Over the past few weeks, we've been testing out a pair of Camileon Heels — high-heeled shoes that easily transform from wobbly 3.25-inch stilettos to practical pumps with 1.5-inch heels. We've seen high-tech shoes before, but rarely have they been so fashionable.
High heels are uncomfortable, especially if you have to wear them for more than an hour. Could Camileon heels be the solution? They sound like something off of an infomercial, and they're shamelessly expensive with prices hovering around $300 ($230 on sale). But do they work? And will people notice that your shoes are, well, a little funny looking? Click Continue to read more about my experience with these futuristic kicks, and to watch a video them in action.
Since Camelion wouldn't send me the shoes, we bought a pair from Zappos. Here's how the heels work: The stiletto is split into two sections, with a stainless steel rod going through it. The bottom section is made of aluminum and painted with six coats of paint. The top of the heel is screwed into the shoe (the company claims that other shoe companies use nails or glue). When you want to take down the heel length, just pull the bottom of the heel straight down, fold it over and click it into place beneath the sole. Confused? See the video below.
In the low position, however, the shoes are positively comfortable. I was able to walk a mile to and from a dinner party at a fast clip without feeling like I was going to topple over or that I would rather go barefoot. Though that folded-under heel isn't invisible, it certainly didn't get in the way. When I got to the party, someone even complimented my shoes without knowing what they were. That didn't mean I was tempted to switch them into stilt mode: in fact, I took them off and left them at the door like everybody else.
The inimitable Tim Gunn of Project Runway said recently, "If comfort is your only fashion guide, fashion will just always elude you… If you want to dress to feel as if you never got out of bed — don't get out of bed!" I'm guessing he would prefer Camileon heels to my 10-year-old Doc Martens. I prefer the sartorial advice of crossword-puzzle author Frances Heaney, however. He advises you to dress just well enough not to repel the members of the opposite sex in your social group. I am sure that he would advise women that low-heeled shoes are probably the best way for a woman to attract a man or woman who's interested in having an active partner, not a constrained one.
But let's be practical: some situations call for heels. If you can afford them, Camileon Heels are a good solution for women who spend most of the day wearing high heels but usually carry around extra flats for the subway ride home. Nobody's going to notice that your heels are folded over on a bus or train. If you care about comfort and only need to wear the high heel occasionally, you should probably just keep an extra pair of heels under your desk and spend most days wearing comfortable shoes that don't require you to be furtive about the state of your sole.