The Great Debate: Flats vs. Heels

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by Amelia Diamond
December 3, 2013
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Because it’s Shoesday, baby, and we’re alive.

My mom used to have these violet leather pointy heels that came with a bow on top. They looked like something Jackie O would have worn if she were emulating Betty Boop. That’s how I remember them now at least, looking through the lens of my five-year-old self.

Fast forward a decade to high school where, maybe keeping in mind the shoes I loved that were my moms, I went through a strict heels-only phase. I probably wanted to look taller, or more fashionable. (Naturally, I achieved neither.) With a dress code that restricted me to khakis and polos, I suppose the only way to claim that I was, in fact, stylish was to flaunt my initiation using footwear.

The problem was, attending school in an urban city meant crossing streets between two campuses and climbing up giant, steep hills on my way home. Or riding public transportation and therefore flinging around like an idiot every time the bus stopped short. Falling on strangers’ laps by accident was an awkward, near daily routine, but for some reason my determination to wear heels held strong in spite of the mentioned perils.

Once I reached college — and I do hope you’re enjoying the outline of life’s trajectory via footwear — it was practically a sin to not wear heels out. I shuffled to class each day in sheepskin-lined boots, but come night fall and a house party I grew 5 inches taller faster than Tyson Chandler must have as a pubescent boy.

Next came my transition to the City. During the early stages of my foray into becoming a New Yorker, YSL Tributes were Everything with a capital, snappy E. They were actually also literally everything because I don’t think you could have found a single-sole shoe at the time even if you’d tried. In a city of models, neck deep in an industry like fashion and amidst a suspiciously tall general public, high heels acted as my main source of confidence. I felt stark nude without them.

But then, a few years after settling into the metropolis that boasted humans high as sky scrapers, my 5’3 frame suddenly didn’t feel so short. Maybe designers were finally sending shoes down the runway that didn’t represent some sort of toolshed weaponry, or perhaps I’d hit that happy, I-don’t-give-a-shit spot. Which isn’t to say I grew lazy, I was just…a New Yorker now. Loafers and thick soled creepers started to feel much cooler. Ballet flats, when done right, added just the right exclamation point to an otherwise masculine outfit, and mandals, well, you know how this one goes.

Chalk it up to my growing bunions or the fact that one half of fashion’s mixed signals are resonating particularly well with me. Where one magazine might tell me that this spring is “All About Pumps,” another muses that “The Flat is Back!” So which is it? Why can’t it be both? Surely our feet would prefer that we stick to one single height at a time, lest we begin to limp like one-legged toads, but can’t our closets assume enough room (in their hypothetical hearts, that is) to cradle the likes of both — heels and flats?

Or should we just cut the Kumbaya crap and pick only one? Pretend this is camp, and you’ve gotta choose a team. Which will it be? Flats or heels? Go!

REPLIES
  • bethany

    Platforms: best of both worlds

  • Quinn Halman

    It honestly depends on my mood. You should know I struggle in heels, but whenever I wear them, I want to. I want to go out, impress my family with my poise, or make an outfit even better thus proving myself worthy of the title “fashionable person”. Flats are great because they’re generally more comfortable and, let’s face it, practical. Where I think heels get the extra edge is how they make your body look. We’ve all stood on our tip-toes in a change room mirror for a reason.

    • CDJ

      ever stand on your tippity toes in a photograph not knowing your feet would be in the picture? holy embarrassing. especially when you’re in a devil costume on Halloween.

      • Quinn Halman

        Work it.

    • Martine

      Sometimes flats simply look better. I actually don’t think heels make the body look better in reality, just in theory. I have caught sight of myself walking in heels, and my first thought is always “frumpy”. When I wear flats, especially with a bit of a platform, I always look leggy. Heels only look good if you have legs that are very thin, and very long, or if you are standing still, posing.

  • http://thoughtsofglam.com/ ThoughtsofGlam

    Heels. You can wear the frumpiest outfit and look put together once you throw a pair of heels on. Plus I’m 5′ 3 on a good day, so, every inch helps!

    thoughtsofglam.com

  • T.L.

    I love debating this topic! I say flats all the way, but heels for mostly sitting occasions.

    http://hellogiggles.com/i-refuse-to-wear-heels

  • Emanuella

    I say both!! Why not embrace a Quasimodo swag as we walk :P
    No but in all seriousness, flats for the day and heels for partayyy!

  • http://randee-l-k.tumblr.com/ goldwaffle

    I’d rather dress down a fancy outfit with flats than dress up a frumpy outfit with heels. I think flats look chic, cool, and IDGAF where as heels looks unsteady and ungainly. Then again I am 5’10″ so I am biased.

  • Cass

    I have flats that have almost crippled me (traitors) and found heels I can (but don’t) run a mile in. i think we need both.

    • Mattie Kahn

      As far as I am concerned, uncomfortable flats violate the laws of the Geneva Convention.

  • Curvily NYC

    If I had to choose one, it would be flats, no question. Heels are gorgeous, but living in NYC has made me a flats devotee. Thankfully, I don’t actually have to pick one side forever.

  • Dee

    Heels! Sturdy, thick heeled, platforms are basically flats to me.

  • http://www.beautifymylifeblog.com Jessica

    I want to be a heels girl, I really do. And I love how I look when I wear heels. But inevitably when I walk into my closet every morning to get dressed, it’s my flats that get pulled out over and over. I rarely wear heels unless it’s a big night out (which is rare these days with a toddler at home).

  • TheNextAnna

    Thank God we can have both! I am 4’10, I find that people treat me differently when I wear heels. It depends on the occasion. Heels can give power at certain times, but flats always give you the chance to run away at a moments notice.

  • Polly Daszkiewicz

    Flats. I twisted both my ankles on separate occasions and now they’re so weak that I look like Bambi on the ice whenever I wear heels. Which is obviously not fashionable in the slightest!

    http://www.polway.eu

  • Shulie

    Amelia I can recommend an excellent minimally invasive bunion surgeon, you legit walk out of the docs office when done

    • Daria Birang

      who is it, i need him.

      • Shulie

        his name is Dr. Ira Wiesenthal 516.931.1212 there is a long wait list but be sure to call for cancellations ( I got one a week after my consult when my appointment was for 6 months later)

  • http://www.lezu.com/ L’ezu

    Love flats and heels! The Jak & Jil sandals are divine… Check out amazing new flats at http://www.lezu.com !

  • http://hmlovur.blogspot.nl/ HMLovur-

    Both! I love heels, they make me feel confident. But flats are a lot nicer when you go shopping. Though I always have the most trouble finding the right flats.

    http://www.hmlovur.blogspot.nl

  • donna

    Only flats!
    don’t like what heals do to knees and to back :)

  • http://Mysmallwardrobe.com/ Carelia

    I am almost 5’5″ in a good day and I don’t mind to wear flats or heels. I WEAR THEM ALL. Even when sometime flats make me look stumpy, oh well. Comfort is priceless ;-)

    Ahoy, Matey! Nautical with a Twist! – New blog post on:
    http://www.mysmallwardrobe.com

  • Pahtrisha

    Both in equal quantities. I carry flats in the car and sometimes slip them on when in a hurry. Flats are practical and I always feel fatter the day after wearing heels because I have not moved as quickly. I am 5’8″ so can wear either. But everyone needs flats in their closet.

  • Jay

    I’m a 6ft 2in lady so I think I’ve worn heels maybe twice? LOVE what they do for my butt. Still I stride around in my red Doc Marten Chelsea Boots cos I’m a Londoner and IDGAF.

  • Doha

    Flatforms?!

  • Brie

    i am 6’3”. so ….flats. but i will do heels once a week or so because my husband loves me at 6’6”. even though he is only 6’3”.

  • Alice

    Both! And there’s nothing like beautiful smoothly shaven legs to make them look even better. We’re a shaving company called Dorco, and we think every woman should be able to afford high quality razors. Check out our prices for yourself at DorcoUSA.com. Thanks for this post; loved the pictures.

  • Keta Vashakmadze

    i think it’s easier to look good on heels but not everyone can rock flats

  • Devin

    This is definitely a hard one. For practicality, of course I
    would go with flats and for me and my bunions as well. But while I pick my
    uniform for the day, inside me little fashionista minions chant “heels,
    heels, HEELS!”. Gosh darn it all I choose heels–Team Heels win most often.
    They boost confidence, self-esteem, and can make a dull outfit explode with
    vitality.

  • Iris Nguyen

    Heels! As in moderately high heels – nothing past 4 inches. I just love how graceful and sensual a woman can walk in heels.

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    FLATS. I will never ever wear heels again – even to black tie. I can guarantee you this. They f*king ruin every event I go to because all I can think about is how horrible and painful my feet feel and how I can’t wait to get the f*ck out of there and get these unnatural, ill conceived, little pinching, blistering b*stards OFF my feet.

  • The a Hipster Housewife

    I’m 6’1. I tower over mostly everyone to begin with, but I love throwing on a pair of 3in heels and just becoming this crazy amazon woman. It’s as if my heels allow me to slip into this powerful alter ego, in which I can strut around with my middle finger up and couldn’t be bothered by what anyone thinks of me. BUT that being said, I live in flats in my day to day life, boots, ballet flats, loafers, red pointy toe d’orsay flats (love)…. If I HAD to choose, it would be flats. I’m a carpenter by trade, and my men’s work boots are pretty much essential. I really don’t think the guys would take me seriously if I showed up in my favorite leopard print calf hair pumps!

    But I kind of want to do it now.

  • Saakshi Kaushik

    Sorry Amelia, I just stalked you out on Instagram.

  • Lorna Sandison

    If I have to choose, then provided I could find a pair of heels that I could walk for miles in, then heels all the way! I’m 6 feet and spent many of my teenage years being told that I should only ever wear flat shoes. Recently, I figured that I just don’t care anymore!

  • MSCFBeeches

    Kinda surprised at how many flat-fans there are here. Refused to wear heels for most of life. Now I’m a convert. there’s something about heels that make ANY outfit work. Must admit, when I see a lady in a nice ‘fit, I deflate if I pan down and see flats :-x

    Mysocalledfashion.com

  • Connie

    Flats flatly flat flats. Toujours les flats.

  • Amommy

    I have joined the flats train in recent years but heels will always hold my heart. As a lady-person trying to achieve a more proportioned look in spite of my stubby legs, heels just can’t be beat. I’ve recently instituted the rule of flats with skirts/dresses only so I can cheat with a belt/nipped waist to make my legs look longer.

    Good talk.

  • Amanda GREY

    Bunions! They do happen.
    3″ heels are PERRRRRfect. but they are nowhere to be find.

    • Claire

      I hear you sister! I am sick of the 4+ inch heels that – let’s be honest – many women cannot walk in. I read an article in podiatric magazine that said that if you must wear heels, the ideal height should be 3-3.75″. Any higher and you cause irreversible damage to the foot. That’s why I always cap my heel height at 3.75″ (there are some great affordable shoe companies that offer these heel heights!).

  • http://www.stylefile.in/ Dayle Pereira

    Flats all the way even though I’m short. Because their so comfy and can be really pretty!

    http://www.stylefile.in

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    I waited for a long time to wear heels (and I’m still not comfortable wearing them) as I’m all about comfort. So it’s flats for everyday and heels for going out, they make me feel like a woman.

    Mafalda ❤
    http://www.mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Visually, I much prefer heels, they are more fun to look at. But at 5’9 I am quite happy with flats – I mostly need my legs for walking :-)

  • Milica Stojsic

    flats – they are oh-so-much-more-inspiring because by default they’re not sexy/chic so you have to make them that way!

    xx

    http://hypemyhip.blogspot.com/

  • Lena

    I’m 5 feet tall and have struggled with this dilemma constantly, after many ankle injuries and blisters, scars etc I know where you’re coming from. But as a 22 year old I’ve ultimately decided to ditch the heels. However, I’m jumping on this platform/flatform trend like no tomorrow.

  • Kiri Yanchenko

    Flats to the venue and heels all the way. Then once you get tired you always have flats to get back into!

    Kiri

    http://www.fashionblender.com.au

    http://www.facebook.com/FashionBlender

  • Honor

    PLATFORM CREEPERS. The best of both camps.

  • paperstarz

    I’ve never worn heels. /GASP

  • Becca Fleming

    Flats.. only because I am what seems to be a giant at 5’9. I do enjoy walking into a party with 5″ heels on and being taller than all the men there though.

  • Kristen

    Haha. Flatforms all the way.

  • alice

    I wish I could say flats but I’m 5’2″ … maybe in my next life

  • Hallie

    Girl I think you know the answer to this one! FLATS FO LYFE

  • Aubrey Green

    Heels. I’m comfortable in heels and honestly I walk rather well in them. I feel sexier in them and I think they pull my outfit together best – I’m also on the shorter side, 5’5″ (barely), so I like the added height. If I were at-least 5’7″ I would probably wear flats more.

  • Adrianna Grężak

    After living in NYC for six years I’ve completey abandoned heels. I have things to do and many miles to walk, and I’m not going to subject my feet to torture to look taller

  • disqus_VYlxQ4Zy2U

    I think whether to wear heels or flats depends entirely on your lifestyle & where you live. As a fashion conscious grad student living in New York, wearing flat shoes during the day makes the most sense. Fortunately, a chic statement flat can have that same finished effect as a high heel. For the last couple of years I’ve lived in the Valentino rockstud flat (without the cage), which I think can polish any outfit, from a minimalist black ALC jumpsuit to simple jeans and a trench. In colder weather, I’ve answered the flats v heels debate with a 1″ stacked heel boot. This fall Ive been tooling around New York in the Saint Laurent Chelsea boot, which look amazing with anything and add height/polish while still looking effortless and cool. With black track pants and a silk blouse, the boots look perfect for a night out; with leather leggings and a chunky wool sweater they are everyday, understated chic :)

    As a disclosure, my answer is likely biased because I’m 5’9 without heels.

  • Ai-Ch’ng GB

    Flatter shoes (not necessarily flats) for comfort and for sure.

    The highest heel I can bear to see another woman walk in is a chunky 5.5cm: above that, they all look like they are going to put their backs out with their mincing walks, wobbly hips and odd tottering. And absolutely no kitten heels! They make all heels look unglamorously and ginormously bulbous, and the calf and ankle look thick and unbalanced.

    I love my feet, back and knees. So, the highest I can bear to walk in is 2.5cm as loafers, brogues, lace-ups, Converse, ankle boots and those ugly-but-dreamy-feeling Birkenstocks – again – between 2cm-2.3cm high. Ballet flats or anything flimsy under 1cm high make my feet feel like they are scraping the pavement.

    And always, always rounded and generous toe-boxes for comfortable running around.

    On a side-note, I also never break a shoe in anymore. Either it’s like stepping on to a cloud the nanosecond I slide my foot into it at the shop, or I won’t buy it.

    I’ve made a horrifyingly large number of lovely and expensive mistakes over as many years, to bring me to this realisation in only the last thirteen years.

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    Heels heels heels!! Unless I have to walk or stand around a lot. Then I must resort to flats. :P

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com

  • Vania Puspitasari

    Though most of them cause pain, oh crap HEELS all the way!

  • Abbeylinn

    Okay, I have a confession. I’ve deemed myself a fashionista since the day I whined to my mom that I indeed NEEDED different styles and colors of every tutu at the locally owned dance studio. And not to brag but, a sister knows a little something about dressing. However; (and here comes the actual confession part) I HATE shoes. Or maybe I should say hated? Up until a few weeks ago you would think I had not yet even discovered a shoe… And then it hit me… and I’ve bought every pair in sight for the past month. Don’t judge! I’m just playing catch up. The one mystery of the shoe game I have yet to tackle? The Heeled boot. I don’t mean cute heeled booties… I got that. But a serious-ass high heeled boot. Any suggestions on how to stylize that baby?

    PS. I rebelled against dance and just bought the tutus.. sue me.

  • http://eileentheooer.blogspot.com/ Eileen

    I hate platforms for no reason. So, either comfy flats or sexy heels

  • Martine

    both. but more often flats for practicality.

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