Many gals are scared of heels, and no wonder, because a poorly designed or made shoe can make you feel like your feet are trapped inside an iron maiden. One of my gorgeous friends found what she thought were the perfect pair of heels for her hubby's birthday. Python print, silver and gold, with a peep-toe. Delightful. But no, torturous. As divine as these shoes looked, they had Gina reaching for her silver ballet pumps within the first hour of the party. So sad. Her pretty high arches were no match for the shoes, they didn't make contact anywhere on the inner sole, (my personal peeve with heels). Her balance was out of whack, with her body being thrust forward onto the ball of the foot, rather than being evenly spread out along the shoe. Now that's discomfort. But, to make it worse, the shoes were a little too pointed at the front, and too tight across the base of the toes - ouchy wowa. She looked gorgeously glam, but was living evidence that beauty hurts... but it doesn't need to. Here's what to look for when heel shopping.
1. Hold the shoe and look at it from all angles. You want it to be balanced, with a high heel preferably offset with a bit of a platform at the front. The angle of pitch from heel to toe should look realistic - not suitable for Barbie! Check from behind that the heels are sturdy and straight - if they're crooked on the shoe imagine what will happen when you put some weight into them. Give the heel a gentle wiggle, it should be solid and sturdy, not wriggly at all.
2. Try it on. Really try it on. Preferably in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest. Does it fit comfortably? Leather and suede do give, but not enormously. If it feels uncomfortable now chances are it always will, despite stretching sprays and coating the inside of your shoe with vaseline. Now, stand up. Is your weight evenly balanced between your heels, arches and balls of your feet? How do your toes feel, cramped or comfortable? If you feel like you're pitching forward and can't distribute your weight evenly between your heels and the balls of your feet, put them straight back on the shelf. Are your arches in total contact with the inner sole? If not, again, say your farewells and move on, this only leads to agony.
3. All seems to be fitting well? Everything in contact and no little toe being strangled or stuffed awkwardly into a corner? Now walk around. How are the heels? Firm or wobbly? If you're teetering around on the heels they mightn't be strong enough and you should choose a wider heel - or even a wedge (high heels for those on a learner's permit!). If you can walk comfortably, and nothing's pinching, then these could be the shoes for you.
4. Final question. Do you love them? Will these shoes change your life? Will they bring a smile to your face every time you wear them? If so then dash to the counter and hand over the plastic. Give your shoes a wipe over with a clean cloth after every wear and store them in the original box, or a clear shoe box to keep the dust away. If you need to practice walking in shoes, take the advice from one of my fave books - How to Walk in High Heels by Camilla Morton - and practice while pushing a trolley at the supermarket. Sure, you'll look a bit glam for Coles, but you'll be sauntering like a dream on your next big night out!