TEXT BY FLORENCE TROTT | PHOTOGRAPHY BY PUTTONEN RUSKA
Pump it up with our guide to finding the perfect black heels for you
The perfect black pump is the footwear equivalent of the holy grail. Finding the sweet spot between heel height, silhouette, and fit is no mean feat, and ultimately depends on your personal style. So, instead of selling the dream of the perfect black shoe, we’ve pulled together a guide to the key things we consider when hunting down the best black pumps. We understand that a shoe lover sees nuance where others only see a line-up of generic black heels, because the anatomy of a black pump is anything but basic. From the distinction between a stiletto and a spool, to the textural qualities of mock croc versus patent, to almond toes compared to pointed . . . Before we start waxing lyrical about stitching, here’s how to achieve pump perfection.
First on the agenda is heel height. You need to be comfortable – you can read it on a woman’s face when her shoes hurt. Avoid pinched expressions and awkward staggers by choosing a pair that you can walk in. If you plan to wear them on your commute, consider a kitten or chunky heel. We doubt even Carrie Bradshaw could tackle the Central line’s aggressive lurches in a pair of 5 inch So Kates (but we salute any woman who can). If you’re a high heel pro, party regular, or Ad Lee account holder, go for gold with what we like to call ‘car shoes’ – stilettoes so high most people could only manage them for the short distance between the taxi and the restaurant table. Luckily, iconic labels Jimmy Choo and Louboutin offer their iconic silhouettes in a range of heel heights. Which leads us onto our next point for consideration . . .
The silhouette is the outline of the shoe, from the heel and toe shapes to the cut of the toe box. Do you want the seductive femininity of a razor-sharp stiletto, the demure timelessness of a classic almond-toe pump, or the chic statement of a pointed kitten heel? There are obvious distinctions between Balenciaga’s cult Knife pumps and the fashion elite’s favourite Bloc Bottegas. But what about the subtle details – So Kate’s elongated toe box, the subtle curvature of Jimmy Choo’s Love 100? And don’t get us started on toe cleavage. The skinnier the heel (think Pigalle versus Pigalle Follies), the less stable they are, but some think the silhouette is sexier. Ultimately, whether you opt for a single sole or a stacked platform, we’re with you every step of the way.
Fit is key to comfort, especially when navigating the dance floor in 6” heels. Never buy shoes thinking that they’ll stretch over time – they’ll give a little, but not much. It sounds obvious, but make sure you practice power strutting on a carpeted surface before you commit. Most of the best designers offer half sizes, so consider going half a size up or down if you have wide or narrow feet. Shoes with more space around the bridge and arch will fit wide feet better, as the cutaway sides give your feet some extra room – Valentino’s Rockstud pumps, or any d’Orsay styles (like the Louboutin Iriza). Cobblers like The Restory also offer stretching services if you do find your toes are pinched. If the shoe fits.
Ultimately you should remember that every foot, season and situation is different, so keep in mind how you want the pumps to serve you. Maybe you already have a long line of ‘all so different black pumps’, in which case updated classics like Amina Muaddi or The Attico might be a good choice for your SS20 wardrobe. Alternatively, if you are still searching for that perfect first pair, designers like Gianvito Rossi are known for focusing on qualitative comfort. Whatever you decide on, remember to treat your shoes with the respect they deserve.
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