“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”
This quote is known by Marilyn Monroe. And, allegedly, also Bette Middler was a fan of it.
PlusPerfekt talked to an inspiring woman, who would definitely agree to this quote. She’s got three shelves for her total of 143 pairs of shoes. But actually words are her greatest passion. Katja Schleicher is KeyNote-speaker and trainer for communication. She’s an expert for the perfect appearance and knows why shoes are a matter of the head and how standing and walking are influencing our thinking and acting.
Which shoes are you wearing right know?
Katja Schleicher: The Cinega ankle boot by Jeffrey Campbell in dusky pink velvet and with a 5 cm block heel. I’m going to travel today and these shoes are not only suitable for business but also for the airport. In my luggage I also have green leather pumps with 7 cm heels by Kaviar Gauche, as well as neon coloured running shoes.
Shoes are worn on the feet. Why do you say that shoes are a matter of the head?
Katja Schleicher: It begins with our most important nerves and meridians, that start in the soles of our feet and reach all the way up to the head. Moreover shoes are the only piece of clothing, that can always be seen completely by the one who is wearing it. If we decide on the right pair, it can increase our self-confidence extremely. We ourselves can observe that we are looking amazing and do not have to rely solely on judgements of others. But careful: This can switch to the opposite if the shoe looks cheap, doesn’t fit the outfit etc.
Shoes support us in being mobile and flexible. A shoe, that doesn’t fit correctly or that has been bought as a compromise, will cause that we will prefer to stay seated rather than standing. This has a very negative effect: for metabolism and for our own visibility. Because of that every choice gets smaller. Shoes are responsible for the right hold and fast moving. It’s the basis that helps us to realize the plans we made in our heads and further to reach our goals.
Is this a specifically female thing or do men feel similarly?
Katja Schleicher: Women have so much more choice with clothing and of course, with shoes. There’s a great range of possibilities to express yourself. But besides that, there’s also the obligation to decide for one model for every occasion. Because of the smaller variation it’s a bit easier for men. In exchange women can impress immensely with the right pair of shoes.
High heels are beautiful to look at but mostly uncomfortable. Is it possible to conquer the world in uncomfortable shoes?
Katja Schleicher: The world can be conquered with the right amount of mental and physical tension as well as the right attention. You won’t get very far in uncomfortable shoes. But neither in comfy and fluffy slippers. They make us lazy. The right shoe for daily world conquests is the one, that is both mean of transportation and eye-catcher.
The truth is: High heels never are as comfortable as sneakers. But between comfy and painful there’s a great range. An important aspect for world domination: Keep changing. No shoe should be worn longer than six hours. Otherwise always the same muscles and sinews in the foot, calf and thigh will be strained. This routine can be avoided by having at least one pair of shoes to change within reach.
It’s best to also change the height of the heel. From 3 to 5 cm and vice versa already makes a great difference. But also different toe and heel caps or a switch between open and closed shoes give the feet much needed space to unfold.
Little hint: Especially with stiletto heels producers often save money with the material. They often use a cheap and ugly beige mass of plastic. It’s not possible to walk in these. So it’s better to bring them to a trusted shoemaker and let them be switched with a thicker heel made of hard rubber. And all at once it’s like walking on the clouds…
(Usually) We are making decisions with our head. Sometimes according to our instincts. Does footwear influence our decisions? Should we wear comfortable shoes at difficult decisions?
Katja Schleicher: When I have to deal with the pain signals of my body it hinders me in concentrating on important decisions. It’s an obstacle in every case. Because of that pain our instinct is on “mute” and the body is busy with fighting against it. By the way this is the same with headaches as well as blistered feet. Therefore the perfect fit of the shoe is the most important criterion. No matter if flat or 9 cm.
I’m sure that on high heels rather magnanimous, generous and proud decisions are being made. Leaving the room with the head held high makes a great difference to “running away”. High heels rather convey the feeling of having a high status (that always owns space and time). Flat, silent shoes have other advantages… Everyone, who has ever organized an event on heels and had to run from one thing to another, knows what I’m talking about …
Naturally high heels slow things down … Instead of starting to run to get the bus, you keep walking slowly while checking per app when the next one will arrive.
If the heels are higher than 9 cm and the shoe isn’t designed and produced very well, the upper edge of the toe cap is often tilted forward too much. The consequence: You’ll have a raised standing, but the weight is centered too much on the ball of the foot. This causes the impression of wanting something but not being able to deliver. This is sending the wrong signal in body posture and walking. So, when buying heels over 9 cm you should definitely make sure that the foot is holding your weight evenly. This also lowers the risk of getting blisters and pressure marks.
When you have to be fast and flexible, flat shoes certainly are a good choice. On heels you proverbially will come to a decision in a moderate walk. Running away is harder. At least, that is the notion saved in our brain. Another reason why shoes are a matter of the head. Also the thickness and stability of the sole are important. Ballerina shoes with very thin soles always convey something nervous and fleeting. So it’s possible that your decisions will seem less trustworthy. It can be quite useful to appear in biker boots if you really don’t want to be put off your stride. In boots like these tiny steps aren’t even possible.
Katja Schleicher leads IMPACT! Communication Coaching, a pan-European oriented office for trainings with focus on communication coaching, public speaking training & business storytelling.
Words, their meaning and how they are “reaching” the audience are her passion and business model. In this exact order. That’s why she studied talking and writing. After 20 years in marketing, advertising, TV and corporate communications for high-tech-companies, she is now doing her programs about (intercultural) communicative shallows and misunderstandings on stages all over Europe for more than ten years.
Topics of her programs
The perfect appearance: Why shoes are a matter of the head
Male and female language: How genders (can) lovingly get closer through language
Winning people through powerful stories: Why storytelling makes the difference between winners and losers for companies.
Being Miss Understanding – intercultural communication as a key to diversity and inclusion
Last but not least
Katja Schleicher designes shoes. Her current favorite designer is the American Sarah Flint.