Fashion notes: Comfort and style finally combine in new shoes
High heels can cause many woes for women. Cracked heels, pinched toes and redness all round is a lot of ache for one person to deal with. To dismiss it as sore feet doesn’t do the pain justice. Worse still, there’s no cure – aside from boycotting high heels altogether, taking extreme surgical measures or injecting your feet with Botox. Don’t scoff – some women resort to these procedures. It’s a problem we have had to suffer for many years. But things are taking a positive turn, with the fashion industry’s latest fixation on heels that are more comfortable and wearable.
Take the cult shoe of the moment: the Chanel slingback. Its neither too-pointed nor too-rounded toe, small block heel and slingback strap celebrate a new era in fashion – one that doesn’t include foot torture. Sadly, the Dh2,800 shoe is sold out in most Chanel stores across the globe – even in its latest grey-and-black colourway, to my dismay. If you have neither the savings nor energy to hunt around personal shoppers’ Instagram pages for coveted Chanels, don’t despair, because the high street has caught on to the trend.
Sock-style heels are another type of comfort-over-looks shoe currently on the market. Niche New York-based shoe designer Maryam Nassir Zadeh pioneered the rise of this trend. Her retro renditions, which cost Dh1,000 to Dh2,000, also gained recognition when luxury leather label Mansur Gavriel was accused of copying her shoe designs (particularly the colourful mules) when it launched a footwear line.
The autumn/winter stock slowly trickling into Zara takes a lot of inspiration from high-end designers, shoes included. Lace-up ballet styles, à la Miu Miu, are in the collection, as are cap-toe, block-heeled renditions of the Chanel slingback.
Sock-style heels, meanwhile, can be found in neutral shades of suede at H&M. Online retailer Asos also has some great offerings, in printed, plain and backless options. Speaking of backless, mules are another example of wearable heels that have resurfaced, though I much prefer the sleek, black options to the wooden clog styles that some brands (such as Gucci and Alexander McQueen) have tried to repopularise. Gucci, however, did bring a clever shoe style to the market this season when it introduced loafers with leather back panels that fold in, turning them into mules. For all of us who resort to sticking plasters onto the backs of our heels so shoes don’t cause blisters or worse, this new style is quite a genius solution, as is the decision to go with square toes. For women such as me, who are cursed with wide feet, ultra-narrow pointed styles are tortuous to fit all five toes in, let alone walk around in for five minutes.
A sign of the working, professional woman used to be an enviably high-heeled shoe – often with the signature Louboutin red sole. But with varying definitions of feminism influencing trends, and man-repelling becoming an increasingly popular style statement, traditional notions of feminine footwear are changing, too. Slowly but surely, women in the workplace are shedding the sexist connotations that place them in tight suits and uber-high heels. We have kicked off our uncomfy pumps, replacing them with lace-up ballerinas, flat-form sandals, relaxed espadrilles and, if your office is super-lenient, sporty trainers. As I type this in our office, which abides by quite a professional dress-code, my feet sit happily inside my latest shoe splurge from All Saints. They’re black, open-back, bow-adorned canvas flats that are somewhat reminiscent of house-slippers. Office appropriate? I will let you decide.