High heels illustration (used with permission) by the very talented Alessia Landi of The Red Dot
High heels have a way of elongating legs, elevating height and adding a sensual flair to just about any outfit. Unfortunately, even for veteran wearers of the stylish chaussures, the price of putzing around town looking pretty may be painful. Guilty of hoarding heels (to change into) at work or constantly carrying a pair of flats in my bag, I thought there was a secret to looking sleek and sporting high shoes without the anguish. Stay tuned for my 3-part series on selecting (and surviving in) stylish stilettos. My first foray into the world of high heels is to understand the different parts and how they affect comfort and balance...
Part 1: Anatomy of the High Heeled Shoe
Tips when looking at the 'Upper' of the shoe:
- Look at the Lining. High quality shoes include fully lined interiors. Leather absorbs moisture and adjusts to the foot. Synthetic or partially lined interiors are less flexible and less comfortable.
- Mind the Material. Leather Uppers are breathable and mold to the foot. Synthetic uppers are cheaper to mass produce and waterproof, but less comfortable and less able to adjust to the shape of the foot. As an alternative to leather, good quality vegan options are available at fine establishments like Stella McCartney, MooShoes and Pixie Market. For personal comfort and shoe longevity, stay away from nylon and plastic!
- Tap your Toes. Treat your toes right. The higher the heel, the higher the vamp should be. Make sure there's enough room! Go up half a size when wearing shoes with a pointy toe box.
Tips when looking at the 'Lower' of the shoe:
- Avoid Slippage. Leather outsoles are slippery. Stick to rubber for comfort and walking ease. If you end up buying well-made shoes with slippery soles, use slip guards. And make sure they include a spare heel tip, just in case.
- Stick to Sealed Soles. Check the stitching on the soles--ensure they're even and secure. If adhesive was used, there should be no space around the edges.
- Stand Supported. Thicker heels give more support. But too thick, and you risk losing style...Too thin and you risk losing your balance! For the day-to-day, consider a kitten heel. Make sure to choose a shoe with a sturdy shank, as it absorbs the body weight distributed down to the ball of your foot. The better the quality, the greater the comfort!
Stay tuned for Part 2: Picking the Perfect Pair...