My man thinks high heels are sex on legs. But can I find ANY that aren't agony
09:47 GMT, 20 August 2012
Shoes have become an in-joke between me and my boyfriend Chris. We spend our lives texting each other photos of shoes we’ve spotted in shops, fashion ads and online to see if we can reach a compromise.
‘Look at these Alexander McQueen T-strap stilettos,’ he texts.
‘Never be able to run for the bus in those,’ I reply, tartly. ‘But how about these Camper floral wedges Illusion of height but no spike heel.’
Well-shod: Liz says Chris has better taste in shoes than she does. 'He cares more about “structure” and “line”, she says
‘Very nice,’ he texts back diplomatically. Which is Chris-speak for: ‘You may as well stick to flip-flops.’
The problem is that while I am the queen of flat shoes, Chris has an unapologetic love of vertigo-inducing heels by designers such as Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik.
It is partly an unreconstructed male thing. As a small boy growing up in the Sixties, all those images of Emma Peel, Nancy Sinatra and Jane Fonda dressed in bikinis and high heels burned into his consciousness.
Feeling the pinch Liz Hoggard is still searching for high heels that don't hurt
He thinks high heels make women’s legs look sexy and elegant. I, on the other hand, am not happy wearing anything that stops me walking fast or is likely to pitch me down a flight of stairs.
Ours is a comparatively new romance, and on our first date I wore flip-flops (a disaster because there was a freak rainstorm and I virtually had to swim into the bar).
Chris says he wasn’t too downhearted because ‘it was summer, and you never know what a lady has in her wardrobe’.
But by date four he was getting the picture.
before I met Chris, I made the decision to give up on ‘girl’ shoes. As a
freelance writer, I need to be able to run around for work, and with
broad, size 8 feet I have a nightmare wearing heels. Even kitten heels
rip them to bits.
Just one stiletto: Chris (above) urged Liz to ditch the flats
But admittedly, there is a feminist undertow, too. Shoes may be jewels for the feet but I’m ambivalent about women hobbled for style — even if it is completely their choice.
When I’ve interviewed podiatrists to the stars, including Margaret Dabbs and the ‘king of feet’ Bastien Gonzalez, they’ve told me horror stories of women in their 30s who can no longer put their heels on the floor.
Feet are the foundation of the body. They need to be treated with respect.
wore court shoes with medium-sized heels in my 20s (back when I was
thinner — I think it helps if you’re light on your feet). But over the
years, heels came out only for parties.
few summers ago, after a particularly vicious attack on my tootsies by a
pair of stilettos, I found myself in the chemist stockpiling plasters
and adhesive bandages, and thought: ‘This is insane, it’s got to stop.’
Oh, the deep, deep peace of flat shoes after the hurly-burly of agonising heels.
save a small fortune on plasters. Plus, flats don’t have to be dull —
think handmade brogues, mules, sequined ballet pumps (very Audrey
Hepburn) or rock-girl biker boots.
me, the sexiest fashion image is a pair of long brown feet in delicate
Diane von Furstenberg flip-flops. Or a chic pair of boyish lace-ups.
And I’m not the only one.
British women have the highest heels in Europe, at an average of 3.3in
Actress Rachel Weisz admitted
recently that when she’s not on red-carpet duty: ‘Finding comfy shoes
that look good is the challenge. Living in New York, I definitely
appreciate comfortable shoes as you walk a lot in the city.’
this is the woman who is married to James Bond. But what to do Chris
is a very tolerant man and would never dream of imposing a style on me
but I do want him to enjoy what I wear — and find me sexy.
I track down a pair of heels that will work, even if it’s just for the
odd night Chris and I go to Kurt Geiger in London’s Mayfair to try and
find a style to challenge my shoe prejudices.
It happened to be one of the hottest
days of the year and I felt like an ageing Cinderella trying to jam my
feet into teeny shoes. It takes all my self-control not to head for the
gold trainers I buy from the store every year.
World's apart: Chris would prefer Liz to wear sexy, well-designed heels, while Liz prefers to wear comfortable shoes she can wear to run for a bus
Good taste: Chris would love Liz to wear six-inch stilettos – 'slut pumps' as Joan Rivers would call them – but even he baulked at the garish neon studded shoes that are in most shops this summer, she says
I worried that Chris would have me trying on six-inch stilettos — ‘slut pumps’ as Joan Rivers would call them. But I was wrong and was reassured by how many heels he turned down, including the monstrous DayGlo studded platform heels that are in most shops this summer, which he deemed ‘as garish as an alcopop in the Savoy’.
When the store manager, Che, brought
over a shiny red stiletto with a dagger-like heel, my heart sank. Chris
called them ‘fabulously naughty’ but suggested the same style in a
‘Footwear is sexiest when it has class,’ he says. Happy to hear it.
I tried them on, Chris was impressed: ‘Pure sexy class. I could imagine
Audrey Hepburn wearing these while George Peppard drools over her.’
'Chris thinks high heels make women's legs
look sexy and elegant. I, on the other hand, am not happy wearing
anything that stops me walking fast or is likely to pitch me down a
flight of stairs'
I could see that they look lovely and elegant but I also knew that the only walking I’d be able to do in them would be to a taxi.
Next I tried on a low block-heeled blue shoe. Ahem. Even I could see it made me look like a headmistress in the 1950s.
But the shoes I loved — and actually forgot I was wearing — were a pair of red wedge espadrilles. There was the illusion of height, my legs looked longer, I could balance.
Chris took a wistful look at the slingback. He doesn’t hate wedges — ‘they undoubtedly improve the line of a leg but lack the hint of vertiginous danger,’ he says. But seeing I adored them, he bought me the espadrilles for my birthday, saying: ‘The whole point is you wear shoes that make you happy.’
It was all something of a revelation. Chris actually has better taste in shoes than me.
He cares more about ‘structure’ and ‘line’. He’s doesn’t get seduced by primary colours. In another life he’d probably wear them.
Part of the problem, he argues, is that men’s shoes are so dull and conformist these days — there’s nothing between high-performance trainers and estate-agent shoes.
‘Maybe we’d be less interested in women donning five-inch Jimmy Choos if we had more choice ourselves,’ he says.
Male fashion designers please take note: I’d dearly love someone else to share the sartorial burden.