Once upon a time, I used to love heels and wear them all the time. Of course, I still like my stilettos: they provide a mental and physical boost that makes me feel confident and sexy. However, these days I find myself reaching more often for what our mothers (or grandmothers) might call sensible shoes. Partly because of the pandemic that forces me to stay at home and partly because it’s not easy doing some shopping or running after kids with them on.
Some people might say it’s because I’m getting older and I wonder if I’ve become lazier or just given up on caring how I looked. In my 50s I can’t put up with them all day long like I used to do in my 30s; my feet were sore after a while and my back feels stiff. However, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one switching stilettos for flats: according to a survey this year by shoe brand Deichmann, only 29% of British women would now wear heels on an evening out or a first date.
Thank God, Fashion is coming to our rescue. Whereas once vertiginous heels were the obligatory choice for events like weddings or panel presentations, today a pair of chic flats are just fine. Have you realised there are more and more stylists praising the wonders of pumps? Brands are offering a wider variety of flats than ever, elevating what was once a casual work alternative or a commuting shoe to one that’s acceptable for more formal social occasions. Yes, something is definitely changing also in professional environments. Nicola Thorp, who made headlines in 2016 after being sent home from PricewaterhouseCoopers for refusing to ditch her flats, started a petition that resulted in a parliamentary enquiry. Meanwhile, in Japan, the #KuToo campaign is currently pushing for a ban on workplace dress codes that demand high heels (kutsu is Japanese for ‘shoe’; kutsuu means ‘pain’).
So, will we ever wear heels again? Probably. And I am sure we will all continue to fall in love with a pair of Louboutin, however, shoes are meant to facilitate movement, not serve as shackles. Actress Emma Thompson perhaps best explained it during the 2014 Golden Globe awards, when she walked onstage barefoot, telling the audience: “I’ve taken my heels off as a feminist statement, because why do we wear them? They’re so painful. And pointless, really.”