By Sophie Powell (Scientific Beauty) |
I have always had a fascination with high heels. The higher, the better! I always dreamed that with my first paycheck from my first real job I would buy myself a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes; how I will glide around my future office and hold meetings from the lofty heights of my pigalles…
Nothing completes an outfit or gives a woman an air of grace like a pair of good heels. However, it pains me to see beautiful, stylish ladies have their look completely ruined by their inability to walk in their heels, however gorgeous they may be!
At the age of 16 or so we reached sixth form age and after a lifetime of wearing flat school shoes we are allowed or even expected to start wearing heels and to be able to walk in them. Like many things this doesn’t always come naturally and nobody actually teaches us how to walk in high heels!
I was never popular in school. Yet from my first day of sixth form I had a distinct advantage over the ‘popular people’ in the style stakes who had spent years running around the hockey pitch in trainers. I could actually walk in my sky-high school shoes, without resembling the Hunchback of Notre Dame, prompting many compliments that I still hear as I strut around the lab today; ‘how do you walk in those things?’.
My secret? At the age of 14 I started salsa dancing. After a couple of years I was teaching it. I then went on to master just about any partner dance you can think of, from your standard waltz and cha cha cha to lesser-known Caribbean dances such as bachata and kizomba. All of these dances are danced in heels and after years of training in these disciplines, which often require flying round a room backwards with your stomach pressed against another person, walking down the street is a piece of cake! I’m not suggesting you go out and devote your life to Latin American dance (although I promise it’s a lot of fun!), but if you do struggle with heels why not try my top tips below? Grab a pair of heels; beg, borrow, steal if necessary; and follow my 5 steps to have you strutting like a samba dancer in no time…
1. Pick your poison
If you’ve never worn heels properly before don’t launch straight in with a super-high, pointed stiletto. A chunkier heel increases surface area on the ground, giving more balance and pick a style with straps so you don’t have to contend with keeping the things on as well. You have enough to concentrate on for now!
2. Stand up straight
Sit down whilst you put your shoes on and then stand up. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, weight evenly-distributed and focus on keeping your spine straight. Feel how your bum and thigh muscles are tight; allow this feeling to spread up your spine, pushing your shoulders back* and lifting up your chin to make yourself as tall as possible. *By shoulders back I don’t mean stick your chest out like a pidgeon, just enough to open the chest – if it helps stick your arms out to the side, keeping your shoulders as low down as possible, and then relax your arms back to your sides, leaving your shoulders where they were.
3. All in the hips
You’re nearly ready to start walking, but now I want you to focus ALL your attention on your hips as this is where the movement if going to come from. Tense your abs slightly, as if showing off your six pack. This should bring your hips forward, focus on keeping them there. Never stick your bum out behind you!
4. Best foot forward
You’re now going to start walking, one foot at a time, heel-toe, heel-toe. Obviously right? BUT as you’re about to take a step, keep the focus on your hips – if you lead with your feet your legs will feel like they are running away from you and you will hunch over to keep up and move the centre of gravity over them. This is the most common mistake I see. The centre of gravity should always be over the hips, which in turn control your feet down the length of your leg. Lead with your hips, moving each one forward with each step, but don’t exaggerate unless you actually are doing the samba. If your hips are forward, your back should still be straight, your abs a bit tense and your bum and thighs will be poised and perfect with each step.
5. Wiggle wiggle wiggle
So you’re walking with your hips forward and you’re looking great! With a bit of practice you will start to get a natural wiggle. This comes from another key point – don’t bend your knee as you put weight onto your foot! This is big mistake number 2 which makes you look like you’re walking on the moon. Or like a Thunderbird. As you transfer your weight down the leg onto a foot, that leg should straighten. As you bring the next leg forward, lean your weight into the straight leg and allow the hip to roll backwards as you extend the other leg forward and step. Repeat on this leg and so on. Full-speed you will have a sexy side to side wiggle. The further back the standing hip, the further forward the leading hip can move, extending the leading leg further out and increasing size of step, meaning if you’re in a rush you can still move about rapidly without having to totter like a Barbie. This is how dancers get those famous ‘sexy hips’ and the exact same rules apply to walking, sequined micro-dress optional.
So there you have it, a dancer’s secret to walking in high heels! Remember practice makes perfect and don’t forget to enjoy the ride in your gorgeous shoes! Though your feet may hurt, I always feel more relaxed in heels as everything else is relaxed and open, wheras I have a tendency to slouch in flat shoes or when I am sitting down. Let me know if you found these tips useful – hopefully getting about in heels shouldn’t be a problem again!
Feature Photo: Dennis Skley/Creative Commons