We’re not over the heel

Georgina Smith / 14 June 2016

If, like me, you love the look and practical advantages of heels (trust me, there are at least two) it seems a shame to relegate them to the back of your wardrobe when you get older.



It's true, heels can be painful. As Marilyn Monroe said, "I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot". Read: what woman in their right mind would inflict such pain on their fellow sisters? Well, Vivienne Westwood for one.

Taking the highs with the lows

There really are advantages of wearing high heels. In quite the literal sense, too – in that they 'add' to your 'vantage'. Having that extra height means it's easier to spot your friends or other half in a crowded room. No need to weave through the throng in search of your people: in a pair of heels you can get a visual and signal them for another drink, that you need saving from some half-acquaintance’s halitosis, or that it's time to go – without shifting an inch. (Which is a good thing if your feet are in too much pain to move.) 

And, if like me, you're a Jamie Cullum in a world of Sophie Dahls, then a pair of high heels helps even out the playing field. Unless, of course, everyone else is in heels, too. In which case some serious platforms might be in order, à la Elton John.

A pain in the arch?

But we all know that the pros of heels are often outweighed by the cons. Who here hasn't perfected their outfit, left the house feeling absolutely smashing, only to feel completely immobilised halfway through the night? Blisters, aching ankles, and tête-à-têtes with hard surfaces: these are just some of the risks of placing form over function.

Your focus should be on relaxing and having a magnificent time out – not on keeping upright. Which is why I've asked around for some sage advice and secret tips on how to keep your beauty on a suitable (if not sensible) pedestal.

1. Use half insoles or gel inserts

You may need to buy your heels in a size or half-size too big to accommodate the extra padding, but the difference in comfort can be immense and your feet will thank you come the end of the day. Insoles and inserts are readily available at all major pharmacists.

2. Platform wedges: the ultimate optical illusion

Because platform wedges help distribute your weight more evenly across your whole foot than traditional heels, you can achieve more height with less pain. And because there's more sole surface area, they may reduce the risk of taking a tumble.

Wearing the 1970s again

3. Block heels

You can still achieve a dainty look, even with a chunky block heel. Go for something strappy (but supportive) and you'll have the perfect look for that summer soiree. The trick, however, is not to go too high; unless your pair of block heels has a cushioned platform sole, the balls of your feet may feel the pressure after a couple of hours.

4. The high heel boot: casual comfort

Maybe not the best sartorial solution for a formal occasion, but if you're intent on gaining that extra height for a casual daytime do, then a pair of well-made heel boots could be just the thing. Teamed with jeans or a maxi skirt, heel boots can yield super stylish comfort.

5. Keep a spare pair of ballerina flats in your handbag

It's the end of the night, and you've done exceptionally well to look great and stay mobile. But if it's a bit of a walk to the car or taxi, or if the night is young and you fancy a stroll, your feet will thank you if you've got a compact pair of flats on hand to make it to the finish line.

Stay true to your sole

Studies have shown that regularly wearing high heels can damage your feet. It may also increase your risk of falling – and as our bone density weakens with age, the risk of fractures is greater and may have serious consequences. But on the flip side, it has been suggested that wearing heels may help to maintain our sense of balance as we age, which could safeguard against falls in the first place.

It's really up to you to make the choice, and if in doubt always talk to a healthcare professional if you're concerned about the risks heels may have on your health.

Preventing falls

Too flat-out for heels?

And if you simply want to ditch the heel altogether, it doesn't mean foregoing style. There's an abundance of super swish flats out there for any occasion. Matched with a smart clutch, you'll still turn heads. But it won’t be because you've spontaneously disappeared from view…

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.