Last I counted, I own—give or take—about 30 pairs of heels. There are the clompy, five-inch Balenciaga wedges I bought at the Barneys Warehouse Sale in 2008 in an effort to be just a little bit more like Mary-Kate Olsen; the J.W. Anderson for ALDO pumps that would have been such a good deal … if only I could walk more than a few steps in them; the Rag & Bone booties I used to wear to class, internships, and up and down subway stairs with barely a wince, enjoying the feeling of towering over most of the train.
I treat them like prized possessions—certainly more than I do any of my flats, at least—I get the soles repaired when they need repairing, I never stack them on top of one another three to a shelf, and I can’t bring myself to get rid of even the few that feel like torture instruments. But in the past year, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn anything over three inches, with the sole exception of a pair of Rachel Comey shoes whose chunky platforms make them sneakily as comfortable as flats.
Maybe it’s a consequence of dating boys who are 5’11” (I’m 5’8″), maybe it’s a lazy summertime thing, or maybe it’s just me settling in to the joys of sneakers, Birkenstocks, and furry slides, but every time I think about maybe breaking out my more vertiginous sandals lately, my instinctual internal response is, hm, nah.
It’s not that I’m immune to the powers of a good pair of heels—I appreciate being forced to strut rather than speedwalk (the default New Yorker pace) and enjoy feeling like I must have my shit at least somewhat together if I can pull off four-inch pumps—but I’m beginning to remember how much more genuine of a mood-booster it is to be able to walk around outside for hours without feeling like your feet are going to fall off.
While I wish I could say I came to this revelation thanks to a newfound zeal for fitness or even a conscientious attempt at self-care, alas, what really got me was Pokémon. Like much of my demographic (millennials who grew up with Gameboys practically welded to their hands), I’ve gotten a littttle bit addicted to the augmented-reality game in the past week and a half.
And while it’s successfully depleted my data plan and turned me into the kind of person who talks about lure modules and Blastoises while out at a bar with friends, it’s also been surprisingly good for my health—both the mental kind and the kind I outsource to an app, since apparently I’ve passed 18,000 steps a day twice in the past week (compared to sub-8,000 most days in June). I’m not alone in this either: the positive side effects of actually going outside have earned the app some of its most glowing reviews.
Which brings me back to the shoes: Talk to me again when it gets cold and who knows—I might need the metaphorical lift of stilettos again. But for now, I’d happily trade in all my heels for some comfy fashion sneakers that let me hit every stop between here and Brooklyn on foot without complaint.