It used to be the ultimate backhanded compliment to tell someone that their shoes looked comfortable – but now it’s just a straight-up compliment. In fact, flat shoes have been so on-trend for the past couple of years that even blow-dried fashion editors who used to live in five-inch stilettos are padding around in Céline espadrilles and Adidas Stan Smith trainers.
On the surface, the flat shoe revolution is brilliant news for anyone who likes clothes but occasionally needs to run for a bus. But there is a subtext: actually, it ties into one of style’s key commandments – that it is not chic to look as though you are trying too hard. In reality, this doesn’t mean ceasing to strive for perfection, but ensuring that any effort is imperceptible. The dinner party equivalent would be whipping up a one-pot dish that happens to be mouth-wateringly delicious and serving it on delightfully mismatched plates. With your wardrobe, the idea is to wear laid-back, comfy clothes you can bound around in while accidentally looking fabulous. Spindly high heels are a red flag, signalling that you are the sort of person who would put up with pain in order to have longer-looking legs. Which is totally 2007.
But while flat shoes are brilliant for willowy women who look polished in navy blue trousers and crisp white trainers, on someone short, like me, they don’t always work. Particularly if I want to wear a midi skirt or wide-legged trousers – the proportions feel wrong.
That has led me to find a compromise: a shoe I won’t wobble in or be hobbled by; a two- to three-inch block heel with sturdy straps. Shoes like this are worth the hunt. You can stride around in them for hours and that extra height can transform an outfit. For that kooky art gallery owner look, the weirder and squishier they are the better. Because looking like a vaguely creative type who has better things to worry about than sore arches will never go out of fashion.
Jess Cartner-Morley is away.