Single sole

In Shoes on January 28, 2013 at 10:25 am

329944_in_xlHow is your single sole? As opposed to your single soul, which is another conversation entirely and one most perfectly addressed by the film of Bridget Jones Diary.

I will never get over the moment when the lift doors open and there is Hugh Grant at the height of his glory. The first time I saw it a full howl escaped from my throat. About twenty viewings later I’ve just about got it down to a yelp. The boating scene absolutely kills me too.


He is my perfect man in that film. Well, apart from the skinny American woman in the bathroom, but the stiletto sharp intelligence, the throwaway wit, the hair, the unbuttoned shirt, the naughty eyes, he just kills me. He was brilliant in real life too, at the Levison Enquiry, sigh… Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, shoes.

‘Single sole’ is the term marvellous Net-a-Porter has come up with for NON platform shoes. I let out another kind of yelp when I first saw it, captioning a picture of the Jimmy Choo above, in the site’s most excellent on line magazine. Here’s the link.!/179/2

It’s such a funny term and so necessary to make the difference between the two kinds of shoes – being normally soled shoes and the platform monstrosities which have dominated the last few years of footwear. Like these monstosities by Guiseppe Zanotti.


If you’ve been reading me for the last year, you will already know what I thinof platform pumps, particularly the nude pump. I HATE THEM. I hated them on sight, weird mutant woman Mr Tumnus feet. They are like Barbie’s permanent high-heel-ready plastic trotters, but worse.


Even after the entire Royal family, who are the world’s most unstylish people, all wore them to Will and Kate’s nups and Ascot, people who should know better were getting around in them.

royals in nude pumps

I don’t hate platforms entirely. I appreciate extended leg length as much as the next stumpy woman. I loved them in the 1970s, when they were new to teen me and I embraced them enthusiastically again when they first re-appeared in the mid-noughties. I still love these Louboutins – they’re properly camp – it was just that the genre then hung around way too long and started to look cheaper and cheaper, in the pursuit of novelty, even when they were £500 shoes.


I still love a wedge. I can’t wait for summer to roll around so I can get back into those. And I love my brothel creeper ‘flatforms’ too, it’s just the endless Louboutin rip offs, I can’t bear.


It’s probably my age, but if I’m going to spend far more money than is quite moral on shoes, they are going to be Manolo Blahnik. Particularly these two styles, which – alongside a whole new collection every season – he has always done. Any shoe style that can still inspire lust, twenty years after you first saw them has to be a classic.



  1. HAHAHA I have those leopard ones and I LOVE them!!!!

    • They are totally great. I wish I had them! I liked the whole Louboutin covered platform thing the first time I saw it, but the ROyals wearing them was the kiss of death… x

  2. So sad to read this post, just been told I have to have foot/ankle surgery and can never wear heels higher than 2cm again (not sure that 2cm counts as a ‘heel’ though)

  3. Agree. Bought some black patent single-soles, much like those in your pic, only yesterday. So elegant. Regrettably not Manolo Blahnik’s though.

  4. Those Zanotti ones are the epitome of Ugly. Although on second thoughts the nude platform Loub number is possibly worse. It screams stripper. I always think of the weird hobbling platforms of recent years as Geisha shoes. You certainly can’t stride anywhere in them (you just hope you don’t embarrassingly topple). Love the Manolos – classically elegant.

  5. I only ever bought two pairs of platforms and they are still practically pristine in my cupboard, because I can’t walk in them. God bless the single sole! Luckily I still have some surviving from a few years ago.

  6. Maggie, are you really telling me that a woman will wear those pink things with NO HEEL?! Designed to make you fall backwards with legs in the air – gives new meaning to the old term ’round heels’. A sexist plot!!!

  7. Where have you been ? nothing for 12 months and then saturation?? come on have you a new book out you want us to read?? pissed off maggie get with it!!!!!

  8. Mel I think even a tiny heel makes a difference. I don’t know why but they still do something. I rarely wear anything higher than a mid-heel, unless it’s a wedge, because I hate tottering around all day with sore feet.

    This summer I got some great pale suede open-toed wedges with matte brown leather straps from Camper. They add about 6 cm of height, but the height difference between the ball of your foot and your heel is v. small. Also, the heel is fantastically cushy. I’ve never worn a more comfortable wedge.

    But apart from wedges, I wouldn’t wear any other kind of platform now. Maggie is right as always; the tide has turned and they look dated and wrong on a pump. The only thing I don’t like about single soles is they kill the ball of your foot. And the spindly heels make me feel like I’m about to do a face-plant and break my ankle.

    • I only wear heels in short sharp – very sharp, ouch – bursts. Although I did dance for 6 hours on Saturday night in heels, but I was fuelled by fun, love of the friend whose birthday party it was and a ROCKING DJ who played disco all night. Also some vodka.

  9. Only today I chuckled to myself remembering Hugh’s line at the first dinner with Bridget Jones when she asks “what about the situation in Bosnia? Isn’t it a nightmare?”
    He replies “I couldn’t give a f…k Jones….”
    Anyway… What do we think about a pair of stylish WEDGE platforms? More acceptable than the transvestite stilettos?

    • I love some wedges, but not too over the top. I’m generally sick of massive statement shoes. I loved them when they first came back, but I’m really over them now.

  10. Agree with your re Hugh Grant and who can overlook Colin Firth?
    This is really weird, as I have just purchased a pair of single sole(!), kitten heel Jimmy Choos.Would love a pair of those Manolo Blahnicks.
    I feel real annoyance at the uncomfortable, ugly shoes that are foisted on women as fashion/style these days. Look back at photos of Jackie Kennedy/Onasis, Lauren Hutton, Audrey Hepburn etc etc – don’t see too many high, ugly shoes.

    • They’re dangerous too! You could really knacker yourself falling off them. I always start that film thinking ARE THEY MAD? WHO COULD POSSIBLY PREFER COLIN F TO HUGH G…? But by the end I’m always a bit in love with Colin. The fight scene does me in. I might have to go and watch it again…

  11. Hugh Grant? Really? He always seems rankly seedy in a posh, wet kind of way… Confusing adjectives I know. Sorry!
    The single sole argument is compelling. It becomes my Style rule #502. I need rules as I am no good at shopping or style. I find the platform downright dangerous.

    • I really don’t think he’s wet – he has a very sharp brain, as befits a man educated at Oxford. All the best lines in Bridget Jones were ad libbed by him. He’s very witty and very sharp. The hooker in LA thing was seedy, but didn’t make me love him less. A man has needs and it probably seemed less trouble and a more honest exchange than dating women he had no intention of following through with just to get some love action.

      • As a lover of Hugh I’m sure your memory is more accurate than mine Maggie but I thought he was still with Liz Hurley when the horrible hooker thing happened?

      • Can’t remember either – but if they were together, she clearly wasn’t in LA… ! x

      • I seem to remember Liz was out of town and there was a picture of her giving him a dressing down (in white jeans of course) at some rural bolt hole in the UK when he returned.
        I agree 100% on the ‘invisible’ platforms and agree they always reminded me of a faun. I have 1 pair of Louboutins which are excruciating painful even though they are a little big but they seem to find a spot on my foot that triggers immense pain.
        I now only go up to 3 cm in heels and have the classic Choo pump in the nude and the navy. I have always wants the MB’s Mary Jane in red but probably won’t cave in unless I move to a colder climate.
        Love that your back Maggie!
        Kate Bx

      • I’m going to go to the Manolo flagship in Chelsea to ask if they do the Mary Jane in his lower heel height. I would never wear them as high as the ones I tried on last week : ( x

  12. Great that you´re back Maggie! As an aussie Living in Germany, a highlight of going home was always reading your column in the Age, how disappointed I was on my last trip. I gave up on ever reading your intelligent, witty and fashion savy comments ever again after searching for you in vain through all the weekend papers.

    Totally agree on the single sole issue although the Munich cobblestones make stillettos heavy going, I´ve lost count of the number of times I´ve been on my knees trying to wrench my heel from between two stones!

    • I do have a column still in the Sunday Age – it’s called the Rules, in the M section. Sometimes they put it online too and then I tweet the link. Are you on Twitter? I’m @MaggieA. Thanks so much for very kind words. Means a lot to me. I didn’t blog last year as I had a horrible experience with trolling and it really put me off – also found the site a pain to get pics on to, but they seem to have improved it and I’m very happy to be back.

  13. Ha ha – those Guiseppe Zanotti things are truly hideous!! Glad someone else agrees with me re clumpy, ugly shoes. Can’t go past a classic pointy heel.

  14. Agree regarding the platforms – horrible – but are you against the nude shoe completely? As in nude heels, single sole? Your opinion most important on these matters I feel….

    • I do think nude shoes have their place. They are very flattering to the leg, but it became such a ‘thing’ I really went off them. I think pointy ones are pretty cool, although personally I would rather have lurid fluoro pink…

  15. Yes love Hugh Grant and shoes. But how is the diet going??? Inspire me please??? Kit kat

    • Too early to say. I don’t want to post any more on it until I’m sure it works and can give a proper resume of my experiences, with helpful tips. Or say FORGET IT!!! One thing I will say at this stage is that I am amazed how easy I find it to have a whole day without food. I’m really astonished. Knowing I can have a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast tomorrow is enough to get me through the rest of this evening… MORE FOLLOWS SOON! x

      • I was amazed at how easy it was to give up sugar. I thought it would be agonising – having had a real sweet tooth and eaten a packet of lollies/sweets every day for my entire life – but no, easy as….. I think once you make the commitment because you really WANT to do it, something else takes over and you find the willpower from deep within…………..

  16. Ahhhh, Daniel Cleaver. I watched it again the other day – dying to know what it was he did to her in bed on their mini-break that is illegal in several countries….
    I have a pair of Manolo black patent leather Mary Janes. I bought them years ago in my pre children days and they are still the most comfortable heels I own. Daily life sees me child wrangling in flats – flip flops, sandals, ballets, converse- but any event that calls for heels and I’m in those Manolos. I’ve had them re-soled with rubber soles by a shoemaker, so no slippage. Heaven. Thanks for the Hugh memories, will carry me through the day!

    • Such a funny name, Cleaver… So good to hear those shoes are as good as I’ve always thought. I am now getting dangeroulsy close to buying a pair. His shoes are such an investment. Do you have patent or plain leather? I’m so torn… Thanks for lovely comment xxx

      • Patent leather. Bought them in the Manolo shop in Singapore (God that sounds glamorous, those were the days) so paid half the price I would have paid here in Oz, not that you could get them here then anyway. I had lusted after them since Carrie spotted them in the Vogue accessories closet and had previously thought them to be “an Urban Shoe Myth” ha ha. I also got the silver Sedaraby pair that she lost at the baby shower (hubby bought them for me at Nieman-Marcus when he was in the US). I’m a SATC tragic. Obviously.
        Do it Maggie, I promise you won’t regret it. Great with a pencil skirt, tailored black pants, jeans, LBD, cocktails, formal…

  17. Great to see you back in my inbox regularly, Maggie. I do keep up with your columns here in Australia but miss your other writing.
    I have also tried (but not yet purchased) those Manolo’s a few times over the years. They are just a classic shoe: beyond the realms of fashion ins and outs, so I really should just bite the bullet and pay the amount required to add them to my wardrobe. The thing is I rarely wear heels these days, but maybe I can join some of my workmates who wear flats and carry the heels to our destination for a quick swap before making our entrance.
    I have also tried on those nude platform pumps, but not purchased for different reasons- they are ugly and the colour always seems wrong to me. Should be either pink or more cream or beige or even a mushroom brown…

    • How funny that you’ve also done the trying on with those shoes… They are so iconic now. Did you see Anne At Home’s comment below? She has pretty much given me permission to buy them. I should have bought them all those years ago when I first saw them. I tried on the Louboutins too. I thought I ‘should’ own a pair of his shoes, or I couldn’t hold my head up as a true fashionista but I just didn’t feel like myself in them. I’m a Manolo girl all the way. x

  18. I have been championing the return of the single sole for some time now. I grabbed those 90mm navy Choos (pictured) like a shot and they have; Changed. My. Life. They work with everything, skinny jeans, pencil skirts, wide trousers and oh, so comfy. Can’t vouch for the Manolos – but my single soles have excellent cost-per-wear ratio. Might have just bought the same ones in chartreuse…..

    PS – just finished Everything Changes as my holiday read – *loved it* Thanks Maggie.

    • This makes me happy on several counts. So so glad to heaer the single soles are working for you. I have a pair of Prada ones I bought about 10 years ago and they are just perfect, as you describe. They make me feel really rock chick and cool. The one pair of big platforms I had (not designer, but right for a brief moment 8 years ago…)made me feel really vunerable, like a new born baby giraffe. And thank you so much for your kind comment on my book. Means SO much to me as I am in the difficult birth throes of the next one xxx

  19. Dear Maggie, Hugh was gorgeous in that movie wasn’t he?
    I have always been a sucker for an Oxbridge boy with a good head of hair. And now we have Eddie Redmayne!! Unfortunately I am way to old to have a proper (ie legitimate) crush on him – but for me he is the ants pants. Devine looking, super talented, gorgeous manners as well as speaking and singing voice – I think his girlfriend Hannah to quite possibly be one of the luckiest girls on the planet!
    Hugh of course still fab and I really admire his ongoing efforts with his press/privacy work.
    As for the massive crazy wedges – my standard with any shoe on any woman is – if you really can walk elegantly and comfortably in the shoe regardless of style or height its ok. Almost any item of clothing or footwear can carried off/owned with the right attitude and posture and appropriateness of event/occasion. This rule of thumb also applies to flats and flip flops (or thongs as we call them here) – lots of folks just end up dragging their foot wear along the ground – looks bad, sounds bad and wears them out tres vite! As ever. BX

  20. OK – my orthopedic surgeon told me that if you are going to spend an evening standing in high heels (of course i lie and say I hardly ever do this!) that if you cover your feet in Nurofen/Volatren gel as many times as you can in the previous 24 hours that your feet will not swell and hurt as much! I tried it and it is brilliant!

  21. Thank God, someone finally said it out loud. We have been inundated with countless (or is that kountless?) images of the assorted Kardashians and as you mentioned the oft sartorially challenged British royal family teetering in ugly, ugly nude platforms. Also if you pinterest you know that there are nearly as many pics of cheap looking platforms as there are of puppies and nail polish.
    I’ve loved those Manolos ever since that moment in SATC that Annie at Home mentioned. At least there are a lot more classic pumps on the red carpet this awards season.
    Thanks for the regular posts Maggie, I too miss your weekly columns in the SMH Good Weekend – I have the final one from January 2010, on my wall here at work!

    • You are a very wonderful person and I hope you soon win the lottery and fill your house with Manolos xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx I didn’t see the Sex and the City thing. What happened?

      • SATC season 4 ep 17 “a Vogue Idea”? After tee many martunis Carrie is given the tour of th US Vogue accessories closet by a seemingly fatherly Vogue exec. She spots the Manolo Mary Janes in your pic an utters the immortal line – “Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes – I thought these were an urban shoe myth”.
        It’s a great ep especially with the magnificent Candice Bergen as Carrie’s editor at Vogue.
        Thanks for the good wishes about the lottery.

      • oh that is heaven… especially your typing ‘tee many martunis’ which added flavour x

  22. Lovely to see elegant ‘single soles’ celebrated.

    I am just sorting my dear Mum’s estate and have marvelled at her beautiful collection of Italian court shoes. Timeless. Unfortunately they go nowhere near my size 9 clodhoppers

    Up until I had my darling daughter many years ago, I was a devotee of the single sole: I would quite happily trot 1km to the station in my heels. My favourite pair were a pale cream/buff suede that I wore with a deeper buff silk suit (it was the early 90s…!)

    PS Ah, Hugh Grant. Back in the day I had an English boss in Sydney who a) looked alarmingly like Mr HG and 2) had a disturbingly similar name. He also shared some of his character traits, of which I will not elaborate. This was around the time “Four Weddings” came out. In staff meetings I would be reduced to ninnyish giggles as I shamelessly fantasised…

  23. I have to plead ignorance here – what on earth does “single sole” mean and how long have pointy toed shoes with a stiletto heel (???) been called that? It seems everyone knows what everyone else is talking about but despite me thinking I was fairly well across fashion and labels and a SITC fan I am in the dark. Help appreciated!

    • Have you read my post? all explained there – it means not a platform and was just minted by Net a Porter x

      • Sorry. Silly me – I did read it but I think it was first thing in the morning and I was speed reading on a fasting day (no mental clarity for me yet) and I was reeling from you describing platform “monstrosities” and me thinking this included wedges. Panic had filled my mind at the thought that my favourite heel was being described as a monstrosity. Glad to say I have never owned a platform – have always thought they looked like stripper shoes! Clearly though I need to scrub up on my shoe knowledge.

      • ha ha – it’s not just me then… No, wear your wedges with pride. I love them. It’s just the novelty shoe thing, which I think is coming to a natural end. I’ve seen fashion show ladies who had to be supported to walk in them. It just got nuts. Single Sole is a new concept, newly minted and that’s why I wanted to share it with you all xxx

  24. Hmm, I totally hear you on the ugliness of the platform pump. They just seem like fetish shoes to me–fine for a night at Hellfire, or any “situation” in which walking is not required.

    I like the look of those oh-so classic Manolos you’ve got your eye on but it’s the heel I can’t quite stomach–it just looks so unstable! I’m a real fan of heels you can walk in, which is why I weep at the fact that this company does not have a shop in Australia (I simply cannot buy shoes online–I need to try them on first–got real problem feet).

    They are amazing. Well made, something for everyone, unique…the works.

    • The genius of Manolo is that he has this way of somehow ‘balancing’ high heels so you can walk in them… I’m going to go and try these on again on Thursday!

  25. Maggie it’s so lovely to read your blogs again. I did wonder if it was that awful trolling thing that had put you off. Makes you realise why schools get so worried about cyber-bullying.

    I bought my little girls (3 and 7) the most gorgeous book for Christmas – “Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day”. Do you have it? Your daughter is too old for it I think, but I recommend it anyway. Clara’s mum takes her to the V & A to look at hats. As well as lots of hats (obviously) there’s a pair of Vivienne Westwood platforms, dated 1993 in it. The girls look at them in amazement every time we read it. It’s a drawing, not photo, but they appear to be a snake skin, peacock blue lace-up version of the OTT platform. Hilarious!! You’ll probably know the actual shoes now that I think of it.

    What do you think of the Mary Janes on a those of us height-challenged people? I wonder if they make me look dumpy.

    • Thank you so much Katherine. Yes, the trolling is the reason I took a sabbatical. Wasn’t sure if I would ever come back, but then I missed it. I love doing this and getting to ‘chat’ after. We do have that book and she still loves it. It’s a glorious book. I do think Mary Jane’s can cut the leg. The Manolos are about the only ones I would wear (but tried them on again today and they are too high – and the price just makes me queasy). Better for a shorter leg is the T bar tango shoe – as comfortable as a MJ and not so foreshortening. I have a pair I love.

  26. I gave up wearing ‘high heels’ long ago as my feet, back, neck would kill me after just a few minutes. But for 10 years I wore every heel, platform, wedge, going – whatever was in fashion. I’ve done OK over the years with nice flats, but now I’m in a job where I want that ‘click clack’ sound that you only get from a heel. I’m too scared to spend that much on a Manolo, Choo or Laboutin – if I even knew where to get one – in case I get the same result – but, it’s oh so tempting – I love those Mary Janes. And if I could buy just one pair and know I could wear them every day with confidence – I’d be happy with that. Dare I take the risk? Is there anywhere in Sydney to purchase these shoes of which you speak?
    PS – Lady Gaga epitomises the stupid shoe!
    PPS – Hugh Grant – cute; Colin Firth – swoon…….

    • Tried the shoes on again today and decided they are just too high for me. Also I need a half size, 36 too small, 37 too big. Also they are just TOO much money. There is another really good shoe brand, I just need to research. Watch this space… x

  27. I am in heaven – so much lovely (and lively) discussion about shoes! I can hardly wait for Maggie’s next instalment of shoe research. Thank you for doing the hard work for me. It is fun to hear so much experience from other women similarly attracted to beautiful shoes, but not wanting to cripple themselves to be fashionable.

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