Heels vs. Flats: The Great Personal Debate

posted on: Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Heels vs flats

My relationship with shoes is a special one. Oh wait, isn’t it for every woman? Shoes are magical for so many of us, and hell for others. And that, folks, is the official beginning of the eternal and daily debate – does one wear heels or flats?

For autumn winter 2014, Westfield London are spotlighting this question – heels vs. flats – alongside the bigger questions about our wondrous wardrobes including whether or not fashion makes you happy, finding the perfect coat and whether one should go bare faced or bold.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out all the videos yet, trust me when I say they are worth a watch.

Here’s my own personal story behind the big question of heels vs. flats...

Heels vs flats

Ever since I was 13 I have been over six feet tall. When you are 13, and this particular height, you stand head and shoulders above everyone – including the boys around you. It just so happened that at age 13, I started cotillion (formal dance lessons), so that I would know how to foxtrot, box step, etc. I mean really, who doesn’t want to know these things in life? 

That summer we had our first dance where we would attend, as a social function, a kind of mixer with all of our peers. For the event, my mother bought me my first pair of heels. Keeping in mind this was 1993 and I was still just barely a teenager, we weren’t talking substantial stilettos here. These were not the Louboutins of the future. In fact, I do believe they were two inch block heels that resembled what some may call “office heels” these days. My parents didn’t want me growing up too fast, and for that I am thankful.

I arrived at the dance feeling confident and striking. My first experience with heels was a good one. This little lift made me stand taller and walk with incredible confidence. Who knew? Then it came time for my first turn on the dance floor. I was asked to dance and, like something out of a 1950’s movie, surprised my future dance partner when I stood up and found I was five inches taller than he was.

We walked out onto the dance floor and that teenage boy spent the entire dance staring at my chest –his heaven, my mortified hell. I left the dance in tears, threw my heels in my closet and vowed never to wear another set again in my life. I was officially a flats girl.

I kept my flats promise for a good 15 years. Only occasionally would you find me wearing anything other than a flat or kitten heel. I had grown to stand at just over 6’2 and I needed no help whatsoever with height, and so heels became irrelevant. Then I moved to London in 2002. I moved here not really knowing what I was going to do with my life or where I was going to work, but flats were once again a blessing as I found myself walking absolutely everywhere. I’d stare as women attempted to walk the cobblestone streets of Covent Garden and slip and slide as if they were baby Bambis.

Then in 2009 I started Fashion Foie Gras. It was also in that year that I was gifted my first pair of designer heels. In fact, the PR who sent them to me was mortified that I didn’t own anything over a 1 1/2 inch heel. I feel her present was a mercy gift. When they arrived, I took them out of the box and placed them on my mantel. They were beautiful and worthy of a prized position where I could see them everyday. I just couldn’t picture putting them on. Then, a funny thing happened. The same PR invited me out for a brand dinner and asked me to wear the shoes that had been doubling as art work in my home. I reluctantly slipped them on that night and made myself clean my house wearing the heels, hoping to break them in and get used to the feeling of being a grand height of 6’6. As I was vacuuming my bedroom, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Holy hell, I was instantly 15 pounds thinner, or at least appeared to be. My legs were lengthened, my bum seemed to sit higher and I stood up like I would imagine Gisele Bundchen standing on a red carpet. Heels, why oh why had I forsaken you?

I’d like to tell you that I threw away all my flats the next morning and ran out to buy dozens of heels as substitutes. Sadly, at the time, I was making £18,000 a year and was still running around London by foot. Heels were not only unaffordable, they were completely impractical. So I kept the flats and started a rather healthy purchasing habit with heels. It’s amazing what you can buy when you live on PB&J sandwiches for weeks at a time. Ha!

So, where does this all lead today? Well, as of right now I am completely divided in my shoe collection. There are as many heels as flats and every morning the debate rages on as to which way I’ll choose to go. There is just no arguing, however, that heels are truly transformative and usually worth every minute of agony they cause.

But enough about me. I want to know what you think! If there’s anything I know a woman can talk about  - it’s heels. So, in honour of the great debate of heels vs. flats, I’ll be holding a twitter Q&A with Westfield on the 6th of October. Feel free to either comment below on how you feel about heels vs flats and which you prefer, or take to social media and join the conversation on October 6th.

Heels vs flats
Heels vs flats

Here are a few questions to ponder….

If heels came with no pain, would you choose them every time?
If you’re a flats girl, what are the one pair of flats you can’t live without – what’s their style pull that   keeps you coming back for more?
When it comes to designers – are you a high street or high end shoe buyer?
And more on that topic… if you could wear only one designer heel for life what would it be?

That and more we’ll be discussing on October 6th!
Speak to you then!