Style

20 Chic Kitten Heels for When You’re Craving a Happy Medium

Image: Imaxtree

A kitten heel sighting at Stockholm Fashion Week Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree

There’s no escaping the kitten heel comeback. Just as they did in Spring 2015, the denizens of fashion have suddenly, and all at once, remembered that the 1.5- to 1.75-inch micro heels are not only sensible, they’re chic AF. (Fashion sneakers: take heed.)

Feeling skeptical? It’s understandable. Like other currently #trending items — corduroy slacks, fanny packs — kitten heels have somewhat of a mixed reputation. They lack the leg-lengthening abilities of stilettos, the bouncy cushioning of, say, New Balance 990s. They call to mind severe 60s secretaries, gussied-up tweens and an early aughts Paris Hilton.

Image: Imaxtree

Track-striped kitten heels on the Tibi Spring 2018 runway; Image: Imaxtree

How then did neither-here-nor-there kitten heels become the breakout shoe trend of 2017? A cosign from Demna Gvasalia, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Phoebe Philo, that’s how. For Spring 2017, Gvasalia (by way of Balenciaga) showed colorful satin mules with slanted kitten heels and toes sharp as knives. Branded, micro-heeled slingbacks walked at Chiuri’s much-anticipated Christian Dior debut. That same week, Philo, master of minimalism, sent out snappy yellow mules with glossy toes and modest cigarette heels. And the crowds went wild/remembered that lift, polish and comfort can go hand-in-hand-in-hand.

Two seasons later, the kitten heel craze shows no signs of slowing. (It helps that it’s tied into the whole “restored femininity” trend.) Case in point: modern micro heels of the mule, slingback and T-bar variety have already popped up on the Spring 2018 runways of Kenzo, Tibi, Christopher Kane and Erdem. And don’t get us started on the runway-adjacent sightings.

Images: Imaxtree

Kitten heels: chicer than sneakers, wayyy more comfortable than stilettos; Images: Imaxtree

Professional fashion people — including Zara’s stylists — are particularly fond of using them to dress up jeans. “Boyfriend jeans can be very sexy if they have the right fit, and by adding a kitten heel, you get a really sweet element for an ultimate cool-girl effect,” explains Vogue.com’s Elizabeth Taufield. “Higher heels are too hard to run around in, but a miniature heel will ensure you still look put together,” adds co-worker Alexandra Gurvitch.

The formula’s pretty simple. To create tension, pair your ladylike heels with denim or pseudo utilitarian pieces (jumpsuits, cargo pants). Florals and ruffles will play up (metallic, white or red) kitten heels’ sweetness, a hardware-heavy bag will prevent you from looking too precious. Alternatively, give off boss (as opposed to secretary) vibes in modern (read: deconstructed, oversized, colorful) suiting. Note: We highly suggest keeping your waistline high to maximize the bit of lift the mini heels do give.

Ready to give your stilettos, platforms, slides and sneakers a rest? Shop our favorite kitten heels in the slideshow below.