Hard as it may be to believe…Saudi Arabia is a shoe lovers paradise!
Accessories like shoes, bags and costume jewelry are BIG here! Much more important that what I recall them being in the US. I was never much of an accessories person, I liked a new bag now and then and usually only bought shoes when the 1-2-3 pairs I owned and loved started to wear out. I’d normally just buy sneakers, boots or flats which were in plain colors like black or brown and would hence go with basically everything in my closet. I had 1 pair of black heels for special occasions and i tended to focus my shopping on clothing and scarves.
Here though, things are entirely different! Since most women tend to wear utilitarian plain black abayaat and fairly simple shaylahs for everyday wear they splash out instead on shoes and bags to show the world their personality! I think the focuz on shoes and bags comes from the reality that most women are fairly restricted as to even what styles of abayaat they can wear! There are indeed families here which don’t want their women wearing anything with colored embroidery or designs on it and they can only wear plain black or black with black embroidery.
I think most westerners would be surprised as to the bags and shoes…especially shoes you’ll see women here wearing!
Its entirely common to see women entirely covered up with just their hands and eyes exposed wearing shoes which in the US would be considered extremely saucy/tarty, seductive and/or ahem…well, I shant go there! Many times Ive seen women who otherwise look very modest in mile-high blood red stilettos or hot pink 40’s style “pin-up girl” heels or metallic heeled sandals.
Essentially shoes which really, really gets one attention! If they are so attention getting and even women notice them, than I can only fathom the impression that men get when they see women entirely covered up, tottering around in such shoes. Couple this with the fact that abayaat which pop up the front are the norm and since the bottom popper tends to unpop while you walk, on-lookers do indeed, at times get a very good glance at these ladies “gams” (as said in old B&W films!).
But, attention getting, saucy heels aside… flats are also extremely popular and most women who dont go for the tarty heels tend to go instead for a pair of cute flats! Ive become such a person! Since I usually wear all plain black or black with a wee bit of color or embroidery Ive found that a pair of funky flats tends to liven things up a bit! Back in the US I rarely wore flats and usually if I did I had to buy the good, leather kind which fit well and were comfortable. Tender footed that I was.
But here, the good quality, leather shoes are extraordinarily expensive-like 3-4x the price in the USA and even Payless Shoe Source is very expensive-they up the price by almost double here! Being that I came here with ONE pair of sneakers I was seriously upset when I saw the cost of a decent pair of shoes! Now, while the good quality leather shoes are unrelentingly expensive…cheapo shoes are EVERYWHERE and many are extremely cute and actually relatively comfortable! Hence, Ive developed a bit of a shoe thing here…I am constantly buying a new pair of shoes. Granted they are the cheap kind, but Ive found that just because a pair of shoes are cheapo and not made of leather doesn’t immediately mean they wont be comfortable! Ive had several plastic/pleather/fabric shoes which were as comfortable and long wearing as some of the leather flats I had back in the US! And, Ive started to branch out and buy the funky printed flats which are so popular here!
…and well, nothing is cuter than pairing a pair of flats with a cute and unexpected print with a plain black abaya and shaylah.