Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Heels v Flats, Glamour v Life

I'd like to deviate from the usual Library discussions, if I may. I'd like to chat about shoes. I know not everybody has an obsession with shoes, but there are Things That Need To Be Said.

Let's begin. What was going on with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, her bodyguard and those shoes the other day???

For those of you outside of Australia who missed it, our prime minister was suddenly caught in a potentially 'dangerous' situation during an Australia Day protest in the nation's capital this week. (I've used quotation marks because Canberra's hardly a dangerous place, is it? I mean, it's not Kabul.) Fearing her safety, her extraordinarily good-looking security guy – a guy who looked like he should have been in CSI New York  – grabbed the PM in a Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston/Bodyguard-style clench and LIFTED her off her feet! The security guy, who had the rather un-CSI name of Humphrey, then CARRIED the PM through the fracas and into a waiting car. Have a look at the image that was splashed all over the papers this week...

Now I don't know about you, but I think they look a little... friendly? In fact,  I think Ms Julia Gillard looks HAPPY to be Humphrey's arms? If the police weren't behind them, I'd think they were on their way to the Moonlight Cinema for a screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Here's a closer shot.

What the media focused on the most, though, was not the complexion, the jawline or the pecs of this glaringly handsome gentleman, or even the danger the PM might have been in (what? a grope?), but the fact that poor Jules LOST HER SHOE! Yes, that's what we care about in this country, my dear readers. SHOES.

So now we get to the point. Jules' lost shoe was a wedge heel. Suede. Navy. Rather nice, actually.

But forget the fact that it was lost. What this shoe showed was that Jules is a smart woman. 'Cos wedges are comfortable. They come off easily when you're lifted into the air by a man called Humphrey.  Although I would have preferred to have seen her do a little Humphrey huggin' in these navy polka dot numbers:

Finding stylish but comfortable shoes is a lifelong problem for most women. I've spent 20 years trying to search for The Perfect Shoe. The Perfect FLAT shoe. Because heels don't cut it when you're travelling. (Or running countries, for that matter, as Julia might attest to.) Ballet flats were in for a while, but even they had their issues, namely lack of support and an awkward fit.  (I once spent a week in Paris wearing ballets. Every night I'd come home from racing around the city on photo shoots and sit in the bottom of the hotel shower, tearfully wiping the blood and blisters from my swollen ankles. )

The thing is, it's so important to wear comfortable shoes! Our ankles can't take 5-inch heels once we pass 40 years of age. My feet have had 20 years of 5-inch heels. They're now crying out for flats. But do you think I can find stylish ones? I'd have a better chance of doing the deed with Humphrey!

This is a selection of the high heels I used to wear to work:

Then I became a freelance writer and photographer. This is a selection of the shoes I wore for a number of years while travelling and lugging suitcases and cameras around the world:

Now I'm a stay-at-home author. Who gardens. And renovates. And walks the dogs. What do you think I wear most of the time now?

Yes, that's right – wellies. I love them. Loooove them.  And these Joules ones especially. They're cheaper and prettier than Hunters, they look good with jeans or jodhpurs and you can toss them on when you're going to the shops without fearing that you'll be pulled over by the Aesthetically Correct Squad.

But there's a problem. You can wear wellies – or their urban counterpart, boots – when it's winter, but when it's summer you need another option. And flip flops are not really acceptable, not when you're going to an appointment, meeting a friend, going out for dinner or boarding a plane.

So this is my question. Why, when there are 7 billion or so people in the world, can we not design a shoe that is low-heeled, comfortable, easy on the feet, and STYLISH???



  1. Would have chortled all the way through this exquisite piece, had it not been for the serious plea at the end. I hear you! I plea too! We want glamour AND comfort - summer and winter. I spend a lot of my working day at building sites, climbing ladders, jumping over scaffolding - so am always on the hunt for shoes which ooze style while still being safe.

  2. Can I swap my shoe collection for yours please!!!!!
    The red wellingtons are a must in any woman's wardrobe and then there is comfort....I wear high cut loafers or slip ons or whatever you want to call them. I always have navy and white Mary Bonn, tan and navy Neo and bought a super soft white and tan pair from Blue illusion at Christmas!
    soft, solid, comfortable and stylish! I know you know this but just thought I would put in my
    pennies worth!!!!!
    Talking of shoes did you read poor Maggie Alderson last week?!!!!

  3. I only read her most recent post Julienne, apologising for the uproar she'd caused, and then quickly scanned the actual post. I didn't read the comments. Personally I didn't think there was anything controversial in her post, but then again, everyone deserves to have an opinion. Thanks for your suggestions re shoes. Blue Illusion do great shoes - I'd forgotten about them. I usually stock up on flats whenever I go to London as they're cheap there. Like you, I usually bring a suitcase home!! Janelle xx

  4. I hear you! Gosh...I find it so hard to find comfortable flat shoes that look good. Most end up giving me blisters and cutting my feet. I've tried cheap and expensive brands. The best I've found so far are Ferragamo varinas...but even those took some wearing in. Would love any recs you have for London shoe shopping as heading over there in April. I am very excited for your "secret London post" as have loved reading about new York and Paris!

  5. Thanks for the lovely Ferragamo tip Sophie. I'll look out for those next time I'm in London. (Where they're SO much cheaper than Australia!) Ferragamo create high quality shoes, so I'm sure the Varinas will be beautifully comfortable. Thanks for reminding me about the London post. Half the time I don't think any one is reading these Library tidbits! Only the stats show there is an audience, so perhaps they're all shy?

  6. Janelle...Firstly, I loved this post..laughed all the way thru it and can't wait to share it with my Aussie friends on Facebook. Secondly, the shoes! Yes..I know the feeling, how and why it is so difficult? Forget that we need different shoes for different countries. What I wear around London is different to what I recently packed for Morocco and India. I learned the hard way in Israel and swore to put more thought into shoes when having to remove them for synagogues, temples and the like. Of course, a beach holiday is a whole other matter! I am sure you can relate and yes, I feel your frustration!

    I am going to run with this a bit further...I find myself going back to Ecco shoes. Not the best looking, I prefer their winter collection but at the end of the day they can be mighty comfy when doing the long haul. They have served me well running around London and Paris. Good grief...sounds like a travel journal glad you know the feeling!

    Wellies...absolutely, I write about them all the time. This is why I have four blogs, so that I can secretly write about things more than once. I have exhausted one blog writing about my love for the French boot, Le Chameau and then snuck over to my Style blog to secretly write about my new found love, Ilse Jacobsen-Hornbeak boots:
    I say we are two wild and crazy wellie girls!

    My problem is making decisions on shoes...hate it!

    Sorry for the run on, I am also in the midst of writing to you for your lovely comment on my first post...just had to say, thank you for this post!

    Best wishes...

    Jeanne xx

  7. What a great post, had a laugh all the way through,and Julia does look very comfortable in the arms of Humphrey!

    And I here you about the perfect shoe, I'm still looking

  8. Do I dare mention the 'B' word or will you ban me from ever commenting here again Janelle! I moved to the Hills & discovered Birkenstocks but have quickly found a more glitzy glam version -the Israeli Naot brand straight from the kibbutz. My current pair is a gorgeous silver number with pretty diamantes. I wore them to a dinner party recently & didn't feel like a country bumpkin. However I've now been expelled from the Hills Existential Mung Bean Society for being too up-market! You can't win 'em all.
    Millie xx

  9. Oh your shoe collection is stunning!
    My fancy shoes live in a lovely cabinet now, they are like pets. Like you I'm either run wellies or trainers, glamour comes but once a month if I'm lucky!

  10. Thank you lovely people. Am now off to look for Eccos, loafers, Ferragamo Varinas and Israeli Naots! Just in time too, since we're planning a big trip in April/May and I dare say my beloved wellies wouldn't cut it in New York, the Bahamas or Paris/London. Janelle x PS I see Tabitha has also recomemnded Hermes' Jumping Boots on her blog. Love these. LOVE THEM.


  12. Hi Anonymous, I think they were from Tory Burch's recent collections, but I'm not 100% sure. I do remember seeing her wear a pair. Perhaps you could try to Google her and/or find her website? There might still be a pair on sale?
    Best of luck! Janelle

  13. Thank you soo much yesterday i went crazy googling those shoes. Thats how i came across this blog. After a whole day googling i finally found them, but I am a year late =( I guess i need to pick other shoes for my wedding.


Thank you for stopping by. It's always lovely hearing from The Library's readers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...