Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press A model wears a pair of platform high heels from Gianni Bini. Also pictured are a selection of platform heels from Michael Kors (top left), Jessica Simpson (top right), and Chinese Laundry's Glitter Blush (bottom left) and their patent wedge (bottom right). Shoes provided by Dillard's.
Stephanie Risi didn’t think twice about purchasing a pair of 5-inch platform shoes last week at Dillard’s department store. The 51-year-old said the shoes make her feel sexy.
“I think women of all ages look sexy in these shoes,” she said. “They make your legs look longer and leaner, and men love them.”
Platform shoes, also a fad in the 1970s, date back hundreds of years, according to the website fashion.telegraph.co.uk. Impractical high heels, known as chopines, were worn by upper-class women in Italy and Spain during the late Renaissance era, the website reported. Some shoes were said to be nearly 20 inches high.
It can be a challenge to walk in today’s platform shoes, Risi said.
“Though I could run in platforms when I was younger, today I don’t walk far in them,” she said. “I don’t wear them all the time — mostly to church. And you don’t have to wear them outside. You can wear them inside. They look sexy with lingerie.”
Dillard’s shoe department sales manager Luciene Dopwell said platforms have been popular for the last year. She credited celebrities such as Jessica Simpson for introducing the trend.
“Today’s platform shoes have padding in front that makes the taller heel seem shorter, so it is easier to walk in them,” Dopwell said. “The heel gives the shoe more balance.”
Whether it’s a wedge heel or a tapered stiletto, high-rise shoe styles are selling well, she said.
“I’ve seen women of all ages buy these shoes,” Dopwell said. “If you feel good in them, it doesn’t matter what age you are.”
Former shoe boutique owner Lori Walker Boyd said she’s been a fan of platforms since she first wore them back in the 1970s.
“I love them because they give me additional height. I am 5-feet, 4-inches, but I love to feel tall. Also, they elongate the leg, making it look more slender.”
Both Boyd and Risi said the shoes are more comfortable than they appear.
“You have extra material to pad your foot,” Boyd said. “And in many cases the platform is a wedge, which gives you the extra stability between the ball of the foot and the heel.”
Risi said she looks for styles with straps to secure her feet in the shoes.
The downside to platform shoes is that they can damage your feet, Dr. Aaron Solomon, an area podiatrist, said in a previous interview.
“Any shoe with a high heel, platform or stilettos are not good for the feet,” Solomon said. “They may look good on a woman’s leg, especially since they define the calf muscle, but they’re bad for your feet. The flatter the shoe, the less stress on the feet.”
Solomon said a high heel puts extreme pressure on the front of the foot, which aggravates existing deformities such as bunions and hammer toes. Additionally, the shoes also can cause problems such as neuropraxia, or the bruising of nerves.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...