Why The Cannes High Heels Policy Is Complete Madness

Why The Cannes High Heels Policy Is Complete Madness

As women are denied entry to a screening at the Cannes Film Festival for wearing flat shoes, InStyle’s fashion features editor and flat shoe enthusiast Hannah Rochell gets angry

On Sunday evening some women were refused entry into a screening of Todd Hayne’s film Carol at the annual Cannes Film Festival in the south of France according to a report in Screen. Were they drunk and disorderly? No. Wearing nothing but their bikinis? Not even (though given the transparent gowns many celebrities have been wearing recently, I doubt this would have been an issue). No. They simple had the gall to wear rhinestone flat shoes instead of heels. FLATS. I mean, imagine.

It’s 2015, people. We are well into the 21st century. So why do some events still feel the need to impose draconian dress codes? I get that it’s a posh do and people need to look smart, but why, for women, does that mean heels? I never wear heels myself, and I write a blog about flat shoes called En Brogue, so I’ve given this subject plenty of thought, and I’m perfectly cool with never putting myself through the pain, and sometimes humiliation of wearing heels ever again (I could never master walking in them). It’s perfectly reasonable to wear flats to, say, a wedding (even if you are the bride). It’s fine to wear them to the Christmas party (in fact, you’ll have a lot more fun on the dance floor than your platform-clad colleagues). And it’s definitely fine to wear them to a red carpet event. Oh, unless that red carpet event is the Cannes Film Festival. Then you’re in trouble.

According to Screen, the organisers at Cannes have confirmed that it is obligatory for women to wear high heels on the red carpet, which is utter madness. Many of the women in question at the Carol screening were older, some with medical difficulties. It could well be the case that they HAD to wear flat shoes in order to get from one end of the red carpet to the other. But even if that wasn’t the case, surely it’s a woman’s prerogative to wear flat shoes if she wants to? To choose comfort over pain and to actively avoid the possibility (the high possiblity, in my case) of toppling over in public? What would the organisers do if Lupita Nyong’o or the film’s star, Cate Blanchett, rocked up in flat shoes? Say she can’t come in? I doubt it.

I was in Cannes last week and I didn’t wear heels. I wore Birkenstocks. OK, I might not have been on the red carpet, but if I had been, I still would have worn flat shoes, even with the knowledge of the ridiculous dress code. There are a few tricks I’ve learnt to making your flat shoes look appropriate for occasions like this, and although the rhinestones didn’t work for the ladies in question, here are my top tips for ditching the heels next time you need to get dressed up.

1. Choose a pointy toe on your flat shoe. There’s something about the proportions that make them look a little smarter than a round-toe ballet pump. They also elongate your legs.

shoes, £39.99, zara.com

2. Find something with a bit of embellishment – rhinestones if necessary – studs, lace and animal print details are my favourites. Beware of sequins; they can look too much like little girls’ party shoes.

shoes, £62, topshop.com

3. Wear a really long dress. No-one will see your shoes anyway. Hell, you could even wear no shoes!

4. Get your toes out! I wore these fancy sandals in Cannes to the Dior fashion show and had compliments all evening. Oh, and they let me in.

sandals, £140, havvamustafa.com

5. Ignore all of the above and wear shiny brogues with a trousers suit, as I did to my brother’s wedding. Who says you need to look feminine?

brogues, £240, northerncobbler.com

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