As the clock strikes midnight, you rush down the steps of the evening venue, shoes sparkling. The stunning sapphire heels you bought the previous day fit perfectly, catching the eye of your prince charming. He watched you, a picture of beauty, dance all night. You see your taxi parked in the street and propel forward, waving to the driver. As you open the passenger door, your name is called out. You turn around, finding yourself face to face with the man of your dreams. He takes your name and number, helping you in to the vehicle. Eyes glistening in the moonlight, he holds your gaze as you disappear into the night.
If you're like me, you've been through a lot of shoes. You see something pretty (and cheap), and you buy it, without much thought other than 'wow, that's a good price or these will match my blue dress!' And fair enough; nobody wants a pair of shoes that look dowdy or ones that will break the bank. But when you start having foot problems, or go through so many shoes that you end up spending more money than if you bought just a few quality pairs, there's no choice other than to re-think your strategy.
High heels are often criticised, and I'm sure you know they aren't too good for you! If ill-fitted and worn for lengthy periods, they can be detrimental to your feet and body– but so can a completely flat ballerina-style pump. Ballerina pumps are often fitted too tightly to keep them on the foot, and on cheap shoes the insoles are not padded enough, resulting in severe pain in the sole of the foot– ouch! I've been there. Everyone has their own perfect heel height, depending on the structure of their feet. If you take this into account when buying shoes, finding comfort will be much easier. Wide heels and sufficient straps help support feet when you walk. As a general rule, a heel of between 1 and 4½ inches is fine, depending on your foot type. Anything more than that is bad for your posture and should be worn for short periods only– leave them for the catwalk!
Did you know that high heels were originally invented for men—specifically, for Persian soldiers? Women only picked up on the trend in the 1630s, and they have been a female fashion staple ever since! There is a new American procedure known as 'Cinderella surgery,' whereby doctors shave off a few centimetres of toe (if long toes make it difficult to wear heels) and some women ask for complete removal of their pinkie toes! If this sounds a little extreme for you, keep reading. You want to know how to combine fashion with comfort, beauty with health, a good look with a good fit, right? No problem!
These days, an array of quality shoes exist that are also fashionable– don't worry, your feet will be great to look at! I find it useful to browse online shoe store and footwear reviews, and then go into those stores and try them on. If you find yourself a bit lost, a professional can get you started on the right path– it's worth it. If you really, truly can't imagine a life without high heels, there are things you can do to meet your feet halfway. Specially fitted orthotics can (and should) be made for heels and any other type of shoe where needed. But what else do you need to know? What will give your feet a good existence? I've had a word with mine, and they tell me they deserve it!
Firstly, you should always have your feet properly fitted by a professional. Remember to bring socks or stockings with you (the ones you will wear with the shoe), and any orthotics. You may think you know your size, but it's always good to make sure. Don't go by the number written on them, go by how they fit your feet. If I relied solely on clothes sizes, I'd have a wardrobe full of things that don't fit me! If one foot is longer than the other, choose your size to fit the bigger foot.
When trying on footwear, there should be a gap of around half an inch (roughly the thickness of a fingertip) between the end of your shoe and the end of your longest toe when standing up– your feet lengthen when you walk. You should have enough room in the front of your shoes so that you can move your toes easily without rubbing them on the upper part of the shoe. The most comfortable shoes are foot-shaped; shoes that are pointed (they remind my aunt of poisonous darts) can put pressure on toes. When wearing open-toe shoes, they need to be wide enough to accommodate your feet, so your joints and toes don't hang over the sides of the shoe. Probably not a good look either, so leave that one to the ugly step-sisters. You're a Cinderella!
Some desirable footwear features can further assist your feet, such as adjustable fastening straps which prevent your feet from slipping around– convenient extension straps are available too. Choosing shoes with a low, deep opening allows easy access for stiff feet (perhaps due to injury or arthritis)- footwear without this access may be difficult due to bending issues. If your toes aren't perfectly straight, choose footwear without seams over the pronounced areas. This means the uppers will mould to the shape of your feet– because stitching and seams won’t! Wear and tear on the joints may cause muscles to lose elasticity, therefore wearing shoes with cushioned soles and support in the arches will help to keep your feet comfortable, especially when walking on uneven and hard surfaces. I'm not one to pass up comfort these days– I never was, really!
Now you know the important things to find the perfect shoe and achieve the perfect fit. I must warn you, it's going to be fairly wonderful. You will most likely be leaving blisters, burning heels and aching arches behind! Prepare yourself for beauty on the inside and out; a real-life Cinderella. Next time you rush down those steps, you will be a picture of elegance and wellbeing. Your taxi will take you home, you'll climb in to bed, and your fairytale will be complete. As Marilyn Monroe once said– Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.