Total cliché alert: I love shoes. Very early on in life, I discovered that my passion for footwear ran deep. After buying a new pair of shoes as a child, I would go to bed clutching them in my arms like a teddy bear, breathing in their new-leather scent and their aesthetic promise. If my dolls came shoeless, I’d craft booties for them out of Kleenex and string, unable to abide the sight of their synthetically stuffed bare feet. With every outing, I would beg my mother to buy me another pair of shoes. They didn’t have those disturbing Disney-themed high-heels that look like they’re made for baby prostitutes in my day, but if they did I suspect I too would have thrown a tantrum in the store if she refused to buy them for me.
As a result of this deep reverence for shoes, I’ve amassed an impressive footwear collection as well as a quasi-encyclopedic knowledge of what makes a shoe a good buy. I actually worked on a footwear magazine for a few years at the beginning of my career, too. Go figure. While I’ve certainly worn my share of comfort sandals (shudder), platforms (really hard to drive in) and flats (cute, but not always sexy), there’s no denying the appeal of a killer pair of heels.
The spring runways were full of fashion’s typical array of outré styles from Birkenstock-inspired flatforms to high-heeled sneakers in bold florals and seizure-inducing color combinations. And much as they make a statement that speaks equally to cutting edge style, comfort and fashion victimization, a hot stiletto will never go out of style.
When shopping for a killer heel (I just typed hell instead of heel. So Freudian.) keep in mind that comfort is a relative term. Sure, we all say that we have heels that we can run a mile in, but don’t tell me that you don’t emit a grunt of relief when they come off at the end of the day. Some things to consider when shopping for high heels: it helps if the shoe has a padded footbed, especially under the ball of the foot, which bears the brunt of your weight; if it’s a stiletto, check that the heel curves slightly inward, as that provides better back support; generally speaking, if I’m wearing a heel higher than four-inches, I look for a style that has at least a 0.5-inch platform to balance me out and prevent me from feeling like I’m going to topple forward.
The undisputed sexiest heel shape is the classic stiletto. It generally starts kind of thick at the top and tapers into a long lean silhouette. Like I said, my cutoff point is four-inches, since anything higher makes me walk like a cross between a robot and The Penguin, but that’s entirely a personal choice. Just make sure you can walk in them because there’s nothing less sexy than a woman struggling to stay upright.
My tastes gravitate toward a rounded or almond-shaped toe, though the pointy toe is a true classic -- it has femme fatal appeal and also helps to elongate the look of your legs. When you slip into the shoe, if your toes are all scrunched up they’ll never be comfortable and could lead to unsightly issues like bunions or corns. While it’s true that leather has some give, you don’t want them to stretch so much that they’ll end up misshapen after a few wears or, God forbid, they take the actual form of your toes. And no matter what anyone says, patent leather will not stretch. See if you can wiggle your toes in them, which means there’s enough room, and walk around the store to make sure there’s no uncomfortable rubbing or chafing. Once home, slip into a pair of sweat socks and spend a few hours walking around in your shoes. This should help with breaking them in while preventing blisters.
The arch of the foot is widely considered the sexiest part. If seduction is your main goal, opt for a d’Orsay style, which leaves the arch completely exposed, a deep vamp or a wrap-around style with straps that go across the arch.
As for material, that’s totally up to you. It’s true that you can’t go wrong with black patent leather, but metallics, exotic skins, satin and suede will all do the trick. It’s like Marilyn Monroe once said: “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”