Time to change your Choos

By Maxine Kwok Adams  -  09 March 2015

Anyone who knows me, or has ever met me briefly, ok in all honestly, anyone who has ever seen me in passing will realise I have a great love affair with shoes. They can make a drab outfit look a million dollars and can lift your spirits as well as your height by a good few inches. The downside of touring for me is leaving all my babies at home and having to decide which few will be negotiating cobblestones in Germany, pounding the streets of NY or lying poolside in Aix en Provence.

I've not been a stranger to shoe malfunctions in the past, most notably walking onstage in Madrid and feeling the heel give way with a crunch. I made a mad dash to the dressing room and having arrived at rehearsal in long brown boots, had to borrow the only pair of black shoes I saw, and they were a size too small and flat! In the same concert hall a few years later a colleague had found she had brought two black left shoes.. We did all squeal with laughter in the dressing room I admit. She had a very long dress so luckily got away with stockinged feet.

Choosing concert shoes is a simple enough task for me. Pre  requisites are Number 1. Ultra glam and number 2, ultra high since we're seated anyway. However there have been times where the violins and violas are required to stand in the concerts. Here's my advice coming from experience - YOU MUST DO A REHEARSAL IN THE SHOES YOU PLAN ON WEARING!! Once I made the mistake of wearing what I felt were comfortable concert shoes but by the end of the Beethoven symphony I was practically in tears, feeling that I was teetering on razor blades. When the conductor returned and gestured to the encore I could have committed murder on the spot. What I had forgotten was that even if high heels are comfy to walk or even run in, standing still on the spot is an entirely different matter altogether. There is no respite for either foot.

Therefore this is the time to be sensible, go for a flat, kitten, wedge or sensible heel. The last thing you need are tears streaming down your face two pages into the symphony. Different parts of your leg start hurting as you desperately try to shift the weight and eventually your foot goes numb which is really not ideal.. I have a glittery pair of shoes I almost binned but I found they are actually the ideal height for me to stand, plus have the added bonus of a strap across the foot lending even more security. I would also advise buying concert shoes half a size up as feet tend to swell during the day, even going up a size and adding an insole is a comfortable option. Shoes that pinch can make a two hour plus concert a complete misery even when seated.

Anyway it's not just mere mortals that have shoe malfunctions, a good friend of mine was rehearsing a concerto and after a rather enthusiastic leg kick found her shoe soaring through the stalls. "Hit by a flying Manolo? Time to call injury lawyers for you!"

About Maxine Kwok Adams

Fashion correspondent and violinist of the London Symphony Orchestra

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