|Jessica Simpson channeling Fredericks of Hollywood, for sale at Lord & Taylor|
Readers, are high heel shoes flattering to women or have we just been brainwashed to believe this? Nobody's forcing women to buy high heels but clearly they do in huge numbers, arguably more today than ever before. Fashion magazines as well as many fashion bloggers (and quite a few sewing bloggers) seem obsessed with them.
Perhaps thanks to the shoe industry moving to the Far East to take advantage of cheap labor, relatively inexpensive shoes can be found easily in the United States today. To be clear, when I say "relatively" I mean relative to what someone might spend on other necessities, or to what a woman might have spent on shoes, say, seventy years ago. My understanding is that the average mid-century American owned fewer shoes, they were more solidly constructed and, being a bigger investment, they were expected to last. Today, thanks to sites like Zappos and chains like DSW, an extra pair of shoes is an impulse purchase for many -- an affordable indulgence.
Cathy has quite the shoe wardrobe, purchased almost entirely at the Salvation Army and the Chelsea flea market (she's a 9 or 9 1/2, btw). God bless the Salvation Army: shoes there generally cost $6.99 whether they're Payless or Ferragamo (about 1/3 the price of the nearest Goodwill).
One thing I've noticed however, is that while vintage shoes have reasonable heels -- never teetering even when high -- many contemporary shoes are easily one inch higher or more. Look at this lovely pair of vintage Forties pumps (for sale on Etsy here). They're glamorous but they also look like something a woman could comfortably walk or dance in.
Compare that to this shoe from Nine West. The idea is similar -- a classic pump --but the Nine West shoe, platform notwithstanding, is way higher. I don't know exactly how one measures heel height, but these are high, and the heel itself is very narrow.
Forget about what this does to your lower back, your calves or your shins, the very proportion of the shoe looks off to me. But it gets worse: go to the Nine West website and you'll see that there's a whole category of heel height labeled "beyond high."
I found these sandals today at the Salvation Army and thought, wow, what a great vintage Thirties-style shoe! I bought them.
But the heel is at least an inch too high for that era, and too narrow. They're somewhat awkward to walk in and, trust me, this man can walk in women's shoes. A shoe like that leaves you no ability to bend your toes since they're already bent almost as far as they will go, making it difficult to walk naturally, let alone gracefully.
Maybe shoes like these are intended solely for special occasions -- perhaps the reason they were discarded in near-perfect shape. Look how much lower the red vintage Fifties (Forties?) Delman sandal is, which also happens to be exquisitely made. Granted, they were originally from Bergdorf's, but still.
These Forties peep toe shoes were Cathy's favorites and are now sorely in need of repair. They're super comfortable and the moderate, wide heel makes them stable.
I hate to rag on the suburbs again, but I think partly what's going on is that many women don't walk outside much anymore, and when they do, they're more likely to be actively exercising and hence wearing athletic footwear.
In conclusion, I ask you: is it my imagination or has the average women's high heel shoe grown a few inches over the last decade? Have everyday shoes started to resemble fetish shoes due to the mainstreaming of porn since the home video age?
|1930's women's shoes|
When you buy shoes, are you ever tempted to purchase something that's too high for comfort, either because you want to look sexy, that's all that's available, or you rarely walk in real life anyway?
Readers, what is up with contemporary high heel shoes?
Jump in! (But don't twist an ankle!)