Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us

Written by Rachelle Bergstein
Review by Monica E. Spence

Women (and some men) love shoes; they speak to us. In the last 100 years, certain shoes have become iconic, symbolizing eras in history. Think of Dorothy’s Ruby slippers and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Manolo Blahnik stilettos, and you get a hint of the power of shoes. In her book, Rachelle Bergstein identifies, codifies, organizes, and explains, in a laypersons terms, the sociological and psychological hold shoes have over us.

Starting with the great 20th-century shoe designer Salvatore Feragamo and moving to the seemingly recession-proof shoe industry of the early 21st century, Bergstein takes us through the high and low points of each decade, the style tribes and the celebrities who have increased our awareness and our respect for once lowly footwear, and put shoes on the proverbial pedestal. Her humor and pithy analysis give the reader an insight into history, society and the movers and shakers behind the styles.

A fascinating book, filled with unexpected gems. I recommend slipping on your favorite pair of Jimmy Choos, grabbing a sugar-free mocha latte, and sitting back for a fabulous, informative and entertaining read. Recommended highly.