They say hell is other people — I say hell is other people’s shoes.
Over the summer, I — along with every other fashion news publication in the world — noticed that Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, was rather fond of a particular shoe designer: Sarah Flint.
She’s worn numerous designs from the brand: flats, block heel pumps, strappy sandals, gladiator sandals, booties, and — the formal heel of all formal heels: the Perfect Pump 100. Meghan’s worn the black leather stiletto style on two notable royal outings: 1) Her first solo engagement with the Queen, and 2) Her trip to Dublin with Prince Harry (i.e. her first international trip as a royal).
Feeling similarly important and regal (I once exchanged words with Elton John, after all), I, too, chose to spend an evening living like American royalty, in Meghan Markle’s beloved shoes.
I figured such fancy, princess-y shoes deserved a similarly fancy and princess-y venue for their inaugural outing. With InStyle’s annual party hosted in conjunction with the Hollywood Foreign Press during the Toronto International Film Festival (at The Four Seasons, natch), I found such a locale.
My evening began on the red carpet, where I spoke to a host of A-list attendees ranging from Olivia Wilde to Melissa McCarthy. Like Meghan in Ireland (see above), I braved the cobblestones that lined the red carpet. Then it hit me. Stationary, the heels of my feet four inches from the ground and a camera crew hovering centimeters away on either side of me, I felt pain I’d never before experienced. It was as though Satan had entered me, feet first, with an urgent message: BARE YOUR BLOODIED FEET AND UNPOLISHED TOENAILS FOR TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET TO SEE.
JK, I kept the shoes on when Timothée Chalamet walked past — I’m not a monster. But for real, the pain was pretty near excruciating. I began changing into my Lyft shoes (the shoes I wore in the Lyft over, naturally) in between interviews — I’d put on a false smile and stand 4-inches taller in Meg’s shoes when someone “of note” walked past, and switch into my rough-and-tumble sandals (left unbuckled for optimal release) when the carpet cleared.
When it seemed the last of the celebrities had entered, I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was all for naught — now I had to actually attend the party, and I wasn’t about to hobnob with Matthew McConaughey in my everyday DSW sandals. So, I closed my eyes, tapped my heels together three times, and whispered “The open bar is near” (it was).
I took a deep breath and crossed the point of no return — abandoning my sandals for good and hobbling over to the Four Seasons’ elevator. I got some looks — like Are you really invited to this party? I thought fancy people knew how to walk in heels without unintentionally reenacting the scene in Bambi where he takes his first steps? Regardless, I eventually made my way to the event space.
As expected, alcohol remedied the situation a bit, but most of the damage had already been done. When I finally had the chance to remove my shoes, my feet spasmed in pain for the rest of the night, and any future encounter with any shoe of even infinitesimal discomfort left me barely able to walk in the days after. My purse transformed into a sea of band-aids. I finally understood why people wear Crocs.
VIDEO: Meghan Markle’s Four-Inch Stilettos Battled a Soccer Field, and Won
It doesn’t seem strange to me that Meghan Markle is better at wearing heels than I am. She’s been walking red carpets and attending press events for years, so a stiletto isn’t exactly novel from her perspective. Plus, now that she’s royal, there’s probably a small army of people responsible for the comfort of her feet. Another detriment to this experiment, I ignored Meghan’s cardinal footwear rule: always go a half a size bigger. Instead, I wore my typical size. Maybe if I’d heeded her words it would’ve made all the difference?
Regardless, if Meghan is human (and the jury’s still out), these shoes (and all their stilettoed siblings) have caused her pain. My evening in Meghan’s shoes has granted me a newfound respect for everything she does in the international spotlight. It’s hard to smile that much even when you’re happy, but when you’re wearing four-inch heels, too? God save the Duchess.