Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Cut Asks: Heels or Flats?

Amy Odell from NYMag's the Cut asked Joan and Melissa Rivers the CRUCIAL question:

Heels or flats?
Joan Rivers: Heels every day — that’s my generation.
Melissa Rivers: At work I’m a heel, in real life I’m a flat.

I personally think high heels should be called hell heels — high hells? — but I enjoy the debate because I really don't understand why women wear them. So I googled "Heels or Flats" and found a few fun links.

• At Blisstree.com, a great essay by Amber Matassa who regretfully stopped wearing heels after tripping over her heel and falling down stairs and cracking her head. She learned her Achilles tendon had become shortened after so much heel wearing, which leads right into ...

• A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology (reported in the DailyMail.co.uk) that says women who wear high heels a lot (5 days a week for at least 2 years) have shortened and weakened their calf muscles. Changing to flats for these women will be painful. If these women don't stretch, the damage can be permanent. The article includes an awesome diagram.

• And finally, to end on a innovative note, thegloss.com reported in 2007 on 2 kinds of hybrid shoes that convert from heels to flats. Sheilas' Heels may not look sturdy but they do have a button somewhere that retracts the heel, collapsing into an easy-drivin' flat. They were designed by an insurance agency to address the safety of women driving in heels, but don't seem to be on the market anymore. The second brand, Camileon Heels, sells for about $300 and has a hinge in the heel that essentially folds in half, hiding in plain sight like a vestigial tail. Zappos lists them but doesn't have any models currently so I don't know if they are still on the market.

Sheila's Heels

Camileon Heels

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kenneth Cole’s “Keep Open” rate 3 blisters

My black patent wedge Mary Jane's by Kenneth Cole Reaction are not allowed back in my closet.

Their crime is 3 blisters after 4 hours at an Oktoberfest party. Their vamps, the topline, bit into the skin below my big toe knuckle, rubbing it raw in several places on both feet. Having a backup pair of old shoes helped me get home without more damage, but the next day I was hobbled and healing took 3 weeks.

Despite my caution and due diligence, I’d been deceived. The 1-1/2” wedge seemed perfect. The sueded scallop trim topline was cute. The nonskid rubber outsole was comfortable. The $39.95 price was right. I'd worn them up and down the aisles of Marshall’s before the purchase, and once at home, wore them regularly before the four week return policy was up.

Unfortunately, I believe the only way to truly know a shoe is to wear it out of the house for at least four hours. It wasn’t the wedge heel that did me in, which is what I was nervous about. It was the razor edge on the vamp, the topline, that tortured me.

Until I find a replacement, I will:

Wear these no longer than 3 hours.
Admit the brand’s nostalgic value, due to a much-loved pair of Kenneth Cole granny boots from my clubbing days.
Respect the brand’s personality. How can you not? They are pioneers of cause marketing: AIDS, homelessness, Haiti. They have awesome, punny copywriting. (“The average woman falls in love 7 times a year. Only 6 are with shoes.”) They have two fabulous books: Footnotes, 2003 (which I have), and Awearness, 2008.
Keep trying on Gentle Souls, the comfort shoe brand Kenneth Cole acquired in 2005 that uses flaxseed memory pillows (flaxseeds!) in the arch and the footbed.
Not give up on Kenneth Cole because I bought the “Keep Open” shoes BEFORE August 2009, which is when Kenneth Cole launched the 925 patented comfort technology, designed with Gentle Souls’ founder Wayne Finklestein, which is now in all women’s shoes (sheepskin linings, flaxseed pillow arches, cork cushioning & poron memory foam layers).