I don’t know about you, but I LOVE shoes! Doesn’t matter whether they’re flat, heeled, sandals, boots you name a shoe I love it. I own probably near on 50 pairs of shoes, of which about half of those are heels. Now you’d think owning so many pairs of heeled shoes I’d be a master at walking in the things, but sadly no. Envisage a young girl playing dress up with her mums heels and combine that with Bambi on ice and you’ll have a fairly good idea of what I look like; it ain’t pretty.
This week saw the start of the 68th Cannes Film Festival and amidst the usual glitz and glamour came reports that women had been turned away from a red carpet viewing for choosing to wear flat shoes instead of heels. Although the director of the festival said these rumours were unfounded and although the festival website stipulated a dress code that simply said ‘black tie and evening wear’, with no mention of footwear, there were two instances where woman were told they could not go into the screening of Cate Blanchett’s new film ‘Carol‘ because they weren’t wearing heeled shoes. Actress, Emily Blunt, who was attending the festival, remarked, “I think everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels anymore. That’s just my point of view I prefer to wear Converse sneakers. That’s very disappointing.”
Although, I don’t entirely agree with Blunt, I do think it’s important to wear a variety of shoes and just because a shoe hasn’t got high heels does not mean it can’t look stylish, elegant and completely suitable for a film festival. I am not going to turn my back on heels just yet, but I do need to learn how to walk in the things. So, having done a bit of research and plenty of practice here is the Gowns and Heels guide to walking in high heels…and looking good!
1. Make sure they fit.
I know it sounds obvious, but when I say they must fit I don’t just mean make sure you have the right size, although that would help of course, I mean fit well. Not everyone who is a size 6 is going to have exactly the same shape foot, right? So, it goes without saying that some styles and makes of shoe are going to fit you better than others. Make sure they are relatively comfortable when you first put them on. If they are in anyway uncomfortable, imagine what they are going to feel like once you’ve walked in them and worn them for a whole evening. If they are slightly too big, invest in some insoles or gel cushions, which will help pad out your feet or if you find they are slightly too tight, try taking them to your local cobbler who will be able to stretch them out a bit for you.
2. Start off low.
If you are new to heels, then we would advice you start off with a slightly lower heel height and gradually increase it as you gain confidence, posture and leg muscles. As a general rule, lower heels should be worn in the daytime and high heels saved for the evening.
3. Do the ‘rock’ test.
Place your heels on a flat surface, facing towards you and gently tap them on the top of the heeled part of the shoe. If they rock, then the chances are they are not going to be great at supporting your ankles, which will make walking in them a whole lot harder.
4. Warm up exercises.
It might seem crazy, but you wouldn’t think about hitting the gym without doing some warm up exercises first and it should be no different when you put on your heels. Each of your feet contains over 100 muscles, so imagine the impact on those muscles when they are thrust at an angle into some shoes where they are suddenly being forced to do a lot of work. Doing some simple warm up exercises to build up the strength in these muscles and mobilise the joints will help prevent discomfort and injury. Circling your ankles, wriggling your toes and even massaging the underside of your foot with a tennis ball are all fantastic strength building and tension relieving exercises you can do easily at home.
5. Putting on the shoes.
Apparently, there is a correct way to put on shoes. So rather than shoving them on, try pointing your toes, arching your foot and sliding it into the shoe, before finally wriggling your toes into the confined space to make them as comfy as they can be. Who knew, eh?
Ok, so unless you practice a lot of yoga or Pilates, we’re probably all guilty of not having the best posture in the world, but if you want to carry off wearing heels and looking good it is something you are going to need to improve upon. Roll your shoulders back, make sure your head is sitting on top of your spine and distribute your weight evenly over your heels. You should clench your bottom (it’s a great workout too you know) and tilt your pelvis slightly up. Now, I know that this is a right old pain having to go through all this and there is a risk of looking stiff and unnatural, but trust me, keep practicing and this will start to become second nature. Take the time to practice at home in front of the mirror, where no one can see you, it’ll be so worth it when you look confident and amazing strutting into a bar.
7. First steps.
The key to walking in heels is to walk heel to toe, but it should be slightly less pronounced than if you were wearing flat shoes. Someone once told me that you should imagine you are a puppet on a string, with the string pulling your head upwards and raising each knee with rhythm. I think they may have been winding me up and probably took great joy in seeing me hopping about like a Thunderbird, but nevertheless I can still kind of see a degree of logic in the analogy. Your right foot should always lead and you should establish a rhythm with medium length strides. Although you don’t want to look as though you are concentrating too hard on walking in heels, it is helpful to imagine you are walking along an invisible straight line.
8. Don’t rush.
I don’t care if you’re in a hurry, NEVER rush in heels, trust me it will end badly! More often than not, walking quickly in heels can end up looking awkward and clumsy. Wearing heels can naturally make you want to lean forwards, but you should counteract this by leaning back ever so slightly and walk at a slower pace, oozing style and sophistication.
Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world” and I would say that pretty much sums it up. It doesn’t matter what you put on your feet, if you can walk in them properly, comfortably and confidently then that is exactly how the rest of the world will see you.