perfect Cantonese. I’d probably call her again, if her heels had been just a little higher.” Or: “Genevieve seemed a little distant, and didn’t laugh at any of my jokes. She reminded me of my mother in all the wrong ways, and her apartment smelled like burning hair. But, you know me: I can’t resist a woman in five-inch heels!”

Second: Notice in the section where I describe the lifespan of my love affair with this nameless, otherwise gorgeous Midtown gal that her shoes are the absolute last thing I noticed. If they hadn’t been such an instant turnoff, I probably wouldn’t have noticed them at all.

When I did notice them, here’s roughly what went through my head:

  1. Shiny! Why so shiny?
  2. Heels awfully high. On the job?
  3. Ouch!

During my personal dark night of the soul — the period when I was working five bartending shifts a week — I decided I needed better shoes for being on my feet so much, and my wife suggested I get some clogs, because nurses and surgeons wear them. So I got them, and they were indeed very comfortable, but I soon found they were no good for bartending because the heels were probably two inches tall and I kept turning my ankle in them. And we’re talking about heels three inches wide. I can’t even imagine trying to get from the bedroom to the kitchen in 4 ½” tall, ¼” wide stilettos.

In the lobby at a big fancy ad agency. The impact is diminished by the distance, but trust me.

To say nothing of how uncomfortable they must be! The suffering these ladies are putting themselves through is like some kind of modern-day version of foot-binding, only worse because it’s voluntary. I guess in some circles, demonstrated tolerance for pain is a turn-on, but for the (spoiler alert, ladies!) strictly vanilla like myself, all I feel is sympathy (for the pain) and pity (for the mentality).

As bad as the hooker shoes are, they are at least a (marginal) improvement over the last trend to sweep Midtown’s female feet: the pointy shoes. The less said about the pointy shoes, the better. Even more amazing than the fact that women seemed to think of the Wicked Witch of the East as a fashion role model was the fact that they also made pointy shoes for men, and men actually bought them. This is a chapter in American society more shameful than the McCarthy hearings, President Andrew Jackson’s Indian policy, and the Macarena put together.

Hooker shoes aren’t quite that bad. I’d put them more on the level of Iran-Contra and the “Garfield” movie: ominous signifiers of a dark cultural future.  

6 Responses to What’s With The Hooker Shoes?

  1. Hi Alex,

    I was looking for a new pair of dressy shoes with heels, and I was presented with an avalanche of hooker shoes. So I hopped onto the internet to see if anyone else is disturbed by the trend. That is how I came upon your blog. Well said and reported. Very interesting and very sad. The podiatrists and ortho docs will soon have a field day with the bent toes and warped bodies that will develop if this trend continuues. Not for me…yikes!

    • WHO CARES says:

      LOL you guys are all idiots, judging ladies because youd prefer them to wear different shoes.
      Geez how ignorant,
      please get a hobby and a different attitude about life

  2. Yeah, WHAT UP!? I went looking for a classic Jackie O like fabric pump to wear with a Sue Wong 50’s inspired cocktail dress and instead was blasted with nothing but rhinestone encrusted, patent leather, hot pink, leopard print trashy, TO THE MAX, HOOKER SHOES. How terribly confusing and simply just terrible all the way around. What were the fashion gods thinking?

  3. Tammy says:

    I agree…100 %

  4. hasa2g says:

    I totttallyy agree. I may not be a millionaire but my mother taught me to be a classy lady and seeing my friends who are beautiful intelligent young women falling for the media and magazines’ examples makes me so sad. The platform heel is not classy and my bf thinks otherwise. The heel says to me “new money” .. may be rich in dollars but not in class. Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  5. Hooker heel is over 7in, Not over 3. I like high some of the hooker heels are really cute but I couldn’t walk in them. I like more of the 3-5 in better. I worked at a EXOTIC bar when I was 18 and all the ladies there said they do the job for the money and that’s it. After work all of us are dressed decent and classy. Just because we work/ed for a EXOTIC bar does NOT mean we are not classy or whores. But I do agree some of the really high heels are tacky. but some or cute.

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