I’ve always been a somewhat passive dresser in the summer. When fall finally rolls around, I lose my head over the current trends in boots and jackets, but I don’t get excited about many summer trends. It’s just too hot to worry much about clothes.
That being said, summer is the one time of the year that all of the neglected open-toe shoes in the back of my closet have a chance to shine. This summer, I’ve been completely obsessed with one particular shoe trend: insanely tall platform wedge sandals.
Oh, I saw that face you just made. It’s cool; I understand. I used to feel the same way. I’d see photos of Elle Fanning walking around in a cute little dress and giant, clomping shoes and wonder why. Why the need to ruin perfectly good outfits with awkward or even downright ugly footwear?
I’ve come around on the platform wedges though (obviously). I honestly don’t think these are ugly, as long as you find the right pair. I now have two pairs of ridiculously tall wedges, both from Zara. I think they’ve completely earned the closet space they take up, for a variety of reasons.
The main reason is pretty obvious. These wedges make me much, much taller. Both pairs are almost 5” high, taking me from a pretty average 5’4” to almost 5’9”. My boyfriend is over six feet and almost all of my siblings, even the younger ones, are taller than me now. Having those extra inches is extremely satisfying, but I would never wear heels with a height higher than 4 inches -- and even then it’s painful. The beauty of these platform wedges is that I get the extreme height without the extreme pain.
They’re also just a lot more comfortable and practical to walk in. Both wedges have a slight arch, as well as some padding, and the wedge style means my entire foot is planted solidly on the ground (admittedly, very high up). There’s no wobbling, no placing all of my weight on the balls of my feet, no painful arch -- or painful lack of an arch, like with many cheap flats.
So we’ve covered the obvious: These shoes make you tall AND they’re comfortable and easy to walk in. They’re also surprisingly easy to style, whether you’re getting dressed up or dressed down. I like to use the tan pair to elevate very casual outfits during the day, such as my usual summer IDGAF uniform of a T-shirt and cutoffs.
This particular combination of shorts and platform wedges is excellent for showing off one’s legs in a casual outfit -- without screaming “I’m wearing super tall, uncomfortable heels in the grass!” You could switch out the cutoffs for a denim skirt, or even wide-legged jeans and a striped tank top for a cool ’70s look.
These wedges are also a great choice for dressier occasions, whether it’s going out to dinner or attending a summer wedding. Everyone else at the wedding or barbeque or whatever will be struggling to walk while yanking their heels out of the grass, but not you, you smart cookie.
I wish I had had a pair of these for my high school graduation, when I had to choose between being tall and being able to walk gracefully across the football field in front of a thousand onlookers. (I chose the former and I regret nothing, but still -- these would have helped alleviate faceplant fears and awkward quicksand walking.)
Anyway, I’m smarter now. I like to wear my striped wedges with skirts and dresses for going out to dinner all the time. Recently I paired them with this Asos dress because there’s nothing I love more than black and white pattern mixing.
If you’re still doubtful, I’ll have you know that I’ve had no fewer than three groups of women compliment these shoes at various bars recently -- always loudly and drunkenly, but what can I say? These shoes inspire enthusiasm. Dudes don’t get them at all, but that’s usually a sign that you’re doing something right with your style.
Convinced? Let’s do some shopping. I rounded up some of the best platform wedges out there right now to help you out. Also, if you like my glittery tan wedges you can still snag them from Zara here for $26 (the black and white ones are long gone).
As a general rule, I like for them to have at least somewhat of an arch (just say no to flatforms, ELLE FANNING). I also prefer eye-catching colors or patterns, with sturdy construction. Nobody wants to go back to the days of those block-colored, foam platform flip flops. I hope. It’s also best to steer away from nude shades, unless you want to look like you have hooves. Finally, always go for something like a strappy sandal, with small or medium-sized ankle straps. Please, no peeptoe platform wedge booties. That’s too long of a name for something so fugly.
I originally sprung for my first pair of platform wedges, the black and white pair from Zara, after asking in an xoJane open thread if I should go for it. The answer was a resounding “YES,” and I’m thankful to the readers who encouraged me to kick off this obsession. Now I’ve spread the news about these magical shoes to the rest of you, and my karmic duty is complete or whatever.
Now go! Buy a pair! Frolic in the grass and walk confidently over grates and climb a fire escape! Just be careful because these suckers are really tall and you could still twist an ankle.
Kelly is frolicking confidently on fire escapes over on Twitter @picturesqueliar.
All photos by Joshua Kirby