My particular love is high shoes, the higher the better if I'm honest. Funnily enough though, I don't buy very many pairs of shoes. I would rather work, earn my pay, save a little each month and buy one pair of expensive shoes a year in a staple colour and classic design that will see me through every conceivable occasion. I'm well aware that I don't lead a lifestyle that enables me to afford "trend" pieces from expensive brands so, I'm happy to stick to my one pair of wearable, timeless shoes a year!
Happily, my feet respond well to high heels. I walk better and faster and I can usually last 10+ hours in vertiginous heels before I give in to any niggles of pain and slip my shoes off. That being said, I'm not without my arsenal of products to preempt and prevent any pain that hinders me looking less than my best (nobody likes seeing people hobbling in pain because of their footwear issues!) so, I thought I would share some tricks of the high-heeled trade with you.
Note: Where possible in this post, I will show you the products in action, including correct placement in the shoe. The shoe I have chosen to demonstrate with is the Christian Louboutin Pigalle 120, purely because it is the most dramatic shoe in my collection. Sure, it is a plain, black leather court shoe with a pointed toe which hardly makes it special but, the lack of wedge, extremely high, spindly heel and the degree to which the foot is thrown forward by the steep angle of the arch make it the perfect shoe for all of these tips and tricks to work in tandem with each other for a more comfortable, confident stride.
Anti-blister stick effectively stops shoes rubbing any areas of skin that they might be in close contact with. This particular one is from Carnation Footcare and cost about €5 from a local chemist. I keep it in my handbag for when disaster strikes.
Shoes need to be broken in and, unfortunately, blisters are often par for the course during this process. I find that liberally applying an anti-blister stick like this acts as a barrier between your skin and the shoe and wards off the development of painful blisters and skin that has been rubbed raw.
While I have applied this over already-developed blisters, it's not as effective as it has to be applied more frequently. Another anti-rubbing quick-fix is to apply a layer of Vaseline directly to the areas of the shoes which consistently rub your feet. This will wear off a lot quicker but, you'll be pain-free for a few hours!
Gel Sole Cushions
Anyone who frequently wears heels will know all too well of the searing, burning pain that starts in the ball of the foot and eventually consumes every last toe until we are hobbling in agony like a one-legged donkey. Our feet are not meant to be thrust into the contortions we put them in, often in the name of style, and most shoes tend to send all of your body weight through the ball of the foot. Couple this with resistance from the hard ground you're walking on and you've got one awful pain!
I have found gel sole cushions really help relive a lot of this ball ache (Teehee, couldn't help myself!) and absorb some of the impact every time you take a step. Unless you're walking on clouds, gel cushions are particularly indispensable. These ones are from Avon's Foot Works line but, you can find similar ones from Compeed, Carnation and Scholl.
Heel grips solve a multitude of shoe-related problems. Not only do they add cushioning and prevent chaffing but, if you find that the leather has stretched somewhat and your shoes are gaping at the back (the ultimate shoe crime!), they can fill the space and provide traction so that your feet don't slip out with every step you take.
While you can get gel ones like the sole cushions mentioned above, the ones I find best are the leather/suede variety. They tend to be better made, more resilient, last longer and come with a handy fat "bubble" that even further increases the traction between your heel and the heel cup of the shoe. I got two pairs of leather heel grips for around €8 in a chemist.
Wolford Stop Slipping
These little sheets of 100% Silicon are pure genius. Stop Slipping by hosiery giant Wolford were developed purely to stop hosiery-clad feet slipping when in the shoe. As I live in Ireland, a country where tights are a prerequisite for 85% of the year, these have saved me from a world of discomfort and pain.
The reusable, washable and allergy-tested silicon strips sit length ways in the shoe. They grip onto the inner lining of the shoe while simultaneously holding your stockinged feet in place. This alleviates the desire to scrunch up your toes to hold you into the shoe while simultaneously preventing you from taking a step and slipping straight out of the shoe. I have also used these in bare feet and have had the same success. €8 well-spent I think!
All of the "Saviours" at work!