The past few years have been record-breakingly bad by almost all metrics, what with a pandemic and a war and a recession and disastrous prime ministers. Not to mention the poor Queen – and have you seen the price of eggs?
But it’s nearly champagne-o’clock, and New Year’s Eve is a time to look for the positives. So I urge you to give thanks, my friends, for one thing the past five years has got right, which is the flat party shoe. We are living in the golden age of the fancy flat. As golden eras go, it’s not up there with Renaissance Florence or the swinging 60s. But we are where we are.
New Year’s Eve is a perfect excuse to celebrate this shoe. You are likely not only to be dressing up, but staying up till after midnight. During the pandemic I swore blind – probably in this column – that I’d never go back to heels but I have been enjoying tottering about in my now-vintage Manolos, Choos and Louboutins.
Ha! We talked a lot of rubbish during lockdown. See also: takeaway coffees, which I righteously believed I had sworn off for ever. But my pain threshold is nowhere near where it was last decade. I leave the house in heels only if I’m confident I’ll be home and kicking them off this side of 11pm.
And we are spoiled for choice. Our flat-shoe cup runneth over like a champagne tower. The shoe rule of thumb used to be that if it doesn’t have a heel it doesn’t really have a vibe, but those days are long gone. The modern party flat began with the Valentino Rockstud over a decade ago. You may think you don’t know this shoe, but you do. The toe is pointy, the edges and straps studded with squared-off gems: a bit elegant, a bit punk. The Rockstud was the first It shoe that came in a flat as well as spike-heeled version, and it changed the game. Suddenly a shoe didn’t need a high heel to be high-status.
I was planning to leave out how one of the reasons we wear high heels is to make our legs look longer, because that is the kind of under-the-radar fat-phobia that doesn’t need oxygenating. So I will say only that if the silhouette of a party outfit with flat shoes feels off, try the pointiest flats you can dig out, because it makes a real difference to how elegant you feel. A pointed toe is to a round one as a freshly sharpened pencil is to a blunt one: more polished, less casual.
The perfect fancy flat for tomorrow night, therefore, looks something like this. A pointed toe (or pointed with a squared-off tip, if that’s more comfortable). Dark matt leather is the most practical; satin or silk is the least practical. I would steer you in the middle, toward a metallic leather (Boden does an excellent silver one with pearl-studded strap for £77) or a high-shine patent in black or navy. Both are tough enough for pavements but dressy enough for the dancefloor.
Some sort of flourish at the toe may be called for. This could be a buckle – Mango’s gold-on-black pair look more expensive than £45.99 – or a low-cut front that reveals what was known in the noughties as “toe cleavage”. (Vestiaire Collective is a good source of these: a quick search turns up unworn flamingo pink Jimmy Choos for £100.) This gives them that Cinderella magic that a shoe needs for a night out.
Now you can put your best foot forward without going on tiptoe. And you won’t have to leave the party before the clock strikes midnight.