Saturday, October 6, 2012


Editor's note: This is not a post about feet, even though the long first bit is about feet. I promise it gets super deep and meaningful, like, 3/4 of the way through.

The other day my mum and I were driving in Newtown and saw a group of girls in high heels walking along the footpath. I laughed at their respective gaites, familiar as I was with that horsey trot that accompanies the wearing of 3 inch+ heels. My mum on the other hand was actually concerned - "Why are they doing that?", she exclaimed in horror. Why? Christian Louboutin, mum. What about, "How?". Well, I'm no scientist, but I do talk a lot of shit so, if you'll allow me:

It seems to me that those girls were missing out on the last step in this cycle, where the leg straightens out, the foot flexing slightly in preparation for the heel making contact with ground. Instead, they go from the second last position to simply clomping straight down, knee still bent. 

Fashion is bonkers, yo.

In 2010 Tina Fey attended the Golden Globe Awards wearing this gown from Zac Posen's Resort collection of the same year.

The dress has stayed in my mind, mostly because it was panned by a lot of commentators, including E! host Giuliana Rancic. A week after the Golden Globes, Rancic and Fey met on the red carpet of the Screen Actors' Guild awards, where the following tête-à-tête took place:

Giuliana Rancic: I am here with the gorgeous Tina Fey, who looks fabulous tonight.

Tina Fey: Thank you very much. Now I didn’t watch – did you take a steaming dump on me too last week? A little bit, right?

Rancic went on to make this face:

And Fey went on to be the just but benevolent leader of the free world.

The other reason the dress stuck in me noggin was that it was the first time I had seen a full-skirted, tea-length formal gown on a non-olden day-er. These days the style is fairly established, if still rather uncommon, but back then I was surprised and, I'll admit, not entirely impressed with the look (though if I ever meet Fey I will deny ever writing this and proceed to wash her feet with my hair). Tina just didn't have the 'tude, you know? If you're gonna wear that style, you'd better mean it because this length of skirt demands a high degree of hamming it up. Observe: 
Christian Dior, Bar Suit, 1947

Those ankles, them feet! 

Indeed Fey was not alone in her failure to give this skirt the scaffolding it requires. Ulyana Sergeenko - who should really know better, given that she seems to be championing all things new-New Look - seriously disappoints: 


Victoria Beckham and Dita Von Teese are among the few contemporary clothes' horses capable of bring the requisite Work It (I need a glass of water) sensibility: 

Both have had extensive ballet training - a coincidence? I think not! Wing those feet Ladies!

Anyway, as noted, this isn't just a post about feet. It's about how the prevailing mode of dress can change the way we move and use our bodies. 

I remember when I first started watching the Next Top Model series, in around 2006,  there would always be a painful episode early on in the series in which the contestants were taught how to walk. Of course in Tyra's version there would always be some monstrous twist ("Your shoes are made from razorblades and the catwalk is covered with the handmade quilt your grandmother brought from the old country. Make it work", or some such) but even without that it was shocking to see how few of these women could just, well, walk. 

One of the more common problems, I noticed, was an inability to swing both arms while striding. In all seriousness I think this can largely be attributed to the mid-naughts-to-present trend for shoulder bags so large that the carrying arm hasn't room to swing. 

Similar but different, a pigeon toed stance seemed to match the 1960s-mod girlishness of late-naughts fashion. It looked weak and sucked.

More recently the fashionable pose du jour has undoubtedly been the single-leg bend. You know:

I feel like the main effect of this pose is to highlight sinewy, slender boniness. It's interesting that the unbent leg often seems straight to the point of hyper-extension. The pose manages to be both louche and a little strained all at once. I would cautiously suggest that the popularity of this particular stance seems to have coincided with the current fashion for extremely short skirts but I need to think over this one a little more.

With all this in mind we can view it as unsurprising that the tea-length dress has been a difficult garment to Work. It's new and requires a new way of holding the body. I want Tina Fey to try it again but next time she needs to bring a little more drama, a little more...

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