The elves in The Elves and the Shoemaker had taken it upon themselves to get the craftsman back on his feet. They gave the Gucci treatment to the cut out pieces of leather and transformed them into a pair of show-stopping ankle boots. From then on, the shoemaker was back in business.
This fairytale proves that a pair of shoes can change your world around. From finding the perfect wear-all-day wedges, to investing in a pair of Prada stilettos to celebrate your promotion, to slipping into the comfort of Ugg boots on a cold day, shoes are an integral part of our lives. They shape our posture. They hoist us up a few cheeky inches. They protect our toes from table legs and bed corners. But they can also torture us. A few extra hours in those 7 inch court shoes and your toes will be crushed. The back of your ankles will find themselves bloodstained after the first yard of walking in those new flats. And unless seen to, those clogs will stink the whole house once you take them off after a summer’s stroll.
And yet, we adore them. The oldest shoe found dates back to 8000 B.C., which gives an indication of humans’ early desire to protect their feet from the elements and the ground they walk on. They have evolved according to society’s needs and have become an indispensable accessory, both for couture and health and safety purposes. Here are some all-time favourite styles which, despite their many variations, are timeless:
Its early origins date back to the 15th century, where its ancestor, the chopine, had been designed for women to balance on in order to protect their dresses from mud in the street. Its practical function soon turned into a fashion statement, where the shoe reached new heights at 20 inches, allowing ladies to flaunt their status. The platform also goes by the name of ‘patten’, and its cousins include the Japanese geta and Dutch clogs. The platform has also been adapted to a variety of shoe styles, and has been combined with the stiletto, the sandal and even boots. It is notably more comfortable to walk in than pointed heels, as there is more surface area to exert foot pressure. They made their biggest impact in the 70s, where they were teamed with trademark flare trousers. They’re the statement-making shoes that guarantee both style and comfort.
This heel style was inspired by the stiletto dagger, but it was only in the 1950s that Roger Vivier projected the style with a sturdy and more secure design. This has also been combined with numerous other shapes such as the round toe and the peep toe, and its success in the fashion industry is indestructible… which is more than can be said for the heel itself. Many a woman will experience a stiletto-snap at some point in her life. If not, then quite few of us have definitely experienced the sinking feeling of a stiletto going through damp soil, or even worse, a storm drain on a late night out. The debate is whether it’s more painful on your heel bones or the balls of your feet. In any case, what girl has never dreamed of owning a pair of Christian Louboutin stilettos?
Incidentally, major podiatric brand Scholl have come up with the perfect antidote for battered victims of stilettos. Once you’ve done your duty by donning your pointy heels, you’re entitled to a dosage of Scholl’s Party Feet. These highly portable flats that can be stored in your handbag and whipped out when your feet have had enough. The pocket ballerinas come in sandal form with transferable ribbons, black or pink, depending on your outfit. The soft material of the ribbons will excuse you from chafing or blisters, and their length renders them stylishly flexible – whether you’re going for a plain ankle strap or full on gladiators, the ribbons are a secure comfort.
The Thigh-High Boot
This classic is also known as the over-the-knee boot. Its association with fetishism and dominatrices is waning slowly thanks to it being featured in more mainstream and designer brands in recent years. I think we’re all guilty of having a major crush on this eye catching must-have. Julia Roberts had worn a pair of black vinyls in Pretty Woman, and Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel leather model had set the standards in The Devil Wears Prada, but other popular versions also come in suede and velvet. They’re practical in that they can be substituted for tights and trousers, so you don’t have to feel entirely bare legged in a skirt. They help make your legs look longer and are excellent leg warmers. Their roots lie in the cuissarde, which was initially a man’s riding boot in the 15th century. They are also donned by pirates, which just makes them all the more desirable.
The Ballet Flat
Pumps are the shoes that go with almost everything. A beautifully crafted ballet flat can sustain the chic factor in your casual assemblage of attire. For those of you blessed with long legs and slender ankles, you wear them well, ladies. For those who are petite… Well, we don’t really care because they’re just so comfortable. Some actually keep a pair in their car to wear while driving. Therefore, the ballet flat keeps us safe and stylish behind the wheel. However, despite their initial comfort, some women, especially those who are flat footed, find the lack of elevation a strain on their lower back. They are, nonetheless, a great alternative for when your feet genuinely need a break from standing on forced tip-toe.
Even if you’re not into sport, a pair of trainers are a useful shoe to own. They’re ideal for driving, walking and running general errands. If you’ve invested in a professional pair, then you’ll be doing yourself wonders. They provide the right support while doing sports, and they come in various shapes and colours, depending on what you’re practising. Jazz trainers are an excellent choice because of their flexible arch, even though some may argue that such shoes are not to be worn outside. The rubber soles provide shock absorption when doing intensive cardio and ankle socks fantastically complement any style that you opt for. The heavily padded trainer as we know it today was developed from the plimsole, which came about in the late 19th century.
The Fluffy Slipper
We’ve all been tempted to pop down the shops in our slippers, just because. Unfortunately, it isn’t socially acceptable and some supermarkets in the UK have banned customers from entering in their PJs and slippers. But at least, we know that our pink fluffy stretchy slip-ons will be waiting for us when we return home after a long day’s work, ready to snuggle and soothe our feet on a cold winter’s evening. They’re also our trusted companion on lazy Saturdays and Sundays as we lounge on our sofas in our house gowns. Some opt for bunny faces. Others go for pug faced ones. One thing’s for certain – no shoe can match the slipper’s comfort factor. The pity with these is that they wear very easily. In a few months time, the sole will probably be popping out of the bunny’s mouth. It’s always heartbreaking to part with a good pair of slippers, but our grief soon vanishes once we break into our new pair.
Which is your favourite shoe? Let us know in the comment section below.