Much Ado About Heels

Wednesday 5 June 2013

I decided to go to Nicholas Kirkwood sample sale in London today on a whim. It was a 3 hour return tube/train journey just to look at a bunch of the most gorgeous skyscraper heels I've ever feasted my eyes on. Yes, pretty crazy if you ask me but this is what happens when you're shoe obsessed. There is no doubt that Nicholas Kirkwood, this year's winner of BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund (and was awarded £200,000 cash prize) is seriously talented. He has fulfilled a need in the market for statement shoes.

Alas, for the life of me, I absolutely unequivocally cannot take more than 2 steps in 5 inch heels without getting sharp shooting pains up my ankle. Okay, make that 3 inch heels too. It's interesting to note that most women there were shuffling about, taking mini steps like those Geisha girls that you've seen on TV.

I've been trawling through Saks, Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, Shoescribe, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges etc etc (you get the picture) but it's been a case of too expensive, too tacky, too big (most of the time), too high or didn't tick majority of the boxes. To be perfectly honest, I HATE shoe shopping. After spending hours looking at photos of shoes after shoes after shoes, they all start to look alike with a few exceptions. Ankle strap anyone? Strappy heels? Court shoes?

Recently, Heather, her mom and I went shopping for shoes. Her feet are too big (size 42), mine's too small (size 34) and her mom has painful bunions. After a day of trying on what seemed like a million pairs of shoes between us, all 3 of us went back to our rented accommodation empty handed and looking utterly dejected. The next day, they looked ecstatic when we caught up again. Why? Because they've managed to score a few pairs of shoes at Aldo. Yes, I'm superficial enough to believe that the acquisition of a gorgeous pair of shoes has a direct correlation to happiness, however superfluous they may be in our life.

Nicholas Kirkwood laser cut sandals, available at Selfridges

Nicholas Kirkwood, available at Browns Fashion

A retailer confided that mid heels are flying out the door the minute they come in. Another scoffed at the Nicholas Kirkwood sample sale saying that there were probably getting rid of stilt like heels that no one can walk in. She was right. In fact, most of the fashion insiders that I've met and talked to in the last 6 months wore flats, platform sandals or low to mid heels. And never ever skinny heels. Funny that. In the meantime, stores and designers are still peddling uncomfortably high heels that are totally impractical. In fact, this reminds me of my late grandma's account of her lotus feet (bound feet). More than a hundred years later, instead of lotus shoes, corset that just about snap your ribs, we now succumb ourselves to shoes that practically render us crippled (now or in later years). Why?

We, the consumers breathed a sigh of relief when we saw a huge number of frequently photographed fashion insiders wearing low to mid heels when they attended the Fashion Week. By Jove, I believe the shoe designers are finally paying attention to us. And finally, practical shoes are fashionable again. We do, in fact want to be able to walk comfortably in our shoes.

The only problem is the majority of mid heels looked either skanky or your standard same run of the mill. The only interesting take on heels I've seen so far are by Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophie Webster but most are still way too high to be walked in. Is it wrong to think that if you're going to fork out £400 - £1000 upwards (it's insane how much designer shoes cost now) for a pair of heels, they darn well better be worn a lot? I think there's a gap in the market for affordable and decent looking low to mid heeled shoes (I'm talking £85 - £200) waiting to be filled. What do you think?


  1. I agree Marlene - I hate walking in heels and because of running injuries, I shouldn't. I do..of course...(we all do) and wonder why on earth I'm wearing them as I hobble about. Would love more statement mid-heels. I got a pair of leopard ones in M&S recently and they are wearable.

  2. I agree, there is a gap in the market of mid priced shoes! Although I hate those crazy priced designer shoes, I decided not to buy any cheap high heels anymore. They're killing my feet. Also, I stopped buying 4 inch heels and higher. I'm wearing flats a lot lately and if I have to wear heels, then it's max 3 inch.

  3. All these shoes.... I wish I lived closer to London!

    I agree I love heels but I don't actually wear them that much because they are a pain and my poor feet hate them.


    Five Minute Style 

  4. I just acquired a new pair of 2" heels: Red lizard Belle pumps by Roger Vivier. I'm over the moon! They are exquisitely comfortable (truth time: I've only walked around the farm, but still) and so beautiful. On the whole, I find pretty, comfortable pumps hard to find; they tend to look dowdy. But these . . . . I think they beat even my lovely Chanel ballerina pumps.

    Skinny heels should be banned. Or come with car and driver. :)

    1. Oh my goodness - now those are what float my boat - the Belle pumps. They are the first shoe which left any real imprint on my consciousness when I went to see Belle de Jour in my teens. Those are worth spending money on.

  5. Ah what I wouldn't give to be in your shoes, literally. This sounds partly like a dream, partly like a nightmare - as I too am completely over these sky high heels. A mid heel is much more practical, and comfortable! I recently on sold my Valentino rockstuds after coming to the conclusion that they were just too high for me to ever want to wear on a regular basis, and the heel too skinny for the cobblestone streets near my work. A shame as I lost a lot on them but the replacement? A pair of anthracite dicker boots :)

    I like the look of the NK mid heels, why doesn't he design more!!

  6. I confess to not really liking a single pair shown in the sample sale - be it based on the design was too high or a little too glitzy. What are the prices like out of curiosity?

    And apart from my chunky heeled sandals (more stable), I don't do high shoes if I can help it. Certainly not for everyday wear. I also wish for more mid heeled shoes - in the price range you mentioned.

  7. Aw what a shame you weren't able to find a pair that suited you at the sample sale. I find Nicholas Kirkwood shoes so visually interesting but I haven't ever really felt tempted into buying a pair of his, yet! I admit even though I wear high heels from time to time, I do really struggle with them and much prefer to feel comfier in either flats or a pair with a lower to mid heel. And yes there is a gap in the market for £80 - £200 priced shoes and that desperately needs to be filled! Great post Marlene :)

    Take care,
    Daniella xox

  8. Well you already know what I think about high heels. i will tell you this though: I have cracked it! I have bought three pairs of shoes this year and each pair I could walk around all day in.
    1. See by Chloe sandals. soooo comfy but I feel like I'm all clippy cloppy in them. and they go with everything. From selfridges
    2. charlotte Olympia leopard print court shoes with a blue pompom. If I had a job where I gave a toss what I looked like I would wear these to work. My problem is that my feet are shaped like door wedges but these shoes are wide enough to be comfy.
    3. My awesome Jimmy Choo sandals. It's insane how comfortable these shoes are: they are wide fitting, made from soft (pliable) suede and the ankle straps keep your foot in place. they are beyond comfortable - I wore them for 10 hours straight on my wedding day, including dancing, and no blisters or soreness whatsoever.
    I'd just like to point out that 2 & 3 were my wedding shoes, that's not normally my price range more's the pity!
    Zadig have some rather nice teal suede wooden wedges which are mid heel and look comfortable too. I'd quite like them. x

  9. I do love looking at towering Charlotte Olympia and Nicholas kirkwood shoes, but alas that is all I will do. I have a slight nerve problem in my foot which makes high heels unbearable after a few hours (I took off my Miu Miu platforms after standing at a party for a few hours!)

    That said, I was pleasantly surprised that my latest shoe purchase was a pair of 2.5" teal kitten heels from Salvatore Ferragamo. They are bold, yet elegant and were the last pair in the store! I guess we aren't the only ones seeking lower heels!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  10. I can't do heels except from car to bar - which is at the most x2 a month!! That's why I LOVE my booties - even the Newburys are easy to walk in as they are a block heel. My funny toes also make heeled sandals a no no - think Julianne Moore! I love the sneaker look these days:)

  11. Oh but they look so pretty - what were the prices like at the Sample Sale - and how do I get an invite next time?!?!x

    1. £50 to £175. Pretty but they're REALLY high.

    2. Oops forgot to mention that you don't need an invitation. They hold sample sales 2x a year. You can sign up on a mailing list for sample sales in London.

    3. I'm signed up to a generic one but it doesn't tell me about branded ones. £50 would have been a bargain but then agree, they are high, not sure they would get the wear they deserve on the school run......! x

    4. No point paying £50 when all you do is stare at them. Might as well be a museum piece!

  12. I am always looking for a good mid-heel, right now wishing the Marant Carols didn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank god for high street which make up a majority of my footwear! As for skyscraping heels I know a lot of fashion people who always have a pair of flats in their bag..

    steph /

    1. You're right. Everyone I know carries a pair of flats when they're attending some event. I can't understand why more designers can't just make more shoes that we can walk in.



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