Chic Low Heels & Ankle Straps

For those who are searching for more chic low-heeled options in footwear, there is an exciting assortment pictured in the May 2013 issue of Allure magazine, which comments: “After years of teetery stilettos, heels have come back to earth.”

The styles pictured are all sandals with a strap across the top of the foot and a strap around the ankle. Ankle-strap footwear can be very alluring, but is not for everyone. They are most flattering on long legs with slender to average ankles, as the ankle straps create horizontal lines that visually shorten the legs, an effect most pronounced with bigger ankles. The chunkier the ankle strap, the more pronounced the shortening effect. Styles with less contrast against the color of one’s skin are easier to wear than styles that provide high contrast.

None of these low-heeled options in Allure come with a low price. The sandals are $825 in patent leather from Roger Vivier; $435 in blue leather from Tibi; $600 in cotton and faux leather from Stella McCartney; $795 in leather with a metallic heel from Lanvin; $1,150 in white leather from Hermes; and a whopping $5,270 (yes, five thousand two hundred seventy dollars) in crocodile and Plexiglas from Michael Kors.

The Michael Kors sandals are also featured in the March 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, shown above.

Harper’s Bazaar features a number of other styles of lower-heeled shoes without ankle straps, including the above block heel shoes form Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere, which ring in at $755.

Also pictured in Harper’s Bazaar are these lower-heeled shoes from Reed Krakoff which, at $590, are not only more comfortable on the feet and easier to wear, but are also easier on the budget.

 

The Sound of Other Shoes Dropping

When Sarah Jessica Parker, well known and loved for her role as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City, announces a new perspective relative to shoes, women might want to take heed. On ABC-TV’s The View last week, the panel discussed as one of its “hot topics” the news that Parker has announced she is giving up high heels – mostly. Fashion’s obsession with sky-high heels was compared to the ancient Chinese tradition of foot-binding, a disabling practice, long gone, that was thought to make women more attractive.

The hot topic stemmed from an interview published online by Net-a-Porter on March 7, 2013 and picked up by the Huffington Post.  Here’s the pertinent portion of the interview:

While Parker may have moved on from Carrie, at least for now, the role has left its mark on her – and on us. Seated in a small Italian restaurant in New York’s SoHo district, our neighbor stares at the petite actress, despite her casual attire of grey cotton blouse, jeans rolled at the hems and, yes, high heels. One expects nothing less, but Parker tells me extra inches are a rarity these days. “For ten or so years, I literally ran in heels. I worked 18-hour days and never took them off. I wore beautiful shoes, some better made than others, and never complained. But then I did I Don’t Know How She Does It, and I was very thoughtful about my whole wardrobe and said, you know, [Kate Reddy] could not afford really good footwear. So I got [lower priced] shoes and the bottoms weren’t leather, they were plastic, so I slipped a couple times, twisted my ankle. I went to a foot doctor and he said, ‘Your foot does things it shouldn’t be able to do. That bone there… You’ve created that bone. It doesn’t belong there.’ The moral of the story is, the chickens are coming home to roost. It’s sad, because my feet took me all over the world, but eventually they were like, ‘You know what, we are really tired, can you just stop – and don’t put cheap shoes on us?'”

 

The April 2013 issue of Glamour magazine reveals that Sarah Jessica Parker is far from alone in experiencing foot problems from footwear. In a Glamour poll of 1, 177 women, only 28 percent of the women polled reported that they had never had a “serious shoe-related injury” – and of the 72 percent that have experienced a serious shoe-related injury, 38% have “wiped out”; 43% have had heel or ankle pain; 32% have twisted or sprained an ankle; and 5% have fractured or broken a foot. No wonder over a majority of the women Glamour polled – 57% – reported that a one-  to two-inch heel “is plenty.”

Despite this evidence, there are articles like the one that appeared in the November 2012 issue of Marie Claire in which the writer asserts that she spent $1,200 to receive gel dermal fillers on the balls of her feet after she had been shamed by a friend at a wedding for taking off her 4-inch stilettos. The painful and expensive medical procedure allowed her to reduce her pain by a whopping one-third at the next event to which she wore the aforementioned stilettos.

 

The April 2013 issue of People Style Watch includes a full page of beautiful low-heel shoe options in its Spring Accessories Guide. Designers as high-end as Michael Kors, Sigerson Morrison, and Dolce & Gabbana provide chic low-heel options.

Take a stand against fashion’s ridiculous obsession with dangerous, foot-damaging footwear. It’s time to vote with your feet.

Great Style Has No Size But Some Jewelry Does

I salute InStyle magazine on its new monthly feature “Great Style Has No Size!” under the heading “Your Look: Full-Figure Flair” which debuted in November 2012. As the magazine explains in the initial feature: “We heard you! You asked to see the trends in silhouettes cut for your body, so take note: When it comes to outerwear, the fashion-savvy are selecting statement coats in bold hues or with eye-catching details.”

The outerwear featured is an attractive mix of styles, some of which will work better on some full-figured shapes than on others, nuances which necessarily go beyond the scope of a one-page magazine article.

InStyle adds style tips to the three looks at left. With the blue jacket from Catherine’s, InStyle comments: “A short style works best when it’s at least fingertip length. Skinny pants balance the looser shape on top.” A fingertip-length jacket also works just fine on women with less than slender legs for whom skinny pants are not an option. To my eye, skinny pants may make the figure look out of proportion for a well-proportioned full-figured woman. Straight-cut or slightly boot-cut pants provide a visually cohesive and well-proportioned look top to toe.

With the red coat from Marina Rinaldi, InStyle comments: “Draw attention up to your face by echoing the coat’s open neckline with a similarly revealing dress.” That’s all well and good when the point of the coat isn’t warmth but style. However, reality requires a more practical approach. Cover up the clavicle by adding a non-bulky woven wool scarf.

InStyle comments about the third coat in patterned wool from Talbots: “Two full-body prints equal visual overload. Instead, let the patterned piece take center stage by combining it with a solid.” The combination pictured is attractive (the dress is from Elie Tahari), but the rule is more limiting than it needs to be. A nuanced discussion of what designs would work with the coat would take more than a few lines of text.

The footwear pictured merits discussion. The suede skimmers from Pretty Ballerinas shown with the blue jacket ensemble are practical and cute. The black booties shown with the red coat and sexy dress from Lane Bryant are not flattering, as they make the model’s legs look shorter. The heavy straps of the high heeled sandals at right draw the eye first, negating the effort of coordinating dress and coat.

There’s another detail that requires comment about the ensembles pictured. With the red coat, the model wears a delicate necklace of rose gold vermeil from Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry. With the print coat, the model wears a short necklace of Swarovski crystal and hematite plate from Lionette Designs by Noa Sade.

I visited the Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry web site and learned that the designer’s necklaces are uniformly 16 inches long, but that a purchaser can specify in the special instructions the length of the chain desired, a helpful option.

The Dakota necklace pictured from Lionette Designs by Noa Sade is only 15 inches long. When I inquired as to whether the necklace could be ordered in a different length, I was told that the necklace is “a comfortable fitting collar as shown in [the] InStyle shot,” that it is not adjustable, and that it comes only in that one standard size.

A 15-inch necklace is a collar length that will work only for a woman with a fairly slender neck; even 16 inches is very short. Many women who wear misses’ sizes require a necklace of 16 to 17 inches. Working with full-figured women over the years as an image consultant, I have learned that a necklace of 18 to 20 inches is a more appropriate length for many full-figured women.

Designers run into practical considerations in producing jewelry. Clearly, it is less expensive to produce a necklace in a 15-inch length than it is to produce a necklace some 20 or 25 percent longer. However, the short necklace length will not work for most full-figured women and designers limiting their selections to that length will be losing a huge potential market for their designs.

If InStyle wants to serve the full-figured women’s market with the “Great Style Has No Size!” feature, the magazine needs to promote designs that accommodate realistic neck sizes. One-size-fits-all does not hold true in jewelry. Any article that purports to outfit full-figured women needs to take into consideration not only the size of the garments, but also the size of the jewelry being promoted.

Stay Grounded with More Chic Low-Heeled Footwear Options

The October 2012 issue of Elle adds its take on the new style of block heels: “Who said fashion is all about tall and skinny? Stay grounded with the season’s short, stacked heels.”

Pictured are a suede sandal with goldtone trim from Gucci, a colorful python cross-strap sandal from Michael Kors, a nude patent calfskin sandal from Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere, and a neutral-hued  python sandal from Celine.

With designers like these jumping on the low-heel bandwagon, there truly are killer shoes that won’t kill your feet available as high-fashion options.

Take a Stroll Around the Block in Block Heels, the Latest Most Wearable Footwear

The October 2012 issue of Harper’s Bazaar provides its take on what to buy in footwear this season. The recommended style for purchase incorporates a block heel, as seen on the Michael Kors sandal pictured below. Bazaar comments: “A chunky sandal in a metallic hue is right, right now.”

Not only is the block heel style cutting-edge, it is comfortable and stable. That particular $1,595 Michael Kors pair is not in most women’s budgets, so it will be necessary to do some shopping to find other designs with block heels.

Here’s a pair of suede fringe pumps featuring block heels from Prada, available at saksfifthavenue.com. These pumps are $530.

Nordstrom.com has only a few styles that fit the bill, including the color block look below from VC Signature, originally $225, on sale for $111.90.

There are other sandals with chunky heels on Nordstrom.com, but they are almost exclusively platform style sandals. While Harper’s Bazaar says “keep” the single-sole classic style high-heel pump, the magazine says “store” ’70s style platform shoes.

It’s great to be both chic and sure-footed. Take note: It seems that platform shoes may be on their last legs.

Too Covered Up: How Alterations Can Make All the Difference

In People  magazine’s “StyleWatch” in its June 4, 2012 issue, pretty lace dresses are featured as the best looks of the week.  Seeing dresses side-by-side provides an opportunity to consider the pluses and minuses of a particular look.

As much as I love Valentino, that designer’s red lace dress worn by Kim Kardashian falls short when compared with the similar Diane von Furstenberg white lace dress worn by Jordin Sparks. The red dress is not optimally flattering to Kardashian. The very covered-up design of the dress is almost certainly meant to tone down the sexiness of sheer red lace worn over a light slip. The demure design details, however, go too far.

Kardashian’s delicate face looks out of sync with the expanse of red lace below it. A wider neckline, such as that on  Sparks’ dress or on the very different style BCBG Max Azria dress worn by Kristen Stewart, would make the bodice of the red dress look less blocky.  The neckline need not dip low to accomplish a dramatic difference in effect.

Raising the sleeves to elbow or three-quarters length, as seen on Sparks’ dress, or making the dress entirely sleeveless, like Stewart’s, would also substantially reduce the blocky effect of the Valentino. Showing all or a portion of the arms visually enforces the hourglass shape.

The length of the red dress is demure, to be sure, but because the skirt tapers, it also allows the dress enough length to emphasize the hourglass shape of the wearer. Raising the hem by an inch or two would also be flattering. So too would exchanging the ankle-wrap strappy sandals for pumps such as those worn by Stewart. The ankle-wrap visually shortens Kardashian’s legs.

The ensembles worn by Hollywood’s darlings often go too far in exposing too much, but here’s an example where a look is too covered. up. A few alterations and a change of shoes would make all the difference.

The Other Shoes Have Dropped

For those of us who are proponents of comfortable footwear, there is good news that appears in a half-page write-up in the May 2012 issue of Vogue: “The news from the fall 2012 collections, which you may not be able to wait a moment to try this spring: Shoes are down, way, way, way down, in elevation. . . . [T]his season it’s finally true: Low is the new high.”

Pictured are ankle-strap accented red pumps from Valentino Garavani and Southwest-influenced low-heel pumps from Manolo Blahnik. Vogue mentions Chloe as another line with “relatively small but chunky heels around a couple of inches at most.”

With preeminent designers embracing this low-heel trend, shoe shopping is going to be a joy once more.

“The View” Considers What Your Shoes Do to Your Feet

ABC-TV’s The View has come on board in recognizing the potential for foot problems that may arise with the most fashionable styles of shoes being promoted these days. “Find out if your shoes are ruining your feet,” was one of the lead-ins to the story, which ran on Monday, as was this: “Next, shocking new research has been exposing how the sneakers, heels, slippers and sandals we wear every day can do more damage than ever thought possible, so foot expert and surgeon Dr. Stuart Mogul displayed the latest technology that can stop your feet from literally killing you!”

Co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Joy Behar discussed  with Dr. Mogul the potential damage caused by high heels, ballet flats, flip flops and even athletic shoes.  In the latter case, there is a split of opinion as to whether high-tech athletic shoes are good or bad for the feet. With respect to ballet flats, Dr. Mogul suggested that custom orthotics or over-the-counter inserts might help provide the needed arch support. As for heels, Dr. Mogul suggested optimally limiting them to 2 inches in height. Joy Behar noted that Barbara Walters has a hard time finding 2-inch heels, which she prefers, and has them custom-made.

With respect to sandals, Dr. Mogul suggested some styles to replace flip flops: sandals with a 1- or 2-inch heel and a bit of support. “But they’re not sexy,” whined Sherri Shepherd as the segment wrapped.

They could indeed be sexy. All it takes is a few fearless designers recognizing that shoes can and should be comfortable, creating solutions, and getting the fashion press to take note. If Prada and Chanel, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo start promoting 2-inch heels, they will be the sexiest shoes ever.

See my February 14 post, “The Comfortable Sexy Shoe Matrix” for more on how to find the perfect shoes until the day that happens.

Shoe Sanity

Are there glimmerings of hope that designers once again are creating footwear that is not only stylish enough to appear in the fashion press but also comfortable, somewhere in the vast universe of options between sky-high and pancake-flat? Two items came to my attention as I perused the March 2012 fashion magazines.

This ad for Bally Switzerland appears in the March 2011 issue of Elle magazine. The model wears an elegant pair of slingback heels of 2 1/2 inches in height. The shoes, adorned with tone-on-tone bows, are a neutral shade of beige, a leg-elongating hue for women of fair skin. The shoe style, “Paulinne,” is available on the Bally web site and is priced at $525.00. It is also available in black.

Here’s a close-up of the Paulinne style. Notice the metal wrap around the bottom portion of the heel. If you’ve ever wrecked a pair of shoes by catching the back of the heel, you’ll appreciate this protective yet stylish design detail.

There is also promise at the casual end of the style spectrum. Glamour magazine’s “resident trend tracker” Rajni Lucienne Jacques reports in the March 2012 issue of the magazine, “Every spring I go on a journey to find a not-too-high sandal that satisfies me as much as my usual heels. I want style and comfort at the same time! This season Loeffler Randall answered my prayers.” She reports that the designer’s new Heart LR collection is full of neon clogs that she describes as “Cutesy and chic all at once.”

Pictured in Jacque’s article is a pair of “Inge” ankle-wrap clogs in acid green neon leather on a poplar wood base. The shoes have a 55mm heel (which translates to 2.2 inches). The clogs are available on the Loeffler Randall web site and are priced at $235.00. Jacques tells her readers “I’ll wear them with everything.”

Introducing neon into a wardrobe can be fun, but a more versatile option is the identical style in gold metallic leather, seen above. Metallics can work in a wardrobe as a genuine neutral. The Inge style is also available in black leather on a poplar base.

Ankle wraps, clogs and bows are not suitable choices for everyone, to be sure. I’ll report more options in shoe sanity as I see them profiled in the fashion press.

The Comfortable Sexy Shoe Matrix

Finding stylish yet comfortable shoes can be a challenge these days, as designers and stylists seem to take an all-or-nothing approach to height:  sky-high heels often accompanied by platforms, or the flattest of flats. Here are some of spring’s newest designs, interpreted as to what they say about the wearer – in this case, “I’m the Boss” – from the March 2012 issue of InStyle magazine:

The March 2012 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal contains a wonderfully informative article by author Lauren Lipton entitled “Our Smart, No-Judgment Guide to Wearing Cute Shoes and Sexy Heels–Without Too Much Torture.” The article balances  statistics from the American Podiatric Medical Association about shoe-related maladies with the recognition that “There’s no mistaking the seductive pull of a beautiful pair of shoes.”

The article includes a discussion of how to prevent or to fix such shoe-related foot problems as bunions, hammertoes, Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, and Haglund’s deformity, a bone spur that develops at the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon attaches.

Included with the article is this superb matrix, assigning styles of shoes on a continuum from sexy to not so sexy, and from unhealthy to healthy.

Lipton writes: “The good news is that you don’t have to pack away your sexy high heels. Just wear them less often, for shorter periods and for occasions where you won’t be on your feet too much.” To keep your feet healthy, “try switching regularly between a variety of low, supportive footwear.”

Lipton concedes on the matrix page, “Let’s face it. The perfect shoe–drop-dead sexy, healthy and comfortable–doesn’t exist. Most styles fit somewhere on this spectrum. But designers are rising to the challenge. . . .”

One of the designers promoting a realistic approach to fashionable footwear is Prabal Gurung, a young designer whose fashions have been worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Rooney Mara, Oprah Winfrey and First Lady Michelle Obama. Gurung launched his eponymous collection in 2009 and was runner up for the 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.

The March 2012 issue of InStyle  profiles Gurung and his philosophy of dressing: “Your clothes should provide an honest portrait of who you are, in fabrics that make you really happy.” Among his practical tips: Choose lower heels. “I’m not a fan of super-high shoes. And you want to walk tall when wearing brights!”

Notice the purple dress shown above right on the page from InStyle, illustrating “an easy shape.” Gurung comments: “Don’t ever wear anything that isn’t sincerely flattering. This [dress] works for many figures.”

At the moment, it may be even more difficult to find comfortable sexy shoes than it is to find a dress in a shape that flatters many figures. I’ll be watching for both.