Tiptoeing Through the Tulips: How to Walk Quietly in Heels

quiet heelsReader J wonders how one can walk quietly in heels…

One problem I struggle with is finding shoes that don’t echo down the hallway every time I take a step. As a legal assistant, I spend a lot of time running to the courthouse to file papers, etc., and I’m very conscious of the fact that my heels announce my arrival. I would love it if you could do a post about how to walk quietly!

Interesting question. My best advice, I think, is to look into getting rubber soles and rubber tips put on your heels — something a cobbler should be able to do for you fairly quickly and easily. The rubber should tread more quietly, and it should also prevent skidding (bonus!). (Update: there’s now an entire brand of heels, Ssh-oes, devoted to being quiet!  Pictured.)

You may also want to make sure that your shoes fit properly — if your heels are sliding out of your shoes there may be an echo effect to whatever sound you’re making.

Finally, some shoes are just noisy — flip-flops, I’m looking at you — and just shouldn’t be worn at the office for that reason.  A lot of platform heels also have this problem, sadly.

Readers, what’s your advice for how to walk quietly in heels?

(Also: don’t forget to check out the Corporette Guide to Comfortable Heels if you haven’t already!)

Comments

  1. I would add to avoid heavy shoes like clogs, etc.

    Otherwise, I just have to say I kind of really dig how my heels sound when I am walking down the hall. When I was a little kid, my mom would take me to work with her, where they had really long marble hallways; I still remember the way some of the women’s heels sounded, coming down the hall, and I remember thinking that I could not wait to grow up and sound so authoritative, click clacking to my own office.

    • Oh my gosh, I always thought “clicky heels” were for powerful women, striding into the boardroom to own a presentation to all the VPs of the company or client’s company. It sounds a little funny, but I still have some of this illusion lingering into my corporate life :) I say, own the sound of heels on marble!

      • I could not agree more. If you are going to wear heels — make them loud. I once had a pair of black patent-leather Stuart Weitzman stilettos. Everyone would comment on how noisy they were. I loved every second of it. This post reminds me that I need to look for a new pair.

      • I have to agree. Women in positions of authority need to make that authority known when they are walking down the halls and into the room. The sound of those heels is a great psychological tool.

  2. Sometimes when I’m being overly self-conscious, I walk toe-to-heel on loud floors, barely placing any weight on my heels at all. Not a good strategy when you’re in a hurry, though.

    But generally, I say that if the building wants silence from visitors, it should install carpet or cork flooring in the visitor areas. Otherwise, NMF!

  3. It might just be that I have narrow heels, but I’ve found that slingbacks are as bad as flip-flops for me. I’ve tried a few pairs, and the strap on the back just doesn’t hold me in enough. It slides off, and the shoe smacks its way down the hall.

    • soulfusion :

      I have this problem too so I’ve sworn off sling backs. Which is unfortunate since I have a burnt orange pair with a stacked heel that I LOVE but just cannot manage to keep them on my heels long enough to walk down the hall – no matter how much I tighten them.

  4. I definitely make a lot of noise when I walk as well – I always thought it was because I am heavy on my feet and am always walking fast. But I’m with AIMS, I also dig the sound.

  5. I think this is just a fact of high-heel wearing life. Rubber tips would help though. I always find myself thinking of the “clackers” in The Devil Wears Prada (book) when my heels are clicking really loudly down a hallway.

    • I do the same thing, victoria. I always think of The Devil Wears Prada whenever I notice my heels clacking. But I also love the sound. For whatever reason, it makes me feel authoritative.

  6. I remember the first time that someone turned around to the sound of my heels coming down the hall. It was high school. I have the same walking pattern as a feared teacher. I was hooked from that moment forward.

    I love the sound of my heels on hard floors. It feels like a distinctive part of me. Nothing grates more than when I need a heel tip replaced. It’s like having a flat tire.

    Now, dragging you feet is another story.
    And for some reason, I don’t like the sound going down stairs.

    • That’s me, too.

      I couldn’t wait to get my first pair of heels, but I was completely hooked when I walked in them, as a teen, with an adult and my walk sounded the same as hers.

      Heels are a bit of an optional girl-to-woman right of passage, I think. No woman who chooses to wear them should by shy about the sound they make.

      I still enjoy the sound of my walk on a hard floor.

  7. I’d add that there are some people who simply walk heavily. For instance, a woman on my floor walks down the carpeted hallway as if she’s an elephant every day, but it’s definitely worse if she’s wearing heels. This has probably been mentioned before, but my advice is to practice walking in them.

    • Agreed. One of the legal assistants at my office mentioned one day that she can tell if one of two particular attorneys are walking down the hall because they are “loud walkers.” We all wear heels some of the time (and I can hear my shoes making noise too), but apparently some people make more noise than others.

    • I was a loud walker in my 20s. Now I have chronic plantar fasciitis. I don’t know if there’s any correlation, but if there had been a way to teach myself to walk differently that saved me from pain now, I wish I had learned it.

      • Owwww on pf! I just went through an excruciating bout of it, mercifully (mostly) over but I am sure I will have at least a trace for the rest of my life. How do you manage generally, which is to say, flip flops ever again?

        • Anonymous :

          They’re not particularly cute, but Chaco makes flip-flops that I find really comfy, even during flare-ups of pf. I just wear the all black ones and try not to draw too much attention to my feet…

  8. Just as Kat said, go to the cobbler, have him put on rubber soles and rubber tips – they will also make you much more comfortable than the plastic tips. And PS, as those above said, I love walking down marble in my heels. If they wanted silence, they would install carpet.

  9. Confidence in Heels :

    I avoid slingbacks, since they do tend to sound like flip flops. However, if the shoes fit correctly and the sound is merely the sound of the bottom of the shoe clicking on the floor as you walk properly, then I agree with AIMS – I love it. You can tell when a woman is walking with confidence and authority in heels and it magnifies the aura of authority that she has about her.

  10. I second the confident ladies above — OWN IT!

    • Confident or not, it’s really annoying to live under someone who walks like an elephant when she wears heels and puts the heels on a good hour before she leaves the house. Please wear socks or indoor shoes if you don’t want to walk around your apartment in bare feet.

      • Of course. I meant this in public places with marble/tile floors where business wear is required/accepted.

      • Oh my gosh- the girl who used to live above me would wear her heels all. the. time. I had a celebratory drink the day she moved out.

  11. One trick I actually found that works. This comes from Elaine Princi who played Dorian Lord on One Life to Live for many years. She knows how to dress stylishly. It is mostly for walking down stairs, but can be used somewhat for regular walking — especially those sling backs.

    It’s all in the toes. For stairs, don’t walk straight down. Angle your body slightly, so you hit the stairs at an angle. Not walk down sideways or across the stairs. Just a slight turn of the body. Then grip your shoes with your toes. Just turn them down a bit. You are all set. Walk away. No clunking down the stairs. It’s harder to grip when walking on flat hallway, but can be done.

  12. After replying to the first comment about heels sounding authoritative, I read through and realized a lot of you feel this way. It makes me so happy! My husband finds it a bit humorous because I always said that my image of my future “successful” self included “clicky heels” on marble floors in a high-rise corporate office. I’m glad to know that other successful women also see this image with “clicky heels” as confident and knowledgeable!

  13. If you like the look of your heels but walk in them like a gazelle, placing your feet on the floor while your front knee is still bent, you are killing the look and might as well get something you can function in properly. Im not a fan of heels, but when I do wear them, I walk properly.

    As for the sound–just as women ought to get over the idea that we should take up as little space as possible, there is no reason to expect yourself not to make a sound.

    • Agreed. Also, I hate heels and hope to wear them as little as possible. This thread is making me feel like I won’t really have “arrived” at corporate success unless I am wearing shoes that really hurt my legs, joints, and back. (Just kidding…kind of.)

    • I agree — there’s no reason anyone should expect that we not make a sound when we walk. I consider my clacking heels the equivalent of the thunderous noise the 6′+ tall men in my office make when they walk down the hall. We all announce our impending arrival in slightly different ways. Like the other women who commented here, I love the confident sound of my heels on the floor.

    • Agreed! Same goes for the girls who are clearly in pain but choose to wear ridiculous heels. I esp loathe the girls who don’t walk with good posture: all bent forward at the hips, and slightly swaying side-to-side like an orangutan…what gives??

  14. I recently bought a pair of Ivanka Trump’s (Indico pumps) and for some reason they are quite as mice! I have no idea why…

    • I got a pair of Armani heels this summer (they were 75% off, and at almost $200 were still the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought, though worth every penny) – and they are completely SILENT. I was shocked the first time I wore them, and the lack of sound was wonderful. I tend to like the noise of authoritative heels (I’m a lover of very high heels), but these made me feel very elegant and poised. I think the difference was that it had rubber tips on the heels. Definitely advise talking to your cobbler – s/he should be able to put something on your shoes for just a few dollars.

      Also – I used to work as a legal assistant as well, and HATED how I would be running around all day making noise in the hall! Definitely sympathize…

  15. Yes — own it.

    You’re warning the world to watch out because you’re here.

  16. I also love the sound, but having interned on Capitol Hill I can understand wishing heels made less noise. If you put your weight on the balls of your feet & toes rather than stepping down heel-first you should be much quieter.

    • Yeah, I remember being really uncomfortable clicking my way through the House and Senate buildings when I worked on the Hill. Especially since, as an intern, you’re not really supposed to be important…I wore a lot of soft-soled flats and kitten heels in those days. I also remember wearing boots – for some reason, boots don’t seem to click as much as pumps.

      I also remember that I was couch-surfing for part of that time, and had to repeatedly go through Senate building security screening with a hair dryer in my tote bag, which raised eyebrows a few times – so making noise in the hallways wasn’t my only concern!

  17. Who was it who just posted that Onion article about female empowerment? I feel like it applies to this thread too. Nothing wrong with enjoying the satisfying click of high heels, but it’s not exactly an act of feminism/empowerment/”owning it.”

    Or maybe I’m just cranky because the waistband on my tights is awfully constrictive today. I’m seconds away from cutting a notch in the band.

    • Oh that was me — but I actually like clicky heels. When I was posting it, I meant more in the sense that “empowering” shouldn’t apply to things that are actively disempowering (like being a slave to your SO’s desires, etc). I wouldn’t apply it as much here because I think the clicking of heels is actually a neutral exercise, unless you think of heels themselves as bondage (which I think is a bit extreme) and in that sense, an empowering association could be attached to it without being ridiculous. Plus it’s not necessarily empowerment, but more like a personal confidence — sort of like how a good suit can be empowering.

      That might be just because I like clicky heels though.

  18. Even though I love my clacking heels, it is good to know the tips to keep them quiet for those times you are sneaking into a meeting late, or walking into a Courtroom while another hearing is still going on, etc.

    During the MPRE I got up to use the bathroom and the monitor told me I had to take my shoes off to walk through the testing room!

    • Another Sarah :

      You have to wear a suit to take the VA Bar, and they tell you to wear soft-soled shoes for precisely this reason. By the end of the first day, there was almost a mutiny in the Roanoke Convention Center when the umpteenth woman who wore complete professional dress click-clacked the entire length of the stadium to go to the bathroom. I totally rock the clickety-clack in other situations, but this is not one of them.

      This thread reminds me: in law school, my group of friends and I were named the “cliquety-clack” by another group of girls in my class. I was informed of this by a mutual guy friend, who said it like, “Oh man, I’m really sorry they’re saying this about you.” I said, “Well, those are the sounds my shoes make, and I like it like that, and I make that sound on purpose, soooo I’m not offended. Funny that they meant to offend me though!” And then I probably clickety-clacked away. :-D

      • Ugh, VA Bar! I went with the full Working Girl: suit & sneakers. So chic:) When is that rule going to go away?

      • I can’t even imagine taking the bar in a suit. I wore sweats and sneakers to take the CA bar — hair in a bun, no makeup. I don’t think I could have concentrated in full-on business attire.

      • I feel like my state actually put down rubberized mats (like the mats ballerinas dance on) for the bar exam. Highly thoughtful now that I think of it!

      • The year I took the VA Bar they actually turned one woman away because she hadn’t worn tennis shoes with her suit. The VSB means business — especially when it comes to attire-monitoring during the bar! We all rocked the Working Girl — makeup, hair, power (skirt) suit, stockings, and tennis shoes. Yuck.

  19. I recently started buying Seychelles: amazing! Not only are they almost noiseless, they are also very comfortable for high heels. Some days I have to spend 12 hrs in heels and these have become my go-tos.

  20. I would say it has more to do with the soles than the heels/non heels factor. I own a pair of flats that make more racket than my favorite pair of heels – and its the type of sole (my favorite heels are a pair of clarks that while the soles don’t look that thick and rubbery and treaded when wearing them, I realized this winter that they had the most traction of all my shoes I own outside of my pair of snow boots and my hiking shoes! Granted they probably might bee too chunky for all you lawyers, but they’re great for us academics who just lurk here for good hints =D lol)

    The other thing is if you really have to keep them quiet you can regardless if you walk properly… I have no way to describe it, but I’ve managed to make it across the back stage of a theatre in TAP shoes without the taps making much noise at all, so it can be done!

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