Does heel height need a rethink?

I own a pair of shoes, specifically purchased ‘for work’, that I can barely walk in.

This wouldn’t have happened to me when I started work twelve plus years ago.  Back then, Smart Work Shoes for Women could be divided neatly up into four categories:

Flats – in the pre ballet shoe era, we’re mainly talking loafers
Kitten heels – for women who hadn’t quite mastered major heel height or had a lot of dashing about to do
2 inch heels – standard work height and sturdy enough to run for trains, up the stairs etc.
Anything over 3 inches was strictly reserved for Going Out and 4 inches plus was left to pop stars and drag queens.

The reason I’ve ended up with 90s-drag-queen-height work heels is that in contrast to everything else in the shop, they looked quite practical.  Someone in charge seems to have decided that in the case of heels, bigger is better (especially if you add a platform sole for extra oomph).  But the women of Britain (at least the ones for whom smart footwear is a necessity for at least part of the working week) are hobbling around in unsuitable, unsupportive footwear that they can barely walk in.

photo from here

As the fabulous Caitlin Moran puts it in How To Be a Woman, she merely wants shoes that a) she can dance in and b) will allow her to run away from a murderer, should one suddenly decide to give chase.

Of course, the higher the heel, the thinner you’re supposed to look.  But I’m not sure that looking thin, while wobbling around and wincing from pain is really an impressive look for the boardroom…

Update, same day (should really have remembered this before posting) – in last weekend’s Sunday Times, high heel king Christian Louboutin plays off the discomfort of high heels against the empowerment and awareness that comes from holding your body differently.  Well, I can’t be the only Planner to have popped on a fierce pair of heels before a particularly tricky client meeting.

4 thoughts on “Does heel height need a rethink?

  1. Yes! Heel heights are getting ridiculous now, so much so that to find gorgeous shoes with low or flat heels is nigh on impossible. I cannot walk in heels due to my dodgy knees, which means I am confined to comfy but boring shoes. I can’t be the only one on the look out for shoes which are fabulous but easy to walk in, surely? Irregular Choice are the only ones I have found with a low heel range. Like you say, even low work shoes are difficult to find!

    Sorry, went on a bit of a rant there… just frustrates me that finding shoes is so difficult!

  2. My biggest bugbear is overly thin heels that get caught in cracks in the pavement or in the treads of escalator steps. Dangerous, and definitely not a good look. And I definitely don’t feel empowered — or elegant for that matter — when I can’t walk properly.

  3. I do love my heels, but you’re right – it worries me that my idea of reasonable heel height has been artificially inflated! Caught myself today looking at a pair of boots thinking ‘they don’t look too high’ when in fact they were 4″…

    Ordering the book now (only the fact that I’ve been mad busy can excuse the fact that I haven’t read it yet…)

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