All Hail the Mid-Heel
Finding style in indifference
They say the difference between smart people and stupid people is that the former learns from their mistakes. The stupid people, on the other hand, just continue to either make the same mistakes or confront the same difficulties without supposing that there might be a solution.
In the case of my idiocy, I recently spent a chunk of mornings putting on the same pair of jeans (they are my beloved; mid-rise, slouchy and cuffed to fall just an inch below the heel of my foot) and then taking them off. I would try on every shoe in my closet only to render each and every pair more useless than a pharmacy branded nail file. This is not a normal routine to indulge especially when, as a self-proclaimed sick fuck, I own upward of 50 pairs of shoes.
To say that I might never need another pair is a worse understatement than to say that brie cheese is a decent snack.
It occurred to me that I was experiencing a mild-to-severe hankering for a pair of shoes I’d previously had a hard time acknowledging. Where I have historically sympathized with that which is finite (see: flats or heels), I was looking for the shoe equivalent of Switzerland.
It was to be neither here nor there. Pro nor against. I wanted neutrality.
The thing about these shoes is that they’re also like Paris. Which is to say that they’re a good idea. In some ways, too, they can be likened to New York but only in that if you need to get somewhere really late, they will facilitate that journey seamlessly.
Last season during Paris Fashion Week, I came across ballet slippers in the window at the Isabel Marant boutique on Rue Jacob. They featured a heel no shorter than two inches, no taller than three, and when I saw the lone French woman in the entire infested-by-Americans shop try them on, I knew that Isabel Marant and her vanguards were onto something.
In a world post wedge sneaker and loosely prior to the proliferation of man shoes, it can be assumed at worst, granted at best, that comfort trumps beauty and as a result, so too redefines what we consider beautiful.
If, for example, you were to see a woman walking down the street, preposterous sneaker wedge balloon-tongue on foot, you probably wouldn’t think, what the hell. If you’re initiated, it’d be more like, damn, she’s cool or damn, she’s late. I might actually argue, in fact, that the induction of Birkenstocks into the fashion zeitgeist is a result of the modern, wedge-sneaker-propelled conception of “ugly chic.”
What about she who “gets it” though, but just prefers to remain, let’s say, dainty south of the ankle?
As someone who prides herself on an ability to masquerade her gender using nothing but thematic clothes and corresponding accoutrements, I must admit that there are days when I just want a delicate shoe to serve as a reminder — if only for myself — that underneath the premeditated exterior, there is a woman. Which is where my foot stands in defense of the mid heel.
But I’m not necessarily talking kitten heels here. I’m envisioning your favorite winter boots in ballet-shoe formation. Or your grandmother’s old Ferragamo flats, the tangible articulation of Giorgio Armani’s lady and the spate of shoes from not just Isabel Marant but even less recently, Valentino and Chloé or more recently, Charlotte Olympia and Céline and Maiyet.
Of course, my opinion is but a finger tip in the footwear basin, so, please, expound on your mid-heel mandate.