It’s a Tall Order: Height Without Heels!

High heels stashed away in an empty office
Photo: Chris Maggio for The New York Times

Vanessa Friedman’s article, “Behold, ‘Workleisure’: What will we wear come fall?” August 20, was accompanied by a picture of several pairs of vertiginous high heeled pumps stowed away in a desk at an empty office at The Times. To their left is a waste paper basket. The symbolism is not lost on me. Stilettos sure “ain’t” what they used to be!

Long before Covid-19, there was a trend toward casualization. High heels are no longer necessary in the workplace, and they are not recognized as a feminine symbol anymore. Aesthetics have markedly changed, and it starts from the ground up. Shoes once considered to be ugly and unfashionable are now the height of fashion. Who are you calling “Ugg” ly now?

Melania Trump in Alexander McQueen and high heels

Sky-high heels have their fervent fans, Melania Trump, among them. The Christian Louboutin pump with a 120 mm (5 inches) heel, is the First Lady’s shoe of choice. As always, Melania was a towering presence in her combat-ready army green military-style jacket and skirt when she made her speech at the Rose Garden on Tuesday evening.

Eva Longoria at the DNC wearing a cream sheath and high heeled sandals
Photo: AP

The RNC looks like a stiletto convention. Of course, I could say the same thing about the DNC. Both Kamala Harris and Jill Biden were wearing high heeled pumps when they made their appearances last week. And so did all the celebrities (Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Julia Louis- Dreyfus) who acted as hosts for the evening.

Men will always love high heels because of their obvious sex appeal, and women like to stand tall. It’s empowering and promotes self-confidence. What is sexier than self- confidence? But, you don’t always need or want to wear traditional high heels. Thanks to a variety of “flatform” shoes and boots with exaggeratedly thick rubber, rope, and wood soles, you can add anywhere from two to four inches to your height without sacrificing comfort. It is precisely what Laura Steiger had in mind when she decided to transform Walter Steiger, an iconic brand known for its extreme high-heel shoes.

Tank Steiger elasticized Chelsea boots

Laura, Walter’s young daughter, sees that women are not wearing high heels on the streets and do not believe they are the right shoe today. Tank Steiger is a line of leather shoes and boots with thick lug treaded soles. Made in Italy, they will be available in 10 colors this fall, retailing for under $320. In Italian, their distinctive sole is called “carro armato” which translates to a military tank. They are for modern independent women who want comfort and style,

Gabriela Hearst David Boots

Gabriela Hearst’s “David” flatform ankle boots are on Gabriela’s Fall 2019 runway. Sporty yet luxurious, they are crafted in Italy from smooth black leather with a classic moccasin construction; the textured midsoles are on 2-inch gum rubber treads. The boots are on sale from $1090 to $763 and available on .

Simon Miller Blackout platform sandals

Simon Miller’s Blackout Platform Sandals in toffee leather have a wrapped cork base and lift you off almost 4 inches. They sell for $475 and are available at The Frankie Shop — High-End Fashion Clothes for Women.

LOEWE X Paula strass flatform espadrilles

These playful LOEWE x Paula’s strass espadrille flatform shoes bring the hippie era back to life. A towering 3-inch striped jute flatform meets intricately laced ribbon straps reminiscent of ballet shoes, while a scattering of sparkling crystals completes the take-notice presentation. They sell for $690 and are available at

Stella McCartney accessorizes the Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear collection with the Emilie flatform boot

Fashion is all about proportion. Nobody knows this better than Stella McCartney. Stella’s classic yet offbeat double-decker flat formed boots, oxfords, and brogues add the right balance to pants (narrow and cropped or long and wide), skirts in every length knitwear, and fuzzy teddy bear coats. Among this season’s standouts is the Chelsea-style Emilie boot set on a wooden sole with rubber outsoles. It is $975 and available on

Stella McCartney’s Sneak-Elyse is lightweight with a playful edge, combining classic sneaker elements with Elyse’s modern facets. Available in white or black, with graphic stripes in red and blue or black and blue, it stands on a 2-inch rubber saw-edge platform and sports a 3.5-inch heel, $695, at

Stella McCartney Sneak-Elyse-flatform oxfords

For those who want something jazzy, there is the Elyse in Indium Silver with ruthenium stars, $925, which is available at Like all of Stella’s shoes and accessories, they are made from a non-leather material as part of her cruelty-free ethos. Since 2009 Stella uses sustainable wood. No deforestation. Stella is always one step ahead.

Stella McCartney introduces the Elyse flatform at the Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear show

Stella first introduced the iconic Elyse flatform brogue at her Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear show in Paris. Nicole Phelps noted in her review on “The key to Stella McCartney’s show was the shoes. In their rubber-soled flatform oxfords, the models glided around the Palais Garnier utterly unencumbered.

To look at those shoes, you wouldn’t think they’d be sexy, and yet wearing McCartney’s super-short hem lengths or stirrup leggings (those were a surprise!) and sporting those clunky oxfords, the models looked quite fetching. Sexy is a McCartney signature that had lately gone missing. It was good to see it back”.

Backstage, McCartney said, “We wanted to give our customer the ease and energy and movement we feel she wants from us”. The footwear came first, followed by the clothes’ silhouettes, borrowed from the worlds of sport and loungewear. Phelps observes that chunky knit pajama-style pants are one of fall’s 2014 key trends. Sound familiar?

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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