August 21 2014

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The Heel World


The New York Times devoted an impressive number of online inches to tackling the thorny questions of whether to wear high heels or not, asking a varied crew—a podiatrist, fashion historian Valerie Steele, a London fashion blogger—to sound off on the issue. Just to clarify, I’m not being sarcastic. It’s impressive because wearing high heels is a real and nuanced issue with which many women grapple, but it’s also one of those of debates that can be easily dismissed as fluff. Sure, there are those glamorous girls who claim that they’re unaffected by a day in nose-bleed stilettos, but I don’t fully buy it. I know how I feel after hours of running around in four-inchers, and yet I do still wear them.

Although, talk to any doctor about what very high heels do to your back, knees, and feet, and you’ll wish you never asked. Of course, high heels are also incredibly chic and make women feel not only stylish but more powerful—especially in the workplace. Still, recently in the U.K., there were unions calling to ban heels for workers with the backing of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. We did see some kinder, gentler shoes for Spring but what mostly seems to catch our collective eye is footwear that can be described as “sick” and “killer.” (See what makes the cut in our tireless street style photoblogger Tommy Ton’s beautiful pics.) How do you feel about the issue? Do you wear your Kirkwoods and Louboutins with abandon? Are you worried about the future of your feet? Let us know below.

Photo: Tommy Ton



  1. flightofthedreamer says:

    Call me a victim, but my motto is “Fashion over function.” I don’t own shoes with less than a six inch heel.

  2. DELAUGHTER says:

    This is a no brainer. Wear your heels, just not all day everyday.

  3. DELAUGHTER says:

    By the way, those shoes are sick and I’d wear them even when I was doing nothing and going nowhere!

  4. gingerred says:

    Tommy Ton either (a) has a shoe fetish or (b) is planning to publish a book on shoes. I was amazed by how many of his street photos involved shoes. While they were lovely, I’d've preferred to see more fashion. As for the heel debate, I don’t go above 2 inches that often, though I like high platforms. There is a safety issue with heels too, i.e., if a woman were being chased, it’s much easier to run in flats! Plus some women looked dwarfed by the ultra clunky and high shoe-boot-heels being worn by everyone at the moment. They make Alexa Chung’s legs look like toothpicks. Flats, on her anyhow, look more elegant imo.

  5. Sillygirl2_0 says:

    I truly believe that high heeled shoes were invented by man as a sick joke. As women we have bought into this joke, oblivious to the snickering behind our back. I refuse to wear heals taller then 2 inches. I care about my physical body and well being too much for that. If a shoe designers can’t design great shoes with 2 inch or less heals, then they aren’t very good designers.

  6. BoogerButthole says:

    To ban heels is ridiculous! High heels are incredibly chic and will never go out of style and SHOULDN’T!!! The saying beauty is pain is true and a perfect example of the problems it will cause! Lol. I personally will never stop sporting heels, ever.

  7. BoogerButthole says:

    Agreed! Beauty is pain. If high heels are banned anywhere in the nation, I will travel there and protest.

  8. abrown says:

    Leaving an old-New York hotel lounge the other night, I see a stunning seventy year old woman slowly descending the stairs, supported by two men. She just had hip surgery but her feet are unaccustomed to flats. She was a ballet dancer. Her slick black bun says Carmen, her cheekbones Maria Tallchief, her six inch patent stilettos, Dior.
    Il faut souffrir pour etre belle?

  9. fashionpicks says:

    As with the general philosophy governing the world,”To get something, you lose something” and the other maxim that you are never too rich, thin or tall, I guess women and high heels will remain inseparable for eons!

    P Adhikari

  10. KaramelKat says:

    This season, like every season I have purchased about 15-20 pairs of shoes, all high end, from Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Louboutin, Balenciaga, Alaia,The Gucci division boot……all very very high,as you know. I should not be buying such shoes because I have a bunion on my left foot that will most likely need surgery next year! I spend most of the day in Lanvin flats or converse and wear the heels out to dinner- 2 hours later and I am in pain for days! Unfortunately, I am a real fashion victim and these shoes look amazing on or off, in pictures….and I can’t help myself! Alone, they are like art work, worn they make you feel great!
    Like you, I do not believe the woman who says she isn’t affected by wearing them all day. If she really isn’t she will in the long term! In any case, I love the look and will continue to buy them, bunion or no bunion even if they just stay in their box. The possibility of a lower heel coming up, is just not as appealing!

  11. andreverde says:

    I will still wear my platforms… and I hardly ever feel bad about doing so, b/c I don’t wear them everyday… I try to give my feet & body a break, but not a break from platforms… I love wearing them.

  12. fashionsaboteur says:

    That’s an exciting topic!
    I have lots of heels but I never wear them! One feels glamorous wearing heels for the first 50 metres, then its just pain! So I’ve given up. It’s so much more fun in flats- I can dance all night long and walk home if I want to, no blisters.
    I went flat shoe shopping yesterday and came home with NOTHING. There are no flat shoes available that would look chic and elegant and are not too expensive. Only round-toe’d childish ballet flats which are boring in my opinion.
    When I looked around me in those shoe shops, all I could see was girls in flats. Maybe 5% in heels. Majority of the shoes on the shop shelves were high heels, maybe 5% flats. So its all topsy turvy in the shoe world. Most women BUY heels, but they WEAR…flats! And those who wear heels secretly carry a pair of flats in their roomy bag.

  13. catherinewoodill says:

    I love my heels, with in reason. I am only 27, too young it would seem to complain about the effects of a day in my 4 inchers but my knees, back, ankles, and even big toes hurt after a full day in my pointy toed beauties. I have taken to wearing more sensible 1-2 inch heels during most days and I save my big guns for hot dates with my hubby or those dresses that just beg for killer heels. I work too much and too hard to be distracted by pain.

    Catherine Wood Hill

  14. NotMod says:

    High is allot like naked!

    (I mean feet, right?)

    No question which of the two is more comfortable…

    Got to give it to the flats though: they make one’s step count. Like your handshake, better not delivered through a thick glove.

  15. gingerred says:

    Er, who said beauty is pain? That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard and it lends credence to the rather condescending moniker “fashion victim”! Look at Jane Birkin; she never looked to be in pain. Yet she was utterly beautiful in jeans and platform sandals, or miniskirts and flats. Or looks at Coco in her flats and wide pants – stunning! Beauty, to me, is effortlessness. The women who seem to get out of bed stylishly. I don’t think heels should be banned but I think a lot of women do look like victims in them. I agree with the poster who said that stilettos are best reserved for a special dinner and/or dress, to be worn for a few hours. But they shouldn’t be worked in, nor should people have to have surgery because of their shoes!! That’s crazy. But, I suppose, women have surgery for their wrinkles, or noses, or to have augmentations and so on. And now we’re really into another topic, but somehow they’re related. To what extent will women go to be perceived as beautiful?! As I say above, it’s the ones who are effortlessly beautiful and stylish that are the most lovely and lasting. And likely they’re not wearing stilettos.

  16. ladysanpedro says:

    I’m 5 foot flat which is pretty small even for a Filipino.

    High heels are not only a must for my height but also help lengthen the legs and flatter most every outfit!

  17. fashionaddict89 says:

    I have to say I love my heels, wouldn’t trade them for the world. Are my feet throbbing after a whole day of wearing them–yes!

    But the sense of power and sexiness I feel when I slip them on makes it all worth it.

    I don’t think I’ll ever lose my heels, they might get shorter but I will never abandon them.

    Plus the just help emphasize all the hard work I put in the gym on my legs, butt and thighs.

    heels–I love you!

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