Thursday, May 21, 2015

Put on your high-heeled sneakers…and head on over to Cannes

This week’s big fashion news has been the women who were turned away from a screening at the Cannes Film Festival for not wearing appropriate footwear, i.e., sky-high heels. That one of the women who was – at least initially – given the (ahem) boot had a partially amputated foot just seems to have added to the stir. As did the fact that the women caught flat-footed by the fashion police were mostly in their 50’s. Not to mention that the women whose entrances were spiked were on their way to the film Carol, which is about a lesbian romance.

And it’s not that the women who were turned away were wearing New Balance walking shoes or Topsiders. They were on trend and wearing pricey rhinestone-encrusted flats.

Those who squawked were initially told that high heels were part of the dress code from women, just as black tie is required for men.

There is, of course, one important difference.

As far as I know, black ties do not cause wearers to suffer temporarily from aching feet, and long term from all sorts of foot, back, and hip problems. Admittedly, black ties get loosened and heels get kicked off over the course of an evening, but that’s about the only similarity I can see.

Maybe the old theater good luck wish, “Break a leg”, should be updated for Cannes. It’s now, apparently, “Break an ankle.”

Whenever I see women teetering down the street in ultra-high heels, I just have to shake my head in amazement. I always want to ask them two questions: Why do you do it? How Do you do it?

Okay. I get at least some of the why they do it: guys like it.

But guys in ancient China liked tiny little hoof feet, so women’s feet got bound. That doesn’t mean it makes sense to do it.

Other than the guy thing, I just don’t get the ‘why’. And when someone tells me that it’s actually comfortable to walk around in a four-inch spike with a pointy toe, I really do have to call BS. (Ever been to a wedding where 90% of the women’s shoes are kicked off by the end of the night? Me neither.)

As for the how they do it, well, I do know you have to practice, which I did last year for the two weddings I went to that required the wearing o’ the pointy-toe, relatively-low-but-still-treacherous black patent leather numbers that are now back on the shelf where they belong. And, as I have observed when I see the young couples of Boston pounding our brick pavements, it helps to have a man to hang on to.

When I was growing up, girls started wearing something called “squash heels” when they began wearing nylons – around in sixth grade. These were short, stubby heels – one step more grown up than flats. By eighth grade, we graduated to spikes for formal occasions. Spikes were three inches high, and plenty difficult to walk in, as I recall.

Over time, shoes seemed to get more comfortable. Either that or I just never bothered with uncomfortable shoes. But in the 1980’s, high heels – again the spikes of the three and maybe now four inch variety -  made their way into the workplace. They were even worn – can my memory be correct here? – with the menswear skirt suits we wore with menswear shirts and floppy bow ties.

For every pair of high heels a working gal had, however, there was a pair of moderate-heeled glorified loafers that gave the wearer a lift and were comfy (and, of course, dowdy). And there was the fashion pièce de résistance: the clunky white athletic shoes we wore to and from work. (Today, I have noticed, the to-and-fro footwear for the young is more likely to be support-free ballet flats or flip-flops. These will not cause problems as grave as those produced by wearing heels. Still…)

I’m at the sensible shoes point in my life. Other than those kitten heels I’ll truck out only for weddings, if it ain’t comfy, I’m not wearing it.

Admittedly, I do still experience the pedestrian foot woes associated with breaking in new shoes, and sometimes end up with blisters a plenty.

Still, I never have to fear breaking either a heel or my neck.

Unlike those who attend premieres at Cannes.

Cannes festival organizers has, by the way, issues a clarifying statement, saying that women must wear appropriate footwear, with no mention of how high the heel or how Christian the Louboutin. They have also apologized for the overzealous staff members guarding the gates against fifty-year-old amputees with the audacity to try to storm in wearing flats.

As for me, I’m staying out of Cannes altogether. Too comfy hanging in my sneakers of the non-high-heeled persuasion.

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