When we asked the men of GNTLMN for some tips for New Yorkers, they added one for the ladies, too: do not wear kitten heels, ever. The site's co-founder Wesley Verhoeve even went on to tell us, "My favorite quote about women's shoes is 'kitten heels are the mullet of shoes.' The problem is that all they are is comfortable, while doing nothing to lengthen the leg... and if comfort is important then wear cute flats!" This kitten heel comment turned out to be as controversial as their firm stance against square-toed shoes for men, so we took to the streets and the fashionable ladies of a few glossy mags to see where women come down on the kitten heel issue.
Alexis Swerdloff of Paper Magazine says, "The phrase 'kitten heels' makes my skin crawl the same way a word like "panties" does... The bottom line is that they are just not that flattering—and generally make a normal, nice leg look kind of stubby. That said, I never love a 'should not' when it comes to fashion, and if someone feels like sporting a generally unflattering, stumpy heel—more power to her!"
Faran Krentcil of Nylon Magazine echoed the sentiment, saying, "It's hard to say 'never' in fashion—there's enough variety out there that many trends, kitten heels included, can look quite cool. Personally, I'm a big fan of Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg's leopard print versions, which look killer peeking out of a wide-leg jean or even with a red wool pencil skirt and a plain white tee. It's true kitten heels can easily go wrong, especially if they've got over-the-top ornaments like frilly bows on them."
Photo by Rachel Pincus/Gothamist
This afternoon we took to the streets of SoHo to ask women what they thought of the style, here are some of their thoughts:
- "Hate them." - Australian girls
- "They're different. If they go with your outfit, they could work." - Allie from Long Island
- Older women tend to buy them—aged 30 or 40. I don’t wear kitten heels. I’m really short so if I choose to wear heels, they have to be really high." - Nube, a salesperson at Forecast Footwear (from the Bronx)
- Teenage girl from Connecticut: “I don’t like kitten heels and wouldn’t wear them. If other people wear
them, I wouldn’t judge them for it, but they have to work it!”
- “All heels look good. I love a woman in heels.” - Bored-looking boyfriend waiting on girlfriend in Top Shop
- “I’ve actually rolled my ankle every time I wore them. And I just don’t think they’re flattering. Yeah, they look good on Mad Men, but I just hate them.”
- "I just recently switched to kitten heels. I'm 27 and I'm starting to realize many of my aunts have knee and ankle problems from walking in flats. I see a lot of people who can't walk in their platform shoes around the Upper East Side. It's like, why would you walk in them if you don't have to? Also, part of the reason I only switched now is that I'm from California, and there it's like, you take off a shoe, you get in your car and drive, and when you're on the way to work you might be standing up for a total of 50 feet." - Kate from Upper East Side
- "These are a decade old. I got them in Venice. Have you ever tried to walk down a cobblestone street in high heels? Some kitten heels are not very attractive. These are glam and very comfortable, though. If it weren't for shoes like this, women would be killing themselves. I'm a photojournalist, however, and when I'm actually out in the field I wear combat boots." - Carol Allen Storey, who was wearing kitten heels
Feel free to log your opinion on this Important Fashion Matter below:
Additional reporting from Rachel Pincus and Alexandra Shytsman.