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Nostalgia from 1960


Puffer
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Members like to view this BBC ‘Panorama’ documentary from 1960, which I discovered by chance: https://www.facebook.com/BBCArchive/videos/1960-panorama-stiletto-heels/1165228437208460/ (assuming that it can be seen outside the UK).

The fashion views and comments are interesting (and, for me, very nostalgic); the ‘health’ aspect somewhat alarming!   But at least it was a balanced and factual piece, rather than following the common practice on television that an item on anything remotely outlandish, fetishistic or titillating has to be treated with naivety, incredulity, amusement, bemusement, disdain, distaste or ridicule (or maybe all seven) - which is invariably so overdone that we see through the presenter immediately.

 

 

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On 12/20/2020 at 10:07 AM, Puffer said:

The fashion views and comments are interesting (and, for me, very nostalgic);

I'm with you on that one.  Back when things like nylons, heels and dresses were worn daily by the ladies.  I guess that is a chauvinist view today, but I miss the things that defined feminine back then.  And I think that as a rule people treated each other with more respect back then as well.

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The video plays just fine in the U.S.

Things that stuck out to me: "We repair approximately 2,500 pairs of heels every week."  Doing a little calculating, and figuring there weren't extended hours back then, that's 52 repairs per hour every working hour, every day (except Sunday), every week. That doesn't really seem possible for one location. Also, the video depicts several women walking around with one shoe. Who gets only one shoe reheeled?

"The passion of British women for extremes did the rest. Nowhere are heels so high, nowhere are toes so lethally pointed." Several of the women interviewed admitted they walked badly and with great pain. I wonder what they would have thought of Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo back then? I did not observe any heels in the entire video that approached 4 inches, much less exceeded it. That pretty much squares with my memory, and pictures I have seen. High fashion stilettos were almost invariably 3 1/2". Ordinary dress shoes were lower than that, rarely exceeding 3". So much for extremes.

Certainly, women wore heels more back then, but I do not believe that heel wearing was nearly as universal as this video depicts. Certainly not where I'm from.

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Your comments are incisive (as always!) melrose!   I think the heel repair spokesman was representing a chain of 'heel bars' rather than a single outlet.   It might well have been Timpsons, a well-established repairer (since 1903 I believe) and now with more than 2,000 UK outlets.   I can't quite understand the apparent 'single shoe' repair situation either but it may be that the women had the repairs done one at a time during the same visit - perhaps to minimise them getting their shoes mixed up in a busy shop!

I agree that higher stilettos (4" or more) were scarcely evident, although I think the woman trying a pair of black courts in the shop may be an exception.   But this was 1960, and higher heels were certainly growing in popularity in the UK a year or two after that and were by no means uncommon in everyday wear for work, shopping and dressier occasions.   I was a keen observer at that period and noted many such 4"+ sightings; the 'pinnacle' was probably reached in 1962-3, with a steady fall-off as fashions changed from about 1965 onwards, although high stilettos were still well in evidence, albeit less often, until c1970.   Regardless of height, the court shoe with (generally) a stiletto heel and a pointed toe - and no platforms at all - was the normal fashion for women of all ages in the 1958-65 period at least. 

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I agree.  Heels of 4" in the 1960's were quite rare.  I recall that the chain shoe stores of the era in my area, such as Malings, Thom McAn, Baker's, etc typically had shoes of the same style but with two different heel heights; the mid-heel which was typically about 2.5 inches, and the high heel, which was most often 3 inches.  That trend lasted several years.  Then, as we approached the 1970's, heels started to become thicker and generally a bit lower, eventually getting to the low block heels of the early 70's, and the two height offerings went away.  If one looks back on that era, certainly women wore heels much more often than in current days.  Dresses and skirts were expected for work, church, and most social occasions, and with those clothes heels were worn.  Women that commuted for work wore their heels the entire trip, even if they had a walk at the end of the bus or train line.  It wasn't until heels started to come back in the mid to late 70's that the trend of the ladies commuting in flats or sneakers and changing into their heels when they got to work started.  So I'd definitely say that women in the 60's certainly wore heels for a much greater portion of the day than any time since.  Unfortunately for us heel lovers, we will never see that again, as there are so few occasions that women actually dress up for any longer, and even when they do, nowadays they are just as likely to wear a sneaker or a flat shoe as a heel of any kind.  While I think that heels will always be around for very formal occasions, I don't believe we'll ever see a day when they are everyday wear unless someone figures out a way to make them just as comfortable as a pair of sneakers.  And good luck with that!

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You are right Ron. The good thing could be if a woman made the choice to wear some heels instead of flats then they would probably be quite high. And not these 2,5” ugly ones which were worn in the 60” 

But as P1ng74 wrote I will keep on wearing heels myself instead of complaining on the view of women in sneakers 

Or both? 

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On 12/22/2020 at 4:42 PM, Puffer said:

Your comments are incisive (as always!) melrose!   I think the heel repair spokesman was representing a chain of 'heel bars' rather than a single outlet.   It might well have been Timpsons, a well-established repairer (since 1903 I believe) and now with more than 2,000 UK outlets.   I can't quite understand the apparent 'single shoe' repair situation either but it may be that the women had the repairs done one at a time during the same visit - perhaps to minimise them getting their shoes mixed up in a busy shop!

I agree that higher stilettos (4" or more) were scarcely evident, although I think the woman trying a pair of black courts in the shop may be an exception.   But this was 1960, and higher heels were certainly growing in popularity in the UK a year or two after that and were by no means uncommon in everyday wear for work, shopping and dressier occasions.   I was a keen observer at that period and noted many such 4"+ sightings; the 'pinnacle' was probably reached in 1962-3, with a steady fall-off as fashions changed from about 1965 onwards, although high stilettos were still well in evidence, albeit less often, until c1970.   Regardless of height, the court shoe with (generally) a stiletto heel and a pointed toe - and no platforms at all - was the normal fashion for women of all ages in the 1958-65 period at least. 

Am I incisive? I don't really mean to be. I am a member of a Facebook group which is a sort of ad hoc collection of old photos from around our town. The original popularity of the stiletto heel was just a little bit before my time, but one thing I have gathered from looking at hundreds of photos from the 1950s and 60s is that yes, women did dress up at least somewhat, nearly every day. And yes, this often involved heels, but certainly not always. I am trying to remember my mother's shoe collection. She was a high heeled lady, but not for every day. She worked at the public library, and certainly didn't wear heels to work there. Of course, this would have been the 80s, not the 60s. I never remember her having anything higher than 3", ever. It seemed high back then. My mother's feet are unscathed by any sort of high heel injuries, even at the age of 80. Of course, she hasn't been able to wear any sort of heel for years, due to severe back problems, unrelated to heel wearing.

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13 hours ago, Pierre1961 said:

The good thing could be if a woman made the choice to wear some heels instead of flats then they would probably be quite high. And not these 2,5” ugly ones which were worn in the 60” 

Unfortunately, I think the extraordinary heel heights in more recent years had a great deal to do with the marked decline of heel wearing today.  Women did so much damage to their feet wearing heels that are simply too high to be anywhere near comfortable for the vast majority of women (especially when one considers a 4-5 inch heel on a size six or seven foot) to wear all day.  I'd much rather see some of what you called "ugly" 2.5" heeled pumps on a woman than a pair of flats or sneakers.  While I will agree that there are many styles that don't look attractive with a low heel, a delicately styled shoe with a 2.5 inch heel can look quite nice and feminine.  

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3 hours ago, RonC said:

Unfortunately, I think the extraordinary heel heights in more recent years had a great deal to do with the marked decline of heel wearing today.  Women did so much damage to their feet wearing heels that are simply too high to be anywhere near comfortable for the vast majority of women (especially when one considers a 4-5 inch heel on a size six or seven foot) to wear all day.  I'd much rather see some of what you called "ugly" 2.5" heeled pumps on a woman than a pair of flats or sneakers.  While I will agree that there are many styles that don't look attractive with a low heel, a delicately styled shoe with a 2.5 inch heel can look quite nice and feminine.  

I'm not so sure that it is any recent high heel fashion per se that has led to their declining popularity, nor that it is height alone that is the key issue.   I am no sociologist but suggest that it is a combination of inter-linked factors, e.g. (i) memories (and evidence from older relatives) of historic foot problems from the 'original' 1960s period; (ii) much greater individuality in choice of fashion and many aspects of lifestyle, themselves faster-changing; (ii) a refusal of many women to dress to conform or to please others (e.g. husband, employer); (iii) growing emphasis on comfort, freedom and practicality.   (No doubt there are others.)

There is perhaps an irony in that women in the 1960s tended to wear their stilettos, often with very pointed toes, almost constantly and often in inappropriate situations.   Heel height was not really a key issue here - a 2.5" heel could be as potentially damaging as a 4.5" one.   This must have caused or exacerbated some of the foot problems that would have been far less severe if their heel-wearing occasions had been more selective.   The result is, perhaps, an unnnecessarily 'bad press' for high heels in general and stilettos in particular.   More recent and current shoe fashions have tended to include far more shoes with less pointed or open toes, which many women prefer for reasons of comfort, again almost regardless of heel height.

Overall, I am sure that the decline in regular heel wearing owes more to personal preference and a desire to be less formal/dressy than any real concern about short-term comfort or health.   After all, many women choose to wear other clothing or to have piercings, tattoos etc which are not exactly healthy, comfortable or practical - and other damaging activities (e.g. drugs) are not seen as a no-no simply because they are detrimental. 

 

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My taste could vary depending on the day mood. 

For sure I hate kitten heels. I would often prefer  pair of nice sneakers ( yes!) if well matched with the outfit. But on the other hand we have to suffer such a lack of nice ( high) heels views  that any heel is welcome .So.....?

For sure the heel height have increased to something difficult to handle on an all day mode from 2000 and 2020 .Is that the reason why women nowadays prefer flat? Not sure. Not only.

The fashion,yes. But also more bad constructed shoes,with no support for the arch,poor padding ,wrong positioning of the heel,narrow and too pointy toe box...and more. 

Even a 2,5” heel shoe will destroy any foot if badly designed 

Most of the well known brands  and great designers give no care at all to all these points .And as the women buy the look and the brand first ,they quickly give up. Then you can hear’ I love these shoes but I can’t walk in them’ . And in the closet,goodbye!

These are for me the reasons why the women are giving up heels. 

 

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@RonC, @Puffer, @Pierre1961

Generally, life is more complicated than we would like to admit. I think everything each of you has mentioned is a factor in the decline of heel wearing, but for most women, the passion simply isn't there, regardless of exact heel height, and I really don't think it ever has been. I've had a number of women over the years ask me how I manage to wear heels that high all the time. And I tell them. I don't keep any secrets. Nevertheless, I have not yet had any success stories with my "students." Zero. Why? Because at the end of the day, none of them are actually willing to do what it takes to live in high heels successfully. How is it that in the 1960s, when women did in fact wear high heels a lot, did so few become truly competent at it, truly comfortable with it? Most of it, at least from my perspective, is attitude. There are gymnasts, swimmers, runners, even circus acrobats who do nearly impossible things. If a person spent 1% of the energy necessary to accomplish any of those things toward mastering life in high heels, that should be child's play, should it not? Not for everybody, obviously, but for a significant percentage of the population. Let's face it, we at HHP are an incredibly narrow slice of that population, so we probably shouldn't be too hard on people.

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Well said (again), melrose.   I do agree that there seems to be resistance to high heel wearing by many women, most of whom have probably not even tried to wear heels much over 3" before condemning them.   They perceive them as uncomfortable, damaging, 'tarty', pandering-to-male-fantasy, anti-feminine or whatever.   There are (or were) many women who wore high (4"+) heels regularly and with little discomfort or damage when they were almost universal and who continued to wear them, almost regardless of prevailing fashion, until physical limitations (usually age-related) precluded this.   There are others of the same vintage who have rarely if ever worn them and have always considered them beyond the pale.   I have met a number of women from both camps and would tend to agree that the adherents are outnumbered by the refuseniks - but most of the adherents were (and usually remain) just that: lifelong enthusiasts.   In my book, a keen and active minority is worth more than a lukewarm or dismissive majority, but alas is likely to be of insufficient size either to support the market or to satisfy male appreciation.

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Personally, I've never spoken with a woman that found heels to be "comfortable".  My Mom wore them to work daily and couldn't wait to get home at the end of the work day and take them off.  She never really complained, but also never said that heels were comfortable.  My wife also wore heels to work for many years, even while having a walking segment to her commute, and was the same way - she didn't constantly complain of discomfort, but also never said they were, quote, comfortable, and always looked forward to taking off her heels.  Both were what I would call adept heel wearers - had no problems walking in heels, etc., but comfortable was still not the word.  That's pretty much what most women I knew that wore heels felt about them.  However, while there were a few that constantly complained and hated "having" to wear heels, I never knew one that said she was completely comfortable in heels.  And while I agree that a low heeled shoe can be quite uncomfortable, my readings indicate that women report that higher heels as a rule create more discomfort.  It's pretty hard not to have that happen when you look at how much more of the wearer's weight is concentrated on the ball of the foot as the heel height goes higher.  That's not to say that every shoe with higher heels is automatically less comfortable, as a pair of wedges I had matched the highest heels I've owned but were among the more comfortable heels I've walked in.  But they were wedges with a small platform and a well shaped footbed that conformed to my arch and tended to shift some weight back.  Foot doctors report far high incidence of foot troubles in the last 15 years or so than at any time in the past, including the 60's and 80's when heel wearing was much more common, but heels were on average probably at least a half inch to an inch lower.  I think it's naive to think that height doesn't have something to do with that, all other factors being equal.

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@RonC you are just meeting the wrong women.  

Seriously, I know of 3-4 women who love their tall heels and at least 2 have the same size foot as me. And many who tell me they wish they could wear heels too.

I just smile but I would love to tell them to stop wishing and do it....but I just smile.

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RonC:  I don't think I or anyone else is suggesting that high heels (of any description) are intrinsically 'comfortable' or 'healthy'.   I suggest that the lower heels that were more prevalent 60 years ago were perhaps more 'bearable' than their higher counterparts, whilst still being the cause of potential foot problems, if not merely discomfort.   Very pointed toes and cramped toeboxes were as much to blame as anything, albeit flattering in appearance.   Women in general seem to complain about their feet and footwear almost regardless of what they wear - it is partly on account of most styles being skewed towards appearance rather than comfort but also because it seems to be an inbuilt female trait to complain thus (and about a lot of other things roo, often related to male attitude and conduct!).   My mother, never one for a high heel or pointed toe, wore 'sensible' shoes or sandals almost all the time and, despite being active, often compained about her 'poor feet' on returning from a shopping or leisure trip.

I don't doubt that high-heel related problems have become more severe in recent years, for the reasons you suggest.   But not necessarily more prolific in their incidence, simply because fewer women in the population as a whole are wearing significantly high heels so frequently as they did 60 years ago, over a somewhat shorter period .   The fashion for increasingly high stilettos lasted for around 10 years from the late 50s - but it emerged again in the mid-70s and is still with us, 45 years on.  One might draw a parallel with, say, smoking: far fewer people smoke nowadays but the deaths or other health problems arising from (or at least attributed to) smoking appear to be worse in the present era.   I do suggest that much of this is perception and publicity rather than a true worsening in severity or incidence.   (For the record, I am not championing smoking or trying to underplay its effects.)

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Notice the shape of the shoes. Back then the vamp was typically narrower than now. I've looked these over in antique stores, while in my heels, and was amazed how narrow they are. In addition, they almost never had any padding. At the end, even the doctor mentioned "ill-fitting". Heels these days are wider and rounder. The pointy shoes do so by extending way past the toes.

Not saying heels won't damage our feet but i do believe these days the design, shapes, and materials are all more forgiving than they were in the late 50's and early 60's. 

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6 hours ago, Puffer said:

But not necessarily more prolific in their incidence, simply because fewer women in the population as a whole are wearing significantly high heels so frequently as they did 60 years ago, over a somewhat shorter period . 

While I've been unable to relocate the study I read, the indications were that the incidence of bunions has increased, and not by a small percentage but rather significantly.  I'm sure that part of the increase is related to better availability of health care and therefore a higher number of women that seek treatment that may have ignored it in the past.

6 hours ago, Puffer said:

Women in general seem to complain about their feet and footwear almost regardless of what they wear

Can't argue with you there...lol.  One case in recent history that rather rankled me was the woman in Great Britain that sued an employer because they sent her home because she didn't meet the dress code regarding shoes.  The dress code called for dress shoes with heels of 2" or greater.  I don't think it would be difficult at all to find a dress shoe with a heel of 2" that would certainly be more than comfortable.  

 

3 hours ago, Jkrenzer said:

Notice the shape of the shoes. Back then the vamp was typically narrower than now. I've looked these over in antique stores, while in my heels, and was amazed how narrow they are. In addition, they almost never had any padding. At the end, even the doctor mentioned "ill-fitting". Heels these days are wider and rounder. The pointy shoes do so by extending way past the toes.

Not saying heels won't damage our feet but i do believe these days the design, shapes, and materials are all more forgiving than they were in the late 50's and early 60's. 

Undoubtedly, shoes were narrower in the past.  But it is also true that women's feet have increased in both length and width.  I did see one study that blamed the greater incidence of wearing of sneakers/trainers for the increase in width.  Don't know about that, or if the increase in width was not so much an actual increase in the actual dimensions of their feet or more a rejection of shoes that were narrower by way of their style because they were used to wider shoes.

 

10 hours ago, Cali said:

Seriously, I know of 3-4 women who love their tall heels and at least 2 have the same size foot as me. And many who tell me they wish they could wear heels too.

I never meant to say that everyone says heels are uncomfortable, and I think guys like you and mlroseplant are among those that do feel comfortable in higher heels.  But I think the last part of your statement is telling.  If a woman says they wish they could wear heels, I would certainly think that they have tried to do just that.  Now maybe they didn't give heels a real chance. But it also could be that despite a real effort, they just found enough discomfort that they didn't think it was worth the effort.  Understanding that you wear heels to relieve pain in different parts of your body, I think that it is likely that the majority of us men that wear heels have a desire to do so that trumps any discomfort, so we learn to endure for some time and perhaps for long enough that the foot and body adapts to the point that the discomfort wanes.   

Everyone has made good points, but I still believe that there is a correlation between the decline of heel wearing and the height of heels.  The push against wearing heels intensified as the height of what are considered "in style" heels increased.  Yes, in the 60's and 80's there were a few styles that hit 4" or so, but the vast majority of what were considered high heels were less than 4".  Today, a 4" heel is about the "typical" height, and some reach the five inch plus range (i.e. those expensive red soled brand).  So now if a woman wants to be stylish and wear heels, it has to be 4" or so, and many have found that to be simply beyond a comfortable range., and the push back against heels grew.  Sad to say that the lack of heel wearing has gained considerable acceptance in society, which, combined with the ever increasing casualness of clothing in the workplace, has put an end to heels being prevalent footwear for the female population.  I'm not saying that they will disappear totally (though don't tell that to my local TJ Maxx and Marshall stores where they have disappeared totally), but they will be saved for special occasions and not daily wear.  Eventually, however, as young girls grow up never seeing their Moms in heels or finding a pair in her closet, it is possible that a day may come where heels pretty much disappear - or maybe the men pick up the baton...lol.

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Too many women buy heels to be seen in instead of heels they can walk. You hear about the "restaurant heel," heels bought for the sole purpose of being seen walking to their table and then back out the door.  They put their heels on in the car, kick them off at the table and once they are back in the car.  Too many heels are designed for this show.

At an University graduation in 2015 (in doors for a college within the university) it was clear how very few of the women who walked down the aisle had any time in high heels before.

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Yeah, I think you're right on the "restaurant heels", and that is probably even more prevalent in your neck of the woods and places like New York City where being seen is a vocation in and of its self.  And I believe you certainly are correct that the college girls have spent precious little time in heels.  Plenty in their flip flops though I'll bet.

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I agree that greater awareness of both problems and treatments has likely increased the reported incidence of foot problems and other health issues, but this does not mean that a particular problem has increased in frequency (i.e. more true sufferers for a given number of people).

Bunions are very often hereditary rather than the direct consequence of wearing the 'wrong' footwear, although ill-fitting (particularly narrow/pointed) shoes can exacerbate them.   High heels are not normally a direct cause although by forcing feet into narrow toeboxes can again worsen existing bunions.   It is certainly true that (women's) feet have increased in both length and width in recent decades and shoes have not necessarily matched that as quickly, leading (at least initially) to more 'squeeze-related' problems, including bunions.   Unstructured or unsupportive footwear (trainers/sneakers, some flip-flops etc) has allowed feet to spread and possibly collapse to the point that any constraining shoe, even if not really narrow, is then hard to wear comfortably.   That may mean that very open sandals, whilst not squeezing the toes, allow feet to spread more than is desirable - can't win really!

As I recall it, the UK case of the woman objecting to a heel-wearing requirement at work was founded as much in her objection to the diktat as her perception of discomfort.   A 2" heel is trivial in the grand scheme of things and I agree that comfortable (if possibly boring) shoes with a 2" heel would certainly be available, but arguably not smart enough for a business setting.   After all, a so-called 'flat' shoe likely has a heel of at least 1" and to add a further inch is almost negligible.   Health professionals, whilst often condemning high heels, are usually equally keen to see people (not just women) avoiding very flat shoes and wearing a 'modest' heel of 1.5 - 2.5" to give arch support etc.   There are many people of both sexes who are not or who have not been regular 'high' heel wearers but who find a modest heel beneficial if not essential to minimise back or leg problems - you know who you are!

Last time I was in TK Maxx (in England), there was a wide range of high heels, and the same is true in most shops although very high stilettos are less common (but being displaced by similarly high thicker heels, with or without platforms).

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A lot of true things has been written here days after days 

i don’t have so much to add. 

Just that: if the shoes,no matter they are expensive or not would be properly designed we may have more women in heels to admire. Bad designed shoes ,flat or not can destroy any foot. The heel height just exacerbate the bad fitting ( @Puffer

my experiences: I have bought not less than 100 pairs of shoes these last 5 years. By chance and only by chance 10 are perfect,10 others are acceptable,30 ok for a short time for fun.50 are total crap. The best are not the most expensive ones  

the worst are not the cheapest. It means that no research at all have been made how to design a confortable high heel shoe. It has been made for sport shoes. Why not for everyday city shoes?

So no wonder the women will go to sport shoes. 

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6 hours ago, Puffer said:

Health professionals, whilst often condemning high heels, are usually equally keen to see people (not just women) avoiding very flat shoes and wearing a 'modest' heel of 1.5 - 2.5" to give arch support etc.   There are many people of both sexes who are not or who have not been regular 'high' heel wearers but who find a modest heel beneficial if not essential to minimise back or leg problems - you know who you are!

My orthopedic doctors want me to be in a minimum  of 2.5 inch heel. While they think 4 inch is tall, they are fine with me in 4 inch heels.  However, they would prefer I not wear stilettos.

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14 hours ago, Puffer said:

Last time I was in TK Maxx (in England), there was a wide range of high heels, and the same is true in most shops although very high stilettos are less common (but being displaced by similarly high thicker heels, with or without platforms).

The change in my area happened quite suddenly, within a couple weeks time.  While I have nothing to back it up, it does seem to me that UK ladies wear heels more often than their US counterparts.  They also seem to enjoy their lingerie a lot more - stockings, garters, etc.  I am aware of the British Stockings website, but I don't see anything like that in the US.  And I believe I have seen stats that say, on a per capita basis, UK women purchase far more of those items than US women.  We are the land of casual - and are on the verge of sloppy.

 

10 hours ago, Pierre1961 said:

It means that no research at all have been made how to design a confortable high heel shoe. It has been made for sport shoes. Why not for everyday city shoes?

Actually there have been several attempts to create "comfortable" heels.  While generally they were tested by women and found to be more comfortable, they have been largely rejected by the masses, and the companies have failed.  I'm guessing price plays a big part in their demise, and most have been rather expensive, and I think that style comes in a close second.  Even for mainstream sellers, attempts to make comfortable heels has generally been met with meh reactions.  For a few years, Cole Hahn offered heels with "Nike Air Technology".  They discontinued that a few years back due to a lack of sales.  Brands such as Vionic, Aerosoles, Rockport, etc. continue to market heels as "comfort" choices, but it not exactly like they've been selling in droves.  I think that one can find a 3-4" heel pump that would be certainly more comfortable than the average heel, but I'm guessing the buying public does not quite feel that the claims of being "as comfortable as a pair of sneakers" has been met to date.  

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19 hours ago, Cali said:

My orthopedic doctors want me to be in a minimum  of 2.5 inch heel. While they think 4 inch is tall, they are fine with me in 4 inch heels.  However, they would prefer I not wear stilettos.

I had you in mind, Cali, when I made my earlier comment - but also the people who (regardless of any medical advice) find that heels bring greater comfort.  I know (as an intermittent sciatica sufferer) that any heel above 2" is helpful, and the right footwear with a heel higher than that (say 3.5 - 4") seems to give further improvement, as well as being enjoyable.

10 hours ago, RonC said:

The change in my area happened quite suddenly, within a couple weeks time.  While I have nothing to back it up, it does seem to me that UK ladies wear heels more often than their US counterparts.  They also seem to enjoy their lingerie a lot more - stockings, garters, etc.  I am aware of the British Stockings website, but I don't see anything like that in the US.  And I believe I have seen stats that say, on a per capita basis, UK women purchase far more of those items than US women.  We are the land of casual - and are on the verge of sloppy.

...

It is some years since I was last in the US, when there seemed to be plenty of high heels in the shops, if not so much on the streets.   But I think you are right to suggest that they remain more popular in the UK where, despite the casualness - bordering on sloppy as you have noticed in the US - that lockdown etc has promoted.   UK women do still dress-up on occasions, although bare legs and tights are much more common (alas) than stockings - although it is difficult to conduct a thorough investigation!   Only yesterday, the Mail on Sunday's fashion pages suggesting New Year's Eve outfits showed most of them accompanied by stilettos of 4"+ and recommended wearing 'killer heels' (dreadful expression!).   Almost enough to encourage me to leave my armchair for a (probably illegal) party gathering.

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As others have mentioned, comfort in heels is almost infuriatingly difficult to pin down. Price does not seem to have any discernable correlation with comfort, despite a number of protestations to the contrary, mostly on fashion sites or in fashion magazines. I actually owned a pair of those Cole Haan shoes with the Nike system, whatever it was, and they were absolutely horrible. I think I wore them twice before realizing they were never going to work out for me. And as I recall, they weren't even really all that steep. I want to say significantly less than 4".

The puzzling thing is that, at least for me, padding seems to have little influence on overall comfort. I still cannot understand how it is that some of my more "squidgy" shoes are not as comfortable as some other shoes which have absolutely no padding whatever. For example, these Miu Miu sandals I got recently have zero padding. Your foot rests directly on bare wood, except for the tag right underneath where your heel rests that says, "Miu Miu" on it. Same with my Miu Miu clogs. Nothing but bare wood in there. Either of those are good for all day or several miles of walking. On the other hand, I've got a number of other shoes that have significant padding, and are less comfortable. Absolute heel steepness, within reason, does not really seem to be the key to understanding total comfort either.

On another note, men in fact do bitch about their feet hurting, at least at my construction job, where we often have to walk miles every day on concrete in work boots. I think that perhaps they just don't bitch quite as loudly as women do in general. I used to have this problem as well, but I can't say that my feet actually hurt at the end of the day. They feel "tired" for sure, but my feet haven't really hurt for probably 4 or 5 years.

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I think that quite often "hurt" and "tired" are used for the same feeling.  If I spend a considerable amount of time on my feet regardless of what shoes I'm wearing, my feet will get tired and I'm happy to sit down and take off my shoes.  But I will admit to having some actual pain while in heels depending on which shoes I am wearing as well as whether or not my feet are a bit puffy or not.  My pain typically occurs in the toes, and most often my little toes.  Certainly my feet are somewhat wider than average.  However, a wide width shoe is not always an answer.  Seems to have more to do with my feet sliding down into the shoe due to the slope of the heel, and the wider width shoes seem to make that happen more.  I do also get occasional ball of the foot pain.  I think, however, when a woman says "my feet are killing me", it is likely something more than just tired feet.

I think there are a number of ways a shoe can cause discomfort.  However, the vast majority of the discussions of foot pain and high heels deals with pressure on the ball of the foot and toes being squeezed as they are pushed down into pointed shoes.  It can be scientifically shown that the greater the heel height, the grater the downforce on the forefoot.  That is pretty simple physics.  Design can alleviate some of that by attempting to shift weight back through higher arch support or altered slope to the heel section, but the laws of physics can only be overcome to a certain point.  What I personally have found is that the fit of the shoe in terms of where the bottom of the arch/start of the sole hit my foot makes the most difference.  If there is support just behind the ball of my foot and up through the arch, the shoe is more comfortable and I slide down less into the toe box.  If the ball of my foot extends out past the spot where the arch and sole meet, they will not be comfortable, regardless of overall size/width characteristics.  

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THe other day I went on a rather long hike (a steep and muddy 17 miles) and was wearing my usual hiking boots but within a couple of miles of starting out the nerve in the ball of my right foot felt like it was on fire, and it didn't relent the whole day. I was in agony by the time I got home. No heels there, just hiking boots (and well broken in, too) 

I've been wearing my heavy suede otk boots boots a lot klately with the 3.5" cuban-ish heel and find that they are extremely comfortable (warm too!) and I know from previous experience that that particular heel height and style does indeed help to ease back spasms if I have any. But sa far as comfort goes they are literally as comfortable as any psair of sneakers I own.  

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