All about shoes
Go ahead and admit it: shoes are difficult to
hate. They flatter even on "fat" days, add zip to even the most
boring outfit and instantly boost your sex appeal.
Even if your passion for shoes doesn't
approach a Celine Dion-level of devotion (500 pairs and
counting), you'll find now is the time to indulge in trendy
styles. We're definitely experiencing a shoe moment in fashion
and what you wear down below may even be more important than the
sum of your total outfit.
The media have sparked an intense interest in
high-end designers like fashionista fave Manolo Blahnik by
reporting on Hollywood celebs who wear the styles, including
Jennifer Aniston who got married in a custom pair. Even "Sex and
the City"character Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is obsessed
with the $500+ styles.
Apparel is cycling on hyper trends, bouncing
from Utility Chic to the '70s to the '80s in just a few seasons,
with varying degrees of disinterest from consumers.
On the other hand, footwear isn't crippled by
the same sort of style schizophrenia. Instead, boots have become
Fall/Winter staples, and sandals a year-round fave. The fabrics
and colors may change, but shapes are sticking around for longer
than a nanosecond.
The Net has even contributed to the footwear
fad by making even the most exclusive styles available just a
few clicks away (see Elsewhere on the Web).
Some historians point out that boots are the type of footwear
most closely associated with war and thereby signal strength.
Tall, tight boots may also signal torture.
The New York Observer reported that women of all sizes are
having trouble cramming aerobicized calves into snug boots:
"Which has left scores of women chagrined about not being able
to zip up this season’s boots and asking themselves, What, a
new body part I have to feel insecure about?"
If you don't find a tall pair of boots to fit,
don't fret because the mid-calf and ankle styles are just as
chic and much less stressful to fit. Stretch suede or fabric add
comfort to tall styles.
Boots are shown in everything from flat boots
to kitten heels to high heels. Shorter styles work best with
pants, mid-calf styles work with cropped pants and skirts,
knee-high boots work best with skirts.
Remember that boots count as statement
footwear so you need to make sure that the rest of your outfit
contains simple, clean lines. Unless you are a professional
stylist, the more is more thing is slippery at best.
Although high heels were originally designed for women in the
early 16th century, men took a shine to the height boost and
adapted the style for themselves. Louis XIV was said to have
been such a fan that he imposed a death penalty on anyone except
the "privileged class" who dared to wear them.
Today, open-toed (peep toe), slingbacks, mules
and a host of other sexy, feminine styles make an appearance.
Look for sculptured, feminine heels: clunky is out.
Who says girls get to have all the
fun? Not footwear designers like Kenneth Cole who shows sleek
boots for guys in exotic-look skins like ostrich and snake skin.
Men's footwear even gets kicky with
squared-off toes and comfy, thick soles. Black and brown are the
main colors for him, with smooth leathers, nubuck and suede
dressing things up a bit.
If the shoe doesn't fit, don't buy it. It
won't stretch enough to be comfortable and goodness knows, your
feet will never shrink. Make sure you follow these guidelines:
- There should be about 1/2" between the
tip of your biggest toe and the end of the shoe.
- Stand up when being fitted because feet
are longer when you're standing.
- Buy shoes at the end of the day when feet
- Measure both of your feet - they may not
be the same size.
It may sound chic to say you have to
suffer for fashion, but corns, bunions, hammer toes, shortened
calf muscles and ingrown toenails don't sound like "must-haves"
for the fash pack. These afflictions may be exactly what you're
getting when you reach everyday for the stilettos instead of the
A report last year from the American Academy
of Orthopedic Surgeons found that only 21 percent of women wore
high heels (more than two inches) to work, compared with 34
percent 10 years ago, according to OnHealth.com.
Instead, women are reaching for sensible shoes.
The ideal shoes? Some podiatrists recommend
one-and-a-half to two-inch chunky heels with padded insoles and
plenty of room for the toes to move, according to eFit.com
Improve foot health
- Limit the amount of time you wear high
heels. Alternate with good quality flats for part of the
day, and choose comfort shoes for weekends and casual use.
- Choose shoes that give your toes room to
move. Experts recommend laced, rather than slip on shoes for
- Make sure your sandals have straps.
- For high heels with thin soles, you can
even have a thin rubber sole cemented to the bottom of the
shoe to cushion the foot.
- According to Dr. David Stege, a
specialist in foot and ankle disorders, even nylon pantyhose
can cause excessive perspiration which may encourage fungal
infections like athlete's foot. "Inexpensive nylon pantyhose
can also cause forefoot problems...the cramping and pressure
of the hose can contribute to ingrown toenails and
hammertoes," according to his web site.
Special foot considerations
If you're over 65 make sure you choose lightweight,
shock-absorbing soles that are not slippery and leather uppers
If you're pregnant, realize that your feet may
grow a full size -- give up the high heels! Look for
substantial, comfy styles with thick, supportive soles.