SHOES Casual to dressy flats flatter feet

The selection of flats is extensive, but there are still heels if you want them.
They've put heels on everything from flip-flops to sneakers to bedroom slippers. (They being those pesky, faceless fashion folks who've inflicted low-rise jeans, shoulder pads and other wardrobe evils on us throughout the years).
And sure, some of us bit, teetering through the streets on skinny little stilettos or stuffing the high-heeled numbers in a bag and commuting to work in our cross-trainers (hoping to God that Glamour magazine isn't in our town shooting photos for it's "Dos & amp; Don'ts" page).
Now, thanks to a huge infusion of flats this season, those days are over (if you want them to be, that is. There are still plenty of heels to be found if you're so inclined). But if the idea of returning to flats sounds positively heavenly, you're in luck.
Many choices
Flats this season can be super-casual or ultra-dressy. They're made of canvas, leather, satin, suede and fabric. They're available in every color under the sun. They're adorned with buckles, flowers, embroidery, bows and straps.
And above all, they're flat.
Ballet-style flats are especially popular, with brands as diverse as the no-nonsense Naturalizer, the trend-conscious Nine West and the high-end Bruno Magli offering versions.
For $335, Marc Jacobs is selling a suede "Skimmer" with a suede pinwheel flower on the toe. If you shopped for flats in the early '90s, these might remind you of the Sam & amp; Libby leather ballet flats with the big leather bow on the toe. But those sold for $19.99 (I should remember, I had them in black, white, orange and navy).
Aldo's selection of ballet flats is extensive (and priced mostly in the $69.99 range). Most of the styles are leather, and several feature petite string bows at the toe, evoking the true ballet slippers of our youth -- the ones we spent hours agonizing over whether to purchase in pink, white or black. Who knew those comfy slippers would one day be acceptable for the office or a night on the town?
Be comfortable and practical
So is this a sign of fashion becoming more practical?
"I think it's more of a kind of shift we're seeing from brazen sexuality to more modest and demure looks," says Maya Singer, managing editor of Fashion Wire Daily. "With the way a lot of silhouettes are changing -- heels are getting lower, toes are more rounded -- flats go with that same silhouette."
But Singer thinks the resurgence of flats is also partly a way to keep us on our toes -- or off them, as the case may be.
"With the tempo of fashion, the tendency is to reject whatever it has been doing," she says. Which is proving an easy sell, since the rejects are replaced by much comfier options.
But, like control-top pantyhose and wool, high heels can serve a purpose despite their discomfort, and it's unlikely they'll disappear altogether.
"Do I see the women who are married to their Manolo (Blahnik)'s and Jimmy Choo's getting into flats? No, I don't," Singer says. "Women who really use their shoes are going to be excited about flats. But someone who's willing to suffer for beauty anyway is not going to want to sacrifice the lean leg and glittery look."

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