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What are Wedge Heels?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 March 2014
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Wedge heels are women's shoes with a heel that runs the length of the sole or bottom portion of the shoe — in the shape of a wedge. This is differentiated from other forms of shoes that merely provide a heel that drops down from the back of the foot and comes to a point. Shoppers can commonly find this type of heel in summery shoes, with open toes, in slides or strappy sandals.

The wedge itself may have decorations or designs, and can be made with molded plastic or rubber. Wedge heels can have what looks like an artificial wood-grain, be covered with jute rope, as is the case with espadrilles, or simply look like an extension of the sole featuring the same essential color as the shoe. One of the most popular versions from in the late '70s and early '80s was made by the shoe manufacturer Candies. These shoes had hard plastic heels and again became briefly popular in the 1990s and 2000s.

Sometimes, wedge heels and platform shoes are confused. The two designs are not mutually exclusive, and wedges can be platform shoes if the sole of the shoe under the balls and toes of the foot is raised above the ground by a thickened bottom. Wedge heels are not always platforms, however, and sometimes the wedge merely elevates the upper portion of the foot, descending to a thin sole underneath the balls and toes.

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Wedge heels are a popular fashion choice, never really going completely out of style. They often provide a bit more stability than the standard heel, because the wedge extends out from the entire sole. Instead of having to balance on the point of small heel, the wedge allows the wearer to firmly place her full heel on the ground. People who are not used to wearing heels may find that this style can be a good place to start. As with any heels, the higher they are, the more likely the wearer may turn an ankle if she doesn’t keep her ankles stable.

Like the single heel, weight distribution in the wedge heel is still primarily on the balls of the feet and the toes. The higher the heels, the more weight the wearer carries on the front of the feet. Many women still find that wedges are more comfortable than stiletto or kitten heel styles, and those with rubberized wedges can provide a little bit of spring. Wedge heels on a small rubber platform can also be quite comfortable to wear.

Wedge heels are thought appropriate for more casual wear. A woman might pair them with jeans, summer dresses, flowing gauze skirts, or when wearing styles evocative of the 1970s. A standard rule in 2000s fashion seems to apply: wear wedges with flared legged pants or wide skirts and a thinner heel with skinny pants, capris, and pencil skirts.

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