I vividly remember my great-aunt cleaning her white Reebox trainers with a toothbrush once a week. An extremely thin woman, she insisted on walking between my school on 96th Street in NYC to my grandmother’s (her sister) World Trade Center office everyday for lunch. She said she needed comfort
and stability for her feet, and would always purchase a size larger than her foot and wear one to two sweat socks depending on the weather.
My mother on the other hand was the exact opposite. One of the first people to wear the then-unknown red soles, she never owned a pair of sneakers until she reached the age of 40 and wanted to lose some weight. Even then her sneakers looked brand new after several years. And socks? She didn’t even bother.
“Beautiful usually isn’t comfortable,” and “heels are made for strutting not walking” were some of her famous quotes. As I moved into my teenage years I balanced my great-aunt’s practicality with my mother’s fashion. I wore sneakers on the subway and towering heels between classes. Sure the sneakers were more comfortable, but the heels were much more fun, attention grabbing and flattering to my 5-foot frame. Why women chose to perpetually torture their feet in the name of fashion may seem puzzling, but if you’ve ever “strutted” in a pair of Choo stilettos, Louboutin wedges or Manolo sling backs you get it—you just feel better.
That’s why it may be surprising to most that Phoebe Philo, the creative director and genius behind Celine’s most recent offerings, is a sneaker lover. Taking bows at shows in multi-colored trainers and appearing at events in “comfort shoes” is shocking to most. Has anyone even seen Anna Wintour in flats? Not even Lanvin. The street style set doesn’t do flats. Hobbling between shows—sometimes on the subway—in platformed and pointy footwear has become the norm. And then there was McQueen’s foot-binding efforts; and we won’t even discuss Anna Dello Russo. Wearing heels has almost become a requirement if you want to look even mildly polished. As shoes became more popular with every Choo that Carrie Bradshaw wore the price tags and heel heights rose simultaneously. So how can a woman who basically creates the uniforms of fashion’s most stylish eschew this simple rule? Simple, as she puts it, “they’re just more practical.”
And indeed they are, and finally after many years, heel heights are starting to decline. Starting to become less acrobatic and more sensible, is Philo to credit for this? Either way, as I plan my move back to NYC in a few months, I am grateful. I will only have to wear 3-inch heels instead of 5.
Click below to check out some pretty cool trainers, and relax, let your feet relax too; you never know when heel heights may spike again.
So are you a sneaker or heel gal? Tweet me @Icon_Concierge or leave a comment below.