How to survive a night in HIGH HEELS – supermodel style
This week I styled an Autumn/Winter shoe campaign – in searing 30 degree heat. This involved squashing a young model’s heat-swollen but perfect feet into fabulously haute and hot foot-wear. Proving we were both absolute professionals, she limped on bravely whilst I persisted in wincing her painful feet into said-shoes… no-matter-what. When it comes to getting the job done – the show must go on, blisters and all!
Having said that, there is nothing more excruciating than painful feet. We have all been there. A fantastic night marred by feet so tortured by our heels, that it is near impossible to go on. No woman is immune to this particular kind of hell. Case-in-point x 2…
Personally I would rather die of exploding-feet-syndrome than walk bare foot on a public pavement, so this advice by 70s supermodel Marie Helvin is fabulous. Start a shopping list as you read; you are going to stock up on everything from black tea to Voltorol to get through Saturday night on your feet. Bravo Marie Helvin.
How to survive high-heels by Marie Helvin
1. I’ve slipped enough times over the years to know the peril of a too-smooth sole, so every time I buy a new pair I take a pair of scissors or a piece of sandpaper to the bottoms to roughen them up. In my catwalk days, I even used to spit on the soles of shoes before I ventured down the runway. Another of my girlfriends uses a particularly tacky hairspray. Anything to give them a bit more grip.
2. I like to give my shoes a test drive once I get home, no matter how silly it feels to be walking round in stilettoes in your pyjamas. That way you can work out which bits of the shoe rub your feet. Then you stick fabric plasters on the painful bits of your feet, briefly soak them in water before slipping straight back into your shoes and walking around again. This will let your shoes mould and stretch out over the expanded damp plaster area. When you do wear your shoes next, they shouldn’t rub.
3. If you’ve got a long night on heels ahead of you then warm-up beforehand – standing on a four-inch heel is like a workout for legs. Hamstring stretches and ankle rotations can help prepare your legs for what’s coming. For me, it’s pretty much a habit – I do it most of the time while I’m sitting down. The great news, of course, is that if you’re out to dinner you can do some under the table and no one will be any the wiser.
4. Wobble when you try to walk your heels? If you’re not wearing open-toed shoes, why not tape your third and fourth toes along from your big toe together? This will keep foot muscles aligned, which allows the ball of your foot to be much steadier. Try it and see.
5. Spray your feet with deodorant beforehand to stop sweating and increase friction, which will help avoid those dreaded blisters. Another top tip is to use a nail file to rub away any rough edges inside your shoes and coat them with a thin layer of Vaseline. This will avoid any nasty sharp edges rubbing and causing you pain or blisters later on.
6. If you do develop blisters, then soak your feet for ten minutes in a warm bath with Epsom salts. It will toughen up the skin and the salt also acts as an antiseptic, killing bacteria and reducing your chances of developing an infection. Some people use warm black tea to do the same, but that seems to me a waste of a good drink. One thing I do if I get home and my feet hurt a bit is to take my hand and place it between each toe to separate them out, particularly if I’ve been wearing heels with a very pointed toe. It seems to relax them. I’m also a fan of Voltorol, an anti-inflammatory gel, to soothe aches and pains.
7. Buy rubber grips to stick on the soles of your shoes, even your fanciest ones. They cost very little – I buy them in bulk online, although you can get a cobbler to fit them – and I find that sticking one to the widest part of my shoe helps give me more stability. Christian Louboutin would be horrified if he knew, of course, as he is known for his stylish red soles. But they’re on every single shoe I own.
8. Always find your shoes feel tight by the end of the evening? Use a man’s shoe tree to stretch them out. This should provide a little extra wriggle room.
9. Don’t be scared of cushioning. The padding on the skin of your feet gets thinner with age, which is why the older you get, the less tolerant your feet are to wearing heels. I use stick-in foot cushions to give extra support, and also to stop my foot from sliding forward in your shoes. And while they’re not exactly sexy, cushioned tights can help, too. Marks & Spencer do a decent range. I also find shoes with a platform sole much more comfortable than thin ones.
10. You need to spend time finding the right heels for you – see it as a project. Never ever buy shoes on the spur of the moment, because they’ll rarely be right once you get them home. I always go shoe shopping in the afternoon, when I’ve been on my feet for a few hours and they’ve swollen a little. That way you won’t find that your shoes get tighter as the day goes on.