• Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

SARAH VINE: Life's too short for sore feet – or pleasing men

Oct 11, 2022

SARAH VINE: If the trainer fits ladies, wear it! Life’s too short for sore feet – or pleasing men

Marilyn Monroe once said: ‘Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she will conquer the world.’

She might have added: ‘Provided conquering the world doesn’t involve anything more strenuous than tottering from cocktail bar to boudoir’.

Monroe became a star in the 1950s, the age of the stiletto, invented by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior to complement its extravagant ‘New Look’ — the ultimate antidote to the sensible fashions of the war years.

Ever since, and despite wave after wave of feminism, women’s shoes haven’t really changed.

Monroe became a star in the 1950s, the age of the stiletto, invented by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior to complement its extravagant ‘New Look’ — the ultimate antidote to the sensible fashions of the war years

The stiletto, as sexy as it is impractical, has reigned supreme as the ultimate icon of desirable footwear.

Designers, from Manolo Blahnik to Christian Louboutin, have all made the vertiginous, spiky heel their trademark — and we’ve worshipped accordingly.

But now, it seems, the era of the stiletto is finally drawing to a close. It’s less about the ‘f*** me’ shoe — and more about the ‘f*** me, that’s comfortable’ shoe. And not everyone gets it.

Witness the way staff at a members’ club in the City of London treated a high-flying businesswoman who wore a £195 pair of Russell & Bromley flatform trainers. She was furious when they moved her to a table in the corner by the kitchen because her footwear was deemed unsuitable.

And just look at the reaction to Prime Minister Liz Truss’s decision to conduct a round of interviews in a pair of £138 white Reiss trainers during the Conservative Party conference. If you believe some commentators, she might as well have turned up in her pyjamas.

Shock, horror, woman wears comfy shoes! Whatever next?

Full disclosure: I’ve never been a fan of heels. My reasons are not so much political as practical. When I was young (and stupid), I desperately wanted to wear sexy, strappy numbers like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City.

And just look at the reaction to Prime Minister Liz Truss’s decision to conduct a round of interviews in a pair of £138 white Reiss trainers during the Conservative Party conference. If you believe some commentators, she might as well have turned up in her pyjamas

But owing to my gigantic Hobbit-shaped size 8 feet, it was not to be. Even if I had wanted to blow a week’s wages on a pair of Manolos, I couldn’t because they simply weren’t available in my size.

Nor were ballet flats — always the favoured choice for the off-duty fashionista — much better. My feet would just ooze over the sides like ripe brie.

That’s why I started wearing Superga trainers. Growing up as a teenager in Turin, we all wore them: after all, that was where the brand started, in 1911.

They were comfortable, they came in my size — and they looked good, or at least I thought so.

Since then, they have become hugely popular — and spawned a million imitations.

Even our Queen Consort, Camilla, favours a trainer brand best known for its fashionable laces (I own several pairs).

From the Prime Minister to Prue Leith, trainers are fast replacing heels as the mark of a woman who means business. And anyone who can’t see why is missing an important point.

Because this is not just a practical shift; it’s a cultural one, too. It’s not just about freedom from footwear that makes walking difficult or gets you stuck in a drain.

It’s about a fundamental shift in women’s attitudes — away from a slavish desire to please the opposite sex and towards a far more radical, and rebellious, notion: pleasing ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong: there is still plenty of room for a heel in a woman’s life. But there is a time and a place. Not everyone leads a car-to-kerb existence like the Duchess of Sussex or Victoria Beckham. Most of us have far too much on our plates without also having to do it all standing on our tippy-toes.

So if the trainer fits, wear it. Life’s too short for sore feet.

Time for Heidi to go under cover

Driving my daughter back to university at the weekend, we were discussing who would be more embarrassing to have as a mother: Madonna (currently throwing her knickers around on TikTok) or Britney Spears (not even wearing hers most of the time). We agreed that it was probably Madonna, on the basis that you should never snog anyone younger than your oldest child (in her case daughter Lourdes, 26 this week).

But now we have a new contender for title of Most Embarrassing Mum: Heidi Klum, 49, who has posed for a series of lingerie ads alongside her 18-year-old daughter, Leni

But now we have a new contender for title of Most Embarrassing Mum: Heidi Klum, 49, who has posed for a series of lingerie ads alongside her 18-year-old daughter, Leni.

Heidi looks great, of course, thanks no doubt to all that gym work and, erm, other work.

But really? Surely there comes a time when you just must let the next generation take its rightful turn . . .

  • I couldn’t care less if Nicola Sturgeon says she despises all Tories. In fact, I’m delighted. The more she exposes herself for the divisive politician she is, the more chance the people of Scotland have of seeing through her.

Extinguish crime! 

A group calling itself Tyre Extinguishers is slashing the tyres of 4x4s up and down the country in a bid to ‘make it impossible to own an SUV in urban areas’. When are we going to stop calling these sorts of groups ‘climate-change activists’ and give them the name they deserve: criminals.

  • Another podcast, another poor-little-Me-ghan. The Duchess of Sussex says she has been branded ‘crazy’ and ‘hysterical’, warning that such labels are used against women to ‘minimise what they’re feeling’. My dear, I don’t think there’s any danger of your feelings ever being minimised. 

Another podcast, another poor-little-Me-ghan. The Duchess of Sussex says she has been branded ‘crazy’ and ‘hysterical’

  • Isn’t it ironic Tom Felton, who played baddie Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, is the only actor honourable enough to acknowledge J.K. Rowling’s contribution? He told Radio 4 she should be ‘celebrated’ for ‘bringing generations together’, and was branded a ‘little snake’ by trans bullies. No, the real snakes are cast members — Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe among them — too scared to stand up for the woman who made them who they are today. 

Charles’s cut-price crowning glory 

I have no problem with King Charles having a slimmed-down Coronation. To my mind, it’s similar to a wedding: the extravagance of the occasion has no bearing on the success of the venture. I couldn’t care less how many bowing and scraping dignitaries turn up; it’s the kind of king Charles turns out to be that matters.

(By the way, my son informs me the Coronation is on the day Chelsea play at Bournemouth. I tell him this is not likely to constitute a diary clash.)

How to help charmless Coffey…

I’m afraid Therese Coffey was abysmal on her media round yesterday morning. It’s not just that she didn’t seem to know the answer to most of the questions being asked of her; she also came across as charmless and arrogant. Perhaps the problem is that she is trying to manage two separate briefs: Deputy Prime Minister and Health Secretary.

Maybe if she were to relinquish one, the Prime Minister could appoint a troublesome Tory rebel to another — thus killing two birds with one stone.

  • It’s all very well for Suella Braverman to say she wants to tighten the laws around cannabis possession; but how, pray, will she enforce this crackdown? We have a police force that can’t even cope with existing levels of crime; our courts are backed up for months; and even if they did succeed in convicting more drug dealers, our prisons are full.
  • I loathe urban foxes (please don’t write in) so I was delighted to see footage of Downing Street’s somewhat ancient cat — veteran mouser Larry — seeing off a particularly wily-looking specimen. Despite being more than twice Larry’s size, the fox barely put up a fight — proving that, aged 15 and with four PMs under his collar, Larry the Cat is still top dog in Downing Street. 

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