I turned 30 last summer, and as the milestone approached, I started to notice some changes in myself. It now takes me way longer time to get over a hangover, I’d rather stay in than go out most nights, and I find comfortable looks much more appealing than I ever did before.
More specifically, I find myself reaching more often for what our mothers (or grandmothers) might call sensible shoes. For the majority of my life, I’ve always felt my most fashionable when wearing a great pair of heels, so I started to wonder if I’ve become lazier or just given up on caring how I looked.
But thankfully, just before I had a full blown mid-life crisis, the spring 2018 shows began, and I noticed flat shoes popping up on practically every runway. There were jewel-encrusted flat slingbacks at Badgley Mischka, New Balance sneakers at Zimmermann, and rainbow slides at Tory Burch. At each show, I spotted silhouette after silhouette of chic-yet-practical shoes traipsing by.
That’s when I realized I no longer have to choose between style and comfort while shoe-shopping. After decades of women teetering around in sky-high stilettos, designers are finally producing chic options that can be worn for hours without inducing pain or misery.
The fact that flats are now officially on-trend and not something you should feel obligated to change out of once you arrive at your destination gave me the idea to try going a month without wearing heels. After putting my feet through more than 15 years of what basically can be described as abuse, they definitely deserve a rest.
In fact, the last time I can remember not wearing heels for at least a few days out of the week was in college, thanks to two stress fractures in my right foot. I hadn’t realized I hurt it that badly because I’d grown so used to having foot pain. I actually continued to wear heels on nights out for two weeks before I went to the podiatrist who informed me it was broken (oops). I had to wear a boot for the entire summer of 2008—not cute.
But now, I actually look forward to ditching my heels because it’s my choice and not something that was forced upon me. Soon Gucci loafers, Repetto ballerinas, and Jenni Kayne mules made their way into my daily rotation; meanwhile, my Stuart Weitzman ‘Nudist’ heels and Schutz pointed pumps were banished to the back of my closet. I’ve even embraced the athleisure trend, and started wearing sporty Nikes and crisp white Adidas with my fanciest outfits—something I would never have dared to try before.
While I used to feel powerful with added height, I find myself feeling more confident in the comfortable looks than I ever did even in my most towering heels. Perhaps because I’m more at ease with myself now that I’m older and more mature, or maybe because I’m no longer in the blinding pain and numbness that platforms and pumps often brought to my soles.
Either way, I also realized I’ve become much more efficient, thanks to my new kicks. I get to meetings early, have more energy, and no longer dread having to get up from my desk. (Sound familiar?)
Since making the change, not only have my feet been thanking me for saving them from pain, but my back has, too. I stand 5’9” barefoot, while the majority of my friends hover under the 5’4” mark. Now that I’ve ditched heels, I no longer find myself hunched over at bars, trying to hear what they’re saying.
I easily made it to my goal of a heel-free month, so I decided to do it again for another 30 days, and then another. It’s been almost 5 months since I’ve slipped into my favorite pair of heels, and I don’t have even the faintest urge to put them on anytime soon.
Will I ever wear heels again? Probably. I’m sure there will be a special occasion that will make me want to pull a pair out of retirement. But for right now I’m happy staying grounded in my flats.