Meet Britain’s most well-heeled women: Meet shoe addicts giving Imelda Marcos a run for her money

The higher the heel, the closer to heaven, but for British women it seems it’s not just inches that are important when it comes to shoes but quantity, too.

This month, research showed one in eight women owns more than 100 pairs while the average buyer is estimated to have 30 to 35 pairs of shoes, spending £90 a pop.

The poll of more than 2,000 women, by Shoeaholics.com, also revealed sales of towering stilettos have risen and the average heel height has jumped to four inches.

Although their wardrobes aren’t quite as bulging as former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos — who reputedly had 3,000 pairs — here, five shoe addicts display their footwear collections and tell GIULIA CROUCH why they mean so much…

Kate Sutton, 34, a set designer from Hackney, London, says she always makes 'shoe contact' before 'eye contact' as she believes shoes can tell you a lot about a person

Kate Sutton, 34, a set designer from Hackney, London, says she always makes 'shoe contact' before 'eye contact' as she believes shoes can tell you a lot about a person

Kate Sutton, 34, a set designer from Hackney, London, says she always makes ‘shoe contact’ before ‘eye contact’ as she believes shoes can tell you a lot about a person 

Kate Sutton, 34, is a set designer from Hackney, London.

100 pairs

Cheapest: £2.50

DEAREST: £300

Total cost: £3,500

She says: ‘I could tell you ten things about someone from their shoes — their taste in music, their lifestyle.

‘I’m 5ft 7in so don’t need extra height but I love how heels give you that strut — they allow you to make an entrance.

‘My grandmother said a woman can’t have too many shoes, and she had an impressive collection I used to try on when we visited.

Now that I’m an adult I feel I’m living my little girl dream — it’s like having a massive dressing-up box.

At the moment I love burlesque-style heels but I’ve been through all kinds of phases. 

Shoes are connected to memories and my collection reminds me of the different times in my life. The first pair that really made an impact on me were electric blue heels I bought aged 16. They had comic-strip print on them and were unique. 

‘I still love eye-catching designs and bought a pair of lime green heels with flowers on them in lockdown. I couldn’t wear them out anywhere but they made me happy.

‘To relax, I look for shoes online and love getting designer bargains. I used to work at Jimmy Choo but I’m a believer in recycling.’ 

Laurel Hunter, 47, is a stylist living at her parents’ and boyfriend’s homes in London, believes your shows can either make or break an outfit

Laurel Hunter, 47, is a stylist living at her parents’ and boyfriend’s homes in London, believes your shows can either make or break an outfit

Laurel Hunter, 47, is a stylist living at her parents’ and boyfriend’s homes in London, believes your shows can either make or break an outfit 

Laurel Hunter, 47, is a stylist living at her parents’ and boyfriend’s homes in London. 

100 pairs

Cheapest: £45

DEAREST: £1,500

Total cost: £25,000

She says: ‘I believe shoes can make or break an outfit. People focus on their dress, make-up and hair and see shoes as an afterthought, but they can destroy a look.

‘I often look at the red carpet, see the beautiful gowns and then think: what are you wearing on your feet?

‘When shopping for shoes, the first thing that catches my eye is the colour, then the quality. The last thing I look at is the price, which should, perhaps, be the first.

‘I gravitate towards designers such as Sophia Webster and Chloe. I don’t have to buy designer but I think spending money on shoes is worth it — you’re on your feet a lot and need to be comfortable. Invest in quality shoes and coats and everything in between doesn’t have to be expensive.

‘I’ve been known to compliment strangers on their shoes. A great pair makes you feel good and heels with jeans can elevate the look.

‘My partner says the shoes I want look like ones I already have, but if I can see the difference I don’t mind. My mum has always worn quality shoes and as I got older I realised I liked certain things and the only way I’d get them was to work and buy them myself.

Catherine Baudino, 68, is a widowed life-coach and lives in Westminster

Catherine Baudino, 68, is a widowed life-coach and lives in Westminster

Catherine Baudino, 68, is a widowed life-coach and lives in Westminster

Catherine Baudino, 68, is a widowed life-coach and lives in Westminster. 

200 pairs

Cheapest: £60

DEAREST: £1,000

Total cost: £20,000

She says: ‘My mother was French and stylish. Her shoes were always designer and I learnt from a young age about the importance of co-ordination — one thing must match another. As with a handbag, as with your jewellery, your shoes must go with your outfit.

‘Shoes don’t complete an outfit, they’re an intrinsic part of it. I was five when I got the first pair I loved — red pumps. I still remember their impact on me.

‘When I got older, I bought my first designer pair. They were navy blue heels by Charles Jourdan, the same brand I wore for my wedding when I was 40. They just exposed the crease of my toes which may be seen as sexy. They are a classic look and I still wear them.

‘My mother wore heels every day and so do I. They make your legs look better and improve your posture, they enhance your presence. You don’t have to wear stilettos — I’m not a ‘car-to-bar’ girl and believe you should be able to walk in heels.

‘My collection has taken a lifetime to amass. I have 100 in my bedroom and the same in the cellar. They are colour-coded in transparent boxes and rotated seasonally. 

‘Three years ago, I bought some £500 black Louboutins I really love and wear to nice evening-dos. And now I’ve got my eye on some lovely Jimmy Choos.’

Amanda Richman, 54, is a hairdresser, living in Milton Keynes with her Shih-Poo dog, Gracie

Amanda Richman, 54, is a hairdresser, living in Milton Keynes with her Shih-Poo dog, Gracie

Amanda Richman, 54, is a hairdresser, living in Milton Keynes with her Shih-Poo dog, Gracie

Amanda Richman, 54, is a hairdresser — and Claudia’s housemate — living in Milton Keynes with her Shih-Poo dog, Gracie. 

200 pairs

Cheapest: £19.99

DEAREST: £980

Total cost: £50,000   

She says: ‘I love designer shoes and buy a new pair every three months. They’re better made and last longer than cheaper shoes. I’ve probably spent about £20,000 on designer shoes and I know that’s obscene but I love them and wouldn’t buy them if I couldn’t afford it.

‘I have tiny feet — size three — so I can buy from sample sales.

‘My mum is the same and I used to try on her heels when I was four. I remember being in the car once with my brother and sister when my dad pulled over so my mother could look in a shoe shop. I wound down the window and stuck my head out to get a better look — that’s how much I love shoes.

‘The first pair I adored were a very high pair of denim wedges I bought, aged 14, using money from my job as a sweeper in a hair salon. I felt the bees’ knees in them and wore them everywhere. Now, I’m a hairdresser and still wear heels all the time.

‘When I was 21, I started buying designer shoes — Gucci, Dior. I have eight pairs of Louboutins. I also have a walk-in wardrobe just for my shoes organised by brand. I lost my husband, David, to cancer ten years ago. He didn’t mind my shoe obsession at all and used to buy me beautiful pairs.

‘We got married on a beach in the Cayman Islands in 1994 and I wore cream Jimmy Choos to match my gown. Sadly, they were stained on the beach and I had to throw them away, but I still have my dress.

‘If I feel down, I look at my shoes to cheer me up. I’m like Carrie from Sex And The City, but I don’t own any Manolo.’

Claudia Valentin, 45, is a luxury goods expert with houses in London and Milton Keynes

Claudia Valentin, 45, is a luxury goods expert with houses in London and Milton Keynes

Claudia Valentin, 45, is a luxury goods expert with houses in London and Milton Keynes

Claudia Valentin, 45, is a luxury goods expert with houses in London and Milton Keynes. 

200 pairs

Cheapest: £20

DEAREST: £785

Total cost: £25,000  

She says: ‘I look for the wow factor when it comes to shoes. I want them to look sexy and glamorous, but also feel good because I love dancing. I’m always the last one on the dancefloor so I need my heels to be half-sensible, but they never really are.

‘I hardly wear flat shoes and my friends laugh at me because even on the beach I’ll be in wedges. But heels make me feel tall and powerful and give me that glamorous feeling.

‘My love affair with shoes started with my mum and aunts. They’re Sicilian so it was all shoes and handbags. My mum had drawers of shoes under her bed and as a three-year-old I used to trot about in them.

‘She had this one pair that stuck in my mind: amazing, orange, suede, platform high-heeled sandals that were so high she couldn’t walk. I couldn’t wait to grow up so they’d fit me.

‘When I got older I realised I was like my mum as I couldn’t go into town without coming back with a new pair.

‘I was 19 when I bought my first designer pair; bronze, strappy Dolce & Gabbana heels for £400. I don’t know where they are now but they were beautiful. I was working as a hairdresser and had to save up for weeks so that I could afford them.

‘I love small boutiques as well as designer brands and recently in Palermo, in Sicily, I bought the most magnificent pair of gold, shiny, high-heeled sandals with a platform sole. I wore them to my friend’s wedding which was in a castle there, teaming them with a navy dress with champagne-coloured roses on it.

‘One of the things that I love most about good quality shoes is the lovely, new, leather smell of them. It’s just gorgeous.’

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