Most women enjoy buying shoes but not me, with extremely severe OCD, they are a necessary annoyance. Trying shoes on, that stranger’s feet might have been in, is definitely not fun for me – dirty feet, blistered or bleeding feet, verrucas, nail infections to name just a few of the conditions shoved into new shoes and often not bought but left ready for the next (unsuspecting) foot to be inserted.

So there is quite a performance involved when it’s the necessary time to purchase replacement shoes. I enjoy ordering them online, as going to shops is too stressful since the pandemic in 2020, but when they’re delivered they sit there for days in their boxes reminding me it’s a complicated procedure to see if they fit. This process requires me to have a bowl (specifically kept for this new-shoe-trying-on purpose only by the way) of soapy water with antibacterial spray added to the water and reams of kitchen paper at hand.

I put the new shoe on and walk a few steps to assess the fit, then spray my foot with additional antibacterial spray before it goes in the bowl of soapy water with added kitchen roll to act as a foot flannel that can be disposed of. After a few minutes swooshing the water/kitchen roll (which sometimes has started to disintegrate, depending on the quality of paper) my foot is allowed back into my plastic house-slipper because if my foot touches the floor it needs spraying and washing very thoroughly – I never go bare-footed in the house except on a bedside rug and a bathroom rug. I then have to be extremely careful whilst walking with a wet foot in a slippery slipper (coincidence but a perfect name for my footwear at this point).

As I cautiously and precariously balance on the foot that has been cleaned but is perilous in my wet slipper, I repeat the whole exercise with the second foot but now I have two wet feet to try to walk in slippery slippers! It’s so annoying to go through this palaver but fifty percent of the time the new shoe tried on is the wrong fit, and will have to be returned, and a second choice of order means going through this whole process again. Too often I’ve kept ill-fitting shoes in the hope that they’ll miraculously be more comfortable on another day!

If the new shoes do fit, and I’m not sending them back for a refund, I then need to clean the insides of them with an abundance of antibacterial spray and kitchen roll. To prevent damage, this entails me spraying liberally and then placing my foot into an envelope of kitchen paper before putting the shoes on, wriggling around, removing the foot and then peeling the wet kitchen roll off (which is inevitably in shreds by now) before putting my plastic slippers back on – this stage of the process tends to leave a trail of wet tissue behind me for the rest of the day.

Add to the above the fact that as I age, and have a tendency to fall over an unseen leaf on the pavement, the attractiveness and height of my heels has gone from wow to woah – bending down to do buckles or laces is hard now too – maybe large simple wellington boots is the answer, but not such a good look with an evening dress.

So as you’ll see from the images below shoes are now practical unfortunately and not the sort to be displayed on shelves in walk-in wardrobes, but hidden under a table. Being female and liking to buy shoes has shifted to the simpler method of buying handbags instead. They still need to be cleaned before use, but I don’t have the faff of trying them on.

High heels OCD
Display worthy high heel shoes worn in 1993
Practical shoes worn in 2015
Flat shoes worn in 2022 and hidden under the table