High Heels: How High…or Low Will You Go?

black sandal stilettosWell, let’s just get one thing right on the table: almost every outfit just looks better when worn with high heels. They lengthen your legs, they make for better visual proportions, and they add an element of chic to anything they’re worn with. Personally, I know some women in their 70’s and 80’s who STILL rock stilettos (good for them!) But really, how many of you will still wear anything higher than a 2” heel? My own feet say “nevermore.”blue suede wedge

For some foot conditions, a slight heel is actually preferably. If you have that burning or itchy sensation toward the heel end of your arch it could be a sign of plantar fasciitis. For this condition, elevating the heel slightly with a wedge – either one that you apply inside your shoes, like an orthotic or wearing a shoe with an actual slight wedge heel – will relieve the pull on your tendon. (Kirsten Borrink’s wonderful website, barkingdogshoes.com, devotes entire sections to review cute shoes for whatever ails you, foot-wise.)

Still, we don’t have to sacrifice fashion for comfort. With all of this in mind, let’s look at some hip, cute and chic alternatives to super high heels that will still add cache to your outfit.Caramel wedge ankle boots

We’ll start with that wedge I just mentioned. Wedge heestriped espadrillesled shoes come in many styles from booties to sandals to espadrilles and the heights vary greatly as well. They go with almost any kind of outfit, but tend to be more casual than pumps or dressy flats. Think: jeans and casual dresses.

green suede bootiesred suede ankle bootiesRight now, booties are all the rage. They serve many purposes (not the least of which is keeping your feet warm and dry) and can be worn with everything from dresses, jeans, tunics, pants, you name it. And, they come in flat, wedged and low heeled styles. Plus, they provide a more stable surface for balance than spike heels.peach pump

A lower-heeled pump goes with almost anything although it can be a little tame if your outfit is more fashion-forward than a classical style. Wearing pumps in a skin tone it will lengthen your legs in a very flattering way. Whether you go for a pointed toe or an almond shaped-toe should be determined by your comfort level.  (My own toes are almost all the same length, which means that I end up taking my pointed toe pumps to the shoe repair for stretching on a regular basis. I just like the look of a  pointed rather than rounded toe on my shoes. Silly me…)

Louboutin purpleKitten heels are a great alternative for dressier occasions. But keep in mind that, visually, they are more insubstantial than a pump, wedge or sandal. So you want to make sure the volume of the rest of your outfit – coat, suit, dress – doesn’t overwhelm their delicacy. They work best with garments that have simple lines like a sheath dress, a (slight) boot cut trouser and lighter outwear. That means that a heavy wool or trench coat might look a bit odd with them.yellow sandals block heel leopard

Moving into warmer weather months, mid to low-heeled sandals are a lovely alternative, and frankly, they’re much more popular now than spike heels. I just bought something similar to these chunky heeled leopard sandals and they are surprisingly (almost shockingly) comfortable. And I feel very stable on my feet when wearing them.

jaila-low-wedge-shoes-in-navy-suede-p8663-211990_zoomscallop flats dressy bw flats Then there are the flats or at least flat-er heels: glittery, bejeweled, something with a d’orsay cut, or simply elegant classic styles can elevate your outfit, even if they don’t elevate your height. Ankle strap flats can add a little sexiness, but only if you don’t have short legs, in which case they can truncate your legs making them look even shorter and somewhat chunky.red ankle dorsay

Make sure you keep all your shoes in good condition. There’s a general rule that if your hair and your shoes look great everything in between looks good – whether you’re wearing ripped jeans, a suit, or a very simple LBD.

So, what kinds of shoes are you wearing these days, and how high a heel will you wear? Drop me a line and let me know. I love hearing how you reconcile fashion with comfort.


BTW: There are only 23 copies left of Shopping for the Real You at Amazon and they seem to be going pretty quickly. In the second printing the price will have to almost double (such is the way of publishing through Amazon) so if you need gift for a friend, or if you haven’t bought your own copy, now’s the time! And if you have bought it and love it (and I hope you do) I’d be extremely grateful if you would be willing to write a review on Amazon. Independent authors live for these reviews…Thank you! 


Andrea’s books and new video series:

Shopping for the Real You front cover image

About the Author:

Author of Shopping for the Real You, Andrea Pflaumer, is a non-fiction writer in the San Francisco Bay Area and host of the video series, Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50. She has written extensively about fashion for local and national publications and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Better After 50, Sixty and Me, She Savvy, and Prime Women. Her free ten-lesson course, A Lazy Person's Guide to the Perfect Wardrobe, is available on Highbrow.com.