Platform shoes are powerful. They symbolize both sex and authority, yet striking the balance is a challenge. The right pair lends presence, and they can be the final touch to a high-fashion look. The wrong pair can tear a ligament or worse, make you look like an aspiring reality-TV star. In winter months, platforms worn with cozy stockings are a dressed-up option that protects against damp ground that might otherwise ruin a good pair of heels. Some will scoff and go put on rain boots, but platforms trace back to the middle ages, where they were the chosen shoe among noblewomen forced to tread through medieval muck.
Well-educated Venetian courtesans and noblewomen of the renaissance wore them for physical and symbolic reasons. Chopines, as they were then called, protected the feet from uneven streets, but also established a stature that matched a lady’s social status. A distant ancestor to the wedge platform, they were literally pedestals, elevating a woman sometimes over ten inches. Catherine de Medici loved them, as did other European power-women, who wore versions of them through the eighteenth century, hiding them under huge ball gowns. Disappearing almost entirely in the nineteenth century, when women's feet took on daintier proportions with Victorian dress, they reemerged in the thirties namely on leggy cabaret girls and Hollywood starlets. The seventies saw a boom in platform-wearing, tangled up with the decadence of disco music, birth control. and women's lib. The shoe became a symbolic accessory that made women feel taller, more powerful, and a bit vampy on their own terms.
This decade, every designer has their own take on platforms, and some newer footwear designers like Charlotte Olympia and Nicholas Kirkwood are known almost exclusively for them. With so many, it’s difficult to know which ones are good. The trick is finding fun, fashionable platforms as opposed to those that are fetish-inspired. If you look online, you'll be flooded with the latter — spindly heels vertiginously pitched over two-inch-high platforms. These aren't shoes for comfort or style, existing only to elongate the leg in the spirit of a Vargas girl pinup. Which isn’t bad, it’s just a boring "sexiness" that reminds us of women stumbling through the meatpacking on a Saturday night. Despite that, there are some fantastic options out there that do away with spikes in favor of a solid, retro, or even an arched or trumpeted, bombé heel. Done right, those thicker platforms are the ultimate fashion shoe — feminine, with a clear sense of empowerment. Like so:
That enlarged sole of the shoe serves as a pillow for the ball of your feet. Ideally, it should be no higher than one and a half inches. Exceed that, and it begins to look like a caricature of a shoe.
Go for something substantial, at least as fat as a Sharpie's circumference. In addition to giving the shoe a vintage feel, a solid heel also creates a more natural stride and makes wearing high heels a cake walk.
This is the angle in which the shoe bed falls. A pitch that's too steep results in a shoe made for Jessica Rabbit, and orthopedics later on. Less arch means more comfort. Ideally, once you subtract the platform from the heel height, the pitch compares to wearing a one-and-a-half to three-and-a-half-incher, which looks attractive but not hobbling.
We advise keeping all other embellishments to a minimum (these shoes are already a strong look). A classic, thin strap around the ankle always looks good, plus it makes the shoe easier to walk in. Prada and Miu Miu constantly reinvent the shape of their platform. Michael Kors has some decent suede ones. Rochas has been experimenting with a nice classic wedge shape, and Giambattista Valli put out a terrific disco version for fall 2012. Some seasons, you simply won't find that one excellent platform, like the one pictured above from Miu Miu's spring 2009 collection. Other seasons might have a glut of them. So when you find some you like, buy them up, as they never really go out of style. And should you feel inspired, we've compiled a slideshow of some of our favorite platforms available right now in stores.BEGIN SLIDESHOW
Most Viewed Stories
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
The Very Uncomfortable Experience of Rewatching Election in 2016
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna Reportedly Broke Up
Ask a Boss: My Co-worker Wants Everyone to Call Her Boyfriend Her ‘Master’!
Ask Polly: Should I Try to Help My Alcoholic Friend?
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
Outrageous Party Photos From Andy Warhol’s Factory Days
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Chelsea Clinton Says She Didn’t Initially Know Her Mom Had Pneumonia Because She Was Trying to Power Through It
YogaToes Cured My Lifelong Fear of Bunions
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.