1. Pick the right pair
If you want to strut around in heels the first and foremost thing to take into consideration is that you’ve selected the right pair. Just as we look at fit, comfort, and style when we buy a dress, the same principles apply to shoes. Don’t give in to temptations when you see a pretty pair that don’t seem to fit your feet right, as staggering around in painful heels give a bad look on anyone. Always try walking in the pair for at least a few minutes before buying. If there is any discomfort, know it will most likely be aggravated later. Keep in mind:
• Size Get your feet measured. Like body shape, the shape of our feet matters. Some of us need a wider fit than others, and without that knowledge, many try to stuff their feet into dainty little shoes that just aren’t right.
• Cushioning Press against the insides of the shoe to see how hard the sole is. Heels with thick soles are always more comfortable.
• Heel Shape Though stilettos and pencil heels might look sassy, if you can’t walk in them, their alluring purpose is defeated. Shorter “kitten heels” or thicker heels are easier to walk in, and are generally more comfortable.
Tip: To ascertain if the height of the heel is right for you, slip into your desired pair and lift yourself out of your heels. If you can lift yourself about an inch or so, you’ve made the right choice. If you can’t, try something that’s smaller.
2. Prep from inside out
Put those life-saving cushions and grips into play. Add the necessary insoles (or orthopaedic pads) and supports to ensure your shoes are customised for your foot’s comfort. Once you are done with the inside, flip it over. As much as we wish our heels had the grip of a sport shoe, the eternal struggle with ‘slipping’ has been accepted. But it doesn’t mean we can’t scratch some traction into them. Get sandpaper and rough up the bottom of your slick pair of heels for some added grip. A confident walk down the pavement or on some gravel would work, too.
3. Stretch it out
We often think that the maximum impact of wearing heels is on our feet. Myth buster right here: Our calves and abdomen also take in a lot of the pressure. To be able to walk comfortably, we need to open, flex, and strengthen these areas. To limber-up, try bending over as much as you can to touch your toes. Keep holding the position until you feel the stress on your calves, thighs, and hamstrings. It is essential to open up these muscles to prevent soreness later. If you’ve already had a long day on heels and need to slip into them again in the evening, then roll the sole of your feet on some balls or even marbles to prevent cramping.
Tip: Tape your third and fourth toes together to take the pressure off the ball of your feet.
4. Baby steps
How you move is as important to looking good as what you are moving in. Just remember: Heel first, followed by toe, the Golden rule of walking in heels. Even if you need to move fast, take small, quick steps instead of long strides. Make sure you step lightly instead of clomping, and lead with the ball of your foot. No matter your gait, walking with confidence like a fashion warrior is what wearing heels is all about.
Tip: When you shift your full weight onto one foot, spread your toes in the shoe slightly. This will help to take the pressure off and distribute the weight onto the ball of the foot.
5. Find your poise
Slumping or leaning forward looks far from appealing. Bring yourself to your full height, pull your shoulders back and engage your abdominal muscles. It is normal to stiffen a little to hold that balance but try to relax yourself. Let your hands move freely and most importantly take the pressure off the knees. Always focus on a distant object instead of the ground. Not only does that show confidence but actually makes balancing easier. It also offsets the tendency to lean forward. Remember, avoid the ‘head-butting the wind’ position. Lean back just slightly; this will counter the tendency to push your torso forward and will ultimately make the walk easier and more graceful.
6. Tackling the stairs
The one who has mastered the art of gracefully ascending and descending stairs in heels has mastered it all. Here are some tips:
• Climbing up Step with only the first half of the shoe not the heels. The heels should quite literally be in mid air. It should feel like you are in flats.
• Climbing down You can ditch the heel first rule here. Always step down sideways so you can get your entire foot to fit diagonally on the stair. Step with the entire shoe – heel, middle and tip – all together. Watch the catwalk queens and you’ll see exactly how effortless this can look.
7. Heel hazards
Caution: Be wary of holes, cracks, soft soil, and uneven ground. It is easy to get your heels stuck (and dirty) if you step in muck, or worse, those dreaded cracks on the pavement which could even lead to breaking your stilettos.
Warning: If you just have to walk through grass, try raising yourself higher in your heels. This will automatically lift your heels slightly above the grass and prevent it from sinking that much.
Notice: Worn-out, uneven heels or even a small chip can make your walk look like you’ve got a limp, so carry a set of heel caps that you can instantly stick on as a quick-fix.
8. Take breaks
No matter what we say, our feet aren’t meant to be in the position heels put them in, they just aren’t. So grab every opportunity to sit (politely, without any snatching of chairs), even if it is just for a minute. This will give your legs, back, and even abdomen some time to recover. Lift your feet up and above the ground if the situation allows. If you don’t have a choice but to stay on your feet, try to move to softer ground whenever you can.
Antara Bose is a professional model living in Muscat. Check her out on Instagram @antarabose