Last month, the woman who set the prime example for what it means to be living la vida fashionista, Sarah Jessica Parker, told Net-A-Porter that years of wearing high heels have taken a toll on her sweet feet, leaving us with the impression that she may be retiring her stilettos.
I am stunned, possibly scarred. To me, Carrie Bradshaw without her Manolo Blahnik shoes is as serious an offense as Superman without the big ‘S’ on his chest. It’s just not the way the world is meant to be.
Now, I take foot care very seriously. Having been raised by a father with one leg, I live with great gratitude for every limb I have and I take good care of all of them. And there really are a few valid studies out there that show how the overuse of extreme high heels can, in fact, mangle your feet over time. However, I refuse to give up my heels. Refuse! I will practice caution, but I will never retire my 5″ platforms.
So long as you practice care and caution, too, there is no reason why you should end up in Parker’s unfortunate situation. Here are my tips for surviving high heels:
1. Wear the correct size shoes. Age, weight gain and weight loss can change your feet and their size. Go to your favorite shoe boutique and ask to be measured by a professional. Nothing will damage your tootsies more than wearing the wrong size shoes. And continue to be measured on, at least, a yearly basis.
2. Use foot care aids, such as shoe pads, toe separators and bunion controllers. Shoe pads and liners can add a lot of comfort to your footwear. And some of your shoes may even call for sturdy arch supports. I maintain a good stock of all of these. They make a huge difference. Foot Petals and Dr. Scholl’s are my two favorite brands for shoe pads, but you should really shop around and see what works for you.
Toe separators are not only great for pedicures, but they also help to stretch out, relax and realign your toes. Next time you’re at the drugstore, visit the foot care section and shop for gel toe relaxers. Just five minutes of use can relieve sore feet.
I am a big fan of the bunion controller. It is the most unattractive thing in the world, but it makes my big toe feel so good. Normally one wears a bunion controller overnight, but I find that one to two hours is all I ever need. A bunion controller is something you should only need to wear once in a while. If you find yourself needing it on a daily basis, I highly recommend you see your doctor or a podiatrist as soon as you can.
3. Don’t wear high heels every day. Seriously. I run the rat race just like any other career-oriented woman – juggling the corporate world with freelancing for magazines and blogging. However, I have found that I can lean in just as well with a pair of cute flats as I can with a pair of power pumps. Just as you shouldn’t become dependent on wearing makeup daily, don’t be dependent on wearing high heels daily either. Incorporate some flats into your shoe wardrobe.
4. Know your shoes. I mean, really know your shoes. Some of my high heels can be worn for hours at a time. Some are good for the walk from valet to the restaurant where we have reservations. And some… well, some are only good from the walk from my car to my friend’s sofa where I remain for the duration of her house party because as cute as my shoes are, they just aren’t good for standing and mingling.
My friend G has this great shoe strategy she shared with me: organize your shoes by length of time that they can be worn. For example, if you have shoes with a comfort level of two hours, those go at the bottom of your shelf. Shoes with a three-hour comfort level go above those. And shoes with a four-hour comfort level go above the three-hour ones. Just keep stacking in the same order, keeping the shoes that provide the longest amount of time of comfort at the top.
5. Always have a back-up. A pair of extra shoes to provide you relief when your stilettos start to make you sore are key to surviving high heels. I keep a pair of flip flops beneath my desk at work so I can take off my heels, if necessary. And I often carry “foldable” flats with me on those nights when I think my feet just might get tired. I’m like a high-heeled girl scout – always prepared.