How Do You Walk in Those?

64 Arts

As we’ve continued to explore the Art of Dressing, we’ve discussed both shoe obsessions and storage options and are moving onto the simple (yet daunting to some) matter of navigating in them.


Even though I don’t specialize in skyscraper heels, I’ve got my fair share of high-enough ones that prompt the question from time to time.

A Selection of my Higher Heels

A Selection of my Higher Heels

Fact is, I walk in them the way anyone walks in any shoes: with a heel-toe motion and by not losing my balance.

But, for the curious let’s look at a few things that will greatly improve your chances of strutting your stuff without becoming a moving violation:


To All the Shoes I've Worn Before

from my comic, to the tune of To All the Girls I've Loved

Wearing heels is like standing on tippy-toes: your weight shifts forward. Unlike being on tippy-toes, though, high heels give you a kick-stand and you need to take advantage of that kick stand or you’ll just wear yourself out.

The natural inclination is to walk on the balls of your feet and–don’t get me wrong–that’s going to happen, but using both parts of the shoe (the toe and the heel) will give you more to work with. Stand straight in your heels and you should feel your calves and thighs tightening a bit and your butt lifting. Your shoulders, though, need to relax back a bit to counter-balance that lean-forward feeling.

One more note: bend your knees a bit as you walk, it’ll make the mechanics of the steps easier and get you to a smooth stride that much sooner.


The biggest problem I’ve ever had, walking in heels, is remembering to shorted my stride. The higher the heel, the shorter the step. Don’t try to be a supermodel stomping it down the runway. Even if your blessed with legs up to your neck, it’s best to take shorter steps and more of them. Think of it as a great workout!

Also, as I said before, it’s a heel-toe step just like you do in tennis shoes. Unlike being in tennis shoes it’s not a smooth roll across the sole, but keeping in mind the heel-to-toe movement will help you avoid stomping, clomping and wrecking yourself down life’s hallways.


All About the Shoes Illustration

A quick shoe sketch from a 2010 convention.

Three words: Slow. Your. Roll.

Along with the shorter step, take your time with each–especially when you’re learning–to prevent a stumble. If you’ve really got to be somewhere quickly: wear flats and switch into your heels when you get there. When you’ve acclimated to higher altitudes, then you can hustle where you need to without worrying about spraining an ankle.


Okay, you’ve practiced in the hallway enough and now you’re ready for a real-world road test. Before you head out with your head held high, look down to see if any of these potential pitfalls await:

  • Slick, high-shine tiles, most often found in shopping malls and banks. The loss of traction is worse than that fourth turn in a race track–this is the one time I advocate not using the kick-stand and concentrating your steps on the balls of your feet to prevent the heel from sliding out from under you. Wear lower heels if you must have height for your shopping expedition.
  • Uneven brick or asphalt found on sidewalks and parking lots. These have been the only places I’ve actually fallen off my stilts (skinning my knees in the process). The trick to looking stable in these unstable surroundings is to slow to a measured stroll and test each step before you commit to it.
  • Grass and sand are no friend to high-heels, either, I’m afraid. Not only will your heels sink in softer versions of each, but dirt and grime will discolor and damage the finish of the covered-to-match heels that are so common (and pretty) these days.

A Few More Tips

If you’re new to heels, don’t start with stilettos! Going straight from flat to four inches is a recipe for disaster. Start, instead, with a 2-inch stacked heel and get used to the posture and stride changes before moving to taller and thinner heels.

If you’re going to be wearing heels one evening and you’ll be on your feet more than not, go easy on your feet and wear your comfiest shoes during the day so your feet won’t be worn out before your evening starts.

Heel Liners

Heel Liners

If the fit isn’t perfect, there’s something you can do about it. While I’ve never had great experiences with the stick-in foot pads that go under the balls of your feet or under your heel (they always shift on me, making things worse) there’s one insert that I swear by: heel liners. A major pit-fall is stepping out of your shoe and the steeper the arch of the sole the more possible it is that your heel might be a little loose in the shoe (yes, even with ankle-straps buckled). Heel inserts add padding inside the heel cup as well as narrowing the fit and grabbing your heel before it slips out and causes a spill.

And, one more lesson from my own personal experience file:

One of the few pedicures I’ve ever received, I thought it made perfect sense to have sandals ready to wear out of the salon. Preferring heels as I do, I have this great pear of strappy sandals with a low, stacked heel that seemed imminently sensible.


I slipped and slid nearly out of the shoes on the way to the car and, when I got to my next stop and was trying to walk around a local craft fair I was having to fight to keep my footing on the hilly paved paths (it was held at a local park).

Sure, my toes looked great but I nearly fell a couple of times. Lesson: take the flip-flops to the salon and wait a few hours before trying any to-die-for shoes.

All the world may be a stage, but breaking a leg for luck is only a figure of speech.


Now that we’ve thoroughly covered the shoe ground, let’s walk back into to the closet and tackle the never-ending battle of clothing clutter…

Don’t Let Having Only 2 Feet Stop You

64 Arts

We’re picking up our discussion of the 16th Art: The Art of Dressing with some sole-ful discussions on stylish footwear.


“Ugh, you haven’t moved your shoes, yet?”

That was Mom, about 2 weeks ago.

It was 3-something in the afternoon and we’d been loading and unloading trucks and cars and schlepping boxes and bins since just before 10 that morning. One week before Christmas, the old house was emptying out and the new one was filling up (at a much quicker rate) with furniture and all. those. boxes.

And, no, I hadn’t moved my shoes, yet.

See, Mom knows how many pairs of shoes I have. 85 to be exact (87 now, actually, if you count the 2 new pair of slippers I added this winter, and I do).

174 Shoes. 2 Feet.

I’m no Imelda (not by a long shot!) but even I realize that it’s kind of a ridiculous number.

Not for the usual reasons other people give or ask:

  • You only have 2 feet.
  • Why do you need a dozen (or more) pairs of shoes all the same color?
  • You hardly wear this pair (or that pair, or a handful of specialty shoes).

But because it’s an awful lot of shoes. And moving then requires my entire trunk and then some.

In fact, when I was getting ready to write this post ages ago (aforementioned move = delay reason and then some) I took out all the shoes I owned just to see if they’d take up the entire hallway.

85 Pairs of Shoes

All 85 Pairs

They did.

(Arranging all those shoes, by the way? I did it twice to get the best arrangement. Best thigh workout ever.)

But I’m no Carrie Bradshaw–my shoe collection wouldn’t even cover the down-payment of an economy car, much less a condo in NYC. They’re not big brands, most of them cost $20 a pair or less (I love shopping sales!). But they’re mine and I like them just as much as if they’d cost hundreds each (maybe more since, should something happen to one it’s not the end of the world).

And a lot of them? Are 5 years old or more. Some even go back to 1999 and one pair in particular goes back to 1995!

That’s right. For the investment-minded (regardless of the initial outlay), having 50+ pairs of shoes and wearing most on a regular basis means that each individual pair sees much less wear and tear than those residing in merely a 3-shoe-closet.

Granted, my microfiber stretch black boots with the faux-patent dominatrix-style straps along the back and toe ($22, Marshalls, at least 4 years ago) get a lot of wear and have had the heels replaced once (best $11 ever spent). Other shoes need a trip to the cobbler for some minor repairs along the same lines and I do have some favorites that could stand to be swapped out when the right ones come along (or the old ones just give up).

But 85 87* pairs of shoes seems just about right to me.

Unlike clothes shopping, shoe shopping is great.

There’s less in the way of awkward size moments and, pretty much, what you see is what you get. A good heel can make your calves and butt look amazing. A good flat can keep you running errands all day while feeling fab instead of frumpy.

One day, perusing the shoe section of the local Bealls Outlet I came across a pair of black leather, platform ankle-strap heels by Sketchers. I didn’t even know such a thing existed at the time but there they were, outlet priced and on sale even more. Would you believe that they rung up at $0.49? Seriously. And those shoes have served me well for 3 years, at least.

A couple of years ago a local boutique had the unfortunate need to go out of business. Polka Dot Shoes will be sorely missed–their demise a product of the crashing economy and a force of nature that flooded their Lake Ella shop–but I’ve got 9 pairs of their inventory (purchased for under $100 total) to remember them by. Todd and I swung by their sale that morning, I pulled everything that looked remotely interesting and was in my size and in 15 minutes had the stack down to the ones I wanted and we went to brunch. That day or the next it was Todd’s turn: he needed a new pair of all-purpose black work shoes and it took 3 stores and a couple of hours for him to finally decide.

And women get the bad rap as shoppers 😉

My criteria for new shoes:

  1. Will I wear them? Ever. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every week, but I have to know at least one outfit or one occasion where they would be perfect. Keep in mind: a colorful shoe looks amazing with an all-black or contrasting color ensemble.
  2. Is the price right? When you’re on a budget (and aren’t we all?) it helps to know your comfort zone as far as cost goes. For me the upper limit is now in the $40 range, though if I find a sale I’m a happy camper. But just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s automatically coming home with me, which brings me to…
  3. Does it fill a need? This is a big one, for me, because I already have so many shoes. If it’s another pair of black heels, for instance, it needs to stand out from the rest in a couple of ways to justify the expense and the storage space it’ll take up in my closet. But I also keep a mental list of shoes to be on the lookout for: right now it’s a good pair of gray heels and black and brown stacked-heel loafers to replace a couple of pairs that are wearing out.

Notice I didn’t say anything about comfort–it’s a secondary consideration for a really great pair of shoes. Fit is important, sure, but a little pinch here or there can be worked around if you play your shoe cards right.

*Soon to be 88 when my next Shoe Dazzle order comes in. Just like the Haunted Mansion… there’s always room for one more!


Up Next on the 64 Arts? Our Style Discussion takes a practical turn as I share my shoe storage tips (for both home and away) as well as tips for walking in heels without becoming a moving violation.