There are few things more seductive and stylish than a woman wearing a stiletto heel with ease and with poise. There are various types of heeled shoes that a woman can wear to exude style and grace, but nothing quite compares with the level of sophistication and elegance that a good stiletto shoe can give.
Wearing heels every day is something that you become accustomed to over time, but wearing a stiletto heel is a more particular affair. To ensure that you’re not attracting the wrong kind of attention, it’s important for you to understand what a stiletto heel is, when to wear it and how to wear it. This is something I have had to learn the hard way, so I want to help you avoid the unnecessary mistakes that I made and fasttrack your way to accentuating your style with stiletto heels.
What is a stiletto heel
The first thing you have to get right is knowing the difference between a stiletto heel and a regular heel. When you know how a stiletto heel is designed, it will become so much easier to grasp how and when to wear your stilettos so that you don’t kill your feet or come across as uncomfortable and insecure, which can also ruin an outfit. The point of this article is to give you as much knowledge and confidence to wear your stilettos without so much as a second thought.
A stiletto is a shoe with a heel that is specifically designed to resemble the long and narrow blade of a stiletto dagger from which it takes its name. Stilettos can come at various heights, but the heel usually corresponds to the shape of a stiletto dagger where the tip that touches the ground is narrow and sometimes the thinnest part of the heel.
A stiletto in French is also called “talon aiguille”, which literally translates as “needle heel” and the two terms are used interchangeably. This means that while stilettos can be closed or open-toed, and can come in a variety of colors and materials, the heel itself must be designed to be narrow and thin and either tapers in from the top or falls in a straight line to the tip of the heel where it touches the ground.
Contrary to popular belief, a stiletto does not always translate to a really high heel. Stilettos are usually associated with a long and thin heel, which is where the misconception comes from, but as long as the shape of the heel corresponds to the traditional design, whether it is 6cm or 2cm in length, then it is still technically a stiletto heel.
Likewise, just because a pair of shoes has a very high heel, this does not mean that they are considered stilettos if they do not have the shape of a stiletto. However, for the sake of argument in this article, I will use the term stiletto to mean a high heel.
Are stiletto heels comfortable?
Any prolonged wear of stiletto heels, whether they are well broken in or not, will cause some level of discomfort overtime. Because stilettos have very narrow and thin heels that make it harder to balance on, your muscles tire more easily than with other types of heels.
Shoe fit, design and material play an important role in how comfortable or painful stilettos can be. Well-designed stilettos work to distribute your weight more evenly and avoid friction in sensitive areas. Stilettos made with real leather can soften and mould to the shape of your feet over time, as opposed to synthetic or faux leather which does not. Stilettos that fit well make a huge difference if you plan to wear them for long periods of time, but certain things can also help to further reduce pain.
How to make stiletto heels more comfortable
There are two ways that you can approach wearing stiletto heels to make them more comfortable. The first is to do with choosing a particular shoe design that prioritises your comfort and the second involves using pain-preventing products to increase the comfort and wearability of your stilettos.
1- Stiletto Design
There are four design features that make stiletto heels more comfortable. They are; heel placement, weight distribution, fit and grip.
Stiletto heels that are placed right at the back edge of the shoe tend to push all of your weight onto the ball of your foot, so instead, try to wear heels that are placed under the center of your heel, as this will help to distribute the weight more evenly.
Ensure there are no gaps between the arches of your feet and the shoe bed. Instead, you can use insoles in these areas or have them stitched directly into your shoe so that your weight is distributed throughout your whole foot.
A closed-toed stiletto can provide better support than an open-toed stiletto, but make sure that there is enough space for your toes and the lip of the leather does not press into your knuckles as this is a high friction area. Use silicone pads if necessary.
Slip-on stiletto heels can tire your foot quickly because you have to hold onto them by the toes. If your feet are prone to slipping out of your stilettos, ankle straps can help secure the shoe to your foot without the need to hold on too tightly so your feet will not tire as easily.
2 – Pain preventing products
It is possible to mitigate the more immediate types of pain that are associated with wearing stilettos by using a variety of pain-preventing products. However, buying the right shoes in the first place can go a long way to helping avoid unnecessary pain, especially when teamed with products to further alleviate it.
Below is a list of products and a description of what they do, but it’s important to remember that no matter how many products you use, if your stilettos do not actually fit your feet to begin with, then there is no point in trying to prevent pain.
First Aid Tape: works by taping your third and fourth toes together before putting on stilettos. This is supposed to relieve some of the pressure on the nerve between those two toes that causes most of the pain.
Gel Heel Liners: If the back of your shoe rubs against your heel/ankle a lot and you want to avoid blisters, try some gel heel liners. They can also provide more grip and prevent your foot from slipping too much out of your stiletto when you step forward.
High Heel Insole Inserts: Placing this insole into the stiletto starting from the heel. It adds cushioning to your stiletto and can assist your foot by supporting the inner arch and improving the weight distribution.
Arch inserts: If you have a very high arched foot, some people find having a dedicated arch insert can give them the support they need. If you’re wearing open-toed sandals, it’s possible to ask a shoe cobbler to place the arch support under the insole so that it’s built into the shoe.
Body glide: Reduces friction on skin and makes it much easier to slip your stilettos on and off. I would be careful using this with more valuable stiletto shoes however, in case it leaves a residue. But it’s useful for putting in between your toes to prevent chafing when wearing open toe sandals.
Foldable flats: There’s always a bit of relief knowing that you’re not stuck in a pair of stiletto heels that are hurting you the whole day. Always, have a pair of flats that can easily fit into your purse because they can come in handy if there’s an emergency heel snap as well.
I hope you have you found this blog useful and helps you to feel confident and comfortable in your stiletto heels. I would love to see how you use this these tips to find your perfect pair of comfortable stilettos so please tag me on Instagram, Tiktok or Pinterest or you can or send me a message because I would love to see!
About the author
Mish has a Masters in Fine Art and she’s passionate about classical design, style and culture. She loves to analyze fashion and style through this lens to help people develop a personal style that’s authentic and tasteful.