The Item I Wear to Death: My Steve Madden Flatforms

No shoes under three inches, please.

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Kathryn Wirsing

In our biweekly series, editors share "the item they wear to death," whether it be a basic white tee or a super-trendy jumpsuit. Prepare yourself (and your credit card) for some guilt-free shopping.


Disclaimer: I realize that I’m not that short compared to the national average (5'4" for a woman, compared to my 5'2"). But as someone who grew up surrounded by primarily tall friends (5'6" and above), I've always suffered from a height complex.

I reached my peak height at the end of middle school, and despite downing copious amounts of calcium vitamins and lean protein, it's remained static since then. It's not always amusing being the "fun-sized" person in my friend group. I've been asked, on numerous occasions, how the view was from "down there," been mistaken for my friends' little sister, and have had my head used as an elbow rest more times than I can count.

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My heeled ankle boots, albeit cute, weren't always practical against snow and ice-covered sidewalks.
Courtesy of Hana Hong

In an effort to give myself a slight confidence boost, I started relying on high heels. I wore heels with everything, and I do mean every. If they were sandals, they were wedge sandals. If they were dress shoes, they were stilettos. If they were sneakers, they were platform sneakers. And if they were boots, they were chunky booties.

I wore heels so often that the backs of my feet started developing permanent calluses (not an exaggeration) by the time I graduated from college. Even sneakers (the normal-height, athletic ones) eventually became more uncomfortable than heels because I was so accustomed to walking with all my weight shifted forward on the balls of my feet.

Yet, I didn't really consider this a problem until a visit with my podiatrist a few years ago, who told me that my knees and hips have to push forward and my back has to hyperextend backwards to counterbalance the heels. This can potentially misalign the whole skeleton, which could lead to further leg, hip, and back pain down the line. Translation: Those sexy pumps weren't doing any favors for my body, even if I felt like I had gotten used to them. I wasn't willing to forsake my sartorial lift just yet, so in order to rectify the possibility of impending arthritis, I started wearing flatforms.

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These Steve Madden flatforms add height without harming my health.
Kathryn Wirsing

Flatforms are the single greatest invention of the fashion industry. If you're not familiar with the term, they look exactly how they sound: elevated platform shoes that are flat. You get the supplementary elevation of heels without the pulsing, constrictive, numbing pain that comes with an angled ankle. Flatforms were huge in the '90s, and thankfully, they're a style that Steve Madden is still embracing. I have the brand to thank for my admittedly extensive collection. Steve Madden is the freaking king of flatforms. Trust.

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Seoul searching (lol sorry)

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My favorite pair are these strappy black ones—they go with everything, give me a whole 4 extra inches in height, and have additional padding at the insole for cushioning as you walk. They're so comfortable that I don't even notice I'm wearing heels until I step out of them (and abruptly plunge a few inches to the ground). Plus, I can personally vouch for the quality—I've been wearing these troopers all summer and they hardly look worn in.

I once read a study that said there's a change in gait ("reduced stride and increased rotation and tilt of the hips") when women wear heels—in my case flatforms—and I can attest to that. I mean, you don't walk in heels, you strut. You're a badass woman.

My stature, my hip sway, and my outfits are better with these black flatforms strapped to my feet. Also, now I don’t have to worry about my lumbar spine flattening or a potential posterior displacement of the head (quoting my brutally honest podiatrist), which you know, is a huge selling point.

If you're a fellow heel addict seeking a more friendly height-boosting solution, shop a pair of flatforms below:


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