The search for the comfortable high heel is, pardon the comparison, like the search for the Holy Grail in the fashion world.
Here’s how to make walking in heels a less painful experience.
I wrote in a previous column never to wear shoes you can’t walk in. I’ve often seen women wearing five-inch-high heels, but in most cases, I wouldn’t call it walking, but hobbling. Yes, those statement spiked heels may look fierce, but if you can’t walk in them, they don’t look so fierce anymore.
What’s worse, if you trip in those ridiculously high heels, that’s not fashionable, but fashion roadkill.
Admittedly, I’m one of those women who can’t resist wearing heels. But I’ve learned over the years to choose those with a “walkable” heel height, and if I know I’ll be running around on errands and appointments the whole day, I always make sure to bring a comfortable pair of flats to change in.
What’s a “walkable” heel height? It’s relative—I know some girls who can walk and work the whole day wearing 5-inch platforms, but for most girls, that height varies from 3 to 4 inches.
Some other factors that will make a shoe “walkable: the design—how your foot arches when you’re wearing them, and the thickness of the heel as well. If your foot arches too much when you’re trying on a pair, then most likely you won’t be able to stand and walk in them the whole day.
As for the shape of the heel, the general rule of thumb is, the skinnier the width of the heel, the smaller the pin point for you to walk on.
Those with chunkier heels, for example, give more stability compared to stiletto styles, which wobble when you walk and add stress to the forefoot and knees.
Another design feature that will make walking in heels easier is the platform. I’m not really referring to ’70s style shoes, but those pumps and sandals that have a slight base to the toe area that will help balance your footing and make wearing heels more comfortable.
Lastly, you need to ensure you have the right fit. Wearing a pair of shoes that is a size too big will make them slide off at the heel. You’ll be forced to cling to the shoes with your toes, making you look like a five-year-old wearing her mother’s heels.
There’s also nothing more painful than a pair of heels that are too small for you, squishing your toes and giving you severe blisters. I wear different sizes with different brands and even with the same brand, I can go up or down half a size, so make sure that you are wearing the size that fits your foot and not just the size that you normally wear.
When trying on a potential purchase, walk around in them and make sure your heel doesn’t pop out or that the shoes are not squeezing your toes or the sides of your feet. All of that will stay the same once you buy them and take them home.
Don’t listen to the sales associate when they tell you the leather will stretch. Most of the time, it doesn’t, and you’ll be forever regretting your purchase. To help with sizing, you can also get insoles or gel inserts, which also make the front pad of the shoe cushier and more comfortable to walk in.