Even if you’re someone who reaches for the same on go-to pair of sneakers every day, there’s something special about having a beautiful pair of high heels in your shoe collection. Unlike your favorite Nikes or Vans, however, learning to walk in heels — without pain, blisters, and the occasional stumble — can be a real challenge.
TIP #1: Decide Which Type of Heel Is Best for You
Not all heels are created equal, and not all heels are meant to be worn by the same person. While it might not be your first thought, details like high arches, flat feet, or wide feet all come into play when choosing the ideal pair — something that is explored more in this video from As/Is.
If you’ve never worn heels before, consider starting out with a lower, wedge heel to find your balance. Wedge-style heels will evenly distribute weight across your feet instead of putting all of the pressure on your toes.
TIP #2: Stretch Out Your Ankle
If you’re someone who loves wearing sneakers every day, you might find that jumping into a pair of high heels can really do a number on your feet. Adding in a couple of stretches, such as the ones showcased by YouTuber Grant the Foot Doc, will make the entire experience more pleasant on your ankles, especially if you start a few days in advance. You wouldn’t run a mile without exercising beforehand, so why would you expect your ankles to be strong enough to walk in high heels without doing a little prep work?
TIP #3: Stock Up on Some Extra Essentials
Just because you have a sweet pair of heels in your closet doesn’t mean you’re ready to slip them on and head out for the night. Keeping a few additional items on hand, such as gel insoles, blister pads, and even an anti-friction stick, is vital for hours of comfort.
“If I’m stepping out in my new heels, I’ll preemptively put bandaids over potential blister areas and always carry extra bandaids just in case,” says Ayumi Patterson, a New York City-based model who has walked for designers like Christopher John Rogers, Kim Shui, and Namilla during New York Fashion Week. “As with most things, the key is to address problem areas before they get out of control! If you detect any irritation, slap a bandaid on it. Don’t wait!”
TIP #4: Build Your Collection from Lowest to Highest Heel
Building an entire arsenal of shoes is just like building a wardrobe — it takes time, as well as a bit of trial and error. In the same way that you would start filling your drawers with essentials, keep things simple at first, and then expand.
“Start with a heel three inches or lower,” recommends Guest. Once you’ve mastered lower heel heights, then you can move on those strappy stilettos.
TIP #5: Practice Your Walk
Don’t wait for the big night to give your chosen pair of shoes a test run. Certain shoes may feel amazing on the plush carpeted floors in a department store, but walking on concrete or wooden surfaces can be an entirely new challenge. Avoid any possible problems by doing a few laps around your home, as demonstrated by Crystal Clues. Go up and down stairs (doing this sideways is easier), find your balance, and take note of any pinching, which could signal future blisters.
TIP #6: Try a Platform Heel
Platforms may look daunting at first glance, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to give them a try. In fact, adding in a chunkier heel and thicker ankle straps may also make balancing a little easier, ultimately making hours spent in heels a more enjoyable experience.
“A one-inch platform makes a five-inch heel much more approachable, and I find that open-toed heels produce less blisters than closed-toed for me,” Patterson says.“If you prefer a stiletto, I’d opt for a strappy style that is super secure around the ankle.”
TIP #7 Price Doesn’t Always Matter
There’s no denying that designer shoes are stunning, but we all know that Carrie Bradshaw didn’t crave those Manolos because they were the perfect everyday heel. The truth is that shoes that cost as much your rent payment aren’t the only great option on the market right now. Quality heels are available at any price point, so there’s no reason why you can’t find a pair you love that you can also afford.
As Justine Leconte points out in her helpful YouTube video, take a look at the material, how flexible the heel is, the arch, etc., and it’s a good rule of thumb to read online reviews before purchasing. Research is key to knowing the difference between a deal and a pair that will leave you wincing in pain within minutes.