Strange but true fashion fact 4,235: shoe and bag designers are resistant to accommodating the practicalities of daily life. There is a logic to this, from a creative point of view: just as women of a certain generation made a strategic decision not to learn to type, so as to avoid the typing pool, shoe designers feel the need to establish their artistic credentials by being aloof from such humdrum practicalities as walking. Pedants such as myself can argue until we are blue in the face that if it doesn’t function as a shoe, it’s not successful as a design, but nobody’s listening.
There is a symbiotic relationship between heel height and bag size that is understood only by high heel wearers. Because if you see a woman in heels more than four inches high before tea-time, chances are, if you look in her bag, you’ll find a pair of flats. Heels have got higher, working days have got longer – and for many squishy ballet pumps are as much of a handbag must-have as a brolly.
This relationship worked well, for a while. When the standard daytime heel soared from two-and-a-half to four inches – which may not sound like much, or even feel like much at first, but it’s a different ball game by the time you’re halfway down the street, fashionable bag-size increased accordingly. Your Louboutins were killing you and the chloe paddintiogton bag had nearly bankrupted you, but at least the bag had plenty of room for the emergency flats necessitated by the heels. It sort of worked.
But this delicate accessory-accord has broken down. Bag designers are bored with big. This season, they’re playing with scale, making mini versions of bags – doctors’ bags, satchels – that are meant to be grownup-sized. Doctors’ bags look stern and faintly sinister full-sized, but shrink them to lapdog-size versions and they’re puppyishly adorable. A proper satchel might call to mind double chemistry, but a tiny one is all Alexa Chung looking cute in a school uniform cardi.
Visually, then, it totally works. And there are rumours that heel height may be on the slide, in which case we’re in business. Until then, we’ve got a practical problem. And much as I’d love to think fashion will rush to our aid, I’m not convinced.