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.