I have worn heels nearly daily since I was a teenager and refuse to give them up any time soon! However, finding heels that don’t hurt and last the distance can be a challenge. Here are my tips for buying heels.
Tip One – Buy Leather Where Possible
Over the years of wearing heels, I have certainly had non-leather heels that were comfortable and lasted reasonably well, however, they were the exception, not the norm. My favourite heels and my longest lasting have nearly always been leather-based. So now, I try and buy leather heels as much as possible.
Here are the main reasons I prefer leather.
- It stretches and moulds to your feet. This is particularly important with pointy toe shoes as the toe area has more pinch points and also boots. I always find them stiff to start but after a few wears, they fit my feet perfectly.
- It’s warmer and waterproof. I bought a pair of leather boots a few years ago and the difference in how warm my toes were was noticeably different compared to non-leather boots. Plus, leather (NOT suede) is waterproof, so a good quality pair of leather boots wouldn’t let any water in.
- Easier to care for. Last winter I purchased some non-leather boots and within a week they had scuff marks on them that couldn’t be removed. The result after three months of wearing them was a rather shabby looking pair of boots. Leather is a lot more hard wearing and can be easily cleaned and cared for with a regular polish and shine.
Here are my top leather boot picks.
Tip Two – Use Comfort Tools
I only really discovered this hack last year by accident. I own a pair of heels that are slightly too big and I needed to raise the ball of my foot to push back my heel into the back of the shoe. The added benefit in doing this was that it helped absorb the shock into the ball of the foot when I walked.
Since then I have added these sticky gel ball pads into all of my heels and the difference is huge. If you are wearing a stiletto heel with a thin base you absolutely MUST add these in, your feet will thank you for it.
My favourite ones are the party feet ones which you can get at local chemists. They have a sticky base so they stay put in the shoe.
Tip Three – Buy a Bigger Size
Your feet will thank you for it. Firstly, your feet swell during the day. I have lost count the number of pairs of shoes I thought would be perfect, only to be hobbling around in them a couple of hours later. To help offset this when it comes to heels, try to buy a half size up so you have room for the must-have comfort features. I know that in New Zealand it is hard to find half sizing but here are some of my favourite strapless heels that come in half sizes AND ship to NZ!
When it comes to leather boots, I recommend going a whole size up. In winter you will likely want to wear thicker socks with your boots so a size up allows for this. Also, it allows for ball pads AND socks so your toes have plenty of wiggle room!
Tip Four – Understand the Pros and Cons of Each Heel Type
Some of my highest heels have actually been my most comfortable and this is because when it comes to comfort, the type of heel and the base of the shoe are actually more of the determining factors.
For everyone, comfort is different. When I was younger a stiletto was my every day go to, but as I get older and wiser, I have re-allocated heel types for different occasions. Below is a brief description of the main heel types and the pros and cons.
Wedge – podiatrists always say if you’re going to wear heels, then make it a wedge. However, as I personally can not stand low wedge heels, my wedge choice would probably make them cry.
Everyone always says a wedge is great for grass-based events, and they are for most people. I personally prefer a block heel for weddings and racing days.
Wedges can also be worn in the winter, I LOVE a wedge ankle boot for work.
Block heel – the saving grace of the heel world! For my everyday heels, I always go for a block heel. Ideally with a slight platform as it helps with shock absorption on the ball of the foot. This type of heel is great if you want to graduate from a wedge but aren’t quite ready for the stiletto.
Stiletto – A heel I dub “the dinner heel” because most stilettos, despite various hacks, are usually the least comfortable heel type. As they are high maintenance, they will require regular re-heeling. Where possible, try to buy stilettos with a slight platform to help with shock absorbing, ALWAYS ADD A BALL PAD.
In saying that, I do have stiletto heels that I wear to work and are comfortable, work heels I try and keep leather.
Tip Five – Take Care of Your Heels
Now you’ve spent some money on high-quality heels, it’s time to protect them, if you look after them, they’ll look after you.
For leather boots and heels choose a polish that matches and a soft bristle brush. Apply the polish using a cloth and then buff them to a shine with the brush. Do this on a regular basis. There is also clear leather polish available for coloured leather heels.
For suede boots and heels, use a suede protectant before you wear them outside. Suede is easily stained by water, so a protectant is a must. Re-apply every season.
In addition to this, make sure you take your new shoes to your local shoe repair shop and get protective soles added to them. Not only do they help minimise wear, but it will also provide you with some additional grip when walking on slippery floors.
If you lucky enough to own some Christian Louboutins, you will need to find a repair shop that knows how to care for the signature red bottoms.
Some shoe shops also have thin rubber soles that can help with shock absorption which really can help with comfort, especially with stilettos. When the rubber point on your stiletto wears down to ensure you take them to be re-heeled before the steel starts showing!
There you have it, my 5 tips for buying heels! What are your favourite types of heels? Do you have any tips?