Flat out? Actually, it’s in...
Heels are not compulsory this season, writes Debra D Bass
It’s rare when a trend towards comfort is greeted with less enthusiasm than the latest trend in flat footwear. Low heels graced dozens of runways recently from the likes of Chanel, Lanvin and Michael Kors.
In America’s March issue of InStyle magazine, fashion icon Alber Elbaz of Lanvin imparted some wisdom about what he’s learned from years working in fashion. One of the tidbits he shared was to buy shoes you are comfortable in.
For his spring 2011 collection, he designed ‘‘ these incredibly high shoes. I wanted the models to stride down the runway with real power. But when one after the other stumbled, I could see fear on their faces.’’
He quickly ordered up flats for the models to wear, and he said suddenly the models looked relaxed and, yes, powerful. He said their bodies moved with confidence and strength, and the clothes looked more fluid and natural because the models felt at ease.
Judith Baumhauer, the incoming president of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, said that high heels are ‘‘ like a ticking time bomb’’.
‘‘ By the time you’re 40, you’ve worn out your forefoot padding and your feet just can’t take the abuse anymore,’’ she said.
She suggested decreasing your time in heels as an act of self-preservation. Designers, notorious for presenting ridiculously high heels on the runway, seem to have taken a turn, probably temporarily, toward the practical.
Donna Karan showed flats, as did Proenza Schouler. And then came the low heels, kitten heels and basic 2-5cm platform shoes that added height without stressing feet on runways with fashions from Oscar de la Renta, Derek Lam, Tory Burch, Anna Sui, Balmain, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, among others.
Here’s our humble opinion on how to wear flats with your basic wardrobe items.
Jeans For a casual preppy look, pick an ankle-length jean and wear ballet-style flats or low heels. You can opt for a 3cm platform and boot-cut jeans to lengthen your leg. For a dressier look, opt for a kitten heel or a stylish patent-leather thong and slim, trouser fit jeans.
Skirts Long dresses or skirts with a gladiator-type sandal or thongs is a great look. For shorter hemlines, you might want a shoe that’s closer to your skin tone or neutral to keep your leg looking longer. The shorter you are, the slimmer your skirt or dress should fit to give you a longer, slimmer line. Be mindful of ankle straps, which can draw attention to shorter legs, and watch out for ultra-clunky thongs that can look stumpy.
Trousers Unless you have an ankle-length pant ( never cropped), make sure your pants fall half-way between the back of your heel and the bottom of your shoe. There are temporary tape options to alter your pant hems easily. If your shoes are completely flat, they should fall to just over a centimetre above the ground. Evening attire Thongs generally don’t cut it for evening, but a low heel with a little embellishment or an unexpected colour can easily complement a night-time look. A green dress and yellow 2cm pumps or white trousers and red gladiator heels make a statement without the need for towering heels. Find a great black shoe with prominent gold or silver hardware, and you’ve got a go-to option for a wide variety of evening outfits.
Career clothing The kitten heel is your best friend, and it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of colours to choose from. And there’s a trend for suede lace-up oxfords that can be a stylish addition to a business suit or skirt. You don’t want to look too casual, so a gladiator-shoe might not strike the right tone at your office, but a low heel, patent-leather thong or peep-toe heel under 5cm can give your outfit the right lift.