Are you a fan of heels? Do you loving stepping out in killer heels, the minute you get the chance, or do you actually think they are the Devil's work? Do you wear them for work, and if so, is this because they make you feel empowered (if not a little taller!) or because you feel they are "part of the uniform of office life" and you simply wouldn't feel properly dressed in a pair of loafers?
The Argument for Heels
I spent nearly 20 years working in the City and stilettos were a core part of my office "uniform". Given I am only 5ft 4, wearing a pair of high heels made me feel taller and, if I am totally honest, more feminine. Wearing flats simply made me feel underdressed and, seeing as I am a regular wearer of trousers, if I didn't wear heels, my legs felt short and somewhat stumpy! In an office environment where the majority of staff were men, wearing heels gave me a little extra height which, yes, did make me feel a little more empowered.
The Problem With Heels
The problem with heels is that they are not a practical footwear choice. Heels are no good for a girl about town. Whether that is running to catch a train or bus, walking to work, spending a long Saturday out shopping, taking the dog for a walk or kids to the park. The streets are riddled with grates and drains, just itching to snag your heels and ruin your beautiful shoes. Uneven pavements are traps to make you topple over and dirty puddles will ruin soft leathers and delicate suede shoes. If you are commuting to work or catching a train into town for a night out, do you need to double shoe it and wear flats to get there and heels when you get there? How inconvenient!
The Argument for Flats
With the burgeoning Athleisure market, heels seem to have fallen a little out of favour. Even if you can't wear trainers in the office, it is now much more common for women to wear flats at work. This means no need to take two pairs of shoes to work each day and swap your flats for heels once you get to the office. Flat are (usually) fabulous! They feel really comfy, you can walk to work in them, run for the bus, drive in them and generally forget you are wearing them. As a result, the market for flat shoes has exploded and loafers and ballet flats are really popular.
The problem with flats
Heels hurt and flats are fab. Right? Well, just because your flats don't hurt you on a day to day basis, this doesn't mean they are not damaging your feet. Just ask a podiatrist. Many flat shoe options have very little material between your feet and the ground, which means they lack any support for the very tender and vulnerable arches of your feet. The repetitive pounding of your arches against the floor could eventually lead to collapsed arches. Also, by the very nature of their name "flats" don't tend to have a heel. Even a little heel on a shoe helps give a little support to your heels, again helping to protect from repetitive pounding against a hard surface.
Many flat shoes are designed to look sleek and slim, which is great if you have narrow feet but for women who have wider feet, wearing flats which are too narrow can be just as painful as wearing stilettos, and just as bad for their feet.
Heels - If you are Team Heels, consider the following tips when choosing your shoes:
1) Choose a sensible heel height. This means opting for a heel which you can walk in without feeling like you are toppling forward
2) Choose a shoe with a slightly thicker heel. A thicker heel can look just as stylish but they are so much easier to walk and stand, in. A slightly thicker heel also means an evener distribution of body weight across the foot
3) Choose a shoe with a wider fitting toe box. A wider toe box offers more space for your feet to spread, which means less squashing, fewer blisters, and less pain. As with a chunkier heel, a wider toe box means a wider surface area for better weight distribution.
4) Make sure the shoes have padded insoles. You will soon know if they don't! If you covet a pair of heels without a padded insole then buy shoes a size or half size too big and put padded or gel insoles into the shoe.
Flats - If you are 'Team Flats', consider the following tips when choosing your shoes:
1) Make sure the flats have a small heel. The heel helps cushion your own heels and will give some structure to the shoe
2) Choose shoes that have arch supports. A cushioned arch support acts as a pillow for the softest most tender part of your feet. Arch supports do what they say on the tin and help support foot arches to protect against collapsing.
3) Choose shoes with a wider fitting toe box. When wearing flats your feet will spread at the front of the foot so you might need more space in the toe box. Our shoes have a wider fitting toe box but a standard fit heel cup. This is because most women don't need extra width at the heel. In fact, a shoe that is too wide at the heel will simply slip off the feet. If this is the case, the wearer will try and use the toes in a claw-like fashion to grip the shoes, which is bad for feet and will cause stress to toes and tendons.