The time of our lives with SUSANNAH CONSTANTINE: Why I’ve ditched heels for flats and here’s why you should, too
- Susannah Constantine, 57, said flat shoes are now cool and chic as well as comfy
- Style expert said ‘killer heels make clothes look better’ but ‘boy, do they kill’
- She has written guide to hanging up heels and said to carry flip flops in handbag
After years of running around barefoot, or in trainers or flatforms, my inflexible calves and ankles are incapable of being held hostage in heels for very long.
On the rare occasions that I do wear them, it’s a neutral coloured wedge all the way. Or, at a push, a stout block heel as these are at least stable with a beginner’s ski-slope gradient as opposed to a black run.
Growing up, high heels were never something I lusted after. I was a shy country bumpkin, more at home in jeans and jodhpur boots.
Susannah Constantine, 57, pictured, said flat shoes are now cool and chic as well as comfy
Being naturally un-coordinated and accident-prone, heels were one hazard too far. It wasn’t until I started going to black tie balls and had to wear long dresses that the need for heels entered my orbit.
Then at 21 I embarked on my first serious relationship. My boyfriend David Linley was the same height as me, 5 ft 8 in, and I didn’t want to do a Penny Lancaster by towering over him so I mostly stuck to flats for the six years we were together.
It was my turn in television that really forced my trotters into stilettos. There’s no doubt that killer heels make clothes look better, legs longer and posture more upright. But boy, do they kill.
For a good ten years I became an accomplished two-step heel-wearer, able to move a tiny distance in style without twisting an ankle or falling over.
The style expert has made a guide to hanging up your heels with style and included tips like having a pair of flip flops, pictured, in your handbag
Susannah admitted that here’s no doubt that killer heels, left, ‘make clothes look better’ but added that they ‘kill’ to wear and she prefers flats, pictured right
But ask me to walk ten metres or more and it all went horribly wrong. I had the gait of a baby giraffe. It was like riding a bicycle without training wheels for the first time.
Thank God for Trinny, my human walking stick.
When our TV show Trinny And Susannah ran out of steam it was sad, but the upside was that I could hang up Satan’s shoes for good.
No more blisters, corns, tender soles or feeling like your feet are sitting in pools of blood because they hurt so much.
Susannah, pictured on Strictly Come Dancing, said she can move a tiny distance in heels but ‘ask me to walk ten metres or more and it all went horribly wrong’
The good news is I am not alone in flying the flag for comfy shoes.
Quietly but assuredly, the likes of Emma Thompson, Cara Delevingne and Kristen Stewart have all been waging their own mini battles against torturous footwear — and winning.
Flat shoes are now cool and chic as well as comfy. This summer there has never been such a wide variety of styles.
So here is my guide to hanging up your heels with style . . .
KEEP YOUR STARTER STILETTO HEEL LOW
I’m not mad about Victoria Beckham, but I do have enormous respect for her ability to slay six-inch heels. That takes skill, determination and courage, although it does come at a price.
It helps that she is twiglet thin, so sky-scraping stilettos don’t look like they might snap under her weight.
For the rest of us they are torture so I advise sticking to starter stilettos of an inch or less. They still give a little height and an air of seduction but you are way closer to the ground.
These should come with a warning, though, in my humble opinion. With such a minuscule heel the wearer, however tiny, can look heftier. So if you love kitten heels, a pointy toe court gives better proportions.
MY PICK OF THE CROP
if you have wider feet they are the prettiest way to tart up a frock (£69.99, massimodutti.com).
These are elegant, but can make ankles look like they are being strangled (£55, charleskeith.co.uk).
Fabulous all round. I prefer a thick, ridged sole both for edge and safety (£42, dunelondon.com).
Safest option as flesh-toned shoes elongate the leg (£195, russellandbromley.co.uk).
SHOW SOME ANKLE IN A BROGUE LACE-UP
Brogues are the smarter version of trainers and I feel just that little bit more cool if I wear them with cropped trousers or a midi hemline. Always good to show off ankles with these.
TWINKLING FLATS SUIT ANY PARTY
I once tripped in my favourite well-worn Prada platforms outside Buckingham Palace, landed on my back on tarmac and broke two transverse processes, the small ribs at the bottom of the spine. One of the threadbare straps snapped and sent me flying. I was laid up for a week.
So, I for one am relieved to learn that Vogue has declared that flats ‘have more than enough moxie,’ to take you to a party or formal occasion.
After all, these are not just any old flats. They now come in brightly coloured leather, satin or faux animal skin, with twinkling embellishments in sequins and spun gold — more Bake Off Showstopper than bog standard sponge — and all minus the heel. So definitely worth investigating.
All my showy heels are now kept in-waiting for my daughters Cece and Esme. Some 30 pairs are neatly lined up on a shelf in our cellar. But for now, it looks like their love of grungy flats will keep my old Pradas gathering dust . . .
TRAINERS EVEN MY MUM-IN-LAW LOVES
Mercifully, trainers have segued from field to fashion.
Plain white or navy Adidas with the go-faster, white stripes are my preference. They look cool on any age — I’ve even got my mum-in-law into them. She wears them with jeans, ankle grazer trousers or a midi hemline.
I wear mine with trouser suits, dresses and jeans and keep them fresh by washing them in a pillow case in my machine.
HAVE FLIP FLOPS IN YOUR HANDBAG
Many of my evening clutch bags are flip flop size and I’ll tell you why. On the rare occasions I do wear heels, I only wear them for the shortest time possible.
Hence the fact I recently found myself in the entrance to the Tube at Leicester Square in all my evening finery, swapping my Havaiana flip-flops for Tod’s sandals.
There are very few things nowadays that will drag me down a red carpet, but a chance to see the Sir Elton John biopic, Rocketman, alongside the great man himself was nothing short of a dream come true.
But for me, the red carpet spelled a footwear dilemma.
My black-and-white polka dot midi dress (by a chic but understated label called Alexis) looked way better with heels, transforming it from matronly to something passably sophisticated.
But my feet were not in agreement, cramping up at the very thought of being strapped and bound at a sharp angle.
Travelling in flip flops and changing right at the last minute was my solution — there and back!
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