FESTIVE BEAUTY S.O.S | Wearing killer heels without killing yourself

YOU'VE BEEN at work all day and, if you’re belong to a very small minority of the female population, you’ve decided it’s okay to wear 6-inch stilettos to work. And you’ll be damned if you crack in a moment of weakness (or pain) by taking them off or rubbing your feet. You’ve insisted for time immemorial that they’re really comfortable (ohmigod are they not), and you'll sashay through life insisting as such, walking, head held high, into the horizon with your heels strapped in place. To each her own. This post is for women who can't mask the unbridled pain we feel with every step we take in, what I call, holiday heels on all dozen or so occasions we slip into them each year.

For those of us who haven’t trained our feet to endure the unending pain of fixing spikes on our heels while we teeter around on our tippy toes, the decision to wear high heels to holiday parties -- post work or otherwise -- will be met with swift, crippling pain confining us to a chair or -- for the very steeled (or drunk) -- a gentle sway on the dance floor to momentarily take the pressure off of one foot at a time. By the end of the night those who can’t resist the punchy beats of George Michael’s Last Christmas will be buffing the floor with our stocking-ed feet, which is no way to treat a pair of $50 Wolford’s is it?

So here’s our quick guide to wearing heels without a sense of dread during the festive season:

1. Put fantastically cushy pads in your shoes. Even if they’re strappy sandals, you can buy gel/cushion pads with sticky bottoms for the ball of your foot and heel respectively. A 3-inch heel puts 75% more pressure on your foot than a flat so you need the padding. And, let’s be honest, it’s easier to find an eskimo in the dessert than a woman without feet painfully fettered to shoes with giant tranny platforms and 7-inch heels the width of a crocheting needle nowadays. So the cushion is called for. Dr. Sholls, Foot Petals, Sof Sole and Soft Moves all make great pads and inserts. Carry backup.

2. Carry blister pads, because there is nothing more crippling than a blister. Bitty blisters have been known to stop professional marathon runners in their tracks, so they'll put paid to your plans of dancing with the office hottie in a second flat. Hansaplast makes a very cute little tin filled with blister pads that’s about the shape and size of a credit card. Otherwise, all major drug stores sell a variet yof blister pads in all sizes (Boots, Superdrug, Wallgreens, CVS, Duane Reade), so you can cover them everywhere from your pinky toe to your heel. If you need something that’s unassuming, Hansaplast and Elastoplast also have a brilliant new item called Invisible Protection that is a completely invisible band-aid that won’t look as garish as a regular beige one wrapped around your heel.

3. Bring backup flats. A few years ago, this would have meant carrying a bulky pair of shoes (or, god forbid, a pair of manky flipflops) in your purse. Nowadays it means carrying something that might take up less space than a compact. The issue, bewilderingly, of what you do with your heels when you swap them for the flats is unresolved on some message boards, though is pretty self-evident. Um, leave them under the table (or at coat check if you’re scared they’ll disappear) until you leave and then carry them home. With your hands. They are amazingly versatile things, your hands. Or if you carry an enormous purse, they'll no doubt fit in there.

These flats come in a variety of colors, are relatively inexpensive (especially if you get a few wears out of them) and should protect you from some of the late night horrors that pavements sport (vomit, for one) during the party season.

Dr. Scholl’s new Fast Flats ($12.99) are all over the telly right now (and come with a wristlet). They are the utilitarian version of roll-up, disposable shoes. On the other end of the spectrum are the significantly more pricey (at 35 GBP ) Cocorose flats, which come in a variety of colors and patterns with pretty bow embellishments. And in between are basic flats that come in various colors so you can indulge your preference for, say, red patent leather if you must. Brands include Roll On Pumps, Rollasole, Afterheels (dispensed from vending machines across the nightclub-scape in the UK) and Australia’s After Part Shoes, which, unlike many of the others, is super compact and flexible but also durable -- it’s not disposable. And they even do sandals.

4. All the padding, cushions, inserts and late-night flats will be for naught if you don't practice walking in the sodding things. If you can't make it across the floor of the store in them, or find yourself walking with straight legs like the living dead, THEY ARE TOO TALL. So put them back and keep trying on pairs until you can walk at least what it would take to get you from your taxi to the table.

5. And, finally, ask yourself if you really need to splurge on that new pair red-soled spiked heels (that cost a week's pay) for an event that’ll last four hours -- three of which you and everyone else will be pissed. We promise you’ll look just as good in 2.5-inch heels, maybe even better, because super high heels have a tendency to make wearers who aren't built like the long, lean and lithe Gisele (oh, the irony) instead look like Miss Piggy teetering around.

We'll be doing regular (though not on a scheduled basis Festive Beauty S.O.S. posts so let us know if you have any burning questions about getting prepped for the holidays.

And here's a post from a girl who gives good word on the subject of heels, in case you fancied a bit more reading material.


Image credit

Modified from an original version written by Jessica Teas for the Smarter Beauty Blog.