One of the hotly debated topics online this week is the report that some women were banned from the premieres at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival in France for wearing flats instead of heels.
The claim is that women in their 50s, including some who have medical conditions that prevented them from wearing heels, weren’t allowed in at the screening of “Carol,” a film that stars Cate Blanchett.
According to an account on ScreenDaily.com, a woman who was wearing “nice” flats was told to go “buy appropriate shoes.”
The festival’s director, Thierry Fremaux, had pooh-poohed the story, claiming them to be “unfounded.” He also tweeted, “For the stairs, the regulations have not changed: ‘No smoking, formal wear.’ There is no mention of heels.”
Actress Emily Blunt, star of “Sicario” which screened at Cannes, decried the rumored ban, calling it “disappointing.” On the red carpet, however, she wore sky-high heels, but reportedly switched to flats at the after-party.
Dress-up glamour is one of the main attractions of high-wattage events like the Cannes film festival, where thousands descend on southern France every year to watch movie stars preen in couture gowns and their black-tie best on a vast red carpet.
While purveyors of fashion have relaxed the general style codes, making flat shoes and sneakers trendy, even appropriate and acceptable for certain occasions, it appears that certain circles still adhere to old-fashioned and rather passé sartorial rules. It seems no amount of rhinestones sewn on one’s flats can get her past the red-velvet rope of these archaic policies.
While the likes of Victoria Beckham, never seen in anything shorter than four-inch stilettos, have embraced flats, at least for casual days, we also know that some young fashion types frown on other (often older) women who even dare slip foldable flats in their purses to later change into. For these girls, you can sit with them, but only if you’re wearing the right shoes.
We’re not one to dismiss the instant confidence boost from the extra inches afforded by a pair of stilettos, especially for a petite Asian woman. Heels also nudge you to straighten your back so it improves your posture, and not a few will claim they feel instantly sexier in high heels.
So, flats with formal wear? Some might say, it’s just never done; without heels, you’re just under- or even inappropriately dressed.
But tell that to women who had spent years—years —feeling taller, sexier, and also sadly tortured as they crammed their toes in tight toe boxes, their arches bent and feet forever gnarled with ugly bunions and corns. They’ll tell you to bugger off!
Or will they, really?
Dr. Aivee Aguilar-Teo Celebrity dermatologist, Aivee Clinic and Aivee Institute
I personally do not wear flats to formal occasions as I need my heels to give me that extra height. Gowns look better when you’re taller and it gives me that extra boost of confidence. But I don’t agree that it should be banned since most Caucasian women are tall anyway, and I’m sure they can pull off their beautiful gowns even in their flats. Fashion is one’s expression of personal style and it should not be restricted by rules.
Amina Aranaz-Alunan Accessories designer, Aranáz
I have never worn flats to a formal occasion. But I do not see anything wrong with it if the style of the flat shoe goes with the overall look you wish to achieve. I must admit, though, that I always feel better in heels especially during a formal occasion, and I am one of those who will suffer for fashion on a special occasion.
Whether I will ever wear flats on a formal occasion, you never know. My attitude toward heels has definitely changed. I used to live in heels and will not be caught dead in flats. But I have eaten my words! I now love flats! (And even sneakers!) These days I would say I’m in flats 60 percent of the time. I do believe that, depending on the style, flats can also look very elegant and polished.
Yvette Fernandez Editor in chief, Town & Country
As someone taller than the average woman in Manila (and even when I lived in New York for that matter), I’ve always been comfortable in flats. I attend many events in flats. For more formal events, I have three-inch heels, nothing taller. And I always have flats in the car to wear before and after those events. My attitude has always been the same: comfort before anything else. I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me. I really don’t care what other people think when it comes to what I wear.
For formal wear, assuming the gown grazes the floor, I see absolutely nothing wrong with wearing flats. It won’t look “off.” That’s actually the best way of doing formal wear “comfortably.”
Personally, though, I don’t wear flats with gowns because I want to have better posture and heels make me straighten my back more. I think with heels, the gown is showcased better because of your posture.
Daphne Oseña Paez TV host, entrepreneur and blogger, daphne.ph
I don’t think it’s fair to ban flats on formal occasions. It takes a really confident and stylish woman to pull off flat shoes with a gown or tuxedo suit. Think Elle McPherson or Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. And these days there are very beautifully crafted flat shoes that can be appropriate for formal occasions.
Do I cheat and bring flats? Yes. Especially when I travel. I have covered New York Fashion Week in Prada heels, but I had ballet flats in my purse to wear between shows. But this was before street-style photography became a big genre. I have already hosted a live show/launch wearing flats. But these are beautifully handcrafted French shoes. I don’t think the height of heels should matter. Women are smarter than that.
Charmagne Garcia-Laconico Image consultant and editor at large/senior beauty editor, Metro Magazine
Social etiquette dictates that heels are and (still) should be considered the most appropriate footwear for formal occasions. As a woman, I like the way heels make me feel taller; it sort of forces me to be at my best posture always (or else I’d fall, slip, etc.). It makes my legs look slender and altogether sexy, too.
I made the mistake of wearing flats when I went backstage at the Dior show in Paris Fashion Week once, and I remember feeling smaller (literally) and less confident. I felt a little awkward, although my shoes were dressy (and Valentino at that). I still felt underdressed and my afterthought was, “I should have worn heels!”
I am all for freedom of choice, but when it comes to dress codes and “propriety,” when it is formal, you should not leave room for a gray area—in this case, the trend of wearing flats.
Beng Dee Restaurateur, Todd English Food Hall, Tim Ho Wan, Kai, Chin’s Express, etc.
I guess for people who are tall enough [it’s okay to wear flats on formal occasions]. But for me, height is a must especially for long gowns. I don’t cheat. I still prefer stilettos over flats. If I need to walk on a long cobblestone pavement, I would probably wear flats and change to high heels once I get to the event. Even as I age, I would wear flats only when it is impossible to wear stilettos, like on a trip to the beach or a hike up a mountain.
Kat Cruz-Villanueva Celebrity stylist
I don’t think it’s necessarily a no-no to wear flats with formal wear. If you read etiquette books, I believe shoes, whether high or flat, are seldom mentioned having a strict rule. I do believe, though, that much respect should be given to the inviting person’s dress-code request.
I always bring flats, but I usually leave them in the car. As I grow older, I now maintain a selection of tolerable heel heights, because having a baby has made running in heels an extra challenge.
Criscy Camacho Senior marketing manager, Mary Kay Phils.
I’m a big believer in following dress codes. As long as the invitation doesn’t specifically mention the type of shoes or height of heels you need to wear, then there shouldn’t be a problem wearing flats. I cheat all the time. My work always requires me to be in closed toes and high heels. But I always end up either running around or doing jobs backstage, so you’ll always find a pair of flats in my bag.
The grandest time I cheated was wearing flat sandals on my wedding day and flip-flops during the reception. (I took the opportunity to do so because it was, after all, a beach wedding.)
My attitude toward height of heels has remained the same over the years: high heels for formal occasions and business meetings or when the need calls for it, and flats for all others that don’t require high heels.
Sheena Dy Brand manager, Kiehl’s
Flats are a no-no with formal wear. Heels have magic! They make you feel and walk sexier. But yes, I also cheat… My attitude toward shoes has changed. I used to wear comfortable shoes; now I consider fashion.
Apples Aberin Head of public relations, Unilever Phils.
I think flats can be worn for formal occasions, as long as they are dressy enough. I can imagine a beaded pair worn with a ballerina-like skirt, or patent slip-ons with a tuxedo dress or jacket. Personally, I like wearing heels, though, and will gladly suffer through the night in the highest pair there is.
Liz Uy Celebrity stylist, fashion editor and brand endorser
I think [the Cannes organizers] are overreacting slightly. I understand that there are rules but it’s not like the celebrities are inappropriately dressed. Some can look comfortably chic, especially Europeans who are generally tall and slender. Sofia Coppola is always red-carpet chic in flats. I think, ultimately, if that is their personality and they can pull it off, then why not?
I don’t cheat; when I wear heels then it’s that. I wear flats/sneakers when I’m working/shooting and even when I go out. Depends on what I feel looks good with the rest of my outfit—if it’s flats, then why shouldn’t I wear them?
[My attitude toward shoes] has changed a lot. It doesn’t mean I stopped caring, it just means that I’m more comfortable with myself and maybe my style has evolved past only wearing certain items.
Rina Go Entrepreneur, Nic’s Bakeshop
A woman sacrifices comfort for fashion. It is what it is. The key word here is “formal”! I have slippers in the car waiting for me. I slip on my heels before disembarking. When I enter the car I change to slippers.
My attitude, especially when I travel, is comfort. For long hauls, tours, museums, avenues, fast-paced trips, I sport rubber shoes. Of course it runs the gamut from Prada to Tod’s to Asics depending on the weather report.
As for the ban, everything revolves around your outfit. If you have the height, the right skirt length and can pull it off, who is to dictate? It is the overall package.
Izza Gonzales Agana Designer-entrepreneur and former model
I always make it a point to wear my heels on special occasions. Heels are transformative. They give you a different kind of confidence. If heels came with no pain, I would choose them every time. But our feet need a bit of comfort, so for my daily wear I still love my ballet flats and sneakers.