Sparked by a recent Guardian article about the stealth resurgence of ‘sensible’ shoes from Clarks, I started thinking about flats and heels. I personally almost never wear heels and haven’t done so for about 5 years. I own a couple of pairs of delicious high heeled boots, but they’re really more for looking at than actually wearing – I haven’t worn either pair for at least a year, probably longer. While I completely appreciate the beauty and power of high heels I just can’t walk in them very well and am not really prepared to put the time and pain in to get better at it. I also value being able to walk or cycle long distances and being able to move quickly that I get from flats – because even my most experienced heel wearing girl friends end up wanting to get taxis everywhere.
I’ve noticed that over the years, heels have becoming higher and higher and what I call ‘stripper shoes’ (with a platform in the front and stiletto heels) are now common place. What used to be classed as high heels when I still used to wear them fairly regularly (6-7 years ago!) are now described as mid-heel in many places. It’s a strange development and highlights the disconnection between what the magazines and designers tell us to wear and what we actually wear, resulting in what the guardian calls a ‘collective act of fashion disobedience’. Because almost all of us (in my social circle at least) continue to wear flats and (proper) mid-heel shoes about 90% of the time, and save the heels for going out or formal events.
But it really is true that the selection on offer is extremely limited, at least in comparison to the wealth of choices available for high heels. For example, out of the hundred pages of shoes listed on polyvore, the vast majority are high heels. So in the spirit of discovery I searched for those flat shoes that did exist and selected some favourites in four categories that are hopefully both comfortable and stylish. The categories are: ballet flats, neutral boots, colourful boots, work shoes and what i’ve called ‘funky oddball shoes’.
First up, ballet flats. These are of course everywhere. I own five pairs, strangely all from New Look, some via the charity shops, in blue, red, yellow, gold and silver. The paper thin soles do bother me a bit though but they’re undeniably cute and functional.
This is what I’ve called work shoes. Flat shoes, not boots, in muted colours, suitable to be worn to a corporate workplace. This is the area most lacking I feel, and the danger of slipping into frumpy Clarks territory is always there.
Colourful boots. This is what I’d like to see more of for obvious reasons. The fact that there’s two pairs of wellies in there is telling. I am quite enamoured with the dove blue vintage boots (second from right in bottom row).
Here’s the neutral boots section. Plenty out there, but they all look strangely similar don’t they? I guess that’s why they’re neutral. I own two pairs of black boots myself.
Finally, my favourite section, funky oddball shoes. I know, I know, not a great name! Basically anything that is a bit colourful, a bit fun, a bit funky, and definitely not boring. I’d love to own them all!