Saturday, 11 February 2012

Head Over Heels

Everybody has a thing. That one item they’re drawn to above all others. For some women it’s jewellery or designer handbags. For me it’s shoes. I was the archetypal little girl tottering around in mummy’s heels, I just never grew out of them. I started my own collection at the tender age of 13 or so with chunky block heels and square toes and gradually moved on to wedges, kitten heels and fine, tapering stilettos. Peep toes, pointed toes, almond toes I’ve tried them all. I love heels firstly because of the way they elongate the leg and make ankles look so dainty. Secondly I simply love how they look. I feel the same way about a gorgeous pair of heels that I do about a really good tattoo; it’s a way of wearing a piece of art on your body, a way of expressing your personality. Over the years I’ve expanded, edited and refined my collection and I’d like to share with you some tips I’ve picked up along the way.

~ I try to avoid buying shoes on impulse, tempting though that can be sometimes. Try to think about how the shoes will work with the rest of your wardrobe and the specific look you want to create with them. Do you want to look demure and sophisticated or to make a bold statement and stand out? Do you like cute, girly styles or prefer boho and vintage? Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes, fabrics and colours.

~ Gorgeous shoes don’t have to cost the earth but it is a good idea to look for quality and buy the best you can afford. I prefer leather shoes as they are usually softer and more yielding than man-made materials and over time will mould to the shape of your foot making for a better fit. A padded, breathable insole is also a good idea as it will make wearing your shoes much more comfortable. Above all make sure your heels fit snugly but not too tightly. Some cheaper shoes can pinch or conversely gape which not only looks terrible but could lead to foot problems as your foot isn’t being properly supported. I always think it’s better to have one pair of quality shoes than 20 pairs of poorly fitting, badly made ones.

~ Be realistic about where and when you can wear high heels. If you’re going to be on your feet all day vertiginous stilettos probably aren’t the best option! You can still wear heels of course –I do virtually every day- but it’s a good idea to go for a lower 2-3.5’’ heel, choose a rounded toe and look for something in a breathable, natural fabric. Boots are great too as they give maximum support to your foot and ankle. Aim to build a collection of comfortable but stylish shoes that you can wear everyday then supplement these with show stopping heels. For those occasions you just have to break out your highest pairs you can always slip a pair of flats into your bag that you can change into if the pain gets too much! I’d recommend also investing in a pair of gel cushions which provide extra padding for the ball of your foot. I have pairs in all of my highest heels and they usually at least double the amount of time I can wear them comfortably for. A bonus with gel cushions is that they help prevent your foot slipping forward- great for high heeled sandals and wedges.

~ Be committed to caring for your heels. Shoes take a lot of punishment so look after them in order to maximise their lifespan. High heels and stilettos in particular wear down much faster than lower/broader heels so get them re-heeled regularly. If you’re as hard on your feet as I am you might even want to consider getting your shoe repairer/cobbler to fit metal heel tips as these last much longer than the rubber type. In between visits to the cobbler keep your shoes looking their best by cleaning and polishing them at home. There are some great time saving products available now that make the process super-quick and easy. For leather shoes I just wipe off any dirt and dust with a disposable cloth then give them a vigorous rub with a Kiwi Instant Shine Sponge, these combine a nourishing polish with a soft foam applicator so they polish and buff shoes in seconds. For suede shoes I recommend a brush like this one from Aldo that combines a brush head and an erasing block that can be used to brush suede and spot treat scuffs. If you want you can even treat your shoes to scented shoe trees to keep them smelling lovely and fresh.

However well you care for your shoes if you only wear one pair constantly they’ll wear out much faster so try to keep your shoes in rotation. This is one occasion when it really is an advantage to have multiple pairs and a great excuse to buy more! Happy shopping everyone!         

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