Gliding, not Clomping

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s many internet friends has asked the Manolo the question.

After a very very down day, I decided to do something nice for myself and soon thereafter had my first ever pedicure. My feet looked so great, I decided to go get some new summery shoes to celebrate. I found some beautiful sandals, very similar to the ones featured in your “Not So Cheap For The Beach” post. Much to my surprise, they FIT wonderfully (I have large feet, and oddly shaped), and best of all, as you would say, they were on the sale!

I was thrilled to look down at my feet and see something superfantastic there, so I made up my mind then and there, bought the shoes, and enjoyed my new happy mood all the way home. Manolo, I was so excited to see pretty shoes on my feet that I forgot to walk around in them a bit before I bought them.

With every step, thwop! thwop! thwop! the back of the shoe slaps the sole of my feet. They fit wonderfuly and are perfect in every other way, but this thwopping! Oy! It makes me feel so self-conscious that I drag my feet a little, and because the sole of the shoes has a bit of ridging, if I’m not walking on a perfectly smooth surface it tends to sound like… ah… gastrointestinal distress. NOT NOT NOT superfantastic.

I see other women wearing these kinds of shoes all the time, and I know that the thwopping is not really as loud as it seems to my ears, but… is there some kind of a trick, some anti-thwop device, a special walk I can practice? Do I strap Velcro to my feet or put a dollop of superglue on every time I wear them? Or do I just grit my teeth and force myself to ignore it? It’s hard to have a superfantastic stride when you’re trying to keep your shoes quiet.

Ayyyyy! The flipping and the flopping it is indeed most annoying, not only to the flipper and the flopper but also to those innocents who may be within the range of this noise.

However, have not the fear. The Manolo, although he himself is not the wearer of the slides or the mules, knows the answer to your question.

The secret to the walking gracefully in the pair of the slides or the mules it is as close as your nearest old-fashioned lesson of correct Victorian deportment. The secret it is to practice walking in the shoes, but to do so as the stuffy old ladies they trained the proper young ladies in the days of the past, with the book on the head.

Yes, this it sounds ridiculous, but the book on the head it forces the correct posture. And if you wish to learn to glide with a certain gracefulness, instead of clomp with a certain bovineness, this it will help train you to do so.

The Manolo, he will now ask his many internet friends for their suggestions.

24 Responses to “Gliding, not Clomping”

  1. Dani June 28, 2005 at 12:04 am #

    This appears to be a matter of physics. The long foot will produce a much wider arc between the heel and shoe with each step. The long foot may also be accompanied by a long stride, if our friend is tall. This means more bending at the metatarsal bones, producing both a wider arc and more force.

    My advice is to try to take smaller steps. But, have faith, as the materials in the shoe break in, they will soften up and the thwacking sound will lessen. I have big feet and a long stride, and this is what I have noticed. Also, one can cut some moleskin pads fit the heel, stuck to the shoe, and they will muffle the sound nicely. Moleskin is found in the foot care section.

  2. dowdydiva June 28, 2005 at 7:16 am #

    Personally, I like the “thwop”. It is one of the fine sounds of summer. I just can’t wear mules or thongs very often because I have heel problems.

  3. speedbudget June 28, 2005 at 8:19 am #

    My Dad absolutely HATES the sound of the thwock. I, however, love the flip-flops and the cute little summer sandals, so there is a problem whenever I wear said lovely shoes near my Dad. I have to walk much more carefully in order to avoid the dreaded THWOCK. This special stride does not require the clomping or the sliding of the shoe along the ground; it only requires that one step a little lighter, keep the toes flexed a bit, and allow the soles to lightly tap the foots. But I think that Manolo’s friend, after wearing more of the cute little summer sandals, will begin to enjoy the sound. I actually listen to the sounds that the shoes make when I walk around the store to see if the thwock is satisfying or annoying. If satisfactory, I will buy the cute shoes and stride purposefully to make the thwock; it’s a lovely little way to announce to the world, “Here I am! Love me and my cute little shoes!”

  4. Tania June 28, 2005 at 8:47 am #

    I have been walking in fancy shoes my whole post-adolescent life, and the only time at which mules do not THWOCK THWOCK THWOCK on me is when the vamp extends back far enough to secure the middle of the foot, over the arch, to the sole. If all you have connecting the shoe to your foot occurs far forward, over the toe region only, your shoe will THWOCK unless you take mincing little lotus-foot/geisha shuffles, or unless you do the very silly toe-heel step, which is, frankly, a pain in the ass and makes you feel like a prancing pony or a moonwalker besides. So I have forsworn that whole style of shoe in favor of slingbacks and ankle straps or sandals with sufficient vamp coverage.

  5. Badger June 28, 2005 at 9:47 am #

    I find with thwocky shoes that it helps to clench my toes just a bit. This seems to help stabilize the footbed of the shoe against the sole of my foot somehow, and thus no thwocking. Of course, it’s hard to maintain this for more than a few yards at a time, and I’m not sure my podiatrist, if I had one, would approve.

  6. Lori June 28, 2005 at 9:52 am #

    We have a simple solution at the office. The flippers and floppers and thwockers are sent home to change.

  7. karla June 28, 2005 at 9:54 am #

    I avoid the thwocky shoes completely, now. I have tried the Badger’s suggestion, but the painful toe cramps come too quickly. And clutching one’s toes whilst screaming is not elegant, not in the least. One prefers to be remembered for the cuteness of one’s shoes, rather than the screaming hopping grimace.
    I am, henceforward, anti-thwock.

  8. ShannonShoe June 28, 2005 at 10:07 am #

    I recently had the “thwock” problem with a pair of beautiful Pradas I bought for a wedding. I did the toe clench, the slight foot drag and the prayer for some other constant noise to drown out the sound of my shoes (luckily at the wedding, we had the music!) As much as I love the shoes, they were an expensive mistake as I will likely not wear again (unless attending another loud event).

    To the internet friend who loves the new shoes and first pedicure, welcome to the world of shoe love! However, realize that you will often buy pretty shoes that cut, squeeze, thwock, slip or have another fatal flaw. You must go out and buy again! Save the problematic shoes for rare occasions or when you only have to walk a VERY short distance.

  9. M June 28, 2005 at 10:08 am #

    The THWOP can be as satisfying or as annoying as the sound of the cracking of the chewing gum–the chewer likes the sound; the person sitting next to her on a bus or in an office wants to reach over and give her a WHACK upside the head. But, the Steve Madden platform mule (http://www.stevemadden.com/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/STORE/FAST/SLINKY.htm?L+control+rnll2911+1119972723) is the most fabulous summer shoe ever. It is the most flexible casual/dressy(ish) shoe ever. And, to the vertically challenged, most excellent for seeing the world as others see it (from above, instead of below). But, alas, I’ve turned away from my Steve Madden’s because the THWOP makes me self-conscious in the office (does everyone need to know that I’m headed toward the xerox machine or the bathroom? Or how many times a day I make those journeys?) and the SM’s can become un-guided missiles while running if and when they kick off the foot just as the train is about to pull out of the station. So my dream is for SM to introduce the platform mule with the sling-back or possibly with a little toe-thong just below the excellent spandex-y fabric part. I have found that the toe-squeeze can be a superior keep-the-shoe-on-the-foot device; although moderate as an anti-THWOP intervention. Now that the SM is out of jail, I hope he will work on some reforms in the THWOP area. I will buy two pairs, not just one.

  10. Tia Nieve June 28, 2005 at 11:47 am #

    The Tia Nieve is also distressed by the Thwock and the flip and the flop, and the sound of the rubbing of the sole of the footses on the smooth leather, aka the “foot fart,” which, sadly, occurs even in the sensible shoes with the hell straps.

    The Tia has sometimes achieved success with the application of the powder of talcum on her footses.

  11. McSarah June 28, 2005 at 12:21 pm #

    This person is one that thinks a lightly flipping and flopping is indeed quite the sound of summer, but I must say that I could easily see the annoyance and desire to ‘thwock’ someone in the head when flipping and flopping is taking place in the workplace.

    However, with the utmost of respect, I must strenuously disagree with the Madam ‘M’ on the not super-fabulous style of the Steve Madden “Slinky”. As one that longs for the shoes of the super-fabulousness, yet can only afford the shoes of the super-cheapness, I would still not ever recommend the Slinky unless you are a person under the age of 18. There are many other types of inexpensive shoe that are more fabulous for the ladies of the age 18 and over and can be dressed up or down.

    http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/5990926/c/72.html

    http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/5914922/c/5120.html

    Also, please, if you are a person of smaller stature, it is OK! We are all build differently and beautifully (see the Kelly Clarkson messages for affirmations of such) and I do not think the shorter lady should be wearing the shoe of giant platform-ness, but rather should be celebrating her lovely shortness. I think that the pretty line of this seasons wedge is especially usefull for the slight increase of height without the giant platform sole.

    http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/4391364/c/590.html

  12. candice June 28, 2005 at 2:56 pm #

    I have to agree with the Manolo here, posture and practice walking go a long way.
    Good posture does not necessarily mean walking slowly and with tiny steps.

    Studying ballet helps a lot too, it also makes you feel taller, like some people with their yoga.

  13. Kimi June 28, 2005 at 4:00 pm #

    I am so glad to hear that I am not the only only one distressed over the THWOP of the shoes. I am so self conscious of the THWOP sound, it is all I can concentrate on while wearing the cute shoes. I try to walk slower, so the THWOP is not as fast and furious, I clench the toes, and shuffle when neccesary. Every move is planned while waering the flops. When going up stairs in the flip flop type Thwoppers, I clench the toes and walk up like a zombie. Does this mean I should toss the summer flop/sandals of all shades and designs, skip the pedicures, and go for the Doc Martens? Or THWOP happily along?

  14. VeddyVeddyBadMan June 28, 2005 at 4:12 pm #

    What a GREAT topic! Thanks Manolo. I have found that the closer a shoe fits to my (very high) arch, the less thwopping I make as I walk. Unfortunately, I have passed by some very cute mules in the stores because of the great noisiness they would cause at the office. And as such, I have become a very big fan of the ankle-strap – so sexy, and so secure!

  15. Mary June 28, 2005 at 4:53 pm #

    I agree with the person who said it’s crucial that the vamp extend to the middle of the foot… but if you fall in love with a thwocking shoe and you must, must have it, you CAN in fact tape it to your foot to remedy this problem. (Obviously, this is not something you want to do every day, but for a special event like a wedding it works great.) I recommend Topstick toupee tape placed on the heel. Yes, for wigs. Google “Topstick” and you can buy it online.

  16. Lori June 28, 2005 at 5:54 pm #

    “Learning to walk properly” makes me think of Steve Martin trying to look suave and dashing in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

  17. LF June 28, 2005 at 6:04 pm #

    TOUPEE Tape?!! I guess I’ve now heard everything — and what a great solution! Kind of like gluing your boobs into the low-cut dress……!

  18. LP June 28, 2005 at 10:16 pm #

    I actually have very good posture and regularly walk with books on my head. I have found that posture is irrelevant for the thwocking. I’ve also tried the toe clench. Again, not so good and even worse, difficult to maintain. The only thing I’ve ever found that *does* help (at least other than the tape idea) is walking so that the heel comes down first, followed by the toe. This actually seems to work fairly well at reducing the noise level. It also helps to walk a bit slower.

  19. marlo_girl June 29, 2005 at 7:46 am #

    someone advised clenching the toes–which is fine in theory, but my podiatrist uncle (who is a fan of the shoes of the orthopedic) actually says that it’s bad for the feets.

    i too, hate the thwop thwop thwop of flipflops, so what i’ve done is taken felt insoles, and cut the heel off and affixed it to my flops. mind you, you can also get just “heel” insoles, and affix them. i find it muffles the sound quite a bit. it doesn’t eradicate it, but it helps.

    someone also mentioned taking smaller steps. which does work. instead of striding, try strolling.

  20. Your Granny June 29, 2005 at 5:30 pm #

    Perhaps the Manolo should have stressed that the good posture and the book on the head require using the core to hold all the parts of the body together.

    The Manolo is, as always, correct: If you can walk with a book on your head, you can walk properly in high heels, mules, slides, and flip-flops.

  21. Your Granny June 29, 2005 at 5:32 pm #

    Stevie Smith could not walk in high heels and never owned nice mules. This might explain a lot. How sad. How very sad.

  22. BAH June 29, 2005 at 10:22 pm #

    I’m sorry. This is fucking ridiculous. Like the thwocking is any worse than the clacking of high heels or the thump of mens’ dress shoes or the ring of cell phones.

    These are the sounds of life. If they annoy you, well….Find another planet, I guess. Bigger fish to fry

  23. Nmissi June 30, 2005 at 2:31 pm #

    The thwapping can be fixed in the same manner used by professionals to keep swimsuits and evening gowns in place during pageants. Adhesive spray. “Firm Grip” is sold in hardware stores, gun shops, and places that supply goods to competitive bodybuilders. Spray onto the soles of the feet and your shoes will stay where you put them.

  24. Kazmin June 30, 2005 at 3:03 pm #

    It seems that the noiseless chattering of the shoe lovers is much more grating to you than the loud thwocking of the shoes, Mr. Anonymous BAH.