Comfortable high heels – a user’s guide

Marilyn Monroe once sang that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. Well, that might have been true in her case, but when you’re five foot two, high heels get that honour. Diamonds are great with their glitz and glamour, but there’s something about that extra lift that a dependable pair of shoes gives you.

However, the bad reputation of a pair of high heels is almost as famous as Ms. Monroe’s song! ‘Uncomfortable’, ‘unsteady’ and ‘difficult to wear’ are all problems that have to be considered when shopping for a new pair of heels.

A question of comfort

When out searching for the perfect pair to go with your new dress, or a classic black pair to wear to work, there is one basic rule to remember: comfort is essential.

The optimum heel height is 5cm. Any taller and you will be struggling to remain upright, and falling in front of the boss is not the way to get their attention. The same goes when purchasing a pair to wear out. A couple glasses of wine, and you will find it hard to stand up. The last thing you want to do is snap the heel – or worse, your ankle(!) – when you tumble in the street…

Thickness is also important; although it’s not always a case of ‘thicker is better’. Square heels may be the thickest, but as a trend, they tend to come and go. A solid stiletto is a much better investment. 1-2cm is the width you should aim for as they won’t snap at the first turn of your ankle, but they are thin enough that they are always stylish. The slight thickness balances out thick ankles, so there is no excuse for anyone not to own at least one pair. Kitten heels are a reliable option for the taller ladies out there who want to wear the heels without towering over everyone else.

Rounded toes are another trend on high heels, but like the thicker heel, they appear in the fashion magazines for six months, and then they retreat for a few years. The same goes for platforms. Trendy in the 60s, trendy in the mid- 90s, having a small revival now, but not always a fashion essential. It’s fine to have a pair in the cupboard for when they are the ‘in thing’, but a pointed toe stiletto is a fashion basic. When anyone complies a list of the five or ten essential fashion items that should be in your wardrobe, you can guarantee that a pair of black, pointy stilettos is top of the list. Every time.

The key to wearing heels, as with any other shoe, is to break them in. Wear them in the house for at least an hour, but don’t venture out of the front door for two reasons; Carpet is a lot softer to fall on than pavement, and it doesn’t wear the heel down. If after an hour you’ve got blisters or if they’re uncomfortable in any other way, take them off and take them back. The heels won’t be worn down, and the labels will still be attached so you should have no trouble returning them.

If they are pain free – or at a bearable pain level – wear them once more in the house for as long as you think you’ll be wearing them out. It may seem like a pointless exercise, but when you can wear them out and know what to expect comfort-wise, you’ll be glad you did.

In search of comfort

Some of the best places to get high heels are on the High Street. Topshop does a brilliant range every season that, at about £30 a pair, are cheap enough to buy and wear while they’re fashionable, then to toss in the back of the cupboard and leave there. The heels are strong enough to survive a night of dancing without breaking, and the toe has enough room for even the widest of feet.

New Look is another good place to get inexpensive shoes. Like Topshop, the heels are sturdy and the range of styles available is extensive, especially in the larger stores. However, this is one place you should definitely try before you buy as the toes can be rather narrow and those with wider feet might have trouble fitting into them.

When investing in a pair of classic stilettos, spend a bit more money. LK Bennett and Kurt Geiger both produce comfortable shoes, and are worth looking at when shopping. Kurt Geiger shoes have extra padding to support your foot and you can feel the difference after being on your feet all day.

At the end of the day, if you can’t find a comfortable pair that you love, buy a pair of gel shoe-liners. They’re not the most glamorous things, but they add extra padding to the bottom of the shoe and can make even the most uncomfortable shoes bearable. Most supermarkets and shoe shops stock them, and at less than five pounds a pair, they are worth it. Most you can wear and wash which saves you from ever having to buy another pair again.

So when you’ve found your perfect pair and you can wear them in comfort, off you go girls! Feel the confidence and you’ll soon see why your comfortable high heels will be your new best friends.

Who needs diamonds anyway?

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