One Day: 'I felt liberated after throwing out my high heels'

Anna faces a carefree future without her designer heels
Anna faces a carefree future without her designer heels Credit: Clara Molden

They’re glossy-leathered, with statement heels – my first pair of Pradas. Nine years ago, getting dressed for my first day at a fashion magazine, it wasn’t until I slid into my new shoes that I felt even faintly up to the day ahead.

My calves felt taut, sprung, like an animal. I was three inches taller, elevated from a pedestrian 5ft 6in to ‘fashion height’. The gloss and fierce detailing gave me edge. My Prada heels helped me fake it when I felt I had a lot of faking to do. Today, they’re sitting in a black bin liner. Where did the love go?

I now see flats as a sign of strength. In them I feel ready for anything

A recent house move prompted a stark re-evaluation of my relationship with heels. After lugging over 20 pairs of dusty and neglected shoes across the country, I did a ruthless edit, saving only my black Marc Jacobs pumps and tan Swedish Hasbeens.

Neither of them exactly dazzle, but as a duo they cover me in everything from cocktail dresses to suits and summery bohemian frocks. 

I expect to feel liberated eventually, but right now I feel a bit sick. We pin all our hopes and dreams on our clothes – romantic fantasies, career aspirations, health ups and downs, travel plans…

I know I collected shoes like wishes – the pair I’d wear to celebrate my promotion to features editor, the ones I’d wear to dance all night in an underground club in Glasgow with the man of my dreams, and those I’d wear to stomp through Bloomsbury to get my book deal. For much of my life, high heels meant big plans. 

But since my career as a frosty fashion editor in Manhattan hasn’t exactly panned out, I don’t need those mega-heeled Pradas any more. Today I’m a freelance writer and don’t plan to re-enter an office ever again.

And because I’m married to a man who wouldn’t care if I wore slippers to dinner, the geometric Marni wedges that I can only walk seven steps in, well, they’re never going to be trotted into a restaurant on Lake Como.

Anna ditched the heels when she moved home Credit: Clara Molden

I guess I also won’t need my Nicholas Kirkwood ‘Oscars’ heels, the vintage Russell & Bromley pair that are just perfect for a business lunch in Dubai, or the quirky 1990s Buffalo platform trainers that would totally impress the crowd at a karaoke bar in Tokyo. 

I’m not alone in embracing a future in flats. Most city-dwelling women walk a few miles over a working day, and need shoes that work with them, not against.

Modern women are through being bossed around by our shoes. Today I see flats as a sign of strength, rather than frumpiness. In flats I feel ready for anything; they represent adventure, possibility and a happier lifestyle. I no longer want to be a frosty fashion editor in Manhattan – so I suppose it’s time I gave back her shoes. 

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