There’s a comic by cartoonist Bob Thaves in which three people leaving a Fred Astaire film festival discuss what they just watched:
“Sure, he was great. But don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did… backwards and in high heels.”
In most settings, women don’t need to wear high heels anymore. It’s no longer the societal norm in many industries that women must spend their workdays in heels, or must go out for dinners and parties in heels, or in general, shorten their gait and inhibit their ability to travel long distances because of their shoes. (Of course, the exception proves the rule.) But overall, we have plenty of other options.
And yet! Send me a party invite and I’ll reach for my heels.
It’s a different story when wearing heels is our choice. After all, heels are often works of art. Whether we wear short kitten heels or heels named after a stiletto dagger, whether our heels grow out of simple leather shoes, over-the-knee boots or Crocs, whether our heels fold into flats and back into heels to give us the best of both worlds, women find ways to make our heels work for us.
Heels dominate the runways at Fashion Week, with trendsetting fashion houses setting the expectation that heels will prevail this spring, summer, fall, and in the foreseeable future, as they always have and perhaps always will.
There’s a case to be made for wearing heels.
Mikayla Davis, for one, loves her heels, but it’s a relatively new relationship for her.
Davis (@subculture.kay) is based in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. She has a degree in fashion merchandising, works in the tech industry and is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Subculture Magazine, a publication dedicated to the elevation of creatives of color.
When Davis was growing up, she mostly associated wearing heels with going to church. Her first time wearing heels for fun was during her eighth-grade graduation, when she paired a pair of cork wedges with her turquoise blue-and-brown sundress.
“I felt so important,” Davis told VICE VERSA.
However, while she was in high school and college, Davis said she was much more likely to wear sneakers, boots and flats than heels. As a plus-size woman, she was nervous about walking confidently in heels.
But something changed in the last couple of years. Now in her mid-20s, Davis has become more confident in herself. Heels are now the statement pieces in most of her looks — and she doesn’t shy away from them anymore.
“I think it’s because I built my confidence in myself as a woman, knowing that I can wear the things that I see everybody else wearing. Again, being plus size, it just gets a little nerve-wracking to think I’m towering over people. I wasn’t always too comfortable in how I looked, so I felt like my being taller would also attract more attention,” Davis said. “It was me building my own confidence that caused me to transition to loving heels more, because I felt confident enough to walk in them.”
Her shoe collection is “fire:” full of heels with mesh, fur and bold colors. She mostly sticks to neutral tones in her clothing, so she enjoys experimenting with pops of color and texture in her heels.
For comfort, Davis often packs an extra pair of shoes for driving or walking, as some of her heels are better suited for sitting down for drinks or dinner than for moving around. With VICEVERSA’s foldable heels, you can fold in your heels when you want a flat shoe and fold them back out when you’re ready to don your heels. Learn more about our innovative patented folding technology.
“It’s now never a question that I’m wearing heels when I’m going to dinner with friends or I’m going out to meet up at a bar,” Davis said. “It’s always going to be a good pair of heels.”
Cristina, a Toronto-based shoe blogger and designer, told VICEVERSA that heels make her feel tall, strong and in-control. She’s been writing about fashion and shoe trends, accessories and styling since 2010 for her blog ShoeTease.
Cristina’s earliest experiences wearing heels were in high school, sporting chunky high heeled snow boots in Canada — “a great way to wear heels in a practical manner.”
The perfect pair of heels for Cristina “feel like an extension of the feet.”
When she was younger, wearing heels involved more of a sacrifice, especially when they were particularly high. Now, comfort is more of a priority for Cristina.
“If they don’t feel right or prevent me from walking the way I’d like, I simply don’t wear them,” Cristina said.