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June 9th, 2010

Wearing shoes in Second Life, let alone wearing them well, is not only an art and a science but requires considerable intestinal  fortitude.

Have you ever zoomed in on the feet your avatar was born with? Really close? Try this sometime (If you are new to Second Life, use the blue camera/view controls HUD or (my preference) hold down ALT and CONTROL at the same time and then slowly and carefully move your mouse toward your feet.)  If you do, perhaps you'll come to the same conclusion as I: that our avatar feet were designed by a man, and one who by no means ever had a foot fetish. :/

A Pair of Standard Feet

Ho hum! Ordinary little female feet, default size 20. Note the natural slope of the ankle to the foot. As soon as you resize these to wear size 1 shoes, that disappears!

From a distance, I suppose, feet aren't too bad, they are overly tiny and narrow, but that can look kind of cute. Not very well-shaped or realistic but still, they look like feet and not like car tires. But zoom in really close and you'll see  gigantic ugly misshapen toenails  that are the leg's equivalent of buck teeth. 

Horror #1:  Our Toenails

Closeup of my toes.  They badly need a manicture...and some substance to dissolve the superglue between the toes!

Still, feet, as unrealistic as they are compared to the rest of the body, aren't that bad ...until you have to put on some shoes.  Then the true horrors begin.  Almost every pair of shoes that you wear in this place, except for some very old ones you can still get as freebies (flats, which are actually often not that bad) come with this grotesque torture device that makes  bastinado seem like a soft fluffy carpet: the shoe base.  (shudder) The things this little object does to our feet should have a PG rating for violence. Your toes aren't just chopped off by a shoe base, the tip of the foot is carved at both ends so what is left is a narrow point of flesh. Your heels get a similar carving and then the bone in your leg is pulled downard to form the "high" heel that you will soon be wearing. 

Horror #2:  A Shoe Base

A typical Second Life shoe base for female shoes. Lovely, isn't it?

There is a real-life equivalent to this (or there was, the women who have had this done are almost all dead now).  I speak of the old and mostly defunct Asian foot-wrapping practice, in which they broke the bones in the toes and forced them under the foot.  Here is a foot that has been wrapped for decades. Is it not unlike a Second Lie shoe base?

A Chinese "Wrapped" Foot

   Chinese woman's foot after years of binding         

Sigh. I suppose things could always be worse. I suppose some blind-as-a-bat convenience-minded geek could have come up with the "brilliant" idea to give all avatars feet with the shoe bases as permanent parts of our bodies, "so we wouldn't have the complications involved with all those various shoe parts." Thank god, geeks don't rule the world...yet.

But wait! This B-Movie isn't over with yet. There's still more. You finally put the shoes your avatar has suffered so terribly for on. And... if you are very lucky (or have a lot of money) they look... passable.  If it's a standard pair of shoes, they actually highlight and make totally apparent the ugliness of your toes, are so huge that that they dwarf your feet, making you look like you're wearing clown shoes, or look like very poorly designed horses' hooves.  In case you may not remember, this is the sort of  footwear that comes in those "60 Free Womens Stuffs!" boxes at Freebie stores everywhere. 

Horrors #3, #4, #5, and #6: Typical, Poorly Designed  Old-Style Shoes

Actually, these aren't so bad, except for the fact they are 3 sizes too large (if these were real, you'd turn your ankle in no time) and that they show the full ugly superglued toes.    Clown Shoe Version One: overly long, but what is most striking is how they grotesquely narrow the height of your natural foot.  From the sole of the shoe to the top of the foot in certain spots, I'd guess there's at most... half an inch of skin? 
Clown Shoe Version 2: Wicked Fairytale Stepmother Shoes, if ever I saw a pair!  These would definitely be left over if the rest of you melted away. :/   "Gaze Upon My Ugliness and Tremble!"  These are what I call Horse's Hooves. The rococo styling and blinding bling make a very bad thing much worse. :(

And virtually all pairs of shoes for some totally insane reason are designed to fit a size "1" foot.  Guess what? Unless you want bits of your monster-movie shoe base peeking out of the edges of the shoe or have other problems with fit, you need to go into Edit Appearance mode and change that nice normal ankle of yours from size 20, the size your avatar is born with, to size 1, so all pairs of shoes on SL will fit you.  But keep in mind that while the shoe base savagely chops the foot down to the right shape and while you can reduce its size so that this shoes fit, none of these manipulations affect your ankles, which were designed for a size 20 foot.  So what you end up with is grotesque ankle overhang:   

Horror #7: The Overhanging Cliff Ankle:

The jutting ankle bone is caused by having to make my feet a tiny size 1 so that they will fit into these gigantic-size shoes. Yep, that makes a lot of sense! :/

Why don't shoe designers make size 20 shoes?  I have no idea. Perhaps all the shoe templates they have to work from are size 1, due to some geek who did  have a shoe fetish?  Perhaps it's "just the way things are done?" Perhaps size 20 shoes look even worse on avatars than size 1's?  Who knows? All that we really know are that size 1 shoes are a deforming fact of Second Life life.

So far all I've been talking about are the standard shoes that newbies are faced with, shoes that probably cause many women to leave this virtual world in droves after their first few days here. There are better shoes out there, of several varieties. Let's talk about those types now.

Sandals: The Art of Concealment

Some conventional shoes are carefully designed to minimize the two ugliest flaws caused by the virtual foot/shoe situation: the ugly toenails and the cliff ankle.  Sandals, for example, come in many varieties. The best have purposefully narrowed toe holes, so only a relatively decent looking bit of deformed toe sticks out.  In addition, have you noticed how many of the nicer styles of shoes come with ankle straps? These straps, if they are well designed, go far in hiding the typical cliff ankle. But they aren't perfect.  A shoe's price, I have sadly learned is no guarantee that it is well designed this way.  It's always best with expensive shoes to try a demo first.  And if they don't offer a demo, and don't seem to have the toe and ankle concealers described here, I'd be very wary about buying them.  An almost dead giveaway that a shoe is going to look terrible when worn is when the beautifully designed advertisements for them do not show an actual foot in the shoe.  Total giveway. Do NOT buy that shoe, unless you want to use it's beautiful shape as a doorstop!

Good design in a Traditional Shoe

You don't want to walk down the runway in these, but they look decent from a distance. The red strap at the ankles distracts from the cliff effect. And the details on top pull your eye away from the toes.    These aren't so good with the ankle but they  illustrate the "Hide the Toes" trick. Only  a little bit of relatively inoffensive toe shows.


It's hard to go wrong with a boot: they completely cover up the two eyesores. But you can't wear boots with everything (they rather clash with evening gowns, particularly evening gowns being danced in--when your leg goes high in the air you don't want to give your dance partner a whiff of your smelly boot, do you?)  And they occasionally have their problems. The foot part of the boot is sometimes unrealistically large or grotesquely shaped. Boots often need a lot of editing and resizing to look right. The top part of the boot, a separate object from the shoe part, may be misaligned, too far to the left or to the right of the shoe. Or too far in front.  Skin may be peeking out of the leather in places. Adjustments take time and patience, and moving or sizing the upper often causes it to fit badly elsewhere.  The shoe part may be grotesquely large, a problem you see with many poorly-designed pumps.  Luckily, most boots come with resizing scripts and  also allow you to manually adjust their position on the foot or leg. Through careful sizing and positioning you can usually get it too look right--if worn with the right outfit. Boots will not work over most pants, for example.  The pant fabric will show through unless the pants are more like leggings, with a skin-tight fit around the ankle.

Boots cover up all the problems. :) But they get a little hot and sticky in the summertime.     Even ankle boots allow you to imagine there are goregous feet inside of them.   Historical Boots! These are so ancient, they are just one object--a shoe base. And they don't look half bad--particularly with my Jimi Hendrix hat.


I haven't actually figured out the art and science of buying a good pump. They all look great...until the get on my feet. :/ The pointed toed ones often make a single foot look like it is two feet long. Anyone want to offer me a few tips?  Actually I did find one pair I liked...but you can't wear retro all of the time:

Good Pumps

These are pretty. Not as nice as the sculpted feet sandles, but pretty in their own way.

Bad Pumps

These looked great in the store and they cost me a pretty penny (although they were careful not to show any models wearing them. Get them home, try them on, and ARGH!  What is it with the huge width? It ruins the look of the shoe. :(

A Trick for Pumps

I thought of this one myself, but I'm sure it has occurred to others  before. To minimize the ugly cliff ankle, particularly in dresses that show the ankles but which you wish to wear a pair of stilletos with, lace stockings, particularly lace stockings with a little bit of frill at the ankles do wonders. For the dress depicted below, I decided on black lace ankle socks because (a) I could not find full panty hose (waist to feet) in lace in a five minute search and  (b) the typical start at ankle/end at mid-thigh stockings clashed badly with my glitch pants (imagine wearing a pair of those in real life over red silk pants). The anklets seemed a perfect solution. The anklets can be purchased from Creative Kaoz Designs.  The fancy pumps, which come in several colors, are called "My First Stiletto" or "Finchy: First Stiletto"  and I purchased them on the second floor of Anastasia Magic's  Studio Nail store.  

Tip:  If you decide to buy some of her lovely nails and you've followed all instructions and they still don't seem to fit right, it's due to a viewer bug. Logging off and logging back on  fixes the problem.

Above-Ankle Dress: Plain

How ankles look when exposed in a long dress.

Above Ankle Dress: With Lace Stockings

Lace or pattened stockings distract attention from the cliff ankle.

Above Ankle Dress: Lace stockings and flexi frills

Even Better: the frills that came with these anklets totally hid the little problem.

Sculpted Foot Sandals

When you see a woman with a really nice looking, shapely foot in a sandal, it's a sculpted foot. These shoes are wonderful.  They look gorgeous on one's feet. The way they work is that the hide your regular feet (the technique varies depending upon which viewer you are using) and replace them with cute, perfectly formed feet in shoes. It's not perfect, particularly in viewer 1.x: you sometimes have to adjust the invisible parts so they cover up your old feet which peep out, but they're miles above any other type of shoe, IMO. They come with HUDs or scripts that let you easily change the foot color to match your leg, change your toenail color, change decorations on the shoes, and sometimes even change the shoe leather color. Options vary, so read the descriptions of the shoes carefully, or better yet, demo a pair that allows you to play with the HUD.

Some Lovely Sculpted Foot Shoes

I don't remember the brand, but they're good. They give you 60 Million shoe leather colors as well as skin colors.

Ncore Infinity

Digit Darke's Lotus Heel

This type of shoe used to be very expensive, and some places still try to convince you to  pay huge amounts for them. But you can get the very inexpensively these days, either on the SLexchange website or inworld. Here's a pair from Aniri's Boutique  that were about  $50.00:

This pair is in Aniri's Boutique.

Of course, If money is no object, many couture or high-end clothing stores sell fine-looking shoes. A very popular shoe brand in this genre is N-Core Infinity (the black pair, above).  Get them at their main store.

Sculpted Feet

The whole sculpted shoes business took off after somebody very talented designed a pair of sculpted bare feet. Such feet are very nice to own for days at the beach or casual island-wear. Unfortunately you cannot wear standard foot jewelry with them, but I'm sure some versions must come with the foot jewelry pre-attached.

Finally, I wanted to share with you this ancient, hideous, one-piece shoe, perhaps even the very first shoe ever worn in this Brave New Virtuality. I have dozens of these gorgeous things inside my freebie folders, which, after 3 years, I have not yet had the heart to sort through. When I eventually clean house, I think I may save just one pair of these, just like I am saving certain loopy old hairstyles, just because it's ...history. :)

Ancient History Shoe

Welcome to my Blog!

On Second Life, I am on a budget. I cannot buy 1/10th of the things I see that I'd like to wear. Often, when I visit a store, no matter how much I like their wares, I can only afford one or two things. So I try to make those things count. This blog describes my endeavors to do so.

Each dress or outfit displayed is one I picked out myself and was my favorite of this designer's or of the store's when I visited it. All models in the photos are me. Yes, they sometimes look different; I like variety. :)

About the photos:
Unretouched, unshopped. I like natural virtual light (not to mention oxymorons!) and discovering ways to look good in it. :) The images are cropped a bit, and some have a border when their colors blend too much into the page background.

To other bloggers, online magazines, vendors, etcetera:

Reciporcal link exchanges are welcomed from similar sites or if yours seems relevant in some way to the theme of virtual fashion and/or Second Life. The key here is reciporcal:)


me, hippie


July 2010
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