It doesn’t have to be a tall order to be on your feet from your I do’s to your last dance—even if you have traded in your flats for stilettos as part of your bridal ensemble. Follow this pro advice as you countdown to the big day and you’ll be kicking up your heels in joy rather than kicking them off in frustration.
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If the Shoe Fits...
Ill-fitting heels are a major cause of foot pain, no exceptions. To ensure your soles are prepped for their high-fashion marathon, outfit them in gear that will help them go the extra mile in comfort. To find the best shoe fit possible, start by trying on options at the end of the day when your feet will naturally be at their biggest. Slip on your typical size, as well as sizes up and down, until you find the most optimal selection. Last, go for a stroll—around the sales floor and, if possible, on a carpet and on a hard surface—to test out how your favorites feel all over. “You don’t want to let your toes suffocate in a tiny toe box!” says podiatrist Suzanne Levine from the Institute Beauté. Nor do you want your ankles slipping out of the backs. If there are any concerns, work with a sales associate you trust will give you proper feedback.
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Petite? No matter how tempting, avoid gravity-defying shoes, cautions Victor Chu, a former footwear designer who now teaches classes on walking in high heels and has been nicknamed the “Stilleto Whisperer.” “Five- and six-inch heels are designed for women over 5’6,” who wear a size nine or higher,” he explains. “They have longer feet that can stretch the distance of the pitch these heels create.” Three- and four-inch heels are instead a better option to help shorter women reach new heights and remain smiling while doing so.
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“Our feet are ingenious architectural marvels that literally support our whole body,” Levine says, adding that each foot is composed of 26 bones, 56 ligaments, and 38 muscles that absorb more than twice your body weight with every stride. “Inserting heels into the mix means you have to balance just as much pressure on a smaller surface area.” To help ease the burden, she recommends either seeking out shoes with a wider heel or ones with a platform at the front to offset a high stiletto at the back.
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Break Them In
There will be plenty of new things to experience on your wedding day, but you don’t want your shoes to be one of them. To make them feel like old favorites, break them in ahead of time, suggests America’s Next Top Model judge and runway coach Miss J Alexander. “Use your hands to bend them back and forth to soften the material a bit, especially along the instep,” Alexander says. “Then put them on and walk around your block a few times, or wear them to run a few errands or maybe even walk your dog—and look fashionable while doing so!”
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Learn How to Walk
It should be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, and it is. But some mindful adjustments can help you truly hit your stride in high heels. “Walking heel to toe is the safest approach, as this most closely mirrors your normal gait,” Levine says. “Ideally, your toes should lie flat and be parallel with each other and your heel should be in line directly below the back of your leg.” To prevent wobbles, especially on the dance floor, Beyoncé’s tour choreographer Dana Foglia recommends finding your center. “To help with balance, I stress the importance of using your core and placing your weight on the balls of your feet while in your heels,” she explains.
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Good posture is the best way to keep on your toes in high heels. Most foot pain aggregates in the balls of the feet because the shoe heel causes the upper body to redistribute its weight forward. “To alleviate this pain, engage your abs, stand up straight, keep your shoulders back, and look forward (not at your feet) when walking,” Chu says.
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Practice Makes Perfect
Still worried about dancing the night away in high heels? Work your way up to it. “My advice is to practice at home with lower heels on a hard surface a bit,” Alexander says. “Do not practice on carpet. It’s a different feel! Then, keep practicing and work your way up to a four-inch-high scraper.” To master a spin or a twirl in towering shoes, take a dance class with your fiancé to perfect your moves. Foglia says, “I recommend taking your heel-training seriously, like any other dance form is taken.” Or make it fun. “At least one month before the date, throw a walking-in-heels party with your bridesmaids and have it at a location with a very long hallway (20 feet or more),” Chu says. “Practice walking the length of the hallway/runway and have your bridesmaids critique and help with the proper technique.”
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Take It Easy
Now that your work is done, slip into your high heels and relax—literally. Take your time walking down the aisle, Levine says. Large strides can throw off your center of gravity. “If you do step on your train or on a loose bead, keeping your center while engaging your abs is the best defense from taking a tumble,” Foglia adds.
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And Have Fun
Or, as Alexander says regarding any trips, “Hold onto the man you just married called husband!”