Walking confidently in heels isn’t something that comes naturally, it takes practice, patience and perseverance. I only really became obsessed with heels around 2012/2013. Before that I wore heels now and again when going out with my friends or for certain occasions such as weddings, birthday celebrations, christenings etc but it wasn’t an everyday thing. I think I only had a handful of nice pairs at that point which was fine for the little wear I was getting out of them.
In 2012 when I joined Emirates, heels were part of my uniform although they were not in any way sleek or elegant. They were a mid, chunky heel which was ideal for the nature of the job. I very quickly had to master the technique of elegantly wheeling a large suitcase, a smaller cabin size suitcase along with carrying a handbag while wearing a hat with a white silk scarf. I can assure you it’s not easy and it only takes one wrong move for the scarf to be covered in red lipstick or to trip yourself up with wheel of the suitcase(s). It’s something that is finessed with practice and time.
When I moved back to the UK and started working in an office, I had one or two pairs of smart heels which I wore day to day. As I started to develop my ‘work wardrobe’ I added in more and more pairs over time, gradually going higher with the heel getting narrower too. I also purchased some whacky styles and designs for my non-work wardrobe which got more extreme as my confidence grew in my ability to walk effortlessly. Before I knew it, I had a huge collection of different heights, styles and types from wedges to chunky to mid and high heels. With daily wear over several years I’ve adapted and developed the ability to walk confidently in any style of heel. Being short at 5 ft 2, wearing heels gives me confidence and some much needed height. They elongate my legs and help bring things into proportion. I know tall girls who also love wearing heels and short girls who never wear heels, it all comes down to personal preference.
As with other things that involve balance such as riding a bike, if you get out of the habit of doing it, you can lose your technique or confidence. Having been at home for a while now, I haven’t been wearing my heels day in, day out as I normally would. On the few occasions when I have worn heels, I’ve felt a bit like bambi learning to walk. This gave me the idea to pull together some tips on how to walk confidently in heels which I’ll also be using myself.
1. Start with a Wedge
Starting with a wedge is really important especially in terms of building confidence. I initially had a pair from French Connection which I loved. They were a really soft pastel blue, quite high with silver studs across the front straps. I tottered around in them before my feet adjusted to the incline and I could stride easily. Wedges usually have a platform under the toe area before gradually inclining. This gives a great base with full stability and reduces the steepness of the incline which lets your feet get used to the angle. You’re also less likely to go over on your ankle if you have a solid base which makes a wedge the best starting point. You can get wedges to suit every occasion or season including espadrille styles for Summer, boots for Autumn/Winter or sparkly wedge heels for a festive party.
2. Try a Chunky/Block style heel
After you’ve gotten used to the wedge, the next step is to try a chunky/block heel. This will help with balance while adjusting to a different heel type. Chunky/block heels are relatively easy to walk in as long as you don’t go crazy high. I would also discourage opting for a very low heel. Although it might seem like a safe choice, it won’t really do you any favours and I often find they can be more awkward and clunky to walk in than a mid or high heel. Again, you’ll find a range of options depending on the time of year. Chunky/block heel boots are probably the easiest to get used to as they generally have a bit more support in that they cover your whole foot and have a zip or laces to secure as opposed to a barely there or ankle strap style. I don’t own many pairs of block heels although my Louis Vuitton Trail Boots are obviously my all time favourites.
3. Move to a Platform heel
Once you’ve developed confidence with chunky/block heels, try moving to a platform heel. This will let you get used to walking confidently with a high heel height as the platform takes on some of the incline for you. It also makes the higher heel more comfortable as there is less of a height difference from the front to the back of the foot. Platform heels are also great if you’re petite as you can get more height and create the illusion of being naturally taller. The platform is normally hidden therefore people don’t know or notice that you’re not as tall as you appear as they can’t see where the platform starts from. Another tip is to score the sole of the shoe to create some texture to aid grip or you can also get the stick on anti-slip sole pads. Regardless of how experienced you are in wearing heels, if you’ve got a slippery sole, you’re going to be on edge and constantly wondering if/when you’ll fall over.
4. Try out a Pump/Court heel
Pumps/courts are the most common and popular style of heel which means they are easy to get a hold of and come in a wide variety of colours, patterns and heights. They don’t have any straps or fastenings and generally come in leather, patent or suede/material finishes. They are extremely flattering and a nude pump is the best for elongating the legs. They can be worn with any outfit and don’t be afraid to try them with more casual attire. They’ll instantly dress up a classic jeans and white tee combo and you’ll be effortlessly chic. It’s nice to get creative with different prints and colours however in order to get the most wear out of your pumps, I’d recommend sticking to a neutral or classic palette including black, nude or blush. Red, gold and silver are also good options if you have a lot of occasions or for going out, parties etc. Pumps are what I wore most in my early days of wearing heels however more recently they’ve taken a back seat making way for strappy and stiletto styles.
5. Brave the Stiletto
I’d only recommend opting for the stiletto heel when you are confident and have adjusted to all the other styles. The nature of the style makes them more difficult to walk in as you have the height and incline of the foot versus the narrow and thinner heel. This pushes all your weight forward and goes against the natural gravity and functionality of the foot. As I’ve mentioned above, practice and perseverance is required to master the technique and to allow your feet to adjust. Comfort is also key and while that probably sounds counterintuitive with what I’ve said, I don’t wear shoes which hurt my feet. By that I mean anything that gives me a blister or cuts in at any point or are too tight, too loose or generally ill fitting. Over the years I’ve had the same question over and over again ‘how do you walk in those heels, you’re feet must be in agony’ and the truth is wearing heels doesn’t have to be painful. I opt for affordable but good quality footwear as a lot of time is spent on our feet. I’ve had expensive pairs which have been uncomfortable and cheap pairs which feel like slippers. It all comes down to the design and fit which is something that is unique to each individual. It takes time along with trial and error to understand what works best for you and what to avoid.
6. Go all out with the Cigarette Heel
One of the sexiest and most eye catching designs is the cigarette heel. I’m not going to lie, I kind of wish it had a more elegant name as cigarette is not the most classy of titles. Identified by the thin and generally metallic/metal rod, these are surprisingly one of the most comfortable styles. I know many people will be discouraged by the look and expectation that they’ll be difficult to walk in but it’s absolutely not the case. Kurt Geiger are well known for their ‘Bond’ range which is a classic pump style of shoe with the beautiful cigarette heel. They are often spotted on celebrities on and off the red carpet. My friend has the nude pair and having had a hip replacement she isn’t able to wear heels which are uncomfortable or difficult to manoeuvre in. She swears these are one of the most comfortable pairs she owns and a great option to suit a variety of occasions. I have the Kurt Geiger Barbican boots which were kindly gifted as part of a previous collaboration. These are one of my most worn pairs of ankle boots as they fit perfectly and I honestly don’t even feel like I’m wearing heels even when I have them on for long periods of time. They distribute the weight really well and the incline is just right. They are a conversation starter if nothing else and have a way of catching attention.
A few closing and general tips you might find helpful when starting out with heels:
– Wear them for short periods of time to begin with. I wouldn’t recommend starting off by wearing them for a full day, a morning is a good starting point as our feet can swell as the day goes on.
– Start by wearing heels indoors – this is a big tip as it’s easier to adjust to heels on flat/smooth surfaces. When you step outside and have to contend with cobblestones or wet, slippery and uneven surfaces, it’s a whole other ball game. I’d carry my heels in my bag and change when I arrive at work or an event and it makes life so much easier.
– Take care of your shoes – this is also important as if you’re heels are worn down or a bit wonky from wear, they won’t support you properly and you’ll be unevenly balanced and at greater risk of falling or tripping. Most of the time they come with an extra pair of tips which a cobbler can fit for you. This can make all the difference and bring a well worn pair back to life.
– If you know surfaces are going to be uneven or if you’re attending a wedding ceremony on grass for example, put on some heel stoppers. I know they are unsightly but honestly most people won’t even notice. What they will notice is you bobbing up and down if you’re heels sink into the grass which also results in dirt or worse, scratches on your heels. Avoid all of that by having a pair of heel caps in your purse or bag. It’s always good to prepare for the unexpected.