If there’s one torture device that most women would willingly use, it’s the high heel. As inseparable from the idea of feminine fashion as Rapunzel locks and miniskirts, the stiletto — and its many enviable cousins — has been doling out equal measures of pain and pleasure for centuries.
While heels tend to be an evening luxury for most, there are some poor soles who wear them for a living. Model Hemangi Pate says, “I’ve had to wear heels that are over five inches at times, because the shoe is a crucial part of the designer’s look. Though it happens rarely, shoes might not be constructed well, making the heel wobbly. We have to ask the designer for another option then, because all our attention goes into trying not to fall rather than showing off the right attitude on the ramp.” Pate reveals that most models stick to flats when they’re not working: “Especially after Fashion Week, you develop a certain type of pain in your lower back because the ramps are long and you do so much running around backstage in between wardrobe changes. Soaking your feet in hot salt water helps ease the pain.”
Nicole Alvares, celebrity dancer and choreographer, owes her shapely legs to many years spent in 3 ½ inch heels. “But dancers’ shoes are different. They’re suede-based, so they take the shape of our feet and have better support,” she explains, adding, “But there’s always a high element of risk, because of the number of lifts and jumps involved in the dance routines. If you don’t land right, you could severely injure your knees and ankles.” Alvares’s advice to high heel newbies: Constant pedicures and foot massages to avoid corns and muscle pulls. And if you need to be fairly active in heels, wear a foot cushion to prevent the ball of your foot from getting sore.
Dr Nishita Sheth, aesthetic dermatologist, Looks Clinic, points out to the increasing trend of dermafiller injections in the ball of the foot, which help ease the pain of wearing heels among those whose careers force them to. “These consist of a soft injectable gel which contains hyaluronic acid and is easily absorbed. Costing between R12,000-R15,000, the patient can put pressure on the heel immediately, and the fillers last for up to eight months,” she says.
– With inputs from Shweta Mehta
Bespoke shoe designer Ateev Anand has an interesting formula for figuring out the right shoe. “Scientific studies have proven that Carrie Bradshaw, the iconic petite character from Sex And The City, can be propped up on a maximum heel height of 5 inches without a platform in front,” he reveals, adding, “As your body weight starts increasing, the heel has to be lower, or balanced with an appropriate platform.” Here are some tips on how to select the right heel. Never buy a pair of heels with rexine or patent leather on the inner sole. These are slippery and don’t offer enough friction for the foot to stay balanced.Uppers (the part of the shoe that encases your foot) need to provide support by holding your foot in place to balance out the heel height. Peep-toes are ideal.Chunky heels are trendy right now and exert less pressure on your feet than stilettos.
Fashion week marks that time of the year when your unconditional love for heels is tested to its breaking point. The day starts at 10 am, usually running across the road to catch a cab, trying not to land unceremoniously on your face. This becomes especially tricky in the monsoon, since stilettos were never designed to be all-weather gear. The first sign of foot despair hits at lunchtime, when those 15 minutes spent sitting down only serve as a reminder of the eight hours left to go. By 5 pm, you’re ready to saw off your feet, stopped only by the fact that bloody stumps aren’t fashionable accessories. As the clock chimes 10 pm, and the last show ends, you’re lifted by a second wind, which propels you towards the door faster than anybody else, trying to catch the first cab back home. Aching sore soles make you swear you’ll never strap on another heel again… until the next day, when it starts all over again.