How to Wear Heels (If You’re Used to Flats)

How to Start Wearing Heels | CorporetteHow can you wear heels, if you’re used to flats? Which are the best first heels to buy? How do you make the transition smoothly and effectively? Reader J wonders:

I have always been a flat, practical shoe kind of person with some style. For example, Merrill boots in the winter. But, I am really trying to increase my presence in the world and have read that shoes with more lift indicate more power, money, etc. How do I find higher shoes that won’t kill my feet after all these years of being practical? Advice appreciated!

I’m curious to hear what readers say here. We’ve talked about the best brands for comfortable heels, specific ways to make heels more comfy, and how to look professional in flats (even how to wear flats to court), but I have a few more thoughts on this:

a) Obviously, you don’t have to wear heels to be professional. Personally I think heels look better with most work-appropriate clothes (full-length trousers, pencil skirts, sheath dresses, etc), and I find them more comfortable, on average, than a lot of work-appropriate flats, but you don’t need them to be “professional.”

b) Ask yourself WHY you want to start wearing heels. For Reader J, she’s trying to “increase her presence” — I’m not sure heels are the best way to do that. Heels can make you taller, and I’ve always thought they made my legs look thinner, but I think it would be a long road (because I’m going to suggest you take it slow if you do start wearing heels) before you’d get to the kind of heels that are outfit-defining, personality, statement pieces. For example — Erin Callan was known for her 4″ Louboutins and similar heels — but I’m not sure a 1.5″ heel is really going to “say” that much more than a flat would. It’ll make you taller… it might make your legs look better than flats… but it isn’t going to increase your presence (unless you’re clomping down the hallway in them, in which case I’m not sure that’s a good thing).  Like I mention above, I think heels will enable you to wear more outfits that will in general look sleeker, and those will increase your presence — but I think more credit is going to the sleek wardrobe than the mere fact that you’re wearing heels.

c) If you decide to start wearing heels, start s-l-o-w-l-y.  Don’t try to go from wearing, say, flat boots (where obviously your foot and vamp are fully encased) to 4″ pumps — it isn’t going to end well.  Look for low heelsunder 2 inches! — at first, to get your feet used to some height.  (Both of the Hunt roundups linked have a lot of suggestions for specific low heels that are pretty much perennial styles, like the Stuart Weitzman Poco, also pictured at the top of this post (and on sale — was $298 now $158, available in sizes 4-12). After you master that heel height, consider going higher (I’d stay under 3.5″ for the next round, perhaps aided with platforms (no bigger than 1″; bonus if they’re hidden).  Personally I don’t think anyone needs to go higher than that unless you’re taking pictures or shooting film (I’ve found out the hard way that 3″ heels look fairly frumpy on film!) — for actual life, I think the 4″+ heels are for the true heel lovers out there.

A few other tips:

  • For my $.02, check out the comfortable mall stores first — places like Aerosoles, Easy Spirit, and Macy’s comfort boutique — and avoid other mall shoe stores that specialize in trends/affordability first (sometimes sacrificing comfort and quality).
  • Scratch your soles — if the soles aren’t rubber, make sure you wear them outside enough to get them scratched.  It’ll give you more traction.
  • Look for strappy pumps if you have trouble walking in traditional pumps.
  • Look for chunkier heels (possibly even wedge heels) — the skinnier the heel the harder it is to balance.
  • Go bare.  If you’re still in the breaking-in stage, consider wearing them sockless (no trouser socks, no pantyhose) — for some reason that always helps me.  (Of course, know your office — bare legs are not appropriate everywhere, particularly with skirts.)
  • Know your inserts.  Get to know the various inserts from Dr. Scholl’s and the like available to you.  For example, I have narrow heels so I always have to put in heel inserts.
  • commuting heels Find comfortable commuting shoes — possibly even commuting heels that are lower versions than your regular heels.  (I was obsessed with this picture in a recent Inc. magazine article on executive assistants — Barbara Corcoran switching into identical but lower heels after a talk show!) I always suggest a general six-block rule for heels:  Your heels should be comfortable enough to walk at least six blocks, but I’d be surprised if anyone (at least, anyone with their podiatrist’s blessing) is walking for miles in heels.

Readers, if you’ve worn flats for years and then transitioned to heels, how did you do it?  Readers who started wearing heels when you started your career, how did you start?  What are your best tips for wearing heels?  Readers who love flats, which are your favorite work-appropriate brands and styles — and what do you wear with them? 

The Hunt: Beige Pumps

The Best Beige Pumps | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Now is traditionally the time of year that every fashion magazine/stylist/blog (including this one) counsels you to wear nude-for-you pumps — so I had this whole feature planned where I’d show the different “nude” colors available for each shoe that I picked.  Except: ha! There are, by and large, ONLY light beige pumps in stores right now.  There are a very few pumps with a slightly darker beige (not even a huge selection of regular brown!) — so perhaps this is a seasonal thing and the other colors will be out in a few weeks.  (My picks of other darker nude-for-you heels from the current limited selection: here, here, here, here, here, and here.)  For those of you who do have pale beige skin (or prefer this kind of pale pink/beige color in general), here’s what I like in the stores right now…  Readers, have you recently bought a great nude-for-you pump?  Do you have any favorites from the below? 

[Read more...]

Can You Interview in 4″ Heels?

Can You Interview in 4" Heels? | CorporetteAre 4″ heels too high for job interviews?  Is a red sole inappropriate for interviewing and networking?  Reader A wonders…

Hi I was wondering if I could get some advice on shoes. I will be starting law school in the fall and I’m wondering what heels would be appropriate. I currently own a black leather pair of Louboutins that are 4 inches. Do you feel it’s appropriate to wear them with the red bottom showing? Also is 4 inches considered too high? Thank you!

We’ve talked about Louboutins at work here, as well as which heels are too high, but we haven’t talked about either issue in a while. (Pictured: Christian Louboutin Simple 100 Leather Pumps, available in store only at Saks.)  Here are some general tips:

[Read more...]

The Hunt: Strappy Pumps

The Best Strappy Pumps | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

As the weather turns/stays nasty, I’m often reminded of a trick I’ve employed for years: wearing a skirt and tights to work with commuting boots (either snow boots or rain boots — I’ve always preferred a skirt in truly nasty weather since my pants seemed to always get yucky from the knee down) — and then switching into regular heels at the office.  Personally, I vastly prefer strappy pumps for wear with tights — styles such as the Mary Jane, a T-strap, and ankle strap have always been much more comfortable.  We haven’t rounded up strappy pumps in a while, so I thought I’d hunt down a few.  (Check out our roundup of strappy flats as well as regular pumps if you’re on the hunt for those.) Readers, do you share my preference for strappy pumps with tights?  Have you bought any great strappy heels lately?

[Read more...]

Comfortable Heels for Wide Feet

The Most Comfortable Heels for Wide Feet | CorporetteWhich are the most professional, comfortable heels for wide feet?  Reader N wonders:

I always have trouble finding a pair of comfortable but fashionable shoes, for two reasons – 1) I have wide feet and can only buy wide sized shoes, of which there is limited selection, and 2) I also have flat feet/collapsed arches. Could you suggest some brands that have nice shoes in wide sizes (especially ones that are available in Canada?) and which are also comfortable and affordable? And any other tips on shoe inserts, perhaps? Thanks!

We’ve talked about how to find shoes for your weird feet, as well as the best general shoe brands (and tips) for buying comfortable heels, but we haven’t talked about wide heels for a few years now.  (I would recommend treating flat feet/wide feet as two different issues, but your podiatrist can advise you best there — we’ve talked before about women’s shoe inserts to make heels more comfortable.)

Readers have generally sung the praises of these brands as being comfortable heels; they also come in wide sizes — a lot of these have great arch support built in: [Read more...]

Shoe Care for Women

shoe care for womenI’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: shoe care and upkeep is very important when it comes to your appearance and general presentation, for both women and men.  Yet why is there so much more information directed at men?  Today I’ve brought in The Fine Young Gentleman to give us a few tips on shoe care — welcome, FYG!  While pondering these tips, you may also want to check out The Corporette Guide to Comfortable Heels and the Newbie’s Guide to Buying Designer Shoes. – Kat

Care for men’s and women’s shoes (including high heels) is not that different.  Which is why you have a guy menswear blogger talking about the subject.  Don’t believe me?  Think about it like this; both men’s and women’s shoes are made primarily from some menagerie of leather, cotton, rubber, and plastic.  They are even made using some of the same techniques and methods.  And they are worn the same way by both sexes; that is, they are used, abused and often neglected.  The unfortunate, and inevitable, result of such negligence is that the shoes expire well before they should.  No doubt resulting in varying levels of emotional and monetary harm.  Yes, as a guy, I also hate it when I have to throw out my favorite pair of shoes because they are no longer wearable; weird, right?  No, in fact, few things cause me more anguish when it comes to my wardrobe.  But, fear not, there are ways to properly procrastinate the inevitable.

[Read more...]