Belfast Telegraph

Victoria Beckham dumps the heels and goes back to flats

By Deirdre Reynolds

She once famously claimed she "can't concentrate" in flat shoes, but now it seems Victoria Beckham is going to have to try at least.

After a defiant last stand in dominatrix-style Louboutins at the royal wedding earlier this year, the world's most famous heel-aholic has finally been forced back down to earth due to a slipped disc.

Last week, the impractically fashionable 37-year-old mum of four was snapped out in Hollywood for the first time since giving birth to daughter Harper Seven in July.

And while her perma-pout, oversized sunnies, slick dress sense and size-zero frame were all present and correct -- most notably, her signature skyscrapers were not.

In the past, queen WAG Victoria -- who's rarely photographed in footwear less than six inches -- claimed she didn't even own a pair of flats because they made her scrawny legs look like golf clubs.

"I beyond hate ballerina flats," she revealed.

"I can't even walk in them. Unless they're on a ballet dancer, I just don't get it."

After more than two decades in heels, however, the painful lower back injury she's believed to have suffered while pregnant -- as well as the bunions that have plagued her since the Spice Girls -- appears to have prompted a change of heart.

But just as Mrs Beckham has been both credited and criticised over the rise of lethal 'stripper heels', now the style icon could do with one simple snap what chiropractors have been trying to do for years.

With boyish brogues, ballet pumps and flat boots all big this autumn, already girls here are hot on her heels -- hanging up theirs in favour of flats.

Meanwhile, flat-footed celebrities such as Alexa Chung, Jessica Alba and Kate Moss have also been working the 'granny chic' look in sensible shoes.

"Victoria Beckham has been the single greatest driving force behind the trend for sky-high heels in recent years," says Emma Cunningham of Debenhams.

"But now that she's come back down to level ground in flats, we expect thousands of Irish girls to follow suit.

"Already this week, we've seen an increase in flat styles such as brogues and pumps by brands like H! by Henry Holland and Red Herring -- so the reverse 'Posh effect' is definitely taking hold."

So, would you hang up your heels for good like Posh?

Yes: 'I'm just plain old me -- and my flats match that!'

Katie Kelly (27) Publicist, Drogheda

'As a commuter, I've always preferred flats to heels -- they come in handy if I have to run for the train.

"Working in PR means I'm often on my feet for hours on end, so I'd never dream of wearing heels to work in the first place. Aside from the practicality, flat shoes have always been fashionable.

"Diane Keaton's androgynous Annie Hall look is as fresh today as it was back in the 70s. And celebrities such as Alexa Chung and Kate Bosworth often wear flats on the red carpet.

"Personally, I like to juxtapose a girly dress with mannish brogues or a boyfriend shirt and skinny jeans with ladylike loafers. And when I do venture out in heels, I'm never without a pair of flats stashed in my bag as back-up.

"So okay, flats definitely don't give you the same va-va-voom that heels do, but I still think they can be quite sexy. For one thing, you'll never see a girl in flats with a pained expression on her face on a night out.

"There's also something sexy about a girl who has the confidence to wear boyish shoes -- and let her other assets do the talking.

"Unlike a lot of high- street heels, flat shoes are usually really well-made and last ages. I buy a lot of handmade leather flats from London designer Kate Kanzier. But even if I blow the budget on a new pair, I never suffer from 'buyer's remorse' like I would with new heels because I know I'll get a lot of wear out of them.

"I've had a couple of pitying comments from other girls about the fact that I always wear flats, but it doesn't bother me.

"For me, fashion is an expression of who you are. And while I'll rock heels when I'm feeling bold and brave, most days I'm just plain old me -- and my flats match that."

No: 'It's nice to walk tall and strut in the office'

Nikki Sheridan (23) Singer and dancer, Marino

'To me, wearing heels is as necessary as wearing a bra. Rain, hail or shine, I never leave the house without an extra couple of inches strapped on to my feet.

"As I'm not that tall, I'll never stop wearing heels like Posh. But heels don't just add to my height, they boost my confidence too.

"There's something very empowered about a woman who can strut around the office in stilettos and still get the job done.

"On girls' night out, I break out the skyscrapers -- which don't come off until I'm tucked up safely in bed.

"Once you're confident in your heels, I don't think it matters how high they are -- it's all about holding your head high, your shoulders back and simply placing one foot in front of the other.

"That said, I've taken a couple of tumbles -- and my friends get a great kick out of watching me shuffle down the street to catch a bus in my heels.

"But when I do wind up horizontal in my heels, I just get back up again and laugh it off.

"I aspire to be like Beyoncé -- who can not only walk in heels, but dance in them as well.

"What we wear defines who we are -- and sometimes, it's nice to walk tall."

But if you really must wear heels. . .

  • Don't wear more than three inches. Each extra centimetre of heel height increases the price of a shoe by around 20%, but the cost on your knees, joints and back could be much higher.
  • Free your hooves every half hour. One new survey revealed that it takes just 34 minutes to go from 'wow' to 'ow' in skyscraper heels.
  • Stash a pair of flats in your handbag for the walk to and from work or the pub. "It can make all the difference," says chiropractor Dr Attracta Farrell.
  • Regular trips to the chiropractor (in flats, naturally) can help avoid serious problems like hammer toe, bunions and Morton's Neuroma down the line.
  • Go barefoot at home and massage the soles of your feet and back of your legs regularly to help retrain the muscles and improve elasticity.

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