Monday, 30 March 2015

A Spring in my Step

It’s no secret that I’m a flat shoes aficionado – I’ve said that much before. I like their stability, their practicality, their strideability (I’m making that a word, as of now). I’m a quick walker, committed dancer and regular cycler. All of these are improved by having things on my feet that are comfortable rather than intricately pretty.

But there’s still an issue – namely, the navigating of fancy events more suited to elevated heels than battered boots. Most of my flats err towards the pragmatic, my favoured choice at the moment being these much-loved velvet DMs. Otherwise, it’s black leather lace-ups, brown brogues, or blue suede boots. All great for libraries and London day trips, but not so good for more elegant occasions.

I’ve got a few ornamental pairs of flats, but they're often just as painful to wear as stilettos with serious inches to them. So usually I plump for being incongruous. I figure that few people will be looking at my feet, so I can get away with thick soles and clumpy weight rather than flimsy nothingness with a bow on top (I’m not a fan of ballet flats – they remind me of school uniforms and the awkward flush of adolescent conformity).  

Occasionally I’ve thrown away caution and just plumped for the extra elevation, thinking that I’d grit my teeth and flit through the pain. Usually this isn’t the wisest of ideas. There’s a sizeable gap between projection and reality.

On one especially memorable night last summer at a ball in Oxford, I chose vertiginous shiny shoes that added at least four or five inches to my height. They looked perfect with my black gown shot through with silver threads. But, outfit perfection notwithstanding, they were bloody uncomfortable. After queuing for about an hour in increasingly chilly winds, with only a small scarf to protect my shoulders from the cold, I was miserable. My feet ached. I began doing that thing where you balance on one foot, flamingo-style, and flex the other – trying to get feeling (and blood) back into toes. By the time we finally got in, each step hurt. It also required that extra confident stride one has to adopt in tall shoes, with feet placed firmly, quickly, carefully one in front of the other. When everything is already feeling a bit numb, that kind of pace isn’t pleasant.

I did have a lot of fun that evening – I danced, ate good food, was liberal with the Irish coffee on offer, and hung out with friends. But you know the single best moment of the night? Sneakily managing to switch from those damn heels to my brown Chelsea boots, complete with thick socks (and a cardigan too). Suddenly I could think clearly again, and move without uncontrollably shivering.

It’s that ease I value above all - to the point that this summer, any fancy events will either be attended in brogues/ other flats, or with something more pragmatic stowed away in my handbag. Maybe these patent Ops & Ops ones pictured. Aren’t they beautiful? They’re handmade in a family-run factory in Portugal, and are soft as soft can be. The founders/ designers Steph and Teri (two seriously cool women with backgrounds in journalism) were inspired by their adoration of sixties shapes and colours, wanting to create durable shoes one could dance in all night - and also wear during the day. Well, I'm yet to go out dancing in them, but as someone pretty committed to boogying on into the early hours, it can only be a matter of time... But here they worked ever so well to complete my vaguely idealised sixties student get-up, complete with some stylish Penguin reissues picked up in Blackwell's (somewhere I spend too much time and money).  

Many thanks to fabulous Dina of She Loves Mixtapes for taking the pictures (see the shoot where I was behind the camera here). Everything else I'm wearing is second-hand, with the zip-up dress bought from Vix's FABULOUS Kinky Melon boutique by my mum. 

(Jumping for joy in my best, slightly blurred Avedon style)


Haute Allure said...

Cute look -- love the color of your dress. Lovely photos! xo - Katie -

Hannah McManus said...

I love your outfit, and I completely agree with what you've written - I always wear flats despite only being 5'2" as I'd much rather be comfortable!
Hannah x

Closet Fashionista said...

Loving the outfit!! I'm in a similar camp...except i LOVE heels. Sadly most of the events I've been going to lately have been in NYC which means taking the train and walking to the event so I have to bring flats to walk in and then change into heels. But most of the time I end up just staying in the flats.
Last week I went to an event in really cute flats and got the worst blisters poor feet were dying, haha...

Vix said...

If I looked half as good as you did then I'd live in flats! I love them on other people but other than flip flips and wellies I feel drab and frumpy.
That dress ace Mum & I agreed that it brought back fond memories of the 1980s. Gorgeous! xxx

Ivana Split said...

I never believed that heels are a necessity...not even for formal events. One should be comfortable in the shoes they wear, especially if one spends a lot of time walking or standing (or even sitting)...if we're not barefoot, we should find shoes that are as good as they get. That is my personal philosophy.

I don't think I have any flats in my shoe collection but I do have a lot of low heeled shoes (mostly booties) that I love to wear with jeans and pants. I also have a lot of high heels that I wore so often they've gotten really comfy or they've been comfy from the start- I'm very picky when it comes to shoes...and then there is an odd pair or two that are bloody uncomfortable and that I wear only when I'm feeling particularly masochistic.

They say one should suffer for beauty...but can one really be beautiful while suffering? My face is one of those that can be read as an open book (most of the time) and I can only imagine how silly I would look frowning entire night because my feet hurt.

Such a cute look this is! I always love to see coloured tights...that's always so playful.

jess said...

I love the look of high heels, but alas, I'm a tried and true flats girl, too!

jess | Bows & Bouquets

Lacee Swan said...

love that zipper dress!

lacee swan

Melanie said...

I love that zip dress with flats. I am looking for more flats but they are difficult to find in thrift shops, I think because women wear them until they are complete wrecks unfit for resale.

Gareth From said...

Really cute outfit. Love the burgundy tights and that bag is so lovely. Also, huge fan of the word strideabilty; you should definitely patent and/or bagsy it! x


I don't mind flats, but when it comes to them I usually wear a loafer or this style brogue. But, I wear all shoe heights from court shoe height to wedges. I love your patent leather shoes. Also, that last image is such a marvellous capture, just straight off the vintage style pages. <3 /Madison

Lally said...

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with flats; I love the comfort but I hate being short! I do LOVE these though, I've been after a pair for a while, they look extremely comfortable and I love the shape. I do hope they work on the dance floor; there is no better feeling than having picked the perfect shoes for an occasion. xxx

Lola Byatt said...

I have recently seen some really pretty flats at Russell and Bromley but they are more ballet-ish so probably not suited to your taste but definitely something that would be suited to a fancy event and with your height, you'd look beaut! I have the same problem with heels, I can't wear them at all. I can just about do a wedge/kitten heel.

I saw the Penguin books recently too and got super excited but I am trying my absolute best not to buy books until I've got through the ones I have.