Monday, October 1, 2007

Bespoke Heels

In her comments to last Wednesday's post about austerity brogues, Mamacita wrote:
That shoe pictured has a rather high heel, doesn't it?

Well, there are a couple of different ways to answer this. The first is to admit that yes, that shoe (from John Lobb St. James) does have a heel higher than a typical ready-to-wear shoe. I'd guess that its heel height is around an inch and an eighth, perhaps an eighth of an inch higher than a standard RTW shoe. That's right: it's probably only an eighth of an inch higher than a standard shoe heel. But it looks higher than that. Why is that? That brings us to the second way to answer Mamacita's question. There are three design elements that make that heel look taller than it actually is. First, it's smaller than a typical RTW heel. The length-to-height ratio is much smaller, which tends to make the height look greater. Second, it's slightly pitched, which also accentuates height. Third, notice that little line that runs the width of the sole just forward of the forward edge of the heel. That line creates something of an optical illusion, making the eye regard the heel as a unit completely separate from the rest of the sole. Since the heel no longer looks like something tacked on to the underside of the sole, it looks higher.

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