Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Posted On Jul 20, 2016
High heels symbolize glamour and style, but it’s substance, namely construction, that brings true value to your high-steppers. Just ask legend Stuart Weitzman.
By: Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Photography by: Sandi Fellman
Shoes don’t talk back. they make you feel neither lonely nor sad, and because you rarely gain weight in your feet, they remain a stylish wardrobe staple regardless of the pounds you are carrying at any given moment. Best of all are the striking architecture, potent colors, and precious hardware that adorn your favorite pairs—a fantasy element in your otherwise au courant wardrobe. “I think you’re all brainwashed when you are five years old, because the first hero you ever meet is a pair of shoes in Cinderella,” says legendary shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, whose striking creations are sought after by daughters and mothers alike. “The shoe becomes the story.”
And oh, what stories they are! From Dorothy’s ruby slippers, to the blue suede shoes of rock and roll, to the high-heeled steppers we strap on for prom, our personal histories live in the soles of our shoes. If they pinch or scratch, who wouldn’t feel betrayed? No one understands that psychology better than Weitzman, who refuses to compromise comfort for style. “There is no reason to suffer,” says Weitzman. “Who wants to put their foot in a shoe that pinches? I don’t see any reason to give or add to a cost a non-intrinsic element. The value of shoes is often in the material and care and making. I’d rather put in the best leather, the best sole, or the best flexibility and give you something that has a little more intrinsic value.”
In Weitzman’s world, there are a few musts that constitute a properly fitting pair of shoes: “Enough room for your toes,” starts Weitzman. “A support system in the shoe that allows the pressure of your weight to be evenly spread over the entire length of your foot, and a base of heel that gives you sturdiness, as opposed to trying to walk on a pair of stilts. And of course, inside the shoe should be a very high-quality latex cushion.”
Brenna Steinberg, DPM, the founder of Frederick Foot and Ankle Specialists, agrees. “I prefer shoes that have extra padding built in the forefoot, as it helps to take the pressure off. A two-and-a-half-inch heel increases the load on a foot by 25 percent so it is very important to have good quality padding.” Weitzman prefers latex insoles for all of his shoes, as latex will provide a durable cushioning pad and is a natural material that is non-allergic. “Latex allows breathability and perspiration,” says Weitzman. “Petroleum-based products, such as foam, block the air and after a few uses the surface just flattens. They won’t give you any cushioning.”
Another trick in the shoe trade, according to Weitzman, is the shank of the shoe— the steel part you never see under your arch in the center of the shoe that keeps a high heel from collapsing. “Generally those shanks are offered in pretty straight lines— which would be the strongest way to make a piece of steel, but your foot isn’t straight,” offers Weitzman. “It’s arched. The more arch I can give the shoe, the better you can be supported from heel to toe, not just your toe.” A poorly constructed shoe can cause numerous health problems, as can the habit of wearing only high heels each day. Dr. Brenna suggests we alternate our shoes each day. “If you wear four-inch heels one day, maybe wear two-and-a-half-inch heels the next day so that your Achilles heel doesn’t shorten,” she says.
It’s time to get choosier about your shoes’ construction, and sacrifice none of the fantasy factor. The maker of that glass slipper must have been Stuart Weitzman.