We’ve all been there. You’ve committed yourself to purchasing that pair of shoes you’ve been lusting after for months. You scrimped, saved, and finally allowed yourself to buy them only to be practically hobbled after having them on your feet for just a few short hours.
This kind of scenario is all too familiar to many women; on any given night on the town, you will likely spot a handful of women running around barefoot, a pair of killer heels in one hand as they gingerly pick their way down the sidewalk. It’s not a good look, and we know that you can do better.
A love for killer heels does not mean that you must automatically resign yourself to a lifetime of ending an evening tiptoeing barefoot across the cold, wet pavement.
With a few simple pieces of advice and some insider know how, we’ll show you a few invaluable tricks employed by models and stylists that will keep you on your feet all night – with those fabulous heels on! Here's how to make high heels more comfortable:
Choose a Style That Works for You
Although it may seem like a foregone conclusion that you would not purchase a pair of heels that do not hold the promise of comfort at first encounter, there are many styles of shoes that, despite their relative comfort, have more insidious long-term effects on the well-being of your feet.
Here are some general style pointers that anyone can benefit from regardless of their foot shape or fashion tastes.
If the Shoe Fits…
It should be obvious, but there are a surprising number of women out there who still purchase shoes a size too small or too big. Too small and you run the risk of nerve damage and agonizing discomfort; too big and you will likely be covered in blisters by the end of the night.
If you are unsure about your size, visit a shoe retailer with a good reputation and have your foot measured. You might be surprised how much your feet can change over a lifetime, and if you’re making an investment in a good quality pair of shoes, it is well worth the effort.
Avoid Anything Too Pointy
Many pointed-toe styles push the toes of your feet together, resulting in numbness and pain, and if worn over a long period of time, foot problems such as Morton’s Neuroma.
The latter is a condition in which scar tissue and inflammation builds up around the nerve between two toes and created pressure resulting in a trapped nerve and a very painful foot. If you absolutely must choose a pointy style of heel (hey, we wouldn’t dream of asking you to miss out on a hot trend), choose one where the pointy end of the shoe extends a bit beyond where the foot ends.
This way, the toes are still situated in the widest part of the toe box and are at less of a risk of being pushed together. Pair this style of shoe with a long, bootleg pant for best effect.
Smaller Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better
Although it would seem that the lower the heel, the more stable and comfortable a shoe might be, this is not necessarily the case. A mid, low, or even kitten heel can be just as damaging to your feet, ankles, and comfort level as a pair of 6-inch stilettos if the design itself is not stable. An unstable shoe design puts you at risk of twisting an ankle, and puts extra pressure on the balls of your feet as you attempt to compensate for your balance as you stand and walk.
Generally speaking, the wider the heel, the more stable the design. However, if you must choose a dagger-like stiletto (again, no judgement here…we love them, too), opt for one with a bit of a platform sole. A platform sole helps to balance the weight of your body and keeps you from pitching too far forward, saving your ankles and knees along the way.
Leather is Best
Even if you’ve found a pair of heels that you feel like you could run a marathon in, there will be a finite amount of time you will feel comfortable in them if your feet are not able to breathe.
Avoid synthetic leather shoes; your feet will feel clammy, itchy, and the moment you take them off, you will probably be greeted with that less than fresh smell of old sneakers. Fabric shoes can also be a good option, although many fabric based shoes are treated with a compound to make them more rigid or waterproof (or both) and the shoes lose some of the benefit of the breathability of the fabric. Leather shoes, although a bit more expensive, are infinitely more breathable and stretch to fit your foot shape allowing for a better fit.
Take a few days with a new pair of shoes and wear them around the house to help the shoe stretch to fit your particular foot shape. We guarantee that time spent ahead of a big night out will be well worth it down the line.
Invest in Some Bells and Whistles
Visit the foot care aisle in any major drugstore and you are likely to find many products specifically marketed towards those who spend a lot of time in high heels. Gel pads and cushion inserts are your friend. Buy them, use them, and if you are going away on a trip or planning on being on your feet for an extended length of time, bring along a spare set.
One runway trick that’s used by Hollywood stylists and supermodels is to tape your two middle toes together, thereby creating more room inside the shoe and minimizing pinching; a clever trick, to be sure, but we recommend not using this one for more than the time it takes to do a photo shoot.
There are many more tricks of the trade that are available to those of us who love our high heels, but one simple fact remains: The more time you spend choosing the right size, style, and fabrication, the less you will likely need to spend on things like cushion pads and blister tape.
Cover photo: weheartit.com