The Cat Came Back — The Resilient Kitten Heel

Pair of kitten heels on wood floor
Pair of kitten heels on wood floor

We don’t know about you, but we’re getting a wee bit tired of the sky high, over-the-top, Rachel-Zoe-inspired platform (with all due respect to the ever glamorous stylista, of course). Don’t get us wrong — we L-O-V-E our heels and would give them up for nothing and no one. But the market (and the streets) tend to be over-saturated with the uber-high platform pump.

The Return of the Kitten Heel

That’s why we’re positively tickled to see a lower, more ladylike heel making its way down the runway this season. Known as the “kitten” heel, these dainty beauties are less punishing than a 6-inch boost. Yet they still offer an elegant, chic aesthetic to your daily ensembles.

Though we’re never afraid to give our all for fashion, we know our feet (and our doctors) will thank us for taking this — ahem — step down

History of the Kitten Heel

In the early 1950’s, the kitten heel was introduced for teenage girls as a median between the flat Mary-Janes of childhood and the higher heels worn by adult women. The shoe was also known as the Sabrina heel — a nod to Audrey Hepburn in one of her iconic roles.

Featuring a thin, stiletto-esque heel that measured a puny 2 inches or less, the kitten heel was the perfect way for young women to practice walking in heeled shoes.

The end of the 50s saw the beginning of the flower child. And the flower child brought her own shoe to the mix, a thicker stacked or corked wedge heel. With that, our delicate, feline-named-footwear fell out of fashion.

Trend Turned Classic

But times changed for the kitten heel in the 2010s, largely thanks to Michelle Obama. We saw the shoe hit the runways in 2012 and again in 2019. And that means the kitten heel is fast on its way to earning classic status.

And why not? These day-to-night, chic shoes are a great way to streamline your look without breaking your back or your bank.

Kitten Heel Top Picks

Color pop

Trend nod

Pattern fun

Girly & embellished

Shine on

The wardrobe staple

Just like the hems of our skirts, heel heights will always be going up and down. Our advice to you? Wear kitten heels with a well-cut trouser or chic, pleated skirt. Keep your look ladylike and classy!

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    I love kitten heels (probably also because I’m 6ft tall;), they’re so elegant, I’m really glad they’re back!

    I’m so glad the kitten heels are back! Much like Anna im Wunderland, it’s because I am 5’11. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of wearing 4-5″ heels (my 6’3 husband LOVES it!!), but I’m 30…I need elegance and comfort!!!

    I never knew they left. 🙂 I absolutely love kitten heels and have always worn them.

    I loathe kitten heels. Sometimes when I see FLOTUS I adore everything shes wearing from the ankle up. Thanks for the post!

    I would always read and hear about kitten heels, but they’re always so hard to find. If they’re back in style, yippee!

    I love kitten heels. As a professor, I have never been able to teach sitting down, so they’re perfect for me. As you say, the kitten heel was a starter heel for young ladies. If that’s the case, I don’t think a two-inch heel can be called a kitten heel! The whole point of the kitten heel is that it is thin and low. In my opinion the only pair of the shoes shown above that is a true kitten heel is the DKNYC shoe.

    OMG…kitten heels are ugly, they do nothing but make you look short. i will stick to my heels. his is one trend I will NOT be following.

    I’m sorta tall at 5’7″, and I really feel awkward in any heel higher than 3″. So glad these are going to be on the mass market again.

    I am so glad kitten heels are coming back… the platforms were killing me! Something about them just never looked right.

    I’m sure that the short guys out there will be happy to hear about this, but I still prefer my high heels. 🙂 Some of them are really cute so I might have to try them out.

    I read on a fashion forum that kitten heels are basically a fashion don’t, because they are unflattering for legs and “generally not attractive”. I’m not sure if this is because they are difficult to pull off. Is there any truth to that? Personally, I really like the look of kitten heels.

    For some, kitten heels is the only type of heels many can wear, so I would take that advice with grain of salt

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