Favoured by goths, pop icons from the 1970s and very short people, platform shoes can be a lot of fun to wear if you are able to walk in them without falling over à la Naomi Campbell.
In the early days of platform boots and shoes, the soles were rather modest, coming in at a mere quarter-inch. As the cult of platform shoes grew, so did the height of heels, until a four- or five-inch heel was seen as perfectly reasonable footwear.
Modern platform shoes generally involve a sole that is at least two inches thick at the front and up to six or so inches thick at the heel. Of course, there are also exceptionally high platform shoes that tower above this, but those are really only for special occasions rather than everyday wear. Women’s platform shoes usually have closed toes and an ankle strap or Mary Jane-style strap nearer the toes. Platform boots for men and women tend to be mid-calf or knee-high affairs. Anything below mid-calf can be highly dangerous as the ankle is more likely to be unsupported.
Nowadays, the majority of platform shoes and boots we see in shops and markets have black leather uppers and a wedge rubber heel. The more traditional platforms favoured by many during the 1970s were often highly colourful – think Wonderwoman and those kinky boots – and generally involved metallic effects, sequins, tassels, and all kinds of crazy ornamentation. The re-emergence of goth-style clothing and make-up has pushed the darker and more vampish designs to the fore, confining glitz and glam platforms to history.
That is not to say, however, that you won’t be able to find a funky pair of sparkly platforms. Retro clothing markets such as the weekend market at Camden, London, are ideal places for platform-shopping, and a number of trendy stores also stock the more spangly designs. So whether you’re after glitter-covered uppers or transparent heels with flowers inside them, there are plenty of outlets to choose from. For a truly pimpish look, check out some of the more unconventional designs, such as fishtank platforms, which feature a clear plastic water-filled heel with (fake) goldfish and aquarium plants inside.
Even goth platform shoes and boots can be individualised, with star-shaped holes cut into the heel, different-coloured laces or tongues, knee-high zips or chunky buckles. Major retailers of goth platforms will also stock boots in lipstick red leather, deep purple and other vampish colours, or the conventional black boots with red flame designs up the side.