Monday, June 11, 2007

Flats Dilemma

These two photos illustrate my attempts to make the best of a bad situation. What is with the longevity of the ballerina flat trend?

I’ve been sitting on the sidelines waiting it out for a good three years now but it shows few signs of abating. By “ballerina flat”, I mean a pair of shoes with a paper-thin sole, a round toe, not even a quarter- or half-inch heel, often scooped low in the front for maximal toe cleavage, low on the sides, and frequently embellished with a bow on the upper. To put it baldly: Why must virtually every pair of non-athletic flats in the stores be a pair of ballerina flats?

Ballerina flats, which look terrific on fourteen year-olds and Audrey Hepburn, do not help most grown women look pulled-together. They conjure associations with youth and naivete and possess a certain informal slipper-like quality. The lack of support and cushioning and their low-slung nature certainly do no wonders for anyone’s gait. With no sole to speak of, they cannot help but make legs look shorter.

Amid this woe, in June’s magazines come two pairs of flats that offer at least a slight reprieve for those of us growing increasingly desperate after years of rotating through our precious, worn cache of stowaway flats from seasons gone by.

First, consider the patent leather numbers. Sure, they have a bow. Sure, their color is reminiscent of the ballet, but there is just barely enough mauve and nude in it to counteract the dusty rose and the tonal brown trim adds some ballast. Also on the plus side, there is an actual heel! And the front is more squared-off than the standard ballerina flat. Then there’s that single, interestingly-shaped and -placed cut-out, instead of a scooped front. Finally, there is the patent finish’s slick contribution. All this adds up to a more elegant shoe than so much of what is now available.

The second pair of flats is a less structured deviation than the first from what has become typical. The upper avoids any question of a low scoop, cutting almost straight across the toes and follows the natural contours of the foot more closely in terms of its general shape. The lack of any sides whatsoever is pleasingly straightforward and does away with the temptation to cut them low. The ankle ties - as opposed to a leather strap and buckle - are wide, soft and of a generous length, lending grace to the functional embellishment.

Images from Harper’s Bazaar, June ‘07.

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