Monday, May 3, 2010

Dressing for yourself


black and white floral skirt (The Limited)
black top (H&M)
black wedges (Macy's)

I've been thinking about what Liz wrote about in her last post about wearing heels and dressing in a feminine way.  As someone who frequently chooses more traditionally feminine styles (see: floral skirt and bows on the wedges here) and as someone who has time and time again professed her love of high heels, I wanted to weigh in on some of these choices.  For this post, I particularly want to address Liz's question in the comments on the last post of why wearing high heels make certain women feel more confident.

Not all of my heels are super high.   I love kitten heels, and I wear the pictured wedges frequently.  There are two main reasons why I like wearing heels that boost me up anywhere from >1 inch to 4+ inches.  As implied with the end of that last statement, heels give me extra height.  Now, heels may prohibit women's movements - though I'd argue that with the right shoe, properly broken in, not as much as you'd think, or rather not significantly more than new dress shoes cramp men's movements - but they also work in overcoming certain the general height differences between men and women.  At ~5'4", most men are taller than me, and that physical difference can be intimidating.  Heels lessen that disparity.

The second reason is extremely personal.  My freshman year of college, I had a medical condition that required serious surgery on my left leg.  Subsequently, I had a hole in my bone near my ankle for about five years.  It took about that long for the bone to regrow, and I was finally medically cleared my first year of graduate school.  During the bone regrowth - not to mention the time I spent on crutches, in a boot, and rehabilitating - shoe decisions were extremely fraught.  I couldn't wear most styles, so my shoe choices were pretty limited.  Anytime I wore high heels (which wasn't often) even years after the surgery, the next day my ankle would swell up, and I would spend the next few days in pain, limping around.  Only in the past two years or so was I able to actually wear high heels without fallout.  Now when I wear heels, it reminds me of the ordeal I went through, how far I've come, and the strength I know I have.  For others looking at my shoes, they might just seem like a patriarchal ploy, but for me, they signify a personal victory.

  • I'm interested on taller women's perspective on wearing high heels to give yourself height.  Do you like the extra height advantage high heels provide or do you gravitate towards flats or lower heels?
  • Do you dress for others or for yourself?  Are there certain items that you wear that have a personal significance that trumps the image you may be presenting to others?


Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for weighing in on the heel issue! I think you make an interesting point about the possibility of a garment/shoe's "personal significance... trump[ing] the image you may be presenting to others." At a certain point, dressing is still a personal choice, so even though our dressing choices are "read" by others, we have a right to wear whatever we want.

Good point about men's dress shoes, too. I'd never considered how uncomfortable they might be.

And I can also relate to your point about height. The principal at the high school in which I taught once told me "I don't like when you wear heels that make you taller than me," but rather than encouraging me to wear flats, this led to me taking a special delight in wearing heels that made me taller. Not because I disliked him, but I guess because of the way his statement indicated that my heels led to a shift of the power relationship between us.

And, I admire tall women who unabashedly wear high heels- probably for a similar reason.