Kitten heels are like the ugly step-sister of the heel family; they don’t lengthen the legs and define the calf, or generally make you feel like a million dollar sex-bomb. Separate them from the ladylike elegance of the ’50s and ’60s and all you’re left with is a stunted and somewhat unattractive piece of footwear.

But fashion is fashion, and what goes around comes around. So are kitten heels destined to make a comfortable yet potentially unwelcome return? The answer is yes; like it or not, you’ll be seeing plenty more of the kitten heel as a 2010 and 2011 fashion trend. And with the kitten heel being the perfect accompaniment to ladylike ’60s dressing, you might even decide to jump on the bandwagon yourself. Read on as we help you make up your mind.

Kitten heel shoes
Kitten heels at Prada, Fall 2010

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What is a kitten heel?

Kitten heels occupy the space between flat shoes and sex-bomb high heels. They’re a small slender heel of 5cms (2 inches) or less. The heel usually curves inwards from the back of the heel, giving them a bit more stability than a stiletto.

Pointed kitten heels
Kitten heels at Giambattista Valli, Fall 2010

The kitten heel trend

While you could whack a kitten heel onto virtually any type of shoe and say it’s a la mode, that would be something of a stretch. As a 2010 and 2011 shoe trend the kitten heel is linked quite firmly to the return of the silhouettes of the 50s and 60s: from the full-skirted prom styles to the figure-hugging sheaths, the kitten heel is a natural partner for any Mad Men-esque outfit.

As such:

  • Look to shoes that are dainty, yet sophisticated. That means kitten heels with pointed toes are preferable.
  • Feminine details like bows can add to the effect but keep it relatively simple and don’t overdo the girlyness.
  • If you want a pair that will work for both modern and retro-inspired ensembles, go for pairs that are simple and minimalist. Try leather pairs in neutral tones, earthy tones or shades like grey or black.

Minimalist kitten heels
Minimalist kitten heels at Stella McCartney, Fall 2010

Kitten heel sandals

Moving into Spring 2011 will beg the question: how will the dainty kitten heel translate to the warm weather?

The beauty of both the minimalist and ladylike kitten heel is that they are light enough to transcend the seasons, particular when it comes to office and night time occasions. But for casual Summer daywear, the kitten heel sandal is a more suitable option. Flat sandals are still an unwaveringly chic staple for the warmer weather; but if you do want to try kitten heel sandals look for sophisticated, strappy styles or more interestingly detailed styles that hint at hippy ’70s inspirations – like those at Missoni (below).

Spring kitten heel sandals
Kitten heel sandals at Missoni, Spring 2010

Your thoughts on kitten heels?

As the ugly-duckling of the heel family we’re keen to hear your thoughts of kitten heels. Let us know whether you like them, hate them, or will be wearing them, by leaving a comment below.

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