The Style Police: Relax. We have the perfect shoe for your autumn wardrobe. And the humble pump is the cutting edge of catwalk style

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Who didn't go shoe shopping this weekend? It's that time of the year when London collectively decides to hoof it down Oxford Street. Fighting our way into Office on South Molton Street, Style Police resembled nothing more than Tippi Hedren in The Birds. But you all know how it feels when you clock the perfect shoe. Style Police found the answer in Office. The little darling was a mink grey suede loafer purring from the top shelf; smugly suggesting how it would work with every damned thing in the autumn/winter wardrobe. Sadly, that shoe was all alone. It had been sitting in the Office window for a week and had faded from a deep blue to perfect misty grey. Its other half was languishing in the stock room and remained resolutely blue. Style Police asked for it to be placed in exactly the same spot in the window and will pick the pair up next week.

Let's pull back from personal anguish and talk about this season, the shoe and you. When even Manolo Blahnik surrenders the stiletto heel in favour of flats, it may be time to bow to the inevitable. This season, shoes are flat, flat, flat: lower, even, than Monica Lewinsky's self-esteem. Manolo need not concern you. Manolos are not shoes. They are a religion. We need to get real and talk about exactly what you all want to wear this season. This doesn't necessarily bear any relation to what you are being told to wear.

For spring/summer, Style Police files show the wedgie mule was the people's choice despite kitten heels with wickedly pointy toes being the fashion editor's choice. Ravel group designer Linsey Hand reports a distinct lack of interest in the jester points by Ravel. "This season, the flat grey flannel Mary Jane, the flat black leather ballerina pump and the kitten- heel flannel pump," which are all of the fashion moment, "fit with what women want to wear," says Hand.

Richard Wharton, self-styled "centre-forward and captain" of Office reports a similar demand for flat. "Anything in that Prada, Mary Jane, velcro- fastening flat-shoe genre is selling out. It appeals because it works for everyone from a 12-year-old girl to a 50-year-old woman. The ankle boot with a heel is also going to be huge for us." This is a-happening. High-fashion flatties, filtered through the high street, are walking out of the doors of Office, Ravel and Russell & Bromley faster than a shoplifter. The high street "interpretations" of catwalk shoes are the story here. These high street clones of catwalk shoes are near indistinguishable from Prada, Gucci and the sainted Manolo. The high street definition of "interpretation" is as confusing as Clinton's take on "sexual relations". But so what? At least nobody's going to impeach them.

Now, be honest. Most of us buy high street shoes. So what if we occasionally say, "Naturally", when asked if they are Pradas? We are not of the demographic group who own more designer shoes than they do brain cells. Yes, flatties are selling. But are they working? Style Police has seen a lot of girls digging out their old leather loafers and wearing them with a knowing look and a pencil skirt. No. It is a question of proportion. The pencil skirt asks you for a slight kitten heel. With a flat, you simply look like a temp.

Fashion doesn't champion a shoe for the hell of it. Designers and editors don't sit round an ouija board every season and use the black arts to decide the height of heel. Even the fashion industry is not that quixotic. You have to look at the proportion of the clothes and then decide which shoe works. The line this season is whippet-thin vertical: lean, slouchy maxi skirts, on-the-knee dresses and coats which stop at the knee or plunge to the ankle. It demands flats.

Style Police's money is on the flat leather or suede ballet pumps at Office, and Ravel's grey flannel kitten heel. As to the soon-to-be ubiquitous ankle boot, they are a great trouser shoe but even in a maxi skirt you may get the odd flash of tight and that's not so attractive. So what now, my loves?

That is the season's shoes in a nutshell: a flat fabric pump, a low-heeled ankle boot and a more structured pair of loafers.

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