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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Discussion: Shoe fitting and shoe care remedies, part 3

Pair some sneakers with a t-shirt and jeans and you've got casual.  Swap the sneakers for a pair of heels and the outfit becomes way more elegant and dressy.  Heels have the power to make you look over-dressed, but they aren't always the most practical choice of shoe wear.  If you're like me, I like my heels high, 4" or more!  And I like to wear them a lot.  My friends always ask me, "How do you walk in those?"  "Don't your feet hurt?"  "How can you dance in those?"  "I can't believe you haven't fallen flat on your face yet!"  In this post, I will divulge some of my tips for making your heels more walkable, wearable, and overall, more practical.



(1) I have no idea how to walk in high heels, I’m afraid of breaking my neck/legs/arms/body/teeth. 
The best way to learn how to walk in heels is to practice.  Walking in heels is very different from walking barefooted or in flats.  Wearing heels take strong ankles.  Some women have strong ankles to begin with and can magically slip into her first pair of heels and strut like a super model.  Most of us have to work for it.  I like to think that I was one of those women innate heel walking ability, but when I sprained both my ankles about 3 years ago, I was all of a suddenly at the bottom of the ladder - unable to walk in heels.   I worked my way back up by starting small.  If you have no experience at all with walking in high heels, start with kitten heels (< 2 inches) and shorter wedges (2" - 3.5").  After I recovered from my accidents, I started with the short wedge to strengthen my ankles.  Once you have mastered the shorter heels, start moving up in height to find your limit.  My heel high limit is 4", higher if there is a platform on the shoe.  My mother, on the other hand, will only wear up to 3" heels.

When walking in heels, it's important to keep your posture.  Slumping over and bending at the knee is something I often see ladies do in heels - these are big no-nos!  Not only is it not sexy, but also uncomfortable!  Heels put a lot of strain on the balls of your foot (think walking on your tip toes).  So, when walking in heels, you must change your balance and transfer some of the weight to the heel of your foot.  This takes practice and may not feel natural if you have little experience wearing heels.  Remember that you don't have to wear the pretty pretty heels all night, or for long treks out on the town.  Pack a pair of flats or fancy sandals to give your feet a break, this will greatly prevent foot cramping and injury.

Also, be sure to check out part 1 of this blog series for tips to make your high heels more comfortable.

(2)  I don't know how to buy heels!  I try them on in the store and they seem comfortable, but when I actually wear them out, they hurt like a b----!
Three components to buying the right heel is to find a heel that (a) is not too high for you, (b) fits you width-wise and length-wise, and (c) fits your foot shape.

When I was recovering from my sprain ankles, I knew when a heel was not right because my ankles would start to creak and cramp - ladies, this is a sign that your shoe is too high for you.  It is best to find a pair with a lower heel, or a pair with the same heel height but with a platform to help decrease the overall heel height.

If you have never had your feet sized, do it!  One of the most common mistakes of shoe-buyers is buying a shoe in the wrong size.  Go to Macy's and get one of the associates to help you size your feet, or if you don't like dealing with people - go to Payless and find one of those rugs that usually around that has all the different feet size footprints on it.  A good fitting shoe will reduce blisters and foot 'sleepiness' (you know, the tingly pins in my foot feeling).  Try heel liners if your shoes are too big.


Check out part 1 of this blog series for my review of the liners pictured here.

Also remember that there are more feet shapes than there are shoe shapes.  My feet are narrow at the heel and wider at the toe, which means pointy-toe shoes are usually a preemptive danger for me.  Know your feet shape, don't just buy a shoe because it's on sale.  What I like to do when I find a shoe I love is wear them around the store for at least 10 mins.  I have since adopted this practice because for some reason, shoes always feel more comfortable in the store than at home (anyone else feel this way?).  

Ok, so you found a shoe that looks great but they aren't comfortable (they were on sale and you couldn't resist, right?).  If a shoe is not immediately comfortable out of the box, do break them in before wearing them out.  I like to break in my shoes while cooking (check out my first "Cooking with the Shoe Doctor" post here).  Sometimes, breaking in shoes for a few hours is just not enough, check out part 2 of this blog series for some great products for helping you make your new shoes more comfortable.

(3) I want to wear my heels at an outdoor function, but they sink into the grass so I'm forced to stay on the sidewalk while all my friends gather on the grassy area.
Usually, heels + outdoors = disaster.  I can't even tell you how many times my heel has gotten caught in the sidewalk cracks or sunk into the lawn.  Last night, I went to a karaoke bar that had hole-ly stairs leading up to the door while wearing heels!  Very, very bad idea!  I recently discovered these heel caps from SoleMates that are supposed to help prevent your heels from outdoor disasters: 

*photos from thesolemates.com*

They're available from www.thesolemates.com for $9.95 a pair.  I don't own any but have been thinking about buying one to try out - of course I will post a review here ;-)

That is all for my tips to make your heels more practical.  If there something I haven't covered in this blog series that you are interested in, please, leave a comment!  The Shoe Doctor is always in ;-)

-C.

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