Shoes, like hemlines, go up and down in height each season. Last years’ kitten heel is this years’ stiletto. There may be some overriding new trend being shown during a certain season, but generally speaking there is virtually every heel height represented in the stores at any given time. What changes more than anything is the shape of the heel, the shape of the toe, and the materials used.
For Spring 2011, for example, all heels are represented — wedges, flats, stilettos, platforms, stacked heels, kitten heels, you name it, there’s a designer somewhere touting their version of these heels as the “it” shoe to have. From neon color-blocking to tribal straw and raffia spring has sprung in a wide variety of materials. The trick is to find out which heel works on your foot for more than the 3 minutes of teetering you do in the shoe store.
When buying a shoes, the way to know if it will be comfortable after 8 hours is to notice immediately when you put them on where your body weight is primarily being supported. Just stand in them for a second, and feel if your weight is in the balls of your feet or the heels. A lot of this has to do with the fit and where the heel of the shoe is placed on the underside of the shoe. If your weight is mostly forward, those shoes will hurt you. Like, taking them off and walking home in New York City barefoot in tears at midnight hurt (What?). If the weight is toward the back of your foot, you are good to go. Evenly distributed across the entire shoe? Yeah, you’re wearing some horrible ugg or croc or slipper sock. Stop that. You’re a grown up.
I talk about Know Your Body — you need to know your foot. If you have high arches, you need support for that arch and a totally flat ballet flat will forever hurt you and your back. A wedge is your friend. The wedge allows your arch to be supported, gives you a bit of a lift, and will likely distribute your body weight more evenly and towards the back of the shoe.
If you are buying a higher heel, hold it up to the side and look where the heel meets the underside of the shoe. If it is centered underneath your foot’s heel, they wont hurt. If it is at the back edge of the heel, these will make you swear and propel your weight forward when you walk. Have fun with that.
The thicker the heel, the more comfortable. A stacked heel means that there is literally a little stack of wood discs making up the heel. This is very stable and thus more comfortable. A platform under the toe area allows you to wear a higher heel while lessening the angle of the foot making them more comfortable. A flatform is just freakishly ugly and should never be worn no matter how comfortable the are (see also the aforementioned uggs, crocs, and add rain boots with critters, birkenstocks, et al). This last style is new to this season, and I defy anyone who wears them not to have to march while wearing them. If you can’t bend your foot, how you gonna walk? Soldier on, ladies.