Tuesday, January 29, 2013

High Heel Horror Story

My mother-in-law tells me that in the mid 1950s, students in her home economics class were taught to walk in heels.  While this seems very old-fashioned, it is also kind of sweet.



But these were kinder times and the heels that these girls were taught to walk in were 2 or 3 inches high. 

And then the 1970s came, and many women put away the heels. I came of age in the 70s and no one was wearing heels that I hung out with - we were reading MS magazine and wearing sensible shoes.  Oh sure, the disco era came and went but I wore little chinese shiny slippers, never learning to walk in high heels and always thinking I looked stupid trying to do so.  And so, I never went above 3" heels (and 3" was considered high by me!)

And then a few years ago, I saw heels get higher and higher and higher...

It started innocently enough - what would have been a mid-heel, topped up with a little platform:


Even schmucks like me could do it...

But then they went higher, so high that the wearer actually needed an oxygen mask:

 


Now don't think I am simply a whiner because I cannot wear these myself.

But here's the rub: every stylist in Hollywood is putting every actress into these shoes.  But they have forgotten one crucial thing: they have forgotten that many of these poor women are like me: they can't do the high heels.  Or even worse: they can wear the heels, but they have no idea how to walk gracefully in them.

Since it is Hollywood Award season, I have gotten plenty of opportunity to see this in action - A list actresses struggling to walk the red carpet, unable to walk up little stairs. 

A couple of weeks back, I saw the spunky Lea Dunham, she of the much bellyhooed show, Girls, all gussied up for the Golden Globes.


Now this girl is sweet.  And exuberant.  I haven't seen her show, but when I saw her unbridled excitement when she won, I couldn't help but like her!  But when I saw her get up and walk across the room I was horrified.  She did not know how to walk in heels and even worse, her stylist had completely ignored that fact and put her in shoes that were not possible for her to walk in.  She lurched across the room.  She lurched up the stairs to receive her award.  She lurched acoss the stage afterwards.

So I ask:  whatever happened to the kitten heel?  What ever happened to the mid-heel?  Where is Sofia Coppola in her ballet flats?  Must every stylist in Hollywood torture these actresses by placing them in 6" heels?

I say: stop the madness!  These are long dresses.  If fitted well and hemmed properly, a smaller heel can be worn without anyone being any the wiser.  If you are 5'2", is it not exciting enough to be 5'4"?  Must you be 5'8"?

What do you think?  Do you think these heels are getting over the top, too or am I just a cranky old 50 year old with flat feet?  Okay - wait - I am the latter regardless, so don't answer that question!!

 So happy Tuesday!  And for you lovely ladies who can wear these high heels: I salute you!!

Have a happy day and stay safe out there!

55 comments:

  1. As far as I am concerned, the taller I can be, the better. I have some 5 inch heels, but that's with a platform 1/2 inch high. That's as far as I am willing to go without risking ankle injuries.

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    1. Rose - you must have high arches and a good strong back to wear 4.5 inch heels! I am impressed!

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  2. I am in the camp with WMM. Here in Paris, I see women who sacrifice safety and well-being in the name of fashion every single day. It's not easy to sport a 5 inch platform just walking across an awards stage. Try doing it while navigating cobblestone, avoiding dog poo and dealing with slippery sidewalks. Some do it well, some do not, but they always look pained and miserable. I stick to my nice wedges which are under 3" but still give me a lift. Summer, it's ballet flats every day. Wish I could get away with cute sandals but here in the city it is just too dirty.

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    1. HI Robin! i didn't even think of cobblestones or bricks, like on our downtown sidewalks. I always have flat shoes or boots at the office to "walk out in" at lunchtime, as I just can't do it. I am like you - for every woman who is walking confidently in her very high heels (like Rose above), there are 9 more who are mincing along and looking very low indeed!

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    2. Robin, that's such a true visual. I no longer have patience to pick, mince and hobble my way around either.

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  3. I am in the camp with WMM. Here in Paris, I see women who sacrifice safety and well-being in the name of fashion every single day. It's not easy to sport a 5 inch platform just walking across an awards stage. Try doing it while navigating cobblestone, avoiding dog poo and dealing with slippery sidewalks. Some do it well, some do not, but they always look pained and miserable. I stick to my nice wedges which are under 3" but still give me a lift. Summer, it's ballet flats every day. Wish I could get away with cute sandals but here in the city it is just too dirty.

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  4. I always wear heels,i just dont feel myself without them.
    My favorite height for heels is 3",but i can go higher(for a night out).

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    1. Hi Ina - my favourite heel is 2.5", but I can go as far as 3" and then cry uncle! How did you learn to walk properly in those high heels? Just practise?

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    2. I never had a problem with heels,dont know why.
      People here always stare because everybody wears flats,because of the uneven cobblestone streets and a lot of woman are not very feminin(aka sloppy).
      I have learned to live with it:)

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  5. Hello WMM! I've missed so many conversations!

    Like you, I am also 5'2" maybe a tad taller. For the longest time, I said 2.5" heels were good and 3" only if the shoes could not be resisted. But for some reason last year, I was able to go 3.5" without too much trouble IF I'm not mostly on my feet. I cannot and will not go higher, even with platforms. I recall visiting Vegas where all the young women going to night clubs wore strapless minis they were constantly hitching up and pulling down to keep themselve from overexposing. And sky high heels. After a couple hours, most of them were carrying their shoes. One girl left via a wheelchair and yep, one foot was bare and the girl had single shoe in hand.

    Remember when I wrote about tradeshow shoes? I've been writing (in my mind only) another post about what makes good shoes. There are other good ones but since you were just talking about them, Chie Mihara midheels (approx. 2.3") are very, very good. I'm about to show off a pair. ;)

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    1. Is it just me that thinks shoe makers are almost "daring" each other to go higher and less sturdy? I see those poor runway models and I can week!

      The only 3.5" heels I have are from Talbots and they have a 1/2 inch platform. They are for a party. Don't ask me to walk more than 1/2 a block to the party! Which makes me think that maybe I could do these if I could be carried by a bunch of young men on a litter?

      Ohh - I can't wait to see your chies - as you know - they are on my "maybe" list and I am dying to try on a pair to see what all the fuss is about. I trust you all on these and am anxious to see!

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  6. Happy Tuesday!

    I don't like those super high heels. The platform in the front gives them such an odd silhouette and I don't find them flattering. And then, the walking issue!

    There was an article in December in...Vogue? British Vogue? I can't remember, I had some long flights and did some good magazine reading. Anyway, the article was all about how smaller heels are coming "back" and that those vertiginous ones are not all that flattering.

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    1. HI Abby - I agree on their attractiveness. I think that some of these platforms look quite clunky. I am hopeful that the 2.5" heel comes back in style!

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  7. I love seeing Elle Macpherson out at events in a long gown and flats, I think it looks so chic.
    I only wear heels when I'm going out at night, now I like to stick to 3 inches but I can manage 4 in Manolo's as they are so well balanced.

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    1. I have never had a pair of Manolas on - I always wondered if really expenive heels made those heights easier to walk, but I guess is depends on the person - I saw an interview with Oprah once she were says she has to carry her Louboutin's to the stage - can't want more than 5 feet at a time in the them!

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    2. SHOE IN Another shorty who likes her heels. Like Robin, a big fan of platforms (sometimes even when no guests I wear in-house just to see what kitchen counter, cupboards are like at "standard" height.) But otherwise, sidewalks here are terrible (girl's being supported by friends as they limp to our local downtown ER, no kidding), ditto drainage. Also, the DH is a strider. I had to abandon real heels 80% of the time ages ago. Actually get excited when I am based in an office or going to any event, household without the troublesome Canadian (?) "shoes off at door" rule. Glad to read Manolos are worth price, wanted specific Jimmy Choos for wedding, but build quality (glue etc.) was disappointing.
      Oh, and the most ridiculous non-runway shoe-wearer of recent memory has to be Victoria Beckham, unless she gets in a pump-up with Snookie.

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    3. BTW WMM, I think someone should re-start a "Deportment Class" for some arriving starlets. Not old school, own good. In addition to heels glide, don't chaw gum on camera, keep fiddling with top of dress etc. They do show some how to deal with step & repeat, would be an easy add-on. Not a fan of her as an actress, but you can tell Julianne Hough was a dancer first, always looks composed, still, graceful in spotlight.

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    4. Hey GF - great points! Again - you must have higher arches than i do, lucky girl! My feet are flat, flat, flat!

      I am with you on whole deportment issue! You can see some of them glide along (like my favourite Marion Cotillard) and others clomping along. Not pretty at all!

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    5. WMM, then again, I also think someone should start a Jamie O. life lessons cooking class and Money 101. I know parents and kids are busy these days, but I'm still amazed how many younger gal pals have no idea (but a craving) to make non-micro food or have never created a simple budget. The Calaphon (cookware co.) classes across street from me in condo land are usually packed.

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    6. Oh, and just in case you think I'm a throwback, also think the 65+ market deserve better IT 101 computer classes. Can you tell I want to open an institute?

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    7. That would be a great institute!

      Condoland = you are in T.O.? Every time I am back, I am amazed by the number of new condos since my last visit.

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    8. GF - we could do that! I am working at teaching my kids that stuff. I really struggled with that myself when I was young - my mother was not domestic at all and I am self-taught. Really. My mother's whole side of the family does not have a domestic or cleaning bone in their body. Thank God - I take after my dad's side - my father's mother (who died when I was very young) had a fine arts degree from Mount A in the 19-teens and could do ANYTHING! Greta cook, gardener, etc, etc. You don't know how many times I wished she was alive when I was growing up!

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    9. Yes, Abby, right downtown opposite Rogers Centre. (Admit to overcompensating having lived in remote resort areas across Canada when first moved back.) It is shocking to see how much the core and skyline have transformed in past 7 years we have been here steadily. I am glad to have more neighbours. But truly lament the utter lack of urban planning (city has finally just hired a new head of this). And think all the 500 sq. ft. boxes are a mistake - this is not NYC.

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    10. GF did you see Reggie Darlings post on taking shoes off at the door? So true and so charming too.

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    11. GF, I agree with you on the urban planning, and I'm glad to hear they've hired somebody on now.

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    12. I keep thinking they need our GF! She would get them in order ASAP. Alas, she could never work for the mayor..

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    13. My husband (who is not Canadian) says, why does Toronto have such a bad mayor?

      Then I tried to describe Lastman too.

      Sigh.

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    14. ABby - that is too funny!

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    15. GF-- will volunteer as Visiting Preofessor in your institute.

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  8. I love heels, but I won't go over 4 inches. I have a pair of 5 inches, but I only wear those for a fun evening out. I always wear regular shoes and switch into higher heels. Wedges are my favorite - easy to wear and give great height. I think the key is to find a brand that works for you. A good quality leather shoe is easier to wear. I love shoes, what can I say:)
    I really dislike kitten heels. I find the look very unattractive.

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    1. Hi A! I think you are right re: finding right shoe for your foot! It's like those 3" sparkly pliners I bought last fall - like butter when I put on my feet!

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  9. I don't do heels very often, but I do like some extra height. I'm 5'4" and just the little extra height I get from my Dansko clogs helps me see things better. I always feel like I can't see enough at my height in flats. It really makes a difference to have that bit of extra height. I don't feel the same way when I'm in heels, though. Any confidence I gain from the extra height is negated by inability to walk well in even low heels. I have to be very careful when I'm wearing my J Crew Valentinas, pathetic but true! I like my platform sandals, though. The key for me isn't the height but I think it's the heel itself. If it is spiky, it is challenging for me. I was like this before I developed my knee problem. I guess it's a balance problem, all in all. I'm thrown off balance if I'm pitched forward too much in my shoes.

    I wanted to like the Girls series but I just didn't. I gave it about 5 episodes before I threw in the towel.

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    1. Hi Cate - well I just may avoid Girls and enjoy spunky Lena from afar! I think for me, sturdiness is the key, just like you said!

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  10. Had my first pair of heels at 13...they were Candies. I loved them. Heels for me. If I am going high I tend towards Stuart W, they just fit my feet and are the most comfortable. I do agree with A. Kitten heels are fine with pants but no better looking than a flat with dress/skirt. Like Chie and Miss L Fire for daily wear heels. I do find some sky high heels almost a work of art but I won't go higher than 4" unless platform or wedge...love the wedges.

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    1. Hey BB! I loved Candies! Haven't seen them for awhile! Have never heard of Miss L Fire?

      I like wedges, too, though I hardly have any of them!

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    2. Blue Booby, I have a pair of Miss L Fire wooden-soled sandals and they are so adorable and fun to wear. I bought them at Anthro and have never seen or heard of the brand anywhere since. Now that I know they are out there I will have to look.

      Being on the tall side, I do wear kitten heels under a couple of floor-length skirts that don't have enough hem to let out so I could wear them with heels. It's all about the proportions. I could wear flats but you tend to walk differently, even with a small heel.

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  11. I agree, stop the madness! They look like stripper shoes at that ridiculous 5"+ height, in my opinion! UGH!!!

    3.5" is my limit, but I prefer to stay under 3".

    I am always horrified when I see a woman dressed for work in a suit or other conservative outfit with 4"+ heels on. That is NOT ok!

    I will say I never had any heels (except the type you wear to prom, satin with sparkles on them!) until law school when I had to get a pair to go with my one suit, bought on clearance from J.Crew. Now I have about 60 pairs. Go figure.

    This morning, I bought the cafe capris in black tie silk. I thought of you and hope that I can rock them as well as you rock your crazy J.Crew silk capris!!!

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    1. Oh - I can't wait to hear how you like them! I thought about getting them A LOT! However, I have enough sparkly pants right now and until I know what I am doing work-wise, am trying to be more thoughtful about my purchases. But they are beautiful pants!

      I agree on women at work with very high heels. It is the equivalent to cleavage from my perspective.

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  12. When I saw Lena Dunham on the Globes, I actually thought she had injured her foot! Didn't realise the hobbling was just due to the shoes. I can't do high heels either, even 3" would be a bit much for me.
    My older son is quite interested in cooking (now that he has burned though his meal plan at uni!) and can do a stir fry, pasta, eggs and a good vinaigrette. Unfortunately, No. 2 Son, who is not a great eater anyway, has no interest whatsoever - I do wish he had to take a class at school!

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    1. Hi Patricia, no - am pretty sure was suffering from the high heel lurch, which I see so many people (myself included if I went there) suffering from!

      My younger cooks constantly, the older one, rarely if ever, although she makes a mean maple curry penne pasta!

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  13. WMM great post as ever. I prefer heels to flats and a 2-2.5" heel is perfect. I do have some Chie's that are 3 to 3.5" and actually they're fine too, but well made etc.
    I'm with Patricia, I thought Lena Dunham had a cast on her foot or something, she was hobbling something terrible!

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    1. Hey Dani - I am obsessed now with trying on chie's - am going to source a spot in NYC and book time for that!

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  14. I love heels and wear some fairly high ones but 4" is the limit. Thankfully my husband is tall because I am 5'9" in bare feet. The 6" stilettos with 2" platforms are more lady-of-the-evening-like than ladylike to my eyes. When men refer to them as CFM shoes that should be a hint. Apologies for the profanity here but with the ridiculously high heel trend I've heard it said so many times that I am desensitized.

    One of my older sisters taught me how to walk in heels. She advised that higher is not always better, that the proportions have to be right for the outfit and of course the ability to walk and be comfortable in them is key as well. At boarding school we were all trotting around in heels, practicing. It was fun but I do remember a few sprained ankles and blisters.

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    1. xoxo - you were lucky that someone taught you! my mother eschewed heels completely, so no help there!

      It's too bad I can;t wear heels as husband is 6'3" and I am only 5'2", but I am now at peace with my wee stature!

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  15. I never wore heels when I was younger because the heels were not really in fashion and I thought it was more feminine to be petite. But in the last 10 years I discovered that almost every outfit benefited from heels and I have been wearing them quite often. I can walk all day in 3 inch wedges and be as comfortable as in flats. For actual heel I prefer them to be about 3" to 3.5". I can do 4" for short walk on carpeted surfaces scenarios. I dislike the look of most kitten heels (anything under 2.5"), I would rather wear flats.

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    1. Hi AJC - i only have 1 pair of kitten heels and do agree that really, you might just as well be wearing flats, but some I really like the look of! I think wedges, if done well, can be amazing. Every so often I try on a pair of wedges that are more uncomofortable than regular shoes that just goes to show bad shoe costruction/design

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  16. Very interesting post - my Mom hardly ever wore heels and my sister doesn't wear heels too often either, so I had to figure it out myself how to walk in them. Like xoxo, I am 5'9" barefoot and Hubs is almost the same height as me so I don't do the heels too often. Usually 2-3 inch is perfect for me when I do wear them. I do love my boots, both flat and heeled.

    Many women my age do not know how to walk in heels. The stomp on a bug stride does not help matters!

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    1. You are right LR - I think that today's generation, that often came of age without home ec or mother's who sewed, knit or cooked, are quite behind the 8 ball on these things!

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  17. Another tall-ish girl-- 5-8 1/2, although I think I am now shrinking. I never wore heels on a regular basis, although 2-2 1/2" ones for a party work. Also, in a male dominated profession, I felt self-conscious looking down, so to speak, on some of my collegues.

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    1. Lane, I'm about the same height as you. My husband is shorter than me, and when we first started dating I was self-conscious about my height. But I got over it by the time we got married - I wore 3 inch heels!

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    2. Good for you! How great to get over the self-conciousness.

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  18. I am 5'2" myself, but rarely wear heels. I love that ballet flats are in style, although I really never stopped wearing them. It is wonderful to have such a selection to choose from. I admire the look of a nice heel, but find that a wedgeshoe or heeled boot is so much easier to walk in.

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    1. I am with you! I like a 2" stacked heeled boot the best and I like wedges when I can find really comfy ones!

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