Shoes: the great cutaway

With running shoes turning up on New York streets this winter as the greatest thing to wear with sable coats, some people could say that keeping a step ahead of what's "in" in footgear is an exercise in futility.

However, the people at the Footwear Council, a national association of shoe manufacturers, do not take that view. They keep vigilant watch, making certain we mind our fashion p's and q's and that we do not lose sight of what is chic and what is dowdy for spring feet.

They tell us the news is heel heights and heel shapes -- from 1 1/2 inch low to 3 1/2 inch high, in the first instance. There are a good many choices in the second instance, too -- from underslung cone shape to Louis-curved stiletto.

The architectural cone heel, popularized by Paris designer Maud Frizon and other European creators, vies with versions of the sloped-in cowboy as the ne plus ultram of present-day heeldom. The killer heel of 3 inches-plus on which one teetered to a disco beat at one's peril now has a firmer base for somewhat better balance. Fashionable souls with aching calf muscles will, however, hear with relief that as skirts rise and trouser lengths shorten, heels become flatter.

Also big news is color -- and not simply one color per shoe. Such rainbow hues as jazzy yellow, lavender, sassy red, and bright blue and such unheard-of combinations as navy with yellow or flag-waving trios of red, white, and blue are firsts in the footgear style race.

Getting off on the right foot for spring is the pump -- the simplest of all styles which, although it was plugged by fashion designers and press, was not as easy to find this winter as it should be this spring and summer. In the pump lineup, ankle straps, sling-backs, moderately open-toe, and d'Orsay styles will all be stepping along.

New varieties of the minimal slide, the bare sandal (often bicolor and with wider straps) and collegiate clogs stay in the picture. For preppy outfits, more delicate-looking, less clumpy fringed-tongue or tassel flats are in the running.

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