Heels vs. Flats: The Ultimate Fashion Face-Off

Here's how to wear the latest shoe trends, whether you're a flats fan or a stiletto junkie

It’s one of the most divisive issues known to womankind, and the argument over heels — to wear them or not — doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.
 
While heels clearly dominate with their feminine allure, trendy flats have made a strong showing in recent seasons. Some women are celebrating the return of ballet flats and sandals, while others prefer to be boosted at least three inches at all times. Where do you stand?


All in Favor of Heels!

Claim to Fame:
Spikes of all shapes and colors make women turn to jelly. “If I’m in a dress you can bet I’m wearing heels,” says Carrie MacQuaid of Kansas City, Mo. “How else can you grow three inches on your legs and look like you’ve lost five pounds in a second?” Classic, undeniably sexy, and all grown up, heels are the ultimate feminine accessory.

Weakness: Because heels force so much weight onto the ball of your foot, even the most comfortable pair will hurt, if you’re standing for more than a few hours, says fashion blogger Wendy Toth of Shoetube.tv.

Can’t Resist? The hottest trends are platform pumps, caged heels and ankle boots with studs or zipper details, says fashion blogger Sarah Aly of ChicIntuition.com. And forget basic black and brown. Gray and taupe are the new neutrals, says Kim Rowley, president of ShoeaholicsAnonymous.com

Smart Shopping Tips: “When I buy a new pair, the first thing I do is wear them while I’m making dinner,” says Toth. “I’m on my feet for at least 30 minutes, and probably making a few mad dashes from fridge to stove to sink. This is when I figure out exactly where they pinch. I notice where I get rubbed the wrong way and make sure to slip in insoles and swipe some Vaseline®, a bit of Dr. Scholl’s Rub Relief stick or a Band–Aid on those areas before I wear them anywhere.” And if the kicks still aren’t comfy after a few hours around the house, you can return them as long as the bottoms aren’t scuffed.


Feeling Fabulous in Flats

Claim to Fame: Comfort, comfort, comfort. No one’s feet ever bled because of sensible shoes.

Weakness: Warning: Wearing flats may make you look short and stout. And new research suggests that even though flats put less stress on your tootsies, they might not provide enough support. According to Rowley, podiatrists are finding that people who wear flat shoes for extended periods of time complain of bunions, shin splints, backaches and even arthritis.

Can’t Resist? If you’re a trendsetter, try over–the–knee boots, but make them daytime appropriate by buying a flat version, says Aly. Another ripped–from–the–runway look that won’t put a limp in your step is soft oxfords in two–tone or classic black. Not so daring? Try a ballet flat in velvet or a leopard print.

Smart Shopping Tips: Zero in on the sole. Shoes with a completely flat sole don’t provide enough support for the natural arch of the foot and will leave you limping, says Aly. Instead, look for one–inch heels. They’re more supportive, and give you a slightly slimming line but still look casual and carefree. Now that’s something to dance about!

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