Hurrah for summer heels you can walk in! How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson
So, you’ve got your chunky flats, your smart trainers, some daintyish mules, some flatforms from a year ago and hmm…not so much to wear to the July wedding, the dressy birthday party and the lunch do in the garden of that new place down the road.
For this you will need summer heels — walkable in, light but not flimsy, modern enough for your daughter to borrow occasionally.
Things I don’t want from a heel this summer: lots of bare foot on show (a sliver of a foot strap is about as appealing on a mother of young adult’s feet as a thong bikini); a mule with a heel, otherwise known as shoes that are tricky to stay attached to when walking; and ankle ties, because they’re fussy (I don’t mind an ankle strap if positioned in just the right place, which is no higher than resting on the ankle bone).
Penelope Cruz chose some black platform shoes with a neat ankle strap for the Annual 94th Academy Awards, Nominees Luncheon last year
American television presenter Ashley Roberts is right on trends with these gold shoes with an ankle strap
I also don’t want any Mary Jane features for the same reason I don’t want to wear a Start-Rite T-bar buckle sandal and white knee socks.
This is the way it is now with shoes as with clothes: the list of things you don’t want may be longer than the list of things you do.
Still, the do want list is important, especially when you’re over 50 and shoes are your easiest route to demonstrating you’ve still got your finger on the pulse.
What I want is a shoe with a roughly two-inch heel (or closer to three if it has a slim platform sole). A lowish mid-heel can add inches to calves and make you look a decade older, and anything higher than two inches risks giving me the Dick Emery stagger.
Apart from that, I want these heels to be a little bit solid, off-kilter or bold — something that elbows them off their princess tippy-toes perch.
I want strong colour or a chunky block heel, a snubby round toe or a pointy high-cut one, because those are the details that make heels modern and, by extension, give your favourite dress a facelift.
Here are a few in the shops that have taken my fancy…
- Jigsaw’s metallic gold, double-strap sandals (£120, jigsaw-online.com) have a block heel that’s just over the two-inch mark and thick front-of-foot-disguising straps. Plus they come in that crackle antiqued gold that’s more versatile than the mirrored look.
I also like La Redoute’s gold plaited ankle-strap sandals (now £139.75, laredoute.co.uk). Both styles are classics, but just the right side of clunky.
Gold is the colour of summer 2023. It goes with everything, elevates dresses, glams up trousers, and keeps chunky platforms looking light.
Model Heidi Klum hasn’t compromised on comfort with these platform sandals with a chunky heel
Kate Middleton paired a pink suit with white court shoes that appear to offer good support
- I am not a kitten heel fan (too many divots in my kitchen floor over the years have put me off), but if I were, I could see the appeal of a green woven-toed slingback with a 2.3-inch heel from Charles & Keith (£65, charleskeith.co.uk). Angular flat-sided kitten heels are one option, but I say stick with a regular heel and get your modernity points from colour and texture.
Smart shows: THE RULES
- Stick to a roughly two-inch heel.
- Look for unusual colour and texture.
- Metallic works for smart and casual.
- Slingbacks are back.
- A slim platform and a block heel is still the easiest way to guarantee you won’t sink into the grass at the reception, but a hefty platform can look heavy in summer.
Esska’s soft gold platform sandals (£155, anthropologie.com) are as low as you can go without starting to look stumpy and they are, by all accounts, very comfortable.
Marks & Spencer does a suede double-strap platform sandal that’s a similar height (£49.50, marksandspencer.com) in a pale blush.
- I like a square block heel but a fraction of flare in the base gives it extra ‘now’ points. An unexpected colour, like tangerine, gives snaffle loafers that Gucci magic. You can wear Bibi Lou’s cream loafer (now £114, lyst.co.uk) with jeans or your wedding best. Zara does a slingback version (£32.99, zara.com).
- The snubby slingback is the cool heel choice, with a round or almond toe, a glossy finish and a square block heel the details to look out for. Office has a pair in shiny black or useful beige (£64.99, office.co.uk) and Me+Em’s gold pair (£295, meandem.com) are what the fashion front row are wearing.