Oxfords, Docs,

Converse, crocs.

Peep toes, pumps,

Mary Janes, clogs.

Jellies, Wellies,

Combats, Chucks.

Manolos, Maddens,

Sandals, stilettos.

Kitten heels, mules,

Birks and wedges.

A new study reveals that our soles are the window to our souls; these tongues do tell.

The research finds that you can judge 90 percent of a stranger's personality just by the shoes the person is wearing. In the study, a range of detailed demographic traits, including age, income, political affiliation, and emotional stability, were guessed from the wearer's shoes. As the researchers explained in the Journal of Research in Personality, "Shoes serve a practical purpose, and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages. People tend to pay attention to the shoes they and others wear." According to the study, my shoes would reveal me as extroverted, aggressive, and conscientious, but not calm or agreeable. Hmmm. Maybe so.

At any rate, I was surprised to learn recently that a study conducted last year found that the average American woman owns 17 pairs of shoes.

17 pairs.

That's all?

I'm not exactly Imelda Marcos, but if you consider my various roles—professor, stall mucker, runner, rider, and regular person—then multiply that by four seasons, well, you do the math: I need a lot of different foot coverings. Even so, I have far more than I need—and yet still have a wandering eye. I can't even try to rationalize it. But still, I am curious about why something that so clearly serves an essential function (barefoot advocates notwithstanding), pleases so much through such variety in its forms.

It's not all pleasure, though. We shoe lovers apparently withstand a fair amount of pain for our shoe obsession: that same study from last year showed that ...

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