Wednesday August 8th, 2012 Category: Expert tips
Okay, welcome back! We covered the first three shoe types last time, so let’s finish that list off! Here we go:
4. Kitten / French / Stack & Stiletto Heels
Listed from smallest to tallest (and, arguably, easiest to most difficult to walk in) these are the four main heel types you’ll come across on women’s shoes.
Kitten heels are low rise, typically an inch-and-a-half or less, inset from the back of the shoe and tapered to a narrow base.
French heels similar in style to a kitten heel but are somewhat chunkier and higher.
The ‘stack’ refers to a wide to wedge shaped heel of varying heights, generally formed from thin layers of wood, though plastic and rubber are also commonly used materials.
The stiletto (or spike) heel is characterised by its narrow width and sometimes extreme height.
There is no magic recipe for buying the perfect heels because, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if you spend a tenner or a ton on them all but lowest and fullest will end up being anywhere on a scale from uncomfortable to cripplingly painful if worn for any length of time, owing to the fact that human beings weren’t meant to walk with all their weight shifted to the balls of their feet, which is effectively what heels cause you to do.
In fact, show me a woman who is comfortable in heels and I’ll show you a woman on first name terms with her podiatrist; for the rest of us a combination of heel height and soles without support will inevitably turn the balls of our feet into great balls of fire. You can help alleviate this somewhat by looking for styles with padding worked into the soles. Good Ol’ M&S do a number of shoe styles in their range with a product called Insolia integrated into them.
5. Mules & clogs
Ah, the mule, wardrobe staple of the bored housewife in many a Carry On film; mules are a slip on backless shoe with a (usually) closed toe that come in a variety of materials and heel heights, and if clogs makes you think of windmills in old Amsterdam think again, as they’ve experienced a resurgence in recent years, appearing in many designer’s collections year round.
These styles are definitely best avoided, though, unless you know that a. she already has them in her wardrobe and b. she actually wears them. They can be very difficult to walk in for those who are not used to them, the fit needs to be spot on and, in the case of clogs, though there are medical benefits to be had from certain types it’s fair to assume these don’t extend to the open backed and stack heel styles of recent seasons. Also, if I may offer a personal opinion on this particular style, on the wrong feet they’re hideous not particularly attractive.
Boots vary in length and heel heights from ankle-high ‘Pixie’ boots to thigh-high stilettos but take note: just because you can buy Thigh-High-Patent-Leather-Stiletto-Heeled-Boots doesn’t mean that you should. In fact, unless you’re adding to a collection of them they’re best avoided at all costs. My TOP TIP: for getting it just right in the boot buying stakes is to pick a simple, high quality, low to mid-heel round toe riding boot in either black or brown. This classic style of boot transcends fashion fads, cropping up (geddit) year on year in autumn-winter collections and can be teamed with any number of outfits making it hugely practical too.
Although as it’s British Summer Time you’re probably better off with wellies, right now the shops are full of sandals of every style and hue. From toepost flip-flops which come in a variety of materials (TOP TIP: Choose fabric or soft leather as these materials are much comfier between the toes; for the longest time I and others like me avoided flip-flops following horrible childhood experiences with those cheap plastic thongs and sand) to high strappy wedges (see last time’s post) and Gladiator styles.
Gladiator sandals, as the name suggests, are based on shoes worn by Roman Centurions (or even Roman Gladiators?) and typically consist of a flat sole and an upper made from series of straps which extend from toe up the ankle, often with a crosspiece down the middle. Like the ballet flat, gladiator sandals have gone from bang on trend in 2006 to wardrobe staple and with good reason; this versatile style is flattering on most feet, is more comfortable to wear than other types of sandal because it encases the foot rather than relying on single straps to hold it in place, and can be dressed up or down as need be. BEST BUY: Choose a gladiator style in either silver or gold leather to bring a little glitz to both day and evening wear.
8. Trainers & Sneakers
As you in all likelihood wear these yourself they really need no introduction, except perhaps to mention a couple of styles you may not have come across. Toning shoes are trainers (& sandals) which feature heavily curved ‘rocker’ soles that their makers claim tone up the wearer’s legs and backside as they walk in them, and barefoot shoes are a trainer which looks just like a glove for your foot and is designed to promote better foot mechanics, as though you were walking or running barefoot. Though, in my humble opinion, this latter style looks pretty damned ace they’re not the sort of shoe you buy for someone else on spec as they can significantly alter the way you walk and therefore should really be tried on first. That said I’m reliably informed that once you’re used to them they’re super comfy and it’s like stepping out in your socks.
Okay, that’s it for the styles. Several final words of advice to come in the next instalment, and then you’ll be completely ready to get that perfect pair of shoes!