I have to confess something. It's an embarrassing fact for someone who works in fashion, but it's my truth and I have to share it: I hate high heels.
It only took one pair for me to hit my breaking point. Last month, I was wearing a pair of blue suede mules from Banana Republic, bought on sale when I decided I needed to get in on the trend. After walking to several press appointments spread out across town and finding myself stuck standing on a delayed 6 train, I finished the day hobbling to meet a friend for drinks. I cursed every step. I felt betrayed — after all, these were "comfortable shoes!" I insisted to everyone who asked. It was a lie. They were not comfortable, and neither were any of my other shoes clocking in over three inches. It was then I realized: The high heels have to go.
I came home and immediately began rummaging through my shoe rack. (Actually, I came home and immediately took off those damn shoes, but that should be obvious.) Next, I texted my mom to deliver the news. A true fashion hero who wore high heels to every single day of work as an elementary school administrator, she was properly horrified and required some convincing that I wasn't abandoning a life of fashion for a wardrobe of Crocs. My boyfriend soon came in, saw a pile of shoes on the bed and floor, and beyond putting in a request that I save a particularly sexy pair of red velvet wedges, left me to my task.
It wasn't hard to figure out which ones needed to go first, since most of my heels were covered in a fine-to-medium layer of dust due to lack of wear. Some pairs were easy to part with – like the beribboned, satin pink heels I bought at Nine West in college that were reminiscent of Lara Flynn Boyle's infamous Oscar moment. Others required a little debating, like a pair of nude cap-toed heels purchased at Zara, which made my legs look miles long but made my feet feel like they were on fire. Only one was difficult: A pair of black satin Burberry wedges from the Spring 2012 collection, worn by Alexa Chung several times (worn by me once, for five minutes because they hurt so bad) and scored by luck at a Century 21 clearance sale. Those went to The RealReal, where I hope they found a happy home.
Here's the thing: I admire women who can make it through the day in vertiginous heels. I would never deny that a pair of high heels makes any outfit look more polished, not to mention any leg look more sleek. But I am not a sleek, polished woman! I take the subway every day, and I like to be able to bob quickly through tourists without worrying I might snap an ankle or fall in front of a train. I know they say beauty is pain, but in this arena, I value practicality over street style potential. My most-worn shoes are some black flats with a gold heel by Report Signature, so beloved I bought three pairs in case anything ever happened to them. I've resoled each pair twice now.
Thankfully, flats and low-heeled shoes are back on-trend, which means there are still plenty of chic options for me out there. I'm dreaming of Nicholas Kirkwood pointed-toe loafers and Marion Parke buckled Mary Janes for work; glittery Tabitha Simmons flats and bejeweled Miu Miu low block heels for fancier events; and Aquazurra lace-up flats and Gucci loafers for everything in between. (I said dreaming, okay?!) I also have an arsenal of low-heeled designs saved up on Shoes of Prey, where I can put glitter on everything.
In addition to realizing I will never be the woman who wears high heels, the process also made me rethink fast fashion. So many of the shoes I discarded were impulse buys made at Zara, bought because I felt like I should be the type of woman who wears black pointed-toe stilettos to the office every day. Undoubtedly, the low-quality production only added to the discomfort I felt every time I wore them. Going forward, I plan to invest carefully in my shoes and only buy pairs that treat me as well as I treat them.
I got rid of my heels a month ago, and I haven't missed a single pair since. My shoe rack is looking a little empty now though — which means I probably need to do a little shopping for my upcoming birthday, right? I mean, I'm just saying no to high heels, not to joy. Come on.