12 July 2010

Closet Anthropology: the clear heel

I'm watching a movie that stars Marilyn Monroe, and suddenly she's parading around in a pair of what look like vintage-style stripper heels. Of course, I do a double take. Monroe's image brings to mind style and class, but the same cannot be said today about this type of shoe.

Finding information regarding the exact history of stripper heels is hard [apparently the subject has yet to fascinate historians]. Nonetheless, it seems that what we now consider footwear fit primarily for ladies of the night emerged as a trend in erotic industries as recently as the mid 90s. Before that - say, in the day of Marilyn - it was perfectly possible to sport a pair of clear heels and look inconspicuous, even chic.

Judging from last year's Milan runways, as well as celebrity footwear trends, the clear heel is working it's way back towards a better reputation. Beyonce is pictured below as she shops in Milan last week, wearing a formidable pair.

Generally, I feel that details make the difference between a trashy and a tasteful design. However, in this case the association is so ingrained it would be quite a challenge to redeem clear heels.

What do you think; can clear heels be anything more than the stripper uniform ever again? Does being worn by celebrities make the trend classier, or the stars look trashier?

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