Sunday, May 13, 2007

I Am Sorry to Report...

...that the Smartheels are... not so smart.

You may recall that I posted about these little doohickeys last week...

On the plus side -- they shipped them almost immediately after I ordered them, and I got an extremely nice letter from the president of the company that made me really want these things to be the greatest invention since sliced bread.

Alas, they are not.

They are not difficult to use. I watched the little video on the website, and the written instructions that come with them are pretty clear as well. I used them on these shoes:

Which, you'll note, have extremely skinny heels. As a matter of fact, these shoes may be the skinniest heels in my entire wardrobe. As a friend pointed out, they may be the skinniest heels physically possible and still support the (rather substantial in my case) weight of a human being. Which makes them both delightful and terrifying, because the skinnier the heel, the more likely said heel is to get caught in a sidewalk crack or other hazard. The leather on these shoes is pearlized pink, which is not something you see a whole lot of. So, if I ever did ruin a heel, I'd have to settle for recovering the heel in another color (beige, maybe) or just write the shoes off as lost. This is enough to make a Shoe Person a little anxious. So, it seemed they were the perfect shoes to try out the new heel-saving gizmos on.

I only tried one of them, and the result was this:

What you can't see below the dent, due to my poor photography skills, are little stress marks in the leather below the dent that indicate scraping and incipient wrinkling. This happened just from putting the gizmo on the shoe. I didn't walk in the shoe while the gizmo was in place, because I think that would have put even more pressure on the leather, due to the design of the thing.

In case I was just being hypersensitive, I called in the troops. I took the shoes & the gizmos over to a gathering of The Girls last night (We lolled around the living room, talked, ate Thai takeout & ice cream, drank some wine, checked the score on the Spurs game. All agreed it was one of the pleasantest evenings any of us had spent in a while. How about my fast-paced life of non-stop excitement, huh? Woo AND hoo.) and they also said the dent was noticeable.

I think that possibly if you were wearing shoes that had a different kind of heel, either a built or stacked heel:

(like this)

or a plastic heel, it might not be an issue. But any sort of leather-covered heel is going to have enough padding due to the leather itself that I think the things are going to squeeze them tightly enough to make a mark. I can't say this for sure, because at this point I'm not anxious to put them on any of my other shoes. Again, the pink ones are some of my very skinniest stilettos -- if even these get marked up, I can't help but think they're certainly going to put dings in a thicker heel. Which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

There's also a certain amount of modification you may have to do the the gizmo, depending on your heel height and shoe construction, that involves cutting the actual plastic. I found this to be a little tricky and difficult to maneuver -- it's rather heavy plastic and the cutting lines are curved.

Additionally, while the (again, very nice) president of Smartheels assured me that she's been wearing hers around New York for six months and no one has noticed them unless she pointed them out (although how she can say that with any certainty, I don't know), my Girls all thought they were extremely noticeable and unsightly.

In conclusion, while they are a great idea, I think they still need a little work. I can see how if you lived in an area where you did a great deal of walking and you had the right kind of heel, they could be useful. For my lifestyle, which involves a lot of driving and valet parking, it hardly seems worth going through the trouble of putting them on & taking them off only to walk four or five blocks. The idea is a good one, though, and if there's ever a new & improved Smartheel, I'll certainly want to give it a try!

Photos:, Style Spy,

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