It started, as trends in style seem to nowadays, with Alexa Chung. There she was, standing before the street-style photographers at the
Paris Fall/Winter 2012/2013 shows, all coltish legs and shaggy fringe, in a short little dress with a beige trench tossed over her shoulders.

So far, so predictable. But instead of her usual flat slippers or boyish lace-ups, Chung was wearing kitten heels. To be precise, Valentino two-inch pumps in baby pink, their ladylike shape toughened up with rows of straps and shiny gold studs.

As it turned out, she wasn’t the only one. From fashion insiders Anna Dello Russo to Giovanna Battaglia to Hanneli, the Rock Star (as it’s appropriately known) swiftly became the standout shoe of the season with the sort of girls street-style photographers love.

Of course, Valentino is a label that is "having a moment," as the front rows like to say. But so, too, is the smaller heel. Though traditionally the preserve of women whose role requires them to dress conservatively (see Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton), it’s back, cooler and fresher.

After years in which the term "killer" could be used about heels with good reason, there’s something very chic about this new height, which has slowly been infiltrating runways since Spring/Summer 2011.

Maybe it’s because post-Gaga, things couldn’t get any higher; maybe it’s just the inevitable trend cycle working its way around. One thing is certain: Overly high shoes simply don’t look right for Fall/Winter 2012/2013.

Read more about the comfort and style of low heels on the next page…

low-heels.jpgSo, what to look out for? Besides those Valentino demi-heels (which sounds so much better than kitten), there are myriad other
mid-height shoes around this season-from Isabel Marant’s suede stilettos to Céline’s blocky pumps to Prada’s two-tone flats.

As you can tell from the labels, all the big hitters are at it. For a more affordable option, Zara should be your go-to destination. But how to style it? If you’re blessed with the legs of Alexa Chung, read no further.

Anything will work for you. The rest of us need to proceed with a little more caution: Getting dressed can be tricky without that extra height.

It’s all about proportion. The way to make them look sexy is with a pair of cropped skinny trousers. The other way to wear this heel is with a mid-calf skirt, for a sort of ’70s feel.

Keep the top half slim, though. At this point, you might be wondering if you should even bother. After all, there are still a lot of vertiginous heels around this season.

But if you stash flats in your handbag, stockpile gel soles in your desk drawer and sneakily change shoes the minute you reach the office every morning, this could be a trend worth embracing. A shoe that you can actually walk in? It might just catch on.

Read more:
Fall 2012 fashion trend: Red

The 5 most wearable fall fashion trends

Fall 2012 fashion trend: Gothic

Fall 2012 fashion trend: Leather