Fitbit dictates your outfit.  If you can’t do 10,000 steps in it, does it really work?

Fitbit dictates your outfit. If you can’t do 10,000 steps in it, does it really work?

Everyone goes everywhere these days. Where possible, we go to work. (Have you seen the price of travel?) We walk instead of taking the car. (The planet, stupid.) We go to the park with friends on weekends. (Especially now that everyone has a dog.)

We are all excited about the number of steps. What started as a simple measure of cardiovascular activity has become a modern calculation of self-worth. You may not say your prayers before bed, but as long as you reach 10,000 steps, you can sleep easy. Walking isn’t quite as holy as wild swimming, but it still has the power to make you feel pretty smug.

Fitbit is to the 2020s what the Jimmy Choo Fetto slingback pump (a favorite of Diana, Princess of Wales) was to the 1990s and the Manolo Blahnik Hangisi strappy shoe, beloved by Carrie Bradshaw, was to the 2000s. It’s the accessories that define the rest of your outfit. This is the case even if you don’t have an actual Fitbit, by the way. My pedometer ticks over only in my head, or on the Health app on my iPhone, but it still dictates a good deal of what I wear.

Walking isn’t quite as holy as wild swimming, but it still has the power to make you feel pretty smug

Walking has become a lifestyle choice. Taking a taxi feels a bit retro these days, even if you can afford it. It feels modern to walk into the pub with an embarrassed cheek and turn off the Duolingo app while taking out your AirPods. Falling out of a black cab is a bit much for Patsy and Edina, sort of. In cities, Google Maps has democratized knowledge, making city trips easier to manage on foot. Meanwhile, a heatwave summer has filled our phones with idyllic images of rural yomps.

On a sunny day, the coastal paths of Cornwall and Norfolk are teeming with more Barbour-clad twenty-somethings taking selfies for Insta than fleece-clad pensioners.

But which came first: the walking shoes or the flat shoes? Did we start wearing flat shoes because we walked more – or did walking become an option when we ditched the taxi shoes? The chicken and the egg, but make it fashion. Years ago, if I went to a meeting or a party, I would carry heels in my bag and change into them right before I arrived. This involved jumping on one leg into a doorway, a sight as unfortunate as changing on the beach. Which seems crazy now. But back then, being seen in my walking shoes felt like going out in an apron or wearing a shower cap. They were simply not public attire.

Not only has walking elevated the flat shoe, it has changed the rest of our wardrobes as well

For the past 15 years, most “It” shoes have been flat. Even the jazziest shoes that look at me—all the fur-lined loafers and exorbitantly priced designer shoes—have been flat. Features that would once only be found in the shoe department of Mountain Warehouse—wide riptape closures for a comfortable fit, chunky grooved soles for grip—are now de rigueur in the most stylish stores. You can have a Carrie Bradshaw-level shoe addiction these days and still walk everywhere.

Not only has walking elevated the flat shoe, it has changed the rest of our wardrobes as well. The cross-body bag has taken over from the shoulder bag as the standard for everyday work. Shoulder bags, these days, are for when you’re going out to dinner and feel like it. And the knee-hugging pencil skirt, not so long ago a staple of office wear, has almost certainly been kicked out of your wardrobe, unless you’re an American real estate agent.

Walking is more than a path from A to B. It is a state of mind. When it comes to fashion, it’s a good look. So if you can’t walk in your outfit, you won’t get very far.

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