Victoria Beckham has given up heels.
This is a woman who was once so devoted to her sky-high stilettos that she wore them trotting through airports and at school pick-up and on kids’-sports field sidelines, doubtless leaving teeny-tiny divots wherever she stepped.
In 2008, Beckham famously told a breakfast TV interviewer, “I just can’t concentrate in flats.”
Times have changed. Now, she wears only crisp white adidas Stan Smith trainers. And she looks amazing – so fresh, so relaxed, so sharp.
“I just can’t do heels any more. At least not when I’m working,” she said this week, echoing what every busy woman has known for ever – heels are stupid, heels are impractical, heels hurt.
I want to give up heels, too. But I can’t.
Because I have little stumpy legs.
I know this, because over the years, working in close proximity to fashion types while never managing to be one, I have been told a hundred times how to “dress for my shape” – or rather, how not to dress for my shape. And your shape does not change with the trends.
“Short legs only look good in flats if the ankles are really, really slim,” a sharp (male) fashion editor once told me, when we were sitting together at a friend’s (that’s a way-more-fabulous than me friend) dinner.
We were talking about how much I loved that Katherine Hepburn look – you know, wide legged trousers, flat boat shoes, striped French tee.
He looked me up and down. It didn’t take him long. And said two words: “Too short,” before looking back to his sashimi.
My friend, who was sitting on my other side, has big boobs. Like, really big boobs. She has spent her life in a see-saw of love-hate over the size of her breasts. Body acceptance has not been her natural position. So I can only imagine the nerve she had to scrunch up to ask, “What about me? What shouldn’t I wear?”
And it came: “No tight tops, baggy tops, low-cut tops, backless tops, strapless tops, spaghetti-strapped tops (ha, like that was ever going to happen). No long skirts, baggy pants, anything empire line, definitely nothing floaty…”
What was left? My beloved friend spent the next 10 years in a black polo-neck skivvy.
Women are constantly bombarded with body critique disguised as fashion advice. Who wore it better? Nine times out of 10, it will be that tall, thin person. She wore it better.
There are entire TV shows – What Not To Wear, anyone? – and a million websites dedicated to this concept – dressing to cover your flaws, dressing to accent your assets, dressing to “trick the eye”. Helpful hints on how to elongate stumpy legs. Adorable body-shape comparisons – you’re a banana, you’re an apple, you’re a pear!
WATCH Michelle Bridges speaking to Mamamia about her struggles with body image. Post continues after video…
And while all this fruit makes a delightful salad, sometimes you just want to wear what you want to wear. What you like. What rocks your world.
Like flat shoes.
Here are just some of the things that as a short, “curvy” woman, I must NOT wear:
TIGHT STUFF: “For most women, super-tight fabrics may be unflattering to your figure type, even on the most slender frame. This is especially true for a petite woman with a pear-shaped frame.” Gee, thanks, Bellapetite Magazine.
CROPPED STUFF: “Cropped Anything—cropped pants, tops, and jackets will shorten your torso.” That’s Budget Fashionista for you.
PRINTED STUFF: “As a petite girl, we should avoid very large prints—those can overwhelm your frame. I once read the advice that the print shouldn’t be larger than your fist.” – Helpful, Cosmopolitan.
SHORT STUFF: “Short shorts shorten the legs.” That’s Bustle, who are acutually encouraging us all to break that rule. Thanks, Bustle.
LONG STUFF: “Maxi dresses will only emphasise how many inches a shorter woman is lacking.” Nice, Wear This Not That.
BIG STUFF: Oversized bags and baggy, boxy tops. All of those get a big NO for short chicks from the style gods at Who What Wear.
MID-LENGTH STUFF: “Unfortunately, this hemline is just unflattering on short women. We suggest stocking up on knee-length skirts!” Again, good to know, Who What Wear.
LONG-SLEEVED STUFF: “Long-sleeve shirts can give a smaller girl way too much fabric to work with — you can end up swimming in them.” – Cheers, Buzzfeed.
KNEE-HIGH STUFF: “Mid-calf length or knee-high boots only serve to shorten legs. Stomp through the autumn-winter season in a practical block-heeled ankle pair.” – The Telegraph.
Really, I should just give up clothes.
So this morning, as I looked longingly at VB’s spotless white kicks – wondering “How many pairs does she have to keep them so white?” – I immediately wrote that look off as completely out of bounds.
And then, then… I remembered. I’m a grown woman. I can wear whatever the hell I like. There is nothing in the world’s most expensive store that is going to make me look tall and thin. So screw it.
And today, I came to work in shorts. And flats.
Let’s hear it for little stumpy legs.
What are you always told you shouldn’t wear?
You can follow Holly on Facebook and tell her what other trends she should definitely stay away from, here.