Once upon a time, high heels were made exclusively for men. Its origin goes all the way back to 15th century Persia, where horseback-riding soldiers wore heeled shoes to keep them secured in stirrups. This shoe style later found its way to Europe, particular among the male aristocrats—and then eventually, the noblewomen as well. Even then, heels were a symbol of power and status.
Fast forward to present time, high-heeled shoes are worn by women across different age groups and for various purposes—from special occasions to runway shows to power-dressing in the office. One thing remains the same, though: the confidence that a great pair of high heels can give. However, we know wearing these can feel daunting most of the time, especially when you’re not used to it.
We’ve gathered real stylish women—actresses, models, hosts, pageant queens, and bosses—to tell us their story and help you rock sky-high heels with both style and grace.
TV host, fitness instructor, and pageant queen
1. Anchor. When you stop/make turns, lock your feet to the ground with strength to maintain stability. If you anchor that one foot, you can easily control your movement! Use your core, because that's where your balance comes from.
2. Back straight. The purpose of heels is to lengthen your body, which starts from your toes all the way to the top of your head. Pretend a string is pulling you up.
3. Attitude. Facial expressions are everything. If you look uncomfortable, the look won't work. After doing several pageants, I’ve come to learn that confidence is key.
Film and theater actress
1. Don’t compromise comfort.
2. Own it, work it! Don’t let the heels do all the work—that special oomph has to come from you.
3. Invest in a nice, understated pair of black stilettos. You can never go wrong with classic black.
Radio DJ and events host
1. Try it on the store—this is the only way you’ll know if they’re the perfect size.
2. Buy extra cushions to stick on the base of your shoes. Place these on the spot that you know would hurt after an hour or so.
3. Some styles are more comfortable than others. Ankle straps make it easier to move, while higher platforms are definitely less painful. Open-toed heels tend to be painful, so I would usually downsize by half when it comes to these.
Professional model and interior designer
1. Find out which type of heels you feel most comfortable in.
2. Practice makes perfect. The more you walk in heels, the better you feel wearing them each time.
3. If you can, learn from the pros. Workshops and fashion shows [that allow me to walk in heels] have definitely helped me get used to wearing and walking in them.
Athlete, marketing professional, and pageant queen
1. Invest in heels that are lightweight, well made, and have a soft insole. This is important when you're wearing sky-high heels! If you can't find a soft enough insole, buy gel insoles and stick them inside your shoes—this is a lifesaver!
2. I used to think platform heels looked tacky but seriously, they’re just 1000x more comfortable. If you'll be on your feet all day, then just go for the platform. You can thank me later.
3. For heels that are four inches and up, consider sizing up and buying heels that are half to a whole size larger than your usual. Throughout the day, your toes will eventually slip forward and that can make the front tight and painful. It's more comfortable on the feet when there's some room in the front. You can always add non-slip insoles too later on!
1. Only wear heels you feel both comfortable and confident in. If it already hurts while you're fitting it, then it will also hurt when you're using it.
2. Tyra Banks once mentioned that if you feel like your knees are bending while wearing the heels, then it means that they’re too high for you.
3. Start wearing ‘em young. My mom bought me wedges when I was in grade school, which taught me how to walk and be confident in heels at an early age.
Model and law student
1. Wear a size that’s slightly bigger than your usual.
2. Go for heels with a wider platform.
3. Bring spare slippers or flats, in case when you want to change. I learned this the hard way when I wore high heels (for picture purposes) during a day tour in London. Halfway through the day my feet were becoming sore, but I had no choice but to push through since my other shoes were left in the hotel. When we got back to the hotel that night, my feet were covered in blisters and wounds.