High heels are very unique, the colors, the blends, the heels, the shapes. They never will go away. Wearing high heels can make you stand out so that your legs look slimmer, your stomach is flatter, and your femininity is unstoppable. It can also do wonders for your stride, but walking in high heels is not a natural talent–it’s learned skill, perfected by practice and discipline.
- Start small and work your way up. Don’t go from not ever having worn heels to slipping on some 4 inch stilettos. There are many heels to choose from, varying in height, thickness and shape. Training your feet will allow your ankles to develop the strength they need to walk safely and gracefully in high heels. Begin with a shoe that has a broad, low heel (2-3 inches) and plenty of support over your foot and on the heel. The shoes shown in this picture or something similar would be good. So would a pair of boots. Kitten heels (low, skinny heels; usually sandals) are another example of a good one to start with. These will help you start learning to keep your balance.
Move on to boots with a higher (but broad) heel. It’ll help your foot get accustomed to being at a steep arch, but the broadness of the heel and support from the boot will ease the transition. Also try high wedge heels, where the heel is fully attached to the sole of the shoe, giving you increased balance and comfort while still allowing you to get used to having the heel of your foot placed high above the level of your toes. These will have less support than boots, and if you get ones with a slim wedge, they’ll be a good segue into stilettos. Wear the mother of all heels. Stiletto heels are also referred to as “spike heels”. 3-4 inches will give you all the benefits of wearing high heels; anything higher will give you a lot more grief for not a lot more beauty.
- Choose your shoes carefully. Not all high heels are created equal. Stand in your shoes on a hard floor with your knees straight, and see if you can raise yourself on your toes an inch. If you can’t, the heels are too high for you right now, and you shouldn’t wear them. If you try to wear heels this tall, you’ll end up walking with your knees bent forward, and that’s a good way to get very sore, not to mention looking rather daft. You also want to have just enough “breathing room” so you can add cushions in the soles later.
- Take baby steps. Walking in the highest heels isn’t like the walking you learned to do when you were a child, so you have to do a few things that might feel counter intuitive: Take small, slow steps, making sure not to bend your knees any more than you normally would. You’ll notice that heels tend to shorten your stride a bit. The taller the heel, the shorter the stride ends up being. Put your heel down first right before your toes (don’t plop them down at the same time, and don’t put your toes down first). Once your weight is on the balls of your feet, shift your weight forward, as if you’re walking on your tip toes. Keep your legs close together. Catwalk models will often cross one foot slightly in front of the other to give their hips a little more sway, but it’ll take some extra practice to master this. Stand with the heel of one foot touching the middle of the other foot, while cocked at an angle from it. Put your weight on the toe of the foot in back and when it gets tired, switch.
- Practice. Wear your heels for a day around the house before you wear them out. This will not only allow you to get used to wearing them, but it will also create scuffs on the bottom so that they’re less slippery. Make sure you practice doing all the things you would normally do while walking, such as: Changing direction. Walk, stop, pivot or turn around, and walk some more.
Expose your heels to different surfaces. You will likely need to walk on both floors and carpets, and you may one day be expected to walk on a slippery, wooden floor so that you can… Dance. If you’re planning on wearing your heels to a nightclub or a party where you know you’re going to want to boogie down, then dance to the beat of your own drummer in the privacy of your home until you’re comfortable shaking things up in your heels. Don’t forget about the stairs!
Place your entire foot on each step as you come down the steps, but only place the ball of your foot on each step as you go up. Hold onto that railing gracefully, just in case. Walking in heels indoors is very different to walking in them outdoors. Without the soft cushioning of carpet, or the flat even indoor surface of linoleum or wood, walking in heels can be ten times as difficult. Even minor surface flaws in tarmac will present difficulties, so try walking up and down outside your house a few times. A good place to practice after you’ve gotten the hang of it in your house is to wear your heels to the supermarket. Use your cart for balance
- Add cushioning wherever there’s a lot of pressure and/or friction. There are cushions made in various shapes and from different materials that you can stick on the inside of your shoe for more comfortable walking. Use them generously
- Give your feet a break. Sit down every twenty minutes or so. If you’re in the bathroom, sit down. Don’t take your heels off, this will only allow the pain to worsen. They swell a bit after you take them off, which will make it harder to continue after.
The bigger your feet, the higher a heel you’ll be able to wear comfortably. So don’t assume you need to wear the same heels that models do; many of them have large feet to match their tall stature! Buy a quality pair of shoes. Shoes in the $50 equivalent and up range will last longer and be better for your feet. Some brands make shoes with a sturdier heel spike and padded insole. If you are looking for shoes to dance in, check with your local dance instruction school for recommendations on stylish shoes that are designed for dancing.
Focus on one step at a time.
Driving in high heels is generally not a good idea, especially with a standard transmission. Bring your flip flops or ballet slippers for driving. Walk carefully. Grass, cobblestones, and grates or drains are your enemy. Even a crack on the sidewalk can bring you down if it swallows the tip of your heel. Watch your step and don’t even think about power walking or jogging with those heels on. No matter how nice your heels are, don’t wear them all the time. Wearing heels too often can lead to chronic foot and back pain. Heels over 5 inches tall aren’t really meant for walking.