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!