City Style: Fashion Masochist: Sky-High Heels

This season’s platforms stretch to dizzying heights. Rachel Baker walks a mile in 6-inch stilettos—without a single trip to the emergency room.

The experience: Other gals measuring up to my Amazonian 5 foot 10 may shun high heels, but I’ve always basked in the perks of pumps and the occasional wedges. Their ability to make me feel thinner and more powerful than their sensible counterparts do has long outweighed such trifling concerns as, say, intimidating my date. Or pain.

At my desk I slip into a borrowed pair of ultrahigh, black patent leather platforms by Yves Saint Laurent (ripping my tights with one of the surprisingly sharp heels). I’m in ecstasy. Then I stand: Teetering, with the top of my head nearly 6½ feet from the ground, I remember my fear of heights.

The first steps are impossible. I can’t walk without hanging on to something—desks, handrails, interns. For balance, I keep my knees bent, ruining any illusion of power. “Those are somewhere between trashy-slutty ho-bag and hot,” one editor says. “Could you look more like a stripper?” asks another. Surely there are worse things than being a stripper who can afford $700 shoes. The inability to do anything within a reasonable time frame, however, takes its toll. I clock a three-minute walk to the bathroom, compared with my usual 23 seconds. Another problem: crossing the street. A trio of construction workers notices my snail’s pace, then my shoes. “Can you dunk in those?” they call out. “How tall? Four inches? Five?” A cop spots my wobbling—I verge on wiping out approximately four times per block—and insists on escorting me back to the office.

The verdict: The next day, my knees throb, my ankles ache, and the idea of stuffing my tootsies back into those chic torture chambers isn’t very appealing. As a wise coworker said, shoes like this are meant for those who walk only from limos to reserved seating. I’m beginning to agree.

Yves Saint Laurent Vera platforms, $675, Saks Fifth Avenue.