I sat down with a friend over coffee recently and, in the course of conversation, told her about a new pair of boots I had bought. I described them. She sighed. I sketched them. She furrowed her brow. I mimicked their shape with my hands. She looked at me like I was nuts. The problem was that we did not speak a common language. So, on behalf of myself, my friend, and every confused shoe-shopper out there, I researched designer shoes, specifically heel type, and have described the four most common below.
High heels are nothing new. 16th century men and women courtiers wore them regularly. But the Stiletto as we know it is a recent innovation. The Stiletto heel, named for its resemblance to a stiletto dagger, is long, thin and va-va-voom, typically ranging in height from three to four inches with a diameter at the ground of less than half an inch. It was only in the 1950’s that the technology required to create a Stiletto, wherein a metal shaft is implanted in the heel itself, was developed. The Stiletto was popular throughout the 1950’s and again in the Eighties. Anyone over 35 shamefully recalls the power suit/shoulder pad/Stiletto combo. The sexy shoes all but disappeared in the grunge-obsessed Nineties but triumphed again with the advent of designer denim, dressing up casual Fridays across America. Despite shifts in popularity, the confidence boosting capabilities and inherent sex appeal of the Stiletto make it a classic. Something happens to a woman when she slips on a Stiletto. They enhance posture, elongate the legs and cause even the most unassuming woman to strut. But confidence and sex appeal come at a price. The pressure transmitted through the narrow heel of a Stiletto exceeds that of an elephant standing on one foot.
Kitten Heels are the gentler, more conservative cousin of the Stiletto. Generally between one and two inches in height, this heel, like the claw of a kitten, curves slightly inward beneath the sole before coming to a point. Kitten Heels were introduced in the late Fifties as a high heel alternative for young girls on whom stilettos would have been unseemly - imagine a pre-Britney era when girls dressed their age. Kitten Heels were often referred to as "trainer heels", but with the endorsement of Audrey Hepburn, became fashionable for women of all ages, contributing to the demise of the Stiletto in the mid 1960’s. Today, Kitten Heels and women's shoes are the healthy heel alternative for women on the go. I wouldn’t recommend running a marathon in them but running errands? No problem. And wearing Kitten Heels puts you in good company. Super-tall, super-gorgeous actresses and models like Nicole Kidman and Uma Thurman are often spotted in them.