The Jig is Up: Slingbacks Don’t Work

And I just want to know why


We live in a world that is constantly being “revolutionized.” This is a term that “disrupters” — those who revolutionize — like to throw around fairly freely.

Let me further explain. Blackberry saw a problem with the way in which our mobile phones operated and thus, we became keyboard-doting denizens of motility. Steve Jobs didn’t see the purpose for a screen that wasn’t touch-optimizied and that was the end of those keyboards. Before there was the iPad, there was the laptop, and before that, there was the brick-of-a-computer that sat on its ass like a flat tire in the middle of a highway, producing aggravating sounds.

But these advances bleed beyond tech gadgets. Remember when we shopped in stores? Actually tried shoes on before swiping to the left in order to obtain them? What about when we still had to hail cabs? Or wait for the subway with reckless abandon, unsure of precisely when it would get to the platform. We still bought in bulk from Costco with our physical bodies as opposed to our mere fingertips, for heavens sake.

It would seem fair, then, to suggest that the “innovators” of today are committed to, you know, innovating the rather prosaic and quotidian tasks of our lives. But for the trivially impaired, those who enjoy a good shoe that separates before it can connect, here’s a question: why has no one set out to solve the problem of slingbacks? I walked to work this morning in a pair and within a block (I’m being generous), the back straps were down, my foot was seesawing, my prehistoric bones were completely exposed (you’d think they would at least help hold up said straps) and I was left thinking that if I’d wanted a pair of mules, I’d have just bought them. You know?

Manolo Blahnik has been making them for decades. So has Louboutin. And Jimmy Choo. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a single designer who hasn’t put their stamp on the interpretation of the shoe that, unlike the little engine, simply couldn’t.

And sure, they look good while you’re just standing, and in theory, they’re a great idea — not a pump, not not a pump and no ankle strap necessary. In practice, though, there’s just no palpable solution to the inevitability that should you wish to wear a pair, you must also concede to forgo a basic (though not unappreciated) human ability to walk. But there has got to be a better way. We’ve solved the archaic problem of ground transport with automobiles, of coffee-making with Nespresso machines, heck, we have even unlocked a solution for people who want sex, but don’t necessarily want to go out to get it, with Tinder.

So what gives, multifarious makers of the sling back? Are you going to revolutionize the age old silhouette or what?

Get more Personal Style ?
  • Sounds like a job for a shengineer (shoe engineer).

    • Amelia Diamond

      sounds like it indeed.

      • Tiffany Cochran

        hey umm… who makes your slings?

        • Ajnira Muminovic

          the future moa XD
          Because Im not wearing heels and walking, I just stand there. So I better start designing xD

    • CJ, you’re an engineer. Capitalize on this universal $truggle. Would make bank.

  • Seems to me shoe designers are as stubborn as the mules they insist upon embellishing!

  • Tania

    The last struggle of our times. Let’s cherish it!

  • I had a pair of vintage slingbacks from the 50’s and the straps surprisingly stayed up. When no concession had to be made on that front, one of the heels finally disintegrated. Just like that — crumbled into the earth.

    So in the rare instances wherein slings stay up, something else will inevitably go wrong. You can’t have it all, and these shoes are out to make sure we have nothing.

    • AlexaJuno

      God, that gif is magnificent.

    • Leandra Medine

      You win

    • Kirsten Maclean-Horrell

      This makes me feel so fucking uncomfortable and I’m wearing flats today…..

  • Lua Jane

    I do poses an old pair from Zara. Pointy black, leather, in fact there is nothing special about them except for the fact that they actually work! They don’t fall of my heel and turn into mules after an hour, and I walked some serious distances in them this very autumn. So whatever the solution may be, Zara could be the one having it.

    • Jessi Malva de Moura

      True. One of my favourite pairs of shoes is a humble Zara slingback. That thing goes for hours! The only ones that can match it comfort wise are Bruno Magli, other brand of choice for this kind of shoe.

  • elizabolt

    I actually have better success walking in well-fitting slingbacks than standard pumps! I find my heel slips out of standard heels otherwise. Just make certain that the strap itself isn’t stretched out or on a loose notch.

  • Kortney

    Every time I wear my Manolo sling backs they slip off me and I imagine myself amount to face plant into the next cute guy in a suite walking past me in the financial district. But yes, they look darn cute just. standing. still. no. movement. musn’t. move. or. else. SLIPATTY DO DA DAY!

  • I can so relate to the strap falling down its so irritating, although they look beautiful I prefer a pair of classic heels x | fashion, beauty, and everything under the sun.

  • ashli

    *gets phone call immediately from carolina herrera PR offering new “updated” versions*

  • Tami

    Slingbacks are indeed a problem. But I also want to take a moment to condemn the peeptoe high heel, an excruciating toe-extruding torture device.

  • Johnny Cotton

    Why not designate the Slingback to the same role as that of a platform? Meaning they can only be worn once you’ve REACHED your destination? Up to that point, flip-flop city!

  • Jessi Malva de Moura

    My sensitive feet are picky with the sandals, so slingbacks are my to-go shoes. You are right, however. Some- even from the finest designers – do tend to slide. Oh well, they are so comfy in all other regards that I let it pass.

  • Sirenetta85

    I asked myself the same question a couple of days ago!!! Very uncomfortable and impossible to walk in, not the mention the wounds above the heel! NO!

  • Sigrun

    I haven’t yet found a pair that works that doesn’t have a strap to secure you while walking, so there are no sling backs in my closet right now, but would love love love a pair that is actually easy to walk in!

  • Jamie

    A MILLION TIMES YES. I have a love-hate relationship with slingbacks for this reason.

  • ah yes, i never get sick of slingback slippage. if someone finds a solution let me know.

  • lavieenliz
  • Over the knee boots, too. Does anyone else’s fall down ALL OF THE TIME?


  • Layla Corcoran

    I have this issue with pumps. I can’t walk in them. My foot comes out. Is my heel too narrow? It’s so odd. Nothing really works.

    For sling backs, I will only buy ones with a tight fitting elastic at the back. I don’t care much for the style though.

  • Ana

    All male shoe designers. Clearly they never had to walk in them, they dont know the struggle is real.

  • I’m a shoe designer and this type of sling back does not work very well. Everyone’s ankles are different, and so a leather back strap that universally fits is rare. Even with an adjustable buckle it still won’t work. An elastic may help. The best sling backs are the ones that connect to the rest of the upper. Those are most likely to fit better. I wouldn’t give up on them. I love them. I’m eager to try on those woven Bottega sling backs!

  • laprairielily

    I always thought this was an issue with my skinny ankles. I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself right now.

  • Juliette

    Leandra is a Joan. Didion, that is. The writing is always about what’s between the lines and I’m convinced this article has nothing to do with slingbacks. I almost cried after reading this post as I realized how modern day conveniences – online shopping, uber, tindr, seamless, flycleaners – further isolate me from the wonderful and interesting people in this city. Let’s head to a store after work, purchase slingbacks, and walk in them tonight to a bar for good old fashioned social interaction.

    • Leandra Medine

      that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to/about me.

  • Hilarious. It’s crazy how the world is so focused on advancing the already advanced technologies, yet we have forgotten about the simple things that lack functionality… like sling backs! SO annoying…

  • The slapping noise that you happens when you wear flipflops should be avoided at ALL costs!


    • Leandra Medine


    • OMG. As much as I love my dad, the sound of his house slippers flip-flopping aggressively everywhere he walks drives me craaazy!!

  • MJ

    Slingbacks definitely remind me of my mom..but not in a bad way because, they were cute when she was wore them in the 80s and 90s. When I was younger I use to wear her shoes and they would always flop right off of my feet.. Today I prefer a nice nude or black pump or some strappy stilettos, but hey everyone has their own style!

  • Effie

    What about the little plastic straps that have adhesive backing that you can stick to the inside of your sling back straps? I find these work for me!

  • Shulie

    heck leandra? really? cmmon!

  • flare jeans for women never gets old indeed. get it from at

  • I totally agree! There has been a real slingback frenzy recently with many slingbacks popping on the streets as well as the red carpet. But honestly they really hard to walk in! I would call them a fashion fad…

  • Jenna

    The slingbacks!? My eyes are on that dreamy Heimstone sweater! I tried to purchase it in Paris after the first run maybe 2 years ago, but no luck. So glad to see they rereleased it. Leandra, how does the sizing run? Help a girl out before she purchases it for gratuitous $$ online… <3

  • Lisako

    THANK YOU! I thought this was just me. My wedding shoes were Jimmy Choo slingbacks and I was cursing myself for buying them all night. Saved by the Zara back up flat 🙂

  • If it aint broke don’t fix it 🙂


    I love your styles!!! I also found this awesome website Name it, they have it! jeans, d fashion designer clothes and the list goes on. You should check it! 🙂

  • ava

    …a little late, BUT: I have a perfect black pair by Pura Lopez (they seem to be good in this 50s vibe and make gerat fitting pumps), no strap ever comes down, the heel is a little higher than a kitten heel, but I can still comfortably walk in them. Love wearing them with my roomy mens trousers from Cos, turned up at the ankle and a chunky sweater. Great for PMS days.