I heart heels. High heels. The kind that make me tower over my boyfriend. Well, maybe not tower, but make me tall enough that his kids find it AWKWARD. After two years, they are no longer vocal about it. We find new, cringe-y things to do for them to discuss all the time.
I love that my man is confident enough to love it when I wear my heels. There are men who totally can’t handle that and I would never date them. That’s how much I love wearing high heels. Without my heels he is taller than me by a couple of inches.
Judge if you want. We all have our standards and requirements.
Perhaps my attachment to heels is the result of junior high trauma. I have bad ankles with bone spurs in them and something amiss with my arches. I had to go to a podiatrist at Mayo Clinic. The doctor advised that I quit gymnastics, wear high tops, and have inserts made for my shoes.
I made my dismay apparent.
He gave a warm smile and explained that when ankles get damaged, the knees deteriorate, and the hips follow. I could no longer even dream about being the next Mary Lou Retton, Nadia Comaneci, or Olga Korbut. Devastation and relief hit at once. Gymnastics had become a struggle. It turns out that a Mountain Dew and Little Debbie snacks are not part of the diet of champions. If only Wheaties had done it for me.
Molds of my feet were done. Afterwards, I was given leather inserts made for me to put in my Reebok high top shoes. They were my school shoes and I was to wear them daily. This happened back when these commercials were popular:
If women could wear high heels instead of high tops and play basketball, I should be able to wear cute shoes and walk at the same time. Yes mom, I know you’re reading this and thinking, “But she couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” Please see my eye roll and note that those are two totally different things.
My 6 inch stilettos and I have stories.
Daringly high heels is something I’m known for.
My daughter, Elizabeth, was a soldier in Rochester Dance Company’s The Nutcracker. The weekend of the show, a blizzard struck southeastern Minnesota. Ballerinas who lived in the country or on uncleared roads were retrieved by snowmobiles and brought to trucks that could drive them the rest of the way into town. I was ushering the show. I wore a black dress and my black stilettos.
After her performance (she was brilliant), we went to meet her grandparents who had been to the show at Beetles Bar and Grill. We walked in and everyone started to applaud. I thought Elizabeth’s grandparents had told the bartender about her performance. No. “You are a true Minnesotan lady. Walking in those heels in that weather.”
The thing is, I feel more stable in heels than in boots. They work well as ice picks when parking lots are slippery and keep my feet out of the sloppiness of snow.
A Manhattan Lesson in Shoe Selection
In Manhattan, I walked from West 19th to West 53rd in New York City wearing practical three inch wedges. I was walking from Bottlerocket Wine and Spirit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at a fast clip. Blisters began forming on the tops of my toes and the heel of my foot. I told myself it wasn’t that bad.
I’d brought my purple gym shoes along in my Kanken backpack. I feel about my gym shoes the way I felt about my Reebok basketball shoes in junior high. They’re great for the gym, but not for street style. They most definitely didn’t go with my #ootd, the one I had planned just for MoMA while I packed in Minnesota. I wore navy pants, a white belt, my cute blue peasant top with bell sleeves, a white necklace, and cute shoes.
At MoMA bags must be checked. I remained stoic, parting with my backpack and my comfortable shoes. Purple shoes and navy pants were not going to work together in such a stylish place. There were moments when my feet didn’t hurt. I’d made my way through 80% of the museum when I came face to face with Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Emotion struck me. My throat felt tight and tears brimmed my eyes.
In grade school I loved learning about different artists. I was transported back to memories of Ms. Johnson, Mrs. Gommels, and Ms. Geitzenhauer. They were sensible women who wore sensible shoes and did their best to instill their students with good sense. Instead of using my good sense, I was standing in front of one of Van Gogh’s most popular paintings with feet pinched in pain.
I went downstairs to the bag check. Once united with it, I headed to the nearest girls bathroom to switch shoes. As I was switching to the purple gym shoes, I felt all junior high. An older woman with a British sounding accent and I began to talk. “Never heels in New York,” she said. She was right. Before that day ended, I had walked 29,441 steps.
My feet still hurt when I returned my bag to the bag check. The pain was beginning to leave as I made my way back to “Starry Night.” I wanted to be able to really take it in. I hope to see it again someday. No matter how many times I do, I think I’ll always remember my first encounter with it.
My 3 Shoe Rules
- Be observant. Had I paid more attention our first time in NYC, I would have noticed all of the women in cute, neutral Adidas, Converse, and similar.
- Be mindful of surroundings. My wedges would’ve lasted all day in a mall walking at a leisurely pace. Walking along 5th Avenue on my own, I felt compelled to move at a faster pace.
- Be prepared. Bring one of every kind of shoes along when traveling. I’m going to need a new travel set to make this happen. It’ll be worth it.
Other Important Shoe Rules
- Wear closed-toe shoes when wearing tights or nylons.
- For more slender looking legs, avoid shoes with straps at the ankles when wearing skirts. When I shop for heels to wear with skirts I always shop for the highest heel, with the roundest toe available, and no straps. When I shop for heels to go with jeans or pants, then I go with straps, laces and other fun on trend touches.