Have you put spring in your step yet?

By Jan Shure, March 25, 2010
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Gold platforms, Christian Louboutin, £1,050, Browns, 59 Brook Street, W1

Gold platforms, Christian Louboutin, £1,050, Browns, 59 Brook Street, W1

It would be mildly tragic and certainly ironic if Victoria Beckham, one half of Brand Beckham, former Spice Girl and recently reinvented as a designer of unexpectedly fabulous frocks, should be remembered for, er, bunions.

Yet the revelation that VB has experienced a podiatric meltdown as a result of years of wearing absurd, sky-scraper heels ensured that a debate about style versus comfort - or, more accurately, style versus borderline wearability, since "comfort" is an imprecise concept on planet fashion - got the profile it deserved.

And the timing was immaculate: just at the moment when pictures of VB's feet began to surface, the spring shoe collections, featuring lots of flat and low- to mid-heel shoes, started to trickle into the shops. It meant that, for the first time in several seasons, it was perfectly possible to look fashion forward while actually being able to walk. Maybe not such an imperative if it is just five yards from car or cab to dining/party destination, but considerably inconvenient if you actually have to walk from, say, underground to office.

Of course, the most desirable and fabulous shoes are still those with heels high enough to require the wearer to strap on oxygen. Despite their vertiginous height, the divine patent pumps with heart peep-toe by Alexander McQueen (£375 at Browns) are still achingly covetable, as are a made-to-order navy patent pair from Rupert Sanderson's collection for Karl Lagerfeld (33 Bruton Place, 2A Hans Road), and the nude suede platform with cross-over straps by Pour la Victoire (£200 at Harvey Nichols). Meanwhile, Christian Louboutin's gold, tubular-strap, wedge-heel sandals with tribal-pattern suede are so exquisite they are worth risking an evening of excruciating immobility (to say nothing of penury: they cost a ruinous £1,050).

Newest low heel on the block is the straighter version of the kitten heel - more feline-with-fab-deportment than the curvy, hard-to-balance-version of the mid-noughties, and with a gently pointed toe this time around.

Easily the prettiest and most ladylike versions are LK Bennett's low-heel courts in nude patent and purple leather.

Slightly higher, and still hot, is the cone heel. Find them on the high street (Office, River Island, Faith and New Look all have them), and at French designer Pour La Victoire, which has a sublime pair in bright blue, and a more extreme, strappy pair in black suede.

A cool way to go flat is with an added ankle cuff - a sort of shoe boot-sandal cross. Office has them in tan leather with beading and fringing, while Pour la Victoire has a minimalist pair in white. Barratts - whose new flagship store opened at 297 Oxford Street yesterday, and which has gone up-scale since its purchase by Michael Ziff - has a covetably on-trend pair in snake and suede, while A-list cobbler Steve Madden has an unassailably glamorous pair in silver with jewelled trim.

And ballerina flats, which were predicted to disappear, have been reprised by some of the most achingly cool designers: Marni, Guiseppe Zanotti, Mulberry and Steve Madden have all done ballet pumps - Zanotti channelling the utility trend in camouflage print with gold toecaps; Marni's are prettier, with bows and jewels, while Mulberry has made them funky with charms and Madden's are sweet and simple in nude patent. Lisa Kay's bow-trimmed ones in six great colours, including navy and orange, could be all you need for spring.

Wedges and platforms are having another fashion moment, possibly because buyers and shoe designers realised that wedges and platforms provide height while being marginally easier to wear than sky-scraper heels. Ann Demeulemeester has a great pair in black with multiple straps, while Office has a pared down black wedge with criss-cross bands that are wearable now with opaques and with bare legs later. Dune has a less clunky wedge in mushroom and black, while Steve Madden's "tribal" platform in brown snakeskin could be summer's most versatile shoe.

And, of course, clogs take another bow, with the '60s stalwart re-appearing everywhere, from Chanel and Yves St Laurent, to Kurt Geiger and Hobbs, and Office, Faith and River Island.

What will ultimately determine your choice of footwear, though, is your clothing purchases, since many of the season's key looks require a major mental recalibration. Pretty, florals look hottest when roughed up by strappy gladiators; while utility works best with the new take on desert boots, like the Surface To Air wedges in coffee suede or Gianvito Rossi's stunning peep-toe, suede lace-up boots in tan.

If you are buying peg-top, harem, cargo or trackie trousers, the perfect shoe is the high heeled gladiator/cage sandal, or a shoeboot like the Burberry Prorsum nude satin-leather, open-toe pair, any of which could seriously curtail your ability to walk - a profound irony since these trousers all have the slouchy insouciance of garments that appear to be made for walking.

Wedge versions of chunky sandals and shoeboots are on trend, more comfortable and still work with difficult trousers, as does, unexpectedly, the ballerina flat. Though speaking personally, the combo of trousers designed to add inches to one's hips and shoes which slash four inches from one's height, is not one I will readily adopt, no matter how comfy. One should be prepared to suffer a bit for style, though I draw the line at bunions.

Last updated: 11:15am, March 25 2010