from a height


Photographer: unknown

I get a lot of, "How come you don't wear heels? Is it because you're so tall?" This is usually followed by, "You're so lucky, you don't need to."

I'm 1.79m tall, which makes me 5'10 or so? This is tall by Asian standards (though perhaps not in parts of China), and for the most part I am immune to tall people jokes, comments, questions, and all sorts of things people assume or want to know about tall people. People can't help being people, and there are worse things people can say to your face.

This one about shoes annoyed me though, because it assumes that I have something to be embarrassed about. I do not. It assumes that I'm trying to fit in. I am not. It also assumes that heels are the more desirable shoe style, and I am somehow having to "settle" because of my "defect". It is not. It's just wrong on so many levels.

I only wear flats because:

a) I like them. Something in me melts a little when I see a pair of beautifully-made, exquisitely-designed flats; heels never have the same effect on me, even though I enjoy looking at them.

b) Flats are practical. I like practical. I don't like fussy things. I like running up stairs and chasing a bus. Some people can do this in heels but it looks silly, don't it? Flats are sensible and elegant and they suggest confidence because they're not about standing out, they are happy with what they are.

Choosing to wear flats is a matter of taste and preference, and not some silly notion stuffed into my head because of magazine articles written to make people feel bad about themselves. Short people don't need to wear heels and tall people don't need to wear flats. Whatever we choose to wear should be free will. End of story.

Picture from popbee


Alex said…
I'm a flats person as well, so I really know what you mean about feeling slightly excited at the sight of a beautiful pair.. especially ballet flats, I have loved them since I did ballet when I was little. As you say, they are so unfussy + There is nothing more unattractive than seeing someone who can't walk in their heels and looks to be in pain..but there are some heels I like and would wear, like the plain pumps from dries van noten or alaïa. Having read your blog for about a year, I would never associate your style with heels anyway
Sog19b said…
I really had to smile when I was reading your entry: I quite often get asked the "why don't you wear heels" question too...but in my case it is rather because I'm really small (160cm).
Nevertheless I'm sort of bothered by it too - why is it expected to wear heels just because you're small? I acutally quite like my height and I don't see the need to wear heels. Like you, I adore beautiful flats. I admire heels too and yes they lengthens my legs; but again, just like you I don't like fussy things. I cannot walk long distances or "run" with heels; and I do walk whenever I can or at least like to have the feeling of being able to do so if I wanted to. Therfore, even from a "small" persons perspective I can only wholeheartedly agree with your conclusions.
You make a good point "there are worse things people can say to your face" then being questioned about sartorial choices. I wish people would just leave me the &%*@ alone about wearing a trench. It's funny if I wear my beat up simple satin coat, I get compliments, but a trench coat I'm constantly asked "are you cold?"

I know this isn't a popular opinion but I don't see the appeal of those Chanel flats at all. I think they should either have the captoe/logo or the bow but not all three.
0000 said…
Wow you are really tall (and yes! even in Northern China, where the women are supposedly giants--a trait I didn't manage to pick up). I agree that tall women shouldn't be afraid to wear heels. I have a very beautiful friend who is of similar height, and she refuses to wear heels because of her height though she loves the look of heels. Shoe shopping with her was a nightmare because it was literally an exercise in insecurity for her! I feel like it's much better to forego the insecurity and really go for what you like--whether it's heels or flats--than to feel terrible every time you go shoe shopping!
K. said…
You are indeed very tall, even by a global standard! But wearing flats or heels for a prolong period of time is not ergonomically optimal, and apparently it is best to switch from lower heel shoes to flats to trainers from time to time in order to prevent strain, says my ortho professor.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that choosing what to wear is our own matter of choice! Beautiful things should be fuss-free too.

Alexandra said…
I too am a tall person and a dedicated flats wearer! And constantly get asked why I never wear heels!! But to me, there's just nothing more comfortable and elegant than a pair of ballet flats!
If Jane said…
what a beautiful height! (i am the shortest in my family at 1.70m tall)...;))
oh i do wear flats and heels and i believe this is the freedom all should have! my friend who is 1.75m wears heels with the aplomb of a model...;))
Nanashi said…
I used to let the height issue dictate a bit of how I pick shoes (I'm somewhat in between, not short or tall) but in the end I realized the shoes I got based on those preconceptions I rarely wore. In the end shoes must be what one wears, not admire as display (those painful heels seem to be adored for its artistic quality rather than its wearability and those women who gets spotted in Jak and Jill seem to endure the unimaginable pain created by designer, often male who have musings about the perfect curve created by the heels). Of course there are heels that are actually wearable (though elusive), so I still have a mix of both flats and heels, but it really should not be dictated by the so called ideal proportions that people rave about.
5'10" is a perfect height, imo!
lin said…
Alex: Yep heels aren't really me. And agree, I cringe when I need someone hobbled by heels.

Sog19b: Exactly! I have a tiny friend, about 1.49m, and she gets people asking her why she doesn't wear heels more either, although she does on occasion.

Pret a Porter P: Agree with your pt about having sartorial choices questioned; no matter what one might think of it, it's always rude to grill someone you don't know very well about these things.If someone asks you ant the trench, you could just say, "Yes I am, aren't you?"

These flats aren't my favourite either, I don't like the logo or even the way the flat is made. Logo, plus bow plus toe-cap is over kill; it should be just two of the three. But great picture of someone in flats, haha.

0000: Someone must have said something really cutting to your friend to make her feel so insecure; that's so sad. Shopping should be fun.

K: Yes, I know flats and wearing flats all the time isn't great for me feet..esp ballet flats. I don't really mix it up much except with sneakers, and sometimes my brogues and loafers. I actually would like something with a low blocky heel but I've yet to see a pair I like.

Alexandra: My sentiments exactly!

If Jane: 1.70m is nothing to sneeze at :) MY sisters are tall and they wear heels too. If we're going to tower over everyone already what's a few more inches, I say.

Nanashi: I agree, and having a mix is probably the healthiest. I love the look of some heels too, just not on me. But I also think some women are in denial when they say how comfortable heels are, hahaha. That said, some people just have foot shapes and arches that fit heels better. But as you said, it shouldn't be about body proportions.

The divinitus: I think all heights are perfect in their way, but thank you !
Kate said…
Good article. I think it's particularly strange that heels are considered a necessity - tall people don't 'need' them. I know so many small people who wear heels constantly to give them height.

I'm 5'9, and never ever wear heels. Don't like them, they don't suit me. I have the added delicious excuse of a boyfriend a good 5" shorter than me too.
hannah-rose said…
very, very, very true. I had the exact same conversation with my friend the other day and I don't have anywhere near your excuse (literally- I'm about 5"6').. I just like wearing flast. they are comfortable and work best with my clothes which are similarly easygoing, unfussy and very practical.. I'm all about sensibility too.

You've given me more conviction to come back when people say to me - "why don't you wear heels" - with a resounding it's a matter of personal taste, this is mine, and that is that.. thank you!

S said…
Love this post. I hate that being tall or being short are treated like negative traits vs simple fact. Like, because I'm short (5'1"), I should be trying to make myself appear taller. I wear mostly flats, my cousin who is 5'9" wears mostly heels ... I guess you can say we're over it!
lin said…
Kate: Thanks. Your boyfriend is awesome; I remember in school, boys hated standing next to me in photos. Idiots.

Hannah-rose: You're very welcome - I'm sure there are many of us out there; we've just been drowned out by the flashier high heels brigade.

S: Like I said, I think there are lots of people like us out there who don't care about height when it comes to shoes...and it's good to know they exist! Sometimes I feel like we live in a scary, Cosmo/Glamour-dictated world. Every time I see one of those titles I make a mental list of things I want to teach my hypothetical daughter/god-daughter/niece/grandchild to avoid.
Anonymous said…
Hi Lin! Just discovered your lovely blog. I'm also a flat shoe person. Never been interested in heels as much as I love seeing them on other people. And I also agree on not liking fussy things. I've been consistently purging my closet to get rid of all garments that require occasional adjustments while I'm wearing them. I love beautiful clothes and shoes but first and foremost, I must feel 100% comfortable from the time I put them on until I take them off the end of the day. Shoes are even more so. Having said that, I highly recommend shoes by italian label Guidi. Expensive but so worth the money. Their designs are truly timeless for the most part, very unisex if you like more masculine simple shoes and the quality, in both material and craftsmanship is the best I've ever bought. And I'm not one that shy's away from spending money on shoes.

Anyways, really glad to have discovered your blog and look forward to future posts.
Aïssa said…
I just find it incredibly rude when people make asumption about someone's choices based on some supposedly "universal" sartorial rule.

Till now, more than 20 years later, I remember that little girl telling me that I should only wear brown because of the colors of my eyes... And I still remember thinking a) how stupid her sartorial concept was and b) I wear what I want... why do you care?
Fashion Tidbits said…
Goodness me, i too hate it when ppl tell me that i should not wear certain things because so and soo.....humph. Really.
miss sophie said…
YES! your thoughts = my thoughts exactly on this. a friend's wife is a little shorter than me and always wears super-high heels. that works for her and she's comfortable. great. i'm 5'4 which makes me part of that group of women that glossy magazines always advise to wear the 'highest heels possible'. screw that. i'll wear what i please!
lin said…
Anon: Thanks for your comments, and thanks for the recommendation! definitely going to check it out. Shoes are really worth the extra thought, because like you say, we spend all day in them and I refuse to spend my day in pain!

Aissa: That little girl is weird...I've never heard of that one, haha. And it's absolutely rude. When I point this out to people, some of them don't get why it's rude, and it's so depressing.

Fashion Tidbits: I often think I'm used to it, and then every so often a comment will set me off, haha.

miss sophie: You should! And you always look great doing it :)
Lindsay K said…
I love this post. People should wear what they love. There is something really refreshing about a good pair of flats. Sometimes practically wins out.
mode.ulation said…
Yes I can relate really well here! You are really tall! At 5'8, I hear the "tall ppl jokes" a lot as well, and I love wearing flats too as they are practical and pretty.

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