High heels have always been love-hate thing with me. Love the ‘tall and slender’ effect. Hate that walking in them tilts me forward like Mr. Tumnus, the fawn from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

images-1A few months back, at a house party, I noticed a detail that clarified my ambivalence once and for all. In a jagged sea of sole-wrenching stilettos, platforms and peek-a-b0oties, our hostess stood apart. Dressed simply, in a black jersey and leggings, she spent the night gliding across the room in perfectly pedicured, completely un-traumatized bare feet. It was a revelation.

On the subject of heels, I had found my truth.

Even if my moment of clarity leaves you cold, there’s a scientific reason to consider reducing your dependency on heels: they change the basic mechanics of how you walk. Studies indicate that compared to flats, heels encourage shorter, more forceful strides. Over time, this movement pattern can shorten calf muscles and cause joints to reset in a way that starts to resist comfortable footwear. Even running shoes start to feel wrong. I once read Mariah Carey exercises in heels because her feet ‘repel’ flat shoes. And that Victoria Beckham refuses to wear flats, claiming they interfere with her concentration. Don’t let it get to that.


Tonight, I will put on a tailored black jumpsuit and a pair of vintage silver pumps. Then I’ll remember my friend from the party, who didn’t try so very hard and looked all the more elegant for it. And I’ll slip into my Stuart Weitzman flats and never look back. Or hobble forward. So long Jimmy Choo. I hardly knew you.


Katherine Gougeon (editor@intheco.com) is editorial director of The Co.