Step away from the nude shoes, Kate

DAISY DUMAS
Last updated 16:19 04/07/2012

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OPINION: It's nigh-on impossible to avoid descriptions of Kate Middleton's latest wardrobe foibles.

Not that the Duchess ever gets it wrong, or at least not yet. She plays it safe, chooses classic pieces that can be re-matched and given a new lease of life and mixes high design with High Street with an alacrity that comes from some good advice (don't tell us there is absolutely no stylist involved) and an acute diplomacy that supports all tiers of British commerce.

But, those heels.

Yes, we understand their universal appeal - nude is the new black and all that - and we get the austerity argument, too, but, my, are they bland, especially after, oh, about 134 outings.

The LK Bennett Sledge courts have been part of the Middleton show pretty solidly for more than a year, a fixture at least from June 2011 to the Jubilee weekend, again rearing their predictable heads over the weekend at a Somerset wedding. As long ago as last August, the Herald had a whinge about the royals' and their nude heels (this being a House of Windsor firm footwear favourite), but still, the rash persists.

We're all for some judicious wardrobe stretching - £185 ($360) should indeed be made to go far - and we applaud not kowtowing to the folly of believing that those in the spotlight should always wear something new. There comes a time, however, when a look morphs into a uniform... and the Sledge has become fatigue-like standard issue for royal engagements. The desert boot of urban walkabouts.

Quite apart from the drear-factor is the blanket coverage of the nude heel that now means every wedding, cocktail party and opening of an envelope is accompanied by platoons of marching, shiny, putty-coloured pumps. In no small part thanks to the Duchess, we should note.

They're all over the place - and that includes the realm of the sartorially challenged. The truth is, like many sweeping fashion trends, they dance a fine line between spot-on and bad taste. A nude heel does not an elegant lady make.

To wit, the pins on display at last week's Hollywood premiere of Ted. Granted, the red carpet is a long way from the palaces of west London, but that showbiz splurge offered a prime example of nude overkill. There, every tanned, tattooed and waxed ankle flowed into a pale, sky-high pump.

Christian Louboutin has a lot to answer for. The hue that began life as a clever alternative to black was largely popularised by the red-soled designs and has since swept the field, imitated by (very) many but bettered by few.

Apart from the one-shoe-fits-all-outfits (or at least 13, in the case of Catherine) bonus, the look is said to lengthen the leg, providing a skin-toned streamline swathe from thigh to toe. In theory. The reality, of course, depends upon the type of shoe, the outfit and the wearer tottering above.

But, bored as we may be with it, nude isn't going anywhere for now - sky-high T-bar styles were spotted on Bee Shaffer in the front row of Versace's haute couture show on Sunday, her choice echoing the vertiginous gladiator heels striding the runway in, you guessed it, nude. And as hum-drum as their tone may be, they, at least are daring designs. 

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We're not suggesting borderline-dominatrix spikes, clashing colour or adopting the 'no pain, no gain' mantra, but we do support experimenting with a touch of wardrobe seasoning - dabbling in colour, exploring new fabrics and giving other designers a whirl.

Yes, we imagine it's not easy trying to fit in as someone who naturally stands out. So, don't. Stand out with aplomb.

At the age of 30, with a beautiful figure, an eye for style and an inching willingness to sample a more creative look, now, Kate, is the time to try something newd. New, we mean.

 

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