I'm just gonna say it:
Elevator shoes are the push-up bras of menswear.
No offense to anyone who wears them, but it's true. Wearing shoes that make you look taller than you really are is false advertising, plain and simple.
That's why I've always stayed away from heightening shoes (a.k.a., “risers” or “elevator shoes” or “tall shoes”). I've always thought that it's better to accept your height and own it, rather than try and mask it or trick people into thinking you are taller.
Plus, many elevator shoes are downright ugly. I'm talking square-toe, boxy, cheap leather, bulky monstrosities like the three on the right:
Regardless of where you stand on elevator shoes, no one should wear shoes like the ones on the right. And I would never sacrifice style for a couple of extra inches.
But the question remains: should short men wear heightening shoes in order to look taller?
Ultimately, it's a personal decision, but here's my stance on it.
The whole point of dressing well is to increase confidence. Everything else flows from that – the promotion, the relationship, etc. But it all starts with your self-image, and looking good (dressing sharp, staying fit and grooming) is one of the best ways to improve your self-image.
A confident man accepts his height, along with any other genetically determined factors, and focuses on things that he can control (fitness, grooming, knowledge, skills and dress).
A man who lacks confidence focuses on (and tries to change) the things he can't easily control by:
- Dwelling on his height
- Being jealous of taller men
- Wishing he were taller
- Being bitter about his short stature
- Being pessimistic about dating and romance
- Researching ways to get taller (like leg lengthening surgery)
- Wearing heightening shoes
If you fall into this category – someone whose height is a significant source of insecurity – I don't think elevator shoes are the answer. I think they're a band aid solution. Because, just like the push up bra, they have to come off eventually. And how will you feel when they do? Not to mention, how will your date feel?
Now, on the other hand, if your height doesn't really bother you, and you derive your confidence and well-being from other traits, wearing heightening shoes becomes an interesting choice. You don't need them. But perhaps you want them.
Keep in mind, this is just my opinion. If you think a couple extra inches will help you feel more confident and, ultimately, happier, you should give them a try.
But no matter what your reasons are, if you do choose to wear heightening shoes, make sure they're nice. By “nice” I mean they should:
- Look good
- Be comfortable
- Last a long time
Basically, they should be like any other shoes you buy. It's just going to take some hunting and shopping around.
What to Avoid
Bonded leather – This is cheap, low quality material that's made by squishing together scraps of actual leather to form something that barely resembles the real thing. Oftentimes it's marked as “genuine” leather. This should be avoided at all costs!
Boxy shape – Unfortunately, lots of elevator shoes look like elevator shoes. It's obvious that they have a thick heel, and that often comes with a boxy shape. Try to avoid this look. Instead, opt for something more subtle.
Square toe – Similarly, you'll find a lot of elevator shoes with square toes. This is not a good look, especially for short men. Instead, go for a gently tapered toe (a much more classic shape that will never go out of style).
Heightening shoes should be held to the same standard as regular shoes. I want high quality construction, premium materials (i.e. real leather) and comfort.
Fortunately, there are some great options out there for men who want high quality elevator shoes that actually look good.
One option is Guiodomaggi, who sent me the boots I'm wearing in the picture below:
The uppers are made from soft full grain leather. They have waxed laces and a heavy duty rubber sole.
Guidomaggi included two different pairs of inserts – one shorter and one taller. Even using the shorter insert, it felt pretty weird the first time I put them on.
I have newfound respect for women who wear high heels. Walking around in tall shoes definitely takes some getting used to!
It's not just the physical sensation of standing and walking on elevated soles. There's also the mental stuff. I couldn't help but wonder if people knew I was wearing height increasing shoes.
To be honest, I felt a little silly and embarrassed, even though no one seemed to notice. I'm sure this is something you would get used to with time.
I don't think elevator shoes will cure all of the woes associated with being a short man. But for some men, they could help with confidence. For others, they may just be an interesting option, a new weapon in the arsenal.
The most important thing is this: if you decide to wear heightening shoes, make sure they look and feel great.
Do you or would you wear elevator shoes? Leave a comment!