mlroseplant Posted January 7, 2022 Share Posted January 7, 2022 (edited) Several days ago, I took part in an interesting discussion about stiletto design, mainly involving @Pufferand me. Unfortunately, it was on the "new shoes" thread, and I thought it would be in bad form to continue it there. I've rarely had success in keeping momentum when transferring something to another thread, but I am going to try anyhow. In the knife world, a stiletto is a small, straight dagger that has an extremely sharp point and two cutting edges. Traditionally, the edges were not even sharpened, and the user relied solely upon the sharp point for the dagger to do its damage. In modern times. . . well, who cares what they do in modern times, what has this got to do with heels? The point is, and I do mean point, that the dagger and the style of shoe heel have certain similarities, but the similarities only go so far. The discussion that Puffer and I were having centered upon the question of "When is a stiletto heel not really a stiletto heel?" We both agreed that mere tininess at the bottom of the heel does not necessarily a stiletto make. It has to have a certain shape to it from top to bottom, and a certain proportion which can be rather difficult to describe. After some consideration, I have determined that the key factor is that to be a true stiletto, the heel tip must be small, and it must have a straight section that extends somewhat more than halfway up the entire length of the heel, starting from the tip. Traditionally, there is a pleasing curvature between the seat (the part where the top of the heel meets the body of the shoe) and the straight section, but I do not believe it is a requirement for stiletto status. To my mind, the transition from large to small diameter could be angular, or it could not exist at all, as in those awful heels that look like 3/8" metal rods stuck to the bottom of a shoe. Let us examine five pairs of shoes that I have pictured here, and I will say why I think they are examples of true stilettos or not. The first example, pictured in the first two images on the left hand side, is what I would call a classic shaped stiletto heel, if a little bit on the tall side for some here. It begins at 10 mm, both front to back and side to side, remains at that dimension for half the length of the heel, then gradually curves to the larger dimension, both from the back and from the side(s), until it matches the dimension of the seat. No question about stiletto status here. The second example, pictured in the first two images in the center, I would call a "setback" stiletto, though the setback is not as severe as some examples we see in modern fashion. It starts at 9 mm, remains at that diameter for more than half the length of the heel. Although it has very little curvature at the back (viewed from the side), it has a marked curvature on the sides (viewed from the back), until it increases to the dimension of the seat. Not perhaps as pleasing as the first example, but still clearly a stiletto. The third example, pictured in the first two images on the right hand side, are the new-to-me pumps I bought recently, and here is where things start to get a little murky. This heel begins at 10 mm measured side to side, but is 12 mm measured front to back. A little bit on the big side for a stiletto, but not in and of itself a disqualifier. The murkiness begins when you examine the curvature of the heel. Moving from the tip up, the tip dimension is only maintained for about a inch, maybe a little bit more. At that point, the dimension of the heel gets larger, and it gradually increases at an ever increasing rate (in other words, not straight sided like a cone) until it finally meets the seat. I could go either way on this one. I don't feel like it's a true stiletto, especially when viewed from the side, because there is not really enough percentage of straight section, although there is some. I could entertain an argument that says this is a stiletto, although my gut tells me that it's close, but no cigar. The fourth example, pictured in the third image by itself, are the Aldo oxfords I bought probably 8 years ago, and were my first truly narrow heels, and also the first heels I ever had that were dressy enough to wear with a suit. Previous heels I had were all chunky-ish heeled clogs or wedge sandals. Although these were benchmark shoes for me in my heeling journey, I'm going to draw the line here, and say that these are NOT a stiletto heel, at least not in the pure sense. First, the tip starts at about 12 mm measured in both directions, which is ever-so-slightly on the big side for stilettos, but let's ignore that for a moment. The shape of the heel is not right for a stiletto. Starting from the tip, there is almost no straight section, especially when viewed from the side. It's not a cone heel, it definitely has a nice curvature to it viewed from the back, but it doesn't really have much of a straight section, so therefore cannot be called a stiletto heel. I still like them though, and have worn them very recently in public. They nearly always get compliments. Lastly, we will examine the fifth example, pictured in the fourth image, and lifted from the internet, the Casadei Blade heel. Though it seems in many ways like it ought to be a stiletto (after all, its name is "blade," is it not?), the curvature of the heel starts way too soon after moving away from the tip, and that to me disqualifies it as a true stiletto. Also, it has that rectangular cross section. I don't know if that alone disqualifies it, but it somehow doesn't seem right. I could definitely imagine that there may some disagreement on this example. And that's my attempt to resurrect a subject I feel needs more discussion. It took rather more pencil than I had at first imagined, but hopefully I have laid out my opinion clearly enough, and now you can add yours! Edited January 7, 2022 by mlroseplant 5 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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