Sensible shoes

If there is one thing that every fashion forward woman can agree upon, is that the words sensible and shoes shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. Throughout the passage of time, the love affair between women and their footwear has never wavered. Many claim that a killer pair of heels makes them feel sexy, powerful and confidant as they swoon around town in their four-inch heels as effortlessly as a ballerina does on point.

I have never been one of these women.

My families business is in women’s footwear. My siblings and I grew up on the smell of leather spending many school holidays visiting trade shows or shoe factories in Italy. Our dinner table conversations were mostly about shoes, the people my parents associated with were from the shoe industry and needless to say that we all had an endless supply of beautiful shoes.

Sounds glamorous right? Well I forgot to mention that my families business specialised in sensible shoes.

Growing up we were the kids known for our shoes. At parties the parents would compliment our sensible shoes whilst our friends would snigger in the background. My brothers were sent to school in a pair of Rockport business shoes, (for those of you that haven’t heard of the brand, they are to the feet what a Volvo is to the road) when their friends were wearing Doc Martins. Our trainers had to have EVA outsoles, arch supports and full leather uppers because it wouldn’t be sensible to wear anything else. I once asked my mum if I could have a pair of Havaianas like my friends and from her reaction you would think that I had asked her to buy me a pack if cigarettes.

You could say our family was to the shoe world what the Von Trapp family singers were to the music world.

But all this changed one day after a visit from one of my most fashionable friends. She asked to see my shoe wardrobe expecting it to be reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw’s with an endless collection of designer labels. Her horror couldn’t be hidden when she saw the reality, it was a world of sensibility. I tried to justify my collection by pointing out to her the problems with wearing heels; the shortening of the Achilles tendon in the back of the leg, ingrown toe nails, corns and calluses not to mention the postural problems, but she wasn’t having a bar of it. “Melanie,” she said to me in a stern voice, “you’re 41, you’re short and you’re single. It’s time to elongate those legs and start living again.” How could I argue?

For women like myself that have always made foot comfort a priority, I am happy to report that there is a way to get up high like the rest of them without pain by following 5 simple rules.

Firstly, and most importantly, the shoes must fit correctly.

If your foot is wide, lean towards the German manufacturers, if it is thin stick with the Italians.

If you’re short like me, look for shoes that have a platform under the ball of the foot that not only gives you elevation but extra cushioning.

If you don’t feel stable, try to get heels that are thick giving you that extra support.

And if all else fails, try wedges. They cradle your entire foot giving you height as well as comfort.

Whilst I can’t claim that wearing a heel has transformed me into a modern day femme fatale, I can concede that there is a place for them. However the belief that a pair of shoes can change the way you feel about yourself is really just a myth, perpetuated by the very people who don’t wear them (men) and an industry that is forced to sell them. You can tell immediately how a woman feels by the look on her face and if her feet are throbbing, it’s safe to say her eyes will be bulging.

Call me cynical…or maybe I am just sensible.

Originally published at

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