Whether you wish to wear them daily or you only pull them out of your closet for special occasions, every lady needs to know how to walk in high heels. I see many women who love the look of high heels but have never properly learned how to walk in them properly, it’s evident by both their body posture and the manner in which they walk, neither which come across as elegant, often clomping along like a horse, leaning too far forward while sticking their behind out.
On the contrary, when one has mastered the art of walking in heels it only enhances and adds to her beauty, creating a lovely, feminine silhouette. Let’s face it, heels just automatically make you feel more dressed up, even if you’re just in a pair of jeans and a simple tee. High heels have the power to transform not only an outfit but often our attitude and how we carry ourselves as we feel more beautiful on our heels.
1. Heel to Toe- Always walk as you would in any other pair of shoes, heel-to-toe vs. toe-to-heel which can appear very awkward. Practicing on a hardwood floor is perfect as it will allow you to hear how light or clunky your are walking. You want to stride gracefully instead of clomping along like a horse (this happens a lot to some women, especially with chunkier heels).
2. Walk a Straight Line- Runway models have such an effortless way about them for two reasons, one is that they walk in a straight line, placing one foot in front of the other which actually creates a very flattering and elegant silhouette and shows off one’s curves as their hips sway. You can practice this at home by using a line on tile or hardwood floor, you can also run a line of painters tape across carpet or test it out on a sidewalk edge. If you’re walking indoors, just be sure the soles of your shoes are clean first.
3. Perfect Your Posture-The second reason why runway models make walking in heels looks so easy, is because they maintain good posture. Once you’ve mastered the first two points, good posture while walking in heels is essential. If you’re slouching, hunching over, sticking your behind out or leaning forward, not only will this affect how you walk but it looks anything but classy. Stand up straight, hold your head high while looking forward at eye level at least 1/3 of the way ahead with your shoulders back to prevent a slumped-over look. Next, keep your core tight which will allow you greater overall body control. Now, walk forward heel, to toe and in a straight line and you have the 3 most basic essentials of successfully walking in heels. Exercising will improve your posture. By incorporating more core strength exercises into your workout routine you’ll build a stronger core and back as well as increase balance which will make walking in heels much easier.
4. Pace Yourself-When it comes to stride, remember that you’ll be taking more steps as your stride is shorter. This will prevent you from accidentally doing the splits should you lose your footing. Generally speaking, the higher the heel, the shorter the stride. Expect to walk slower than you wood in flats or tennis shoes.
5. Mastering Uneven Surfaces-It’s one thing to walk on flat, even surfaces such as flooring, asphalt, sidewalks, etc., however, it becomes tricky when the surfaces are bumpy and no longer flat and even. Whenever possible, inquire when attending a venue so you’ll know what you’re in for before you arrive and can select your footwear accordingly. Here are a few of such surfaces and how to tackle them gracefully.
Grass-It’s by far one of the trickiest surfaces and yet many will encounter it while attending a sporting event, wedding, local outdoor venue, etc. To avoid sinking into the grass (which is softest after it has rained) is best to walk heel-to-toe but keep the weight on the balls of your feet (or the toe box area of the shoe) as if you are tip-toeing, walking lighter and slower. If you’ll be outdoors in a grassy area for a special event such as a wedding, you may also want to consider the type of material the shoe is made from. Satin, while beautiful, when it becomes wet or dirty is much harder to clean than say leather.
Cobblestone-While architecturally beautiful to look at, cobblestone can be a nightmare for those wearing high heels. If possible, avoid wearing stiletto style heels on such a surface as it can not only take longer to walk on and cause damage to your heels, it could invite an injury such as a twisted ankle or even a fall. Wedges are a great option because they provide a flat surface in which to walk and cannot get caught in grooves. The best way to walk on cobblestone is to again, put more of your weight on the balls of your feet and throughout your foot, avoiding the heel as it can get caught in the cracks and being mindful on walking on the flattest and wide surface area possible. You’ll be spending more time looking down at your feet but be sure to look ahead as well.
Slick Floors-Whether it’s a slippery surface by nature such as marble or it happens to be slick due to water, the key is to take very small steps should you find yourself in such an environment. Here’s a tip though on making the soles of your shoes less slippery: when you first purchase them, you can rough up the soles on concrete or have flat rubber adhesives added for this purpose, especially if you work in an office or frequent areas that tend to have floors that cause you to slide. I know of one place that has slick floors-the hair salon I visit. I try to always keep that in mind when choosing footwear before I go.
Boardwalk/Dock-Planks of wood with tiny gaps in between posing a challenge when wearing heels, thankfully the boards are generally wide enough that you have a large surface area in which to walk, it will just involve looking down more to ensure you don’t get your heel caught in between and leave your shoe behind as you fly forward-not only embarrassing but potentially dangerous also.
Gravel-Completely avoids this unforgiving surface while wearing heels. Nothing good can come of this! Due to its round nature, gravel can slide, causing your heel to roll and it’s an ankle fracture waiting to happen. Not only does it put your safety at risk, but it will destroy the soles, heels and outer material of your beautiful shoes. If you must get to the front door of a house that has gravel, walk on the grass beside the driveway instead.
6. Walking Up & Down Stairs-Firstly, when walking up or down a set of stairs, ALWAYS use the handrail, even once you feel you’ve mastered walking in heels, it just helps provide the support to keep you balanced as falls can happen to the best of us. If you find yourself in an area without a handrail where there are steps, use the wall for balance if alone, or your friend or significant other who is wearing flats for proper balance. A gentleman will take you by the hand and put his other arm around you. Use a slow, steady pace. Stepping up or down is different than walking forward, you’re pushing off with the opposite leg to move up to the next step to do so on the balls of your feet when walking upstairs, putting weight on the heels could cause you to fall backwards, especially if you are on the edge of the stair. Putting the weight on the toe box of the shoe will provide a more firm, secure footing. Walking downstairs will involve you doing the opposite so you don’t fall forward. Distribute the weight evenly throughout your whole foot.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice-No woman will walk in heels perfectly the very first time she slips a pair on, it takes practice to get a feel for where to place your weight, work on your posture, walking with one foot in front of the other and master daunting uneven surfaces. I highly recommend first practicing in your home. Find an area that is more narrow and long like a hallway, preferably with a mirror so you can see your progress, such as in a front entry or towards a mirrored closet door. Not only is this important to do upon first learning how to wear heels but a great way to feel more confident in a new pair too. Maybe you’ve mastered wedges and kitten heels but have never worn stilettos before, it would be beneficial to practice before going out into public. Once you feel comfortable indoors, take it outside. You don’t need to practice at an event you’re attending or on your way to work/school but rather outdoors on a sidewalk, the grass and even in your driveway or another public place until you feel ready. The more you wear heels, the more they will become like an extension to your legs and will feel more natural. When they feel natural, you’ll not only feel more secure but will appear more confident and then you can even tackle running in heels when necessary (although not necessarily recommended). I’ve been there several times before when almost missing my train into the city which only ran on the hour.
8. Gradually Increase Heel Height- The best advice is to start out small and not attempt the 5″ stiletto if you’ve never worn a 2″ heel or even a 1″ kitten heel. When you are practicing and have never worn heels before, the easiest way to learn is to gradually increase the height of your heels. Start out with a 1″ chunky heel, next try a kitten heel which is a skinny heel but quite short, after this you can try 2-3″ then increase the height to 4-5″ should you so desire. As a tall woman at 5 feet 9.5 inches, I find anything over 4″ makes me personally feel a lot less stable and as though I’m towering over everyone so I typically wear 3-4″ max.
9. Find the Right Fit- Just because a shoe comes in your size doesn’t mean it will fit your foot properly. Try on many different pairs, some designers just create shoes better than others or fit your foot in a nicer way. Some people naturally have more narrow feet, and other more wide, be sure that the heel you choose fits your foot comfortably and nothing is rubbing which will create blisters later. There should be a bit of room in your shoe, it shouldn’t be so tight that your foot can’t slide out a little bit but should still be snug. Wearing heels naturally puts your foot at an arch which causes your foot to slide forward, for this reason you may find that you need to go up a half size. If you find you are between two sizes, you can always use gel inserts in the area where the ball of your foot goes. They are also made for the heel area if you have a shoe that just won’t quit rubbing. Invest in quality, after all we wear shoes for long periods of time and if our feet aren’t happy we won’t be either. Leather stretches and can mold to your foot shape, so it’s ideal when shopping for a new pair of shoes. Synthetic materials often don’t stretch and also don’t breathe well and can continue to rub on your feet for a while after first purchasing them. Avoid boat bottom shoes, instead look for soles that have a completely flat bottom that touch the entire surface of the floor so they won’t wobble when you walk. If you are most comfortable in 3″ heels, you need not suffer in pain in a 5″ stiletto. Wear whatever feels most comfortable to you because when you do you will feel better and appear much more confident. If it’s uncomfortable you will not wear it and in the end it will be a poor investment.
10. High Heel Etiquette- From time-to-time after a long day on our feet or a night on the town dancing, our feet will become painful after wearing heels for an extended period of time. While some may take their shoes off on the dance floor at a wedding venue, it is not acceptable to walk outdoors in bare feet carrying one’s shoes. It is not only unhygienic but not at all classy and potentially dangerous as broken glass, sharp bits of metal and more could be stepped on. A lady is prepared, she need not suffer in pain with blisters just to leave in the shoes she arrived in but she brings back up. Simply carry a fold-up ballet flat in your clutch and you’ll be prepared when your feet become sore. My personal favorite high-quality fold-up ballet flats are Tieks by Gavrieli brand. I just discovered them a couple years ago as they were on Oprah’s O List, they are made of soft Italian leather which comes in a beautiful variety of colors/patterns and can soothe sore feet as they have thick padding and can be worn as a regular ballet flat every day as they are ultra-comfortable, they are a bit of an investment but worth it because you are getting an amazing shoe and they can be stored in the little dust bag they come in and popped into your handbag or clutch. There are also lesser expensive options, none that come close to the same quality but will provide the role of backup fold-able flat in a pinch.
For those who are visual learners like myself, I wanted to include a video that would reiterate the points I’ve shared here and allow you they see it in action. Instead of recreating the wheel myself, after looking at several videos via YouTube, I’ve chosen this one by Michelle for you. She is a fashion and beauty blogger who has created videos on a variety of topics and they are always concise and informative. Of course, you can find many more on YouTube for inspiration too.
One last tip when it comes to heels! Be sure to pamper your feet! After all, they work hard after being inside shoes all day. It’s important to soak them in hot water, massage them, moisturize them and give them a pedicure regularly particularly if you’ll be wearing open-toed heels such as peep-toe or strappy sandals. The more often you care for your feet, the better they’ll feel. If you know you’ll be standing or walking for a longer than usual period of time at an event, during the workday, etc., give your feet a break the day before and the day after or even longer so you won’t be in tremendous pain from too much consecutive heel-wearing.