What is your preferred for shoe height? Are you a flatty or a heel kind of girl? Or do you like to mix it up?
After many discussions and focus groups with women with big feet, I know that every woman has their favourite. I still enjoy wearing a heel. However, flats are taking up more precious space in my wardrobe than before. I am wearing them more often, especially to work, and it appears I am not the only one.
Before kids, I was a definite high heel wearer. In my old job, I used to like strutting around the office or across town in my heels. I enjoyed wearing them, felt more professional, and I was lucky enough to be able to keep them on all day without any issue.
After kids, I got out of the practice of wearing heels. It didn't make sense to wear them to parks or walking the streets with a pram. Quite quickly, however, I got sick of wearing flats all the time. When I returned to work for a few days a week after six months, I loved wearing heels again. They signalled to me, it was my time, when I wasn't tied to the feeding or sleep routines of others. Plus being tall, the extra heel height meant I was able to see over the privacy, frosted glass screening of the meeting rooms and check out what was going on.
But office culture has changed. Workplaces are more casual than they were even five years ago. Depending on the industry, suits and heels are generally dying, and jeans and flats are on the rise. In my world now, I work from home, meet freelancers online and pack boxes from a storeroom; as is the glamorous life of a start-up shoe designer.
In 2016, PricewaterhouseCoopers in the UK faced headlines of discrimination after requesting temp worker, Nicole Thorp go home after wearing flats to the office. It's crazy there are still some workplaces (and schools) imposing rules on women on whether they can wear bare legs, flat shoes and pants.
A lot of women enjoy or want to wear stockings, heels and skirts, but it of course, needs to be their choice, when and where. Logic also needs to prevail if your company has a standard of professionalism. However, a gorgeous pair of handmade, leather ballet flat or Hightails in my case are perfect for the office or getting you across town.
I recently visited a consignment store with a bunch of clothes and shoes and the owner rejected all my heels. She told me, while the brands were great, everyone wanted flats these days and she wasn't taking any more heels. I've just created a range of ballet flats so that all made sense to me.
And it seems my consignment store owner is correct. According to NPD Retail Tracking Service, US high heel sales have been in decline for the last five years.
Many celebrities are turning to flat shoes for their time on the red carpet. Gwendoline Christie, Cate Blanchett, Emma Thompson, Natalie Portman and Elle McPherson have embraced the flat at formal affairs.
In 2017, Apple launched a blue, Prussian ballet flat emoji following a plea from Californian publicist Florie Hutchinson, who argued that only having high-heeled shoes as emoji didn't reflect reality.
After speaking to women daily about shoes, I think the high heel has a safe and valued place to many. And even after producing a line of gorgeous handmade leather flats, crafted in Spain, I still like to wear heels too.
But also, these days I feel overdressed wearing high heels in an office setting, and finding myself in beautiful, comfortable, and quality beautiful ballet flats more often, it just makes more sense to have more of them in your cupboard than heels.