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.

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  • I don’t care what people say about Kitten Heels, or Midi Heels. People don’t care for them, they think it somehow doesn’t make you a “woman” if you can’t just go for the heel. I love all shoes, but Midi heels for some reason give me just what I need. The look gives me a certain feeling and they are comfortable since I have a long Matatarpal…bone in my foot. I don’t know, it ends in Tarpal that’s all I know. It’s long as heck and it hurts to stand on the ball of my foot in shoes. So Midi’s Kittens, and flats with a slight heel aren’t just my thing, they make it comfortable to be fashionable. Which is always a win in my book. I don’t have the patience to be in pain while wearing shoes.

    • Sharon Macklin

      Metatarsal – The metatarsus or metatarsal bones are a group of five long bones in the foot, located between the tarsal bones of the hind- and mid-foot and the phalanges of the toes.

  • cool on the block

    I love this kind of heels, specially because they are really comfy!


  • Alyssaspeaks

    For me, its a love/hate relationship. I love it as a chunky heel on a sandal and as those gorgeous Valentino ankle-strapped pumps but I hate it if it looks like the Ferragamo ones.
    By that I mean if it looks like it could potentially deceive people from the front that it is a heel it shouldn’t be a mid-heel.
    The Valentino ones don’t count because they look like ballet flats from the front (thanks to the ankle strap).

  • Alicia Arkell

    Shit ya. Midi heels on midi skirts with midi sleeve tops and midi-type accessories. Leandra, you and I would totally be friends if you lived in toronto.

  • Alexandra

    I say don’t discriminate in the name of shoes. I like pumps, mules, slingbacks, stilettos, platforms, ballet flats, sneakers, loafers, oxfords and yes, even kitten heels for the same three criteria: look, feel and resilience. They have to appeal to my taste, be more than bearable to walk in for at least five blocks and not fall apart in one stroll (nixing forever 21 as a shoe provider). Loving what you’re wearing and feeling great in them is really what makes a shoe awesome.

  • Curvily NYC

    Good good. I have an excellent pair of colorblock Prada midheels that have been waiting for this moment.

    • Leandra Medine

      Photo pls.

      • Curvily NYC

        Just for you, Leandra.

  • GlamourGirl_bg

    i’m not a big fan of mid-heel shoes, but they are surely comfy 🙂

  • runway2street

    Love having a mix of heel heights including kitten and mid heels. Think they have a chic, French allure to them – especially for day.

  • Perry

    Margiela creates the most beautiful mid-heels.

  • Quinn Halman

    There’s a certain sophistication that goes with the mid-heel. I find they’re a little too mature for my style though.

  • Aubrey Green

    I don’t like kitten heels, but the midi heel is great, especially if you are someone like me who is rarely in flats, it still gives me a little bit of height, but I can run around all day in them and my feet won’t hurt. I really believe that I am not one who can wear flats, they literally look terrible on me, terrible!! – I had some flats on the other day, some type of Nike shoe because I was moving and my friend said, “ha, flats really do look funny on you, it really doesn’t suit you at all” –

  • Stefanie

    Haha, I’m coming around to the mid-heel too. I used to hate them! I actually featured a pair on my blog today. Samesies!

  • Sarah Braden
  • Sarah Braden
  • So adorable! Such great styles, looking chic! Ballet flats can also be interchangeable with mid-length heels

  • Lydia

    I looove a midi heel! I bought a pair of black and white block midi heels this year (which I like to say are ‘inspired’ by the monochrome Robert Clergie ones) and I absolutely love them. Perfect balance of comfort and sophistication.

  • Jamie

    I love the mid heel! Mostly because I can’t take high heels during the day anymore. Function is winning at this point so I’m glad there are cute options out there 🙂



  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    I ADORE the mid heel. if you think of all the super cool sixties girls – it was either flat or mid heel – never ever high. They had an effortless, not trying too hard, laid back glam that you just can’t get with sky scraping heels.

  • Alicia Carolina Meichtry
  • I love short and mid just as much as sky high ones. They make it alot easier to around all day on your feet and still get to feel “dressed up” or for me gives me that extra inch or two to my height. They are just as good as big ones.

    Hayley xx

  • LAX girl

    i just couldn’t resist to share my version of the sexy mid-heel booties :

  • I’m fairly short so I tend to go for heels that are higher, however, I have shorter, barely there ones tucked away I go to every once in a while. I tend to wear shorter heels with skirts that are short as well because a sky-high heel and a short skirt can look trashy real fast. Trying to keep it classy here.

  • Jill S

    Nope, not gonna do it. I like ’em flat-flat or high (3″ or higher). There’s no middle ground. Plus I’m a size 10 U.S. and some of those mid-heels make my feet look HUGE (I mean, they *are* huge but there’s no reason to advertise it, right?). I’m more excited about the “pointy-toe flat trend” that will supposedly be big for 2014. As I’m not really a ballet flat girl either. Picky, am I. 🙂

  • nicole

    anyone know who makes this pair that kate bosworth has been sporting a ton?

  • Amadee Stenzel

    They’re the only kind of heel I can wear without twisting my ankle and I thank the fashion gods for making them trendy. Just wrote a post about block heels earlier today for Bone & Finn

  • I’m a huge fan of a midi heel or kitten heel. Especially chunky ones that look like something my grandma may have worn. I love to walk around the city, and comfort is key.