Do You Need Help Wearing in Your New Shoes?
The Queen Does
Not long ago I read a fascinating article about life at Buckingham Palace and the important role of Angela Kelly, who had been employed as the Queen’s personal assistant and senior dresser. Angela was responsible for organizing the Queen’s clothes, planning what she should wear at different events and actually also designed clothing for Her Majesty. It was Angela’s job to help choose suitable jewellery to go with the Queen’s outfits, and by all accounts the two became good friends.
In 2019, Angela wrote a book called ‘the Other Side of the Coin : the Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe,’ in which she documented much of her daily routines and the challenges of working with royalty.
But the most extraordinary revelation was that as part of Angela’s job, she was obliged to ‘wear in’ the Queen’s new shoes. Obviously, her feet were identical in size to those of the Queen, and I am not sure how long she needed to wear the shoes until they were deemed appropriately worn in foe the Queen. Perhaps that information might be available in Angela’s book.
Attending and officiating at Royal events and formal meetings with foreign dignitaries requires the Queen to stand for significant periods of time. With her advanced age, her shoes needed to be reliable, smart, comfortable and with only a small heel. You never see the Queen wearing stilettos for example.
What Angela was able to do was to provide the Queen with total reliability and confidence in her footwear. If the soles were too slippy, Angela would have them changed. There would be no uncomfortable blisters on the Queen’s feet after a long period of standing or walking the length of the corridors ( and the corridors in Buckingham Palace are very long!).
We all know how the leather of new shoes can be a bit too stiff and takes time to become supple and mould itself to our foot shape. It is seldom that when trying on a shoe in a shoe store, we find the shoe to be absolutely perfect. We make a judgement about how the shoe might feel after we have worn them for some time. Sometimes we get it wrong. Those beautiful Jimmy Choos that we fell in love with are not quite so amazing when we teeter about on heels that are really too high to manage. I doubt there is a woman reading this who doesn’t have a pair of shoes at the back of the wardrobe which were bought out of love but proved impossible to wear.
What if we had someone to wear them in for us? Never again would we turn up at a wedding in new shoes, and have to take them off in the church because our feet have already started to protest before we even get to the reception.
I wrote previously about my walking boots, which were in fact worn in by my daughter. They remain the most comfortable walking boots I have ever owned. You can read about them here.
Perhaps we could have a bank of shoe ‘wearer inners’ attached to shoe stores. For a small fee they could wear in the new shoes over a specified number of hours.
It would provide work for people with all sorts of different sized feet in this time of huge unemployment. That’s another take on diversity, and we could all learn something from walking in someone else’s shoes.