Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Holly Jean's Guide To High Heels

High heels are sexy. Yet nothing can be unsexier than tumbling down stairs in your stilettos, or hobbling because of blisters, or trotting like a horse because you don't know how to walk in them or worst of all have really ugly feet once those shoes come off!

I don't claim to be a guru of shoes, in fact, I'm not even sure if I'm spelling Stilettos correctly and I'm too tired to google it.

When I was in Tampines Junior College, I had a practical criticism exam paper ( literature) and in the poem, I had to tear apart this poem and in one of the lines, there was a "stiletto through his heart" or something to that effect. And I thought to myself... wow! What a fiesty bitch! She drove her high heel through his heart! (Little did my fluffy head know at that point that a stiletto was a dagger and not a type of shoe!)

Anyway, I do love shoes, and I have over the years learnt stuff about wearing high heels (often times in hard ways), and I'd like to share that in today's post. :)

OK, first up...

The Heel Type
Thicker, squarish, chunkier heels are easier to walk in as they are more stable. But the thinner the heel (e.g. stilettos), the sexier and more feminine your legs will look.

So if you're a beginner, I suggest thicker heels and then venture on to sexy stilettos once you get used to walking in heels.
Wedges are the easiest to walk in because they have a wider base. I love wedges.
Big chunky platforms may add an extra foot to your height... but I think they're sooo ugly... they remind me of the Spice Girls circa 1990s... actually I think Geri Haliwell might still be wearing them...

The Heel Height


The test that you're supposed to follow is to stand up in the high heels with your legs straight. Then go up on your tip toes as high as you can. There should be about an inch of space between the heel and the floor. (Look in the mirror and estimate!) If there's not then the heels are too high and you're going to hurt.
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I find that 3 inches is a good "everyday" type of height for myself. I can walk and shop and stand for hours in them, no problem. Anything less than 3 inches... i feel I might as well be wearing a pair of cute flat ballet pumps instead.

The highest pair I have is 6 inches. These are my dinner shoes. (I'll explain this later)

For party shoes, I like them 4 or 5 inches.

You will notice that adding an inch to your heel height does make things significantly more difficult, and you may find that maybe a 4 inch heel is the highest you can deal with, but it is different for everyone. The larger your feet are, the stronger your ankle is and the more experience you have, then the higher a heel you will be likely to be able to wear. (I'm a US6.5 or 7 btw)

If the shoe has a slight platform at the front (the toe part), it's actually more comfortable to walk in. It's basic physics. If you raise the front part of the shoe, then the angle that your foot has to bend is less acute. But don't go more than 1 inch platform infront (remember- Spice Girl!! Spice Girl!!!).

The Cut
Pointy vs round? I don't have broad feet so I actually feel very comfy in pointy toe shoes. It is generally known that if you have broad feet, round toes will be more suitable for you. And I think they can both look equally good. No problems there. What I do seem to have problems with is the Peep Toe. I find that the opening at the front tends to chaff the skin on my toes and I'll get blisters there. So do take note of this when trying on peep toes.
Strappy sandals are lovely! My pet peeve though, is seeing girls who wear pretty strappy sandals.. and their ugly toes stick out!! Either the toes stick out too far in front (if they don't fit your feet, do not buy them! What is wrong with you!?), or the baby toe pokes through the side straps! Eeeee! (Oh, and if your toes are seen, paint your damn toe nails!)

The Straps

I find it easiest to walk in high heeled shoes with an ankle strap, t-strap, or other straps to keep the shoe from sliding off. Similarly, booties, or shoes which "cage" your feet make it easier for your to walk.

.Make sure the ankle area is secure. Loose straps will make your ankle wobble. This will also make you walk less confidently.... and you risk twisting your ankle. :( It has happened to me. Trust me, it's not sexy.

I never buy high heeled shoes with a totally open ankle area. They are much more difficult to keep on your feet. You end up straining your toes as they claw on to the shoes as you walk. This eagle claw toe thing is not a sexy look. And these kind of shoes make you go *clop* *clop* *clop*

The Fit

Get shoes that fit. If you try them on in the store, and already they bite, pinch or rub your feet... resist the urge to buy them no matter how pretty or how cheap they may be. It will be 100 times worse once you actually wear them out in the day.

If you're in between sizes, then it is better to be a little loose, because you can easily add spongy little foot cushions available at most supermarkets and drug stores. But of course, try both sizes on and see which would work best for you.

The Break In


Wear new shoes around the house to break them in before wearing them outside.
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If you're wearing a higher pair of heels for the first time, then it is especially vital for you to get used to them first by wearing them at home. A couple of months ago, I bought by first pair of 6 inch heels (yes, now my dinner shoes)... and I made the mistake of only taking them out of the box when I went for a photo shoot.
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I thought I was doing okay in them, until suddenly, my left knee just buckled and I fell forward and landed on all fours. Smooth Holly Jean, so smooth. :(
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But since that fall, I've gotten used to the 6 inches, and can strut around in them....(a bit)...
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While you're practicing, twirl, turn corners, stand on your tip-toes, take wide strides, climb stairs, bend down to pick up something off the floor, sit down and get up. Get used to your shoes.
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If you have bought shoes which hurt your feet because they are a bit too tight, then when you're breaking them in at home, wear a pair of socks (or two).
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If a certain part of the shoe chaffs you and might cause blisters, then I heard that you can rub a candle (wax) on the edge of the shoe which hurts your foot. This makes the edge smoother. Alternatively, you can use a wet bar of soap and do the same thing. I think this makes the material softer.

I used to get a really good anti-blister stick from Boots that I would rub on my feet before wearing heels, and I swear to God, it's a miracle stick! What it does is make like put a thin protective layer on your skin. It was a small black lipstick shaped container, and the stuff inside was opaque-whitish. It was expensive though.. like 30 bucks for a very tiny thing. Anyway, I stopped buying them as we don't have Boots in Singapore.

But earlier this year, when I was dating the tri-athlete, I saw him using this anti-chaffing thing. They use it on their body so like nipples don't chaff on a long run, and skin doesnt chaff on a long bike ride. And it works just the same on your feet :) You can get them at any sports stores, about 20 bucks but it's much bigger than the Boots one I used to have.
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So, if you always get blisters, do check this stuff out. But let old blisters heal first... you can only use this to PREVENT blisters... you cannot use it on top of a blister that has already formed.
If it's not blisters you're worried about, but aches... check out Dr. Scholl's party feet. They sell these spongy things you can stick in your high heels, and they cushion your heels, or the balls of your feel. You can get these at drug stores. (my only gripe is they can look quite ugly in your shoes, but of course, no one can see them when you are wearing your shoes)
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Oh..one last thing, if the bottom of your shoe is very smooth... (some high heels are), then scuff the sole a bit to make it less slippery on polished surfaces. You can do this by running the tip of your scissors or a pen knife on the soles. Yes, I scratch the bottom of my shoes for added friction and grip. (Alternatively, you can fork out $ and go to the cobbler to stick stuff on)

Dinner Shoes

Dinner shoes are the type of shoes you wear when you know you will not be walking much. My dinner shoes (which are 6 inches high), I put them on, then sit in the car, then walk a few steps to the restaurant, and sit again...

.So, you can go crazy with whatever shoes you like, even the kinds that will like break your pelvis if you go beyond 300 metres. haha.

Your Walk

Be aware of your walking surfaces. The grates on drains, escalators, stairs, thick rugs, slippery or rainy surfaces, must all be watched out for. On grass or sandy surfaces you have to walk mostly on the balls of your feet, like on tip toes to keep your heels from sinking in. When I was younger, I made the embarrassing mistake of accidentally wedging my heel into the gap at the lift door! And it was crowded, and loads of people were waiting to get into the lift! It was wedged in so deep, a kind guy bent down and yanked it out for me.
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.When wearing heels and dealing with stairs, always use the handrail, and make sure to have the entire shoe land on each stair, even if you have to turn your feet slightly sideways.
When walking in high heels, you will want to keep your feet pointed as straight ahead as possible, and each step should be placed in front of you like you are continually stepping on a single line painted on the floor ahead of you. It takes a bit of practice, but it looks so good, so put in the effort girls!
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Some girls walk like horses when they wear heels. That's because they land on the ball of the foot first or they land the whole foot down. In order not to walk like these horsey girls, step by placing your heel down first, then bring the rest of the foot down quickly and smoothly.
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There you have it... my tips on wearing high heels. I hope you find them helpful and I hope I didnt miss anything out.
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13 comments:

  1. The one with the toes sticking out every which way is damm ugly lol. I prefer stilettos on the girl cos it's sexier but looks really painful.

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  2. oh... great to hear! I wrote it so late last night, because i promised my readers I would get a high heel post done... and then after writing, I suddenly realised, OMG am I just stating the obvious here?!

    so am very pleased u liked it.

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  3. girl with the shoe fetish3:30 pm

    That blister block thing? They've been selling it for years! And they Do have a special one for feet - called Foot Glide (as opp. to Body Glide). Also, I watched a video on how to make wearing heels a bit more bearable - use medical tape to strap your 3rd and 4th toes together (though I'm not sure if that would work on open-toed heels)!

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  4. Heels Lover/Hater3:45 pm

    HJ, thanks soooo much!!! *Muahhhhh* this post is sooo awesome n such an eye opener for me!! Oh God please let me master the art of wearing heels before I reach 30!!! Apparently I don't have much time left muahahha...

    Great job HJ!!!

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  5. Jasmine Tham6:08 pm

    How about posting a picture of your collection of heels and tell us what you like or dislike about each of them? That should be interesting!

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  6. VERY useful post! But Holly what about the after-effects of wearing heels & walking/standing for long? What exercise must we do when we reach home & remove our heels to prevent those green veins from forming?

    Do you get this problem? I realise the green veins on our legs will get more obvious if you spend alot of time walking in heels

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  7. @girl with shoe fetish -- damn it... they should market these babies in shoe stores.. sales will quadruple man! I only knew of the Boots one for a long while... but these Glide ones I found this year.

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    @Jasmine.. lol.. yes wld be interesing.. will do tht if i have the time ( no promises though)

    Next post I work on has to be more gender neutral.. cos I got a lot of complaint emails from guys tht my blog has become a blog for Girls only this past few weeks. (apologies!)
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    @heels lover/hater - no prob! ur welcome!

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    @Alicia -

    well.. try not to wear heels for extended periods, take them off as often as you can, like at your desk, in the car etc.

    Alternate your heels if you MUST wear a pair everyday... so dont wear the same height every single day.

    They say tht it helps to do a light massage on your own feet before wearing your heels. Or u can try using medical tape to strap your 3rd and 4th toes together (suggested by Girl with shoe fetish above).

    If they really ache badly, then maybe soak them in a warm basin/tub of water with epsom salt.

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    Those veins.. not vericose but those spider veins which are darker than your normal vein but not protruding... ( I have them on my right thigh!) come from poor circulation and not so much the heels itself.

    So massage helps. And so does a healthy diet (boo me!).

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  8. Nice guide! I've never heard of anti chafing balm for feet before, I'm definitely going to look into that now. Thanks! :D

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  9. Anonymous12:50 pm

    "That's because they land on the heel first or they land the whole foot down. In order not to walk like these horsey girls, step by placing your heel down first"

    so do we place our heel down first?

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  10. Oh gosh!

    Typo!

    I'll edit the post now. Thanks for pointing tht out -

    YES. Land on your heels first.

    I meant to type- "That's because they land on the Ball of the foot first or they land the whole foot down"

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  11. Holly Jean,

    A most interesting post.

    However I have to dispute your comments on the Break In .

    I always accompany my wife when she gets shoes, as she ask for my opinion.

    At several highly reputable shoe stores they have told her the following; Always get measured for foot size, as most people do not have feet identical in size, typically feet vary by 1/4 most often to upto 1/2 size differences.

    Properly fitted shoes do not need a break in. The people at both stores mentioned that breaking in actually breaks in the foot, not the shoe. A poorly fitted shoe forces the foot into a new shape.

    My wife has been purchasing shoes this way for many years and no longer complains about sore feet.

    However she would dispute that you can spend the entire day in a three inch or higher heel and not have sore or tired feet at the end of the day.

    David

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  12. I wish I had read this post earlier. I definitely need one of those anti-chaffing balms. I always get abrasions (especially on my heel) no matter what type of shoe (except for sneakers).

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