Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

March 19, 2008

The Big Question: Clunkadelic Edition

Filed under: The Big Question — Miss Plumcake @ 2:27 pm

Dear reader Lisa S. recently asked me whether women with big ole legs can wear shoes with solid/chunky heels or would they –as popular wisdom seems to hold– be better served by only wearing slim heels.

Now, I have my own opinion, which I shall post laster, but right now

Francesca and Plumcake want to know:

Do you feel big shoes make your legs look bigger? If so, do you avoid them?


  1. While a big ol’ shapely leg on a stiletto heel can be a very appealing look, I don’t necessarily agree that chunky heels make the legs look chunkier themselves. It seems like if the shoes are well proportioned — if they’re not screaming “Chunky heel! Chunky heel!” — they would only minimally affect the perception of the legs hovering above them.

    My own favorite dress-up shoes have a fairly wide heel, and I don’t see that it makes a big difference, legwise. But I have never gotten the knack of walking in skinny heels, so I’m prejudiced a bit toward (relatively) sensible shoes.

    Comment by Bridey — March 19, 2008 @ 2:54 pm

  2. I think it depends on the overall styling of the shoe. Those with all-around blocky styling make feet look like hooves – never a flattering look. But if the rest of the shoe is shapely and the heel has some kind of curve or graceful styling, then these shoes can work.

    It also depends on what you’re wearing with the shoes. Skirts and dresses are more susceptible to hoof feet, while pants shape your legs on their own and deemphasize the shoes.

    Comment by Karen — March 19, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  3. I have never noticed that a shoe made my legs look chunkier or slimmer.

    Then, I don’t notice a lot. (And I mostly wear pants.)

    Comment by TeleriB — March 19, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

  4. Personally, I feel that tiny, skinny heels make my legs look even larger in comparison. I’m not saying you should go out and ask Gene Simmons who makes his boots, but a substantial heel is more proportionate to a substantial leg.

    Comment by Esther — March 19, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  5. I can’t really wear a skinny heel because my knees are bad and just about *any* heel makes them hurt like h&ll. But some outfits require a heel, and that’s when the sturdy heel is my friend. I think it’s all about proportion. A giant chunky heel might look absurd on a petite woman of size, but a tall Amazon-type can get away with it.

    Comment by Orora — March 19, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

  6. I have very chunky legs (disproportionately so, even when I was thin), and I have a hard time with slim/delicate looking shoes. I think it looks like I’m going to crush them at any second. I much prefer a chunkier heel, because I think it looks more proportional.

    That said, I only wear skirts, dresses or shorts if I absolutely cannot avoid it. Maybe things would be different if I was showing more leg that a Capri pant does.

    Comment by Paranoid — March 19, 2008 @ 4:29 pm

  7. Esther said:
    “Personally, I feel that tiny, skinny heels make my legs look even larger in comparison. I’m not saying you should go out and ask Gene Simmons who makes his boots, but a substantial heel is more proportionate to a substantial leg.”

    I have to agree. I like a nice stacked heel, and platform wedges. For smaller heels, I like it to have at least a Louis heel. I have long legs, and substantial shoes ‘ground’ them.

    Comment by Dowdydiva — March 19, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

  8. It depends on the shoe, and on the person. I personally think my feet on tiny heels look like sausages in twine. I also like the stability and reduction in backaches that a more stable large heel gives me.
    It boils down to people should wear what they like and what fits. Chunky or tiny, it’ll look bad and hurt you if it doesn’t fit right.

    Comment by Seattlemeg — March 19, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

  9. Depends on the shoe, the outfit, and the wearer. Heel width doesn’t seem to have much to do with how my legs look, IMO. Really clunky shoes seem to do bad things to really thin legs, but I don’t know about stilettos doing bad things to bigger legs.

    Comment by Sara — March 19, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  10. I’m with those who are voting for “it’s the overall look of the shoe”. I think that square toes foreshorten the foot and make me look stumpy. I think that ankle straps do likewise. I think the longer you can make the foot look (a slight elongation in the toe box, for example), the longer the foot and the leg look. Flats, on the other hand, make my legs look atrocious.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — March 19, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

  11. hur! if I wore thin heels, I would be a big fabulous woman face down on the pavement. I am toooo topheavy to wear anything tenuously delicate on my feet!

    I tend not to mess around with shoes. I think you should wear what makes you feel fabulous…but also what is comfortable and SAFE.

    For those that can wear the strappy shoes with the thin delicate heels…YOU GO GIRL!!! You rock that look. I will be right next to you. walking confidently. In my chunky fab shoes!

    Comment by EvilScienceChik — March 19, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

  12. As a “Big Leg Woman” I have dealt with this issue all my life. In my younger days I favored short boots to conceal my lack of ankles. These days I find chunky stacked shoes not only more attractive but more comfortable. No one is going to look at my legs and find them sexy, so I might as well be comfortable! I often do a monochrome black thing below the waist and wear colorful jewelry and tops.

    Comment by Jane — March 19, 2008 @ 6:37 pm

  13. Using the logic that seriously tapered pants make your a$$ look bigger, it seems the same logic would apply. But as others have noticed, the whole style of the shoe would have to be considered – odds are that round or square toes with ankle strap or high vamp, platform sole and big ol’ clunky heel may be the worst combination. While a pointed or tapered toe, flirting with toe cleavage on a thinner heel may elongate the leg. This probably also depends on the overall shape of your leg – curvy but big, or more straight and sturdy.
    Some of the wedges with the tapered profile (narrow “heel”) are quite elegant looking and provide more support.

    Comment by g-dog — March 19, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  14. No matter what it does to my legs, I’m sticking with my flats. I’ve been known to fall off my heels in tai chi shoes, so heels are just Not A Good Idea for me.

    For the rest of you, though, I think it’s a good idea to take a look at yourselves in different heights and widths of heels. See what it does to your legs, your feet, and your sense of stability.

    Me? I’ll be over here in the kicky flats.

    Comment by Twistie — March 19, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  15. Like others have said, it’s not the heel that matters so much as the entire styling of the shoe. Square-ish, chunky shoes will definitely make you look bigger; but if you’re walking funny in super-skinny heels that’s going to look weird too!

    Comment by VerseFameBeauty — March 19, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  16. I think the 1940s-ish tapered heel that has been “in” lately is a very nice look on a slightly larger, shapely leg. It offers more stability than a stiletto, but has less “hoof” about it.

    Comment by teteatete — March 19, 2008 @ 8:27 pm

  17. I agree that heels should be in proportion to the leg. I’m fortunate enough to have long, thin legs, and find that I look best in thin or delicate heels. Heels that are to thick or clunky make me look really awkward…I always think of adolescent boys and their skinny legs and BIG sneakers! However, on a shapelier leg, I think more substantial heels can look great.

    Comment by Kate — March 19, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

  18. Tiny heels only make my big legs look bigger- and not in a good way. I feel like a cartoon lady in tiny high stillettos- I am not delicate, neither can be my footwear!

    Comment by tracy m — March 19, 2008 @ 11:08 pm

  19. I had no idea it was supposed to work that way around! I’m always mortified of wearing any shoes that look frail or slim because I’m scared they’ll make it more noticeable what a big, old slob I am. So I strictly stick to chunkier heels, not because I think they make my legs look better, but because I’m certain I’d look like an elephant balancing on chopsticks, and people will *definitely* point and laugh on the streets if I dared to put on a slim heel.

    Wow… that sounds pretty sad, doesn’t it? I’m glad you asked this question! Buying shoes that I actually *like* just moved very far up on my list of priorities.

    Comment by Em — March 20, 2008 @ 6:01 am

  20. I cannot walk in skinny heels. Once while shoe shopping, I asked the salesperson for something with a low heel. She brought out a shoe with a really skinny, really short heel. I quickly explained that I needed a much larger base to balance on. It’s a combination of bad knees and a weak ankle that mean I totally rock the chunky heeled shoes.

    Comment by JRho — March 20, 2008 @ 7:36 am

  21. I’ve never given a thought to whether anything makes my legs look bigger, let alone the heels of my shoes. But as I’ve said before, high heels + weak ankles + bad knees + short-waisted, top-heavy physique = unbalanced BSAG falling flat on pavement.

    It took a while in my younger days to get over my love for the stiletto look, uncomfortable and dangerous as it was. But now I’m all about the chunky heels, and never more than medium-height.

    Comment by B.S.A.G. — March 20, 2008 @ 9:06 am

  22. My one pair of sexy stiletos are saved for the bedroom. Probably because the bed makes for a soft landing when I so gracefully trip and fall (on the leg of flannel pink poodle pajamas).

    Comment by Peaches — March 20, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  23. I actually find that a stilleto or other thin heel make my thick and shapely big girl legs look almost comical instead of luscious the way that a nice thick and shapely (rather than blocky) heel does. However, even a super chunky heel looks better to me on a big leg than a thin heel does. I’ve observed this effect on other women my size (pearish, with muscualar legs and wearing 3x and up), but the effect seems to disappear for my slimmer legged compatriots or for those women who are average-sized women (in the US 12-18 range).

    In my oservation, it’s only women with extremely slim legs who do not look their best in a chunky heel.

    And then there are the practical issues: namely, no one who can’t walk in their shoes looks good attempting to walk around! I personally need the extra support of a thicker heel and a wider base and so would wea them even if they were not my favorite look.

    Comment by ericaceous — March 20, 2008 @ 11:05 am

  24. Em–

    Your reasoning was why I asked the question in the first place. I am, like Francesca and Plumcake and Manolo, a big fan of the shoes. But I am big lady with cankles and thick calves. But if any of the shoe blogs post a shoe with a clunky heel, a whole bunch of people pipe up “Those shoes are horrible! They’ll make your legs look huge.” But when I have purchased shoes with small heels I feel like an elephant on chopsticks. (And I refuse to believe you are slob, btw.) I see myself in the full-length and I see…..big lady……teeny weeny shoesies. It looks stupid to me. However, when I wear a more substantial shoe, it looks better to the eye. Nothing is going to make my legs look slim, but I’d like not to look ridiculous.

    I think there is something about the general proportions of the shoe and the shoe that work together (or not) with my proportions. I am very tall and large, so little strappy shoes, cute as they are, don’t work, period. Which brings me to the question of what does work well on a big lady leg.

    The ankle strap is moot, btw, because none are large enough to go around my ankles.

    Comment by Chaser — March 20, 2008 @ 11:13 am

  25. I think it also depends on the color of the shoe and the height of the vamp. When I hear “chunky shoes” I think back to 1998, when fat, stack-heeled penny-loafers (like these, only a fatter heel and a higher vamp
    and frankenstein shoes were in vouge. I’m not a fan of either of those kind of shoes, and I think these are the shoes that make one’s foot look “hoof-like.” However, a wide heel with a lower vamp (I’m not talking toe-cleavage here, just a little skin) does not strike me as a “chunky shoe,” but a shoe with a substatial heel. Also, a darker or brighter colored shoe will draw more attention to ankles than a more neutral colored shoe (say, like those lovely nude and camel colors that are in this spring), thus allowing the wearer to have a “substantial” heel without the worry of “hooves.” Like, maybe these, from our always favorite Stewie?

    Comment by Leah — March 20, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

  26. Just echoing everyone else here I think. I myself prefer a chunkier heel when I do wear heels. In part because I’ve never gotten the hang of walking in stillettos, but also… well the phrase “orange on a toothpick” springs to mind. A well designed shoe with a sturdier heel looks more in proportion and can be just as if not more flattering than a more delicate/pointy shoe. But, as so many people have said, it’s the whole package of the shoe that makes the big difference to attractiveness, not whether it’s chunky or slim. Which, to be cheesy as heck, applies to us too, gosh darn it. (reading this blog makes me a little woman-power-sappy, thank you)

    Comment by SaraDarling — March 20, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

  27. I can sometimes pull off a thin heel, depending on the styling of the rest of the shoe.

    The one type of heel I can never, ever wear, though, is the kitten heel. If I try one on, I always think it looks like the shoe started out as a higher heel and my substantially shapely legs somehow smashed it down, leaving me teetering on a tiny heel that may yet turn into a flat before the day is done.

    But I also have a pretty active imagination, so that might just be me.

    Comment by Z. — March 20, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

  28. I agree with many of the other girls – it depends on the style and “chunkiness” of the shoe. I think the shoe should be proportionate to the wearer – a girl with big calves (like myself) doesn’t look good in snub-toe, clunky loafers, a la much of the Rocket Dog line of shoes. In fact, nobody looks good in snub-toe, clunky loafers, but I digress. Neither do I look good in anything with a T-strap or ankle strap. I prefer a sturdy, straight up-and-down heel that will offer good support. No kitten heels here!


    Comment by Jen — March 21, 2008 @ 6:40 pm

  29. We’re still waiting for you decree on chunky heels! Have you forgotten about us?

    Comment by Em — April 6, 2008 @ 5:52 am

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