Friday, July 24, 2009

Crimes Against Shoe-manity; or a How To List

Philadelphia is no stranger to fashion. With Joan Shepp, Knit-Wit, and now Barney's Co-op lining Walnut Street, and Boyd's just around the corner, caché designers are readily available, and all the other shops follow along with everything from cheap punk to pricey prep. Heels, in particular, cross the fashion spectrum, and everyone from society mavens to tattooed moms sport dizzyingly high stilettos and platforms on occasion.

Too bad not everyone can walk in them. There is nothing more unattractive than a well-dressed woman who carries herself like a linebacker or a disaffected pre-teen; and somehow the higher the heel, the more obvious the offense. As I walked along Walnut Street this afternoon, I was a few paces behind a well-toned, beautifully coiffed, impeccably dressed woman in a pair of gorgeous YSL stiletto pumps. As she swaggered along, no doubt thinking she was all that, I figured that my 5-year-old could have easily run between her legs, such was the distance between her knees. Her toes pointed out at a diagonal, and overall she looked more like a muppet than a minx.

It has been remarked frequently that I can walk in heels. And I mean walk. And so I feel it my duty to share with you, lovely readers, some tips that can help you strut more like Heidi than like Kobe, regardless of the height of your heels.

  1. Align your spine. Knees, hips, shoulders, head, all should be on the same vertical plane. Unless you want to look like you're wearing a bustle, don't stick your butt out; leaning forward gives you that learning-how-to-roller-skate off-balance look. As you walk, keep your head over your hips and your hips over your feet. Shoulders back, abs in, etc.
  2. To the best of your ability, place your feet one in front of the other, as if you were walking on a straight line drawn in front of you. You don't have to be extreme about it; the point is to have your legs brush each other just a bit as you walk, rather than having a visible gap between your knees. A natural stride may well have you placing your feet straight forward from your hips, and since your hips are spaced out your feet would be too. However, walking in heels is not natural. Remember that, and think "tightrope."
  3. Point your toes forward, not out. Leave the turned-out hips in ballet class and keep those feet parallel.
  4. Imagine you're walking on your tiptoes. You'll lose your balance if you think you can put your weight down on your heels. Your weight will rest on your heels simply because of the height; don't do the standard heel-toe walk or you'll constantly be catching them on the pavement and tripping.
  5. Slow and steady doesn't mean you have to take baby steps. For more advanced walkers, lift your knees a bit more than seems normal to allow you to take a longer stride without leading too much with your heel. But don't do the runway pony walk, this isn't ANTM.
If my little tips help to rid the streets of Philadelphia of the scourge that is bad walking, I'll have served my purpose. And maybe it'll give some of you who've resigned yourselves to ballet flats the urge to try for an extra inch or two!

And for the boys: my friend and colleague Mike at Modus Wardrobing offers his glossary of mens' shoes. Check it out!

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