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Style Police: Dead on your feet

Cute they may be, but this season's shoes sure weren't made for walking. By James Sherwood
'Tis the season of the gorgeous summer shoe. Flip-flops, cute little mules, towering platforms - everyone from Patrick Cox to Marks & Spencer has got them right. There's just one problem: kind to feet these beauties are not.

Take the ubiquitous, unisex, Converse peep-toe slip-on. Under the little appliqued star is a row of stitching. That little row starts to rub. And rub. Then they draw blood. "I've been warned," says TV researcher Emily Kennedy, "so I went for the yellow, stack-sole flip-flop from Converse instead. They are pounds 19.99 and my favourite summer shoe. My only criticism is that they smell of burning rubber after wearing them on a hot day."

Birkenstocks are still being worn with pride by fashion types. They are the closest fashion will come to acceptable orthopaedic chic. The new range in zingy orange and azure blue nubuck (from pounds 42) are, to use a hideous fashion cliche, a must-have. Birkenstock devotees don't retire their sandals when summer is over. They clack around their Belsize Park flats feeling smugly, fashionably comfortable.

After the ridiculous platform trainer, this summer's popular platties are black, rubber, high and on sale everywhere. "I twist my ankle every time I put them on", says wedgie wearer Sharon Crystal. "One night, I was walking home from a party and the shoes were so painful I kicked them off and fell asleep in St James's Park."

"Actually," says Emily Kennedy, "you can't beat M&S navy suede mules. Mine were pounds 25 and they are perfect in every way except for rubbing blue dye on my feet if I wear them too long."

Now are you standing comfortably? I have some bad news. Big for winter 97 are sky-scraping stilettos which force the wearer to teeter to within an inch of her life. Comfy, no; sexy, yes. Sometimes, fashion is worth suffering for.