As a result of standing at just five feet tall, I have developed a very happy and functional relationship with wearing pumps and stilettos, even though when I started, I didn't have the first idea of how to wear heels. There are many social situations where I have no choice but to wear them. If I am going out or attending a party and there is any chance that my taller friends will be wearing heels, I feel that I also must be wearing them in order to stand out (or just be heard!). Of course, I could also wear the loudest, most outrageous outfit with flats but that's just not my style. Victoria Beckham has been quoted saying, "I can't concentrate in flats" and I agree with her one hundred percent. (She was always my favorite Spice Girl for a reason.)
My relationship with the perfection that is a pair of pumps started off wobbly at best. Over the years, I have developed a sure-fire formula to getting used to walking in a pair of heels very quickly. There are some things to keep in mind before you even begin to take a walk with your new best friends (or maybe enemies). There are also tools that you can utilize to make your sky-high comrads more comfortable for you. Let me be clear, I am no expert. This is just what I have learned and it always works for me in a pinch.
1. Never go high heel shopping in the morning
I recommend going shoe shopping at the end of your day. The best time to try on shoes is when your feet are tired and might even be a little swollen. If the heels in question still feel amazing on your feet, then great! This is a very good place to start. When you put on your heels on for work in the morning, you will be in a much better place buying the shoes you tried on at the end of the day versus when your well-rested morning feet tricked you.
2. Ask the sales associate about the heels you are buying
Size does matter. If you are unsure if you should size up, ask a sales associate about how the shoe fits on other people and really take their word for it. Trust me: I work in retail, and when the boutique is dead, we are trying on all the shoes and all the clothes to better inform you of their fit because we really don't want to lie to you.
3. When it comes to high heels, remember: quality over quantity
It is very important to invest in good shoes. They need not be the most expensive shoes that money can buy, but be very wary of purchasing cheap heels. Wearing high heels is not the best thing that you can do your feet. I have girlfriends that can only wear flats because they ruined their feet wearing bad high heels every day. I only have four pairs of high heels right now that I know I can depend on. Four pairs is more than I currently need, although who am I to tell you what your limit is.
4. Pick your battles
Wearing high heels every day does not make them easier to walk in and can seriously damage your feet. If you are headed into a 14 hour work day, bring a pair of back up flats or maybe switch to your stylish sneakers for the commute home. If you are headed out for happy hour and you know there might be a mix of smooth paved and cobblestone streets, maybe opt for a wedge or forgo the idea of pumps all together. You will not be comfortable in your pumps if they are not practical in the present moment.
5. Walk heel to toe
I find that the biggest mistake that a newbie can make while strutting their stuff in high heels is to walk as if you are not wearing heels. You absoultely have to adjust your gate. You find that this adjustment will feel most natural if you walk heel to toe. If you place your whole foot down at once, as if you were wearing flats, it makes your walk look clumsy and unelegant. Heel to toe is the way to go.
6. Take small steps
I find that the best way to walk in heels is to take small steps. They may be called "high heels," but you're basically walking on your tip toes. Imagine taking big strides on your tippy toes—totally impractical. Protect your feet and yourself (from falling) by taking tiny steps.
7. Lean back
There can be an inclination to lean forward while rushing about in heels, as if you are trying to walk up a mountain against the wind. This makes for a very strange and awkward posture. Try to remind yourself to lean and push your shoulders back. It may feel awkward at first, but I promise it'll make walking in heels easier. I promise you won't look weird either!
8. Visualize yourself walking in a straight line
This may sound cheesy, but seriously: visualize yourself on a catwalk (minus the angel wings). It doesn't need to be a ferocious catwalk strut, but if you imagine walking in a straight line, as if you were on a runway, it really does help.
9. Use your hair dryer
I actually can't take credit for this one. I thought it was incredibly clever of my colleague, Emily Abbate, to suggest using a hair dryer to conform your shoes to your feet. I have used my hair dryer to dry my nails quickly (in addition to sticking them in the freezer), but using a hair dryer to help my shoes feel more comfortable never occurred to me until now.
10. Sand the bottom of your shoes
Using sand paper to rough up the bottom of your shoes can stop you from slipping on a tile floor or even on a wet city sidewalk. I have a pair of leopard print booties that I love from Forever 21 (I know, I broke my own rule about not buying cheap shoes). I tanked on a New York City sidewalk in the rain as I was running late for a date. I ripped my tights, scuffed up my knees and showed up looking like Pretty Woman before the makeover, if you know what I mean. I used sand paper to scuff up the bottoms and I haven't slipped since.
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