01 May Spring flat-shoe trend will keep your feet happy
There’s an odd clacking sound that high heels make on construction-trailer floors.
For that reason, Stephanie Dedeaux has temporarily traded her heels for flats while she works on location for an oil and gas company in North Houston.
“I’m a huge fan of heels,” she said. “I like the way I feel in them, but when you walk in them in a construction trailer with those hollow floors, everyone can hear you coming down the hallway. And they aren’t safe to walk in with all the rocks on the ground on site.”
Over the past year, Dedeaux has amassed a collection of a dozen or so flat-heeled shoes. Her favorite is a Sperry leopard-print loafer with tassels.
“They have been an adjustment, but I’ve been really surprised that there are so many cute flats out there. I’m discovering brands with flats that I didn’t know existed, so that’s good,” Dedeaux said.
Dedeaux joins the wave of more women who are wearing more flat shoes, just as designers are offering more styles than in recent years, whether it’s a traditional loafer in a dazzling color or a ballet flat in a neutral tone. And the fashion runways were brimming with styles in bold colors for spring and summer.
Even morning TV is making a statement about footwear, with ABC’s “Good Morning America” recently declaring this the season of the “ugly sandal” in a segment about the popularity of frumpy Birkenstocks.
“Maybe people are getting tired of wearing 5- and 6-inch heels with a huge platform,” said shoe designer Carrie Forbes.
“Maybe the brands are starting to recognize that women want comfort. I think flats sell better because they don’t have an age associated with them. Anyone can wear them.”
Forbes, based in Newport Beach, Calif., recently started selling her collection of flats and sandals at Tootsies. Her ballet flats are made in Morocco of an indigenous raffia, and it takes at least eight hours to make each shoe. They are also quite comfortable, she said.
“I’ve always liked flats because I work most of the time. Maybe I’m also older. Now, I’m just into comfort,” Forbes said. “With spring, the weather is nice and there’s more of a free-flowing feeling that works well with flats.”
Flat shoes also translate to less foot pain, said Dr. W. Grant Braly, a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon with Fondren Orthopedic Group. He says flat shoes are less likely to cause foot problems such as bunions, bunionettes and hammertoes.
For better foot protection, Braly urges women to look for styles with a more rigid (or thicker) sole and wider toe area, especially for all-day wear.
He added that flats with arch support can help prevent pain for women who have flat feet.
“Women solve a lot of problems by wearing the right shoes, but I wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for high heels,” Braly said.
Shoe designer Tabitha Simmons, who recently visited Saks Fifth Avenue, gushed over the practicality of her flat espadrilles and other low-heeled styles.
“I like to wear high heels,” said the British designer, who started in the industry as a stylist with Vogue and Dolce Gabbana. “But I have two boys and my life isn’t just about high heels. You have to go and pick them up from school or do some running around; that’s where a great flat comes in. So you can just slip them on and off.”
Andrea Odom Campbell, a single, working mother of three, agreed. She said her high heels now have a “shelf life” and her go-to flats are from Banana Republic and Kenneth Cole
“Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or I’m busier, but I reserve heels for meetings and always keep a pair of flats in my bag,” said Odom Campbell, who works in sales and also owns the lifestyle website justabusymom.com.
With more than 100 pairs of flats in her closet, Aubrie Layne, a makeup artist at Therapy Hair Studio, said she’s found many ways to dress them up.
“If you can get a pointed-toe flat with toe cleavage, it looks very sexy with skinny jeans,” she said.
“I think people are more sensible about flats because they are realizing there are ways to dress them up. And if my feet feel good, then I’m happy.”