by Laura Bickle
"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels."
-Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest", 1982
Same with the most of the positions I've held since that time waaaaay back in the day. Flats have been a recent incursion into my career wardrobe in the last few years. They still feel like cheating, somehow. And all of a sudden, I find that I'm much shorter that I used to be. Which is odd. There's a certain advantage to heels - it forces others to look you in the eye and not look down at you or over your head. I feel vaguely like a shorter-than-average duck slapping my size-eight feet on the floor in ballerina flats.
So...I never really minded heels. I realize that, in certain environments, they are part of the uniform. And I don't mind uniforms. I'm not at work to assert my individuality. I'm there to do a job as part of an organization. And if the office culture requires it, then my tootsies will be in heels.
There are ways to do it, of course. I was one of those girls who rode the bus wearing flats or sneakers with my dress shoes in a bag. It's unattractive, but you do what you gotta do. While I did invest in good quality shoes with thicker, stacked heels, I'm not going to push my luck walking ten blocks in them. They were perfectly functional for walking a couple of blocks for lunch or zipping down to the ice cream cart for an afternoon pick-me-up. But they aren't sneakers. I don't believe Stacy London on What Not to Wear when she says heels can be as comfy as sneakers.
But I did get an education on heels, once upon a time. I was searching for a pair of decently comfortable costume boots to wear to my local SF con and found myself in a shop that sold sexy lingerie and shoes. It was, essentially, a place where strippers buy costumes. I came in holding the boots I wanted to use for my Trinity costume: "Do you have something like this? That I can walk in?"
"Oh, hon," the lady behind the counter said. "That's a BEDROOM shoe. You need a DANCE shoe. C'mon, let me show you..."
And she gave me an education on heels. About height, width, material, fit, and style. I learned a lot about what kinds of shoes dancers wear in their trade, and managed to retain enough of it to help guide me through future shoe purchases. I left that day with a pair of glossy patent black boots that I still wear with costumes. And they're pretty darn comfy.
These days, I do keep a few pairs of "dance" heels around for dress functions. Cute little T-straps with the 1940's vibe. But my love for the last couple of years has been gladiator sandals for dress. I have some lovely metallic and patent ones that are comfy and pretty. They remind me of goddess shoes. And several pairs of boots for winter and costuming.
"Dance" shoes, all of them. Even if I'm at work, I'm dancing in my head. Sometimes backwards.