Ginger Pop: You Better Work

In honor of the fab new shoes I have recently acquired.

As individuals, we all have our strange talents. My friend Jenn has the strange ability to pick the exact size Tupperware container needed for food just by eyeballing it. My mother can tell exactly what needs to be added to any recipe to fix it just from the look. Baraza resident Katie has the gift of making commitment phobic males fall deeply in love with her after like a week. It’s weirdness.

What’s my talent?

I can walk in heels. It’s a strange gift that others automatically associate with me even though I spend more time in ballet flats, Toms, and Converse. Part of it is that I have fantastic shoes that draw envy; the bigger part is that I work those shoes.

Unlike the Katie voodoo or the Jenn spatial intuition, my talent can be learned. Here is my simple guide for learning not just how to walk in heels, but how to work it out every time you put them on without permanent foot injury.

Pick shoes that fit. For crying in the mud, let go of your vanity and buy whatever size you need. Keep in mind that different shoes, even by the same company, will fit differently. Go shoe shopping at the end of the day when your feet are tired and swollen. Try the heels on, walk around in them, dance, hop, etc. If you can’t stand them after wearing them for a solid 5 minutes, don’t waste your money.

Make your shoes feet friendly. Dr. Scholl’s has a wonderful line of stiletto friendly products including heel grips, scuffs, and ball pad. If your shoes are too big in the heel? Heel grips it is! Also look at the wear pattern on your flats. If you wear more heavily on the inside of the foot, get arches to put inside your heels. I lean heavily on the outside balls of my feet, so I put ball pads slightly off center. For those just getting into the heel-wearing lifestyle. I would buy one set of each thing for your shoe emergency kit. Different shoes will call for different aids and it helps to have them on hand to try out at home. (Cheapo tip: scuffs make the bottom of the heels less slick. You can achieve the same thing by sanding the sole of the shoes or scuffing it on concrete).

Break them in.Don’t be a rookie and wear your new heels to the office for the day. That is a surefire way to train your feet to hate those shoes. Instead, spend about a week wearing them for short errands or around the house. Or, follow my lead and complete my heel breaking in ritual described below.

Learn to haul ass in them. Remember that scene from Sex and the City where Carrie literally books through NYC in four inch mules, chasing Aiden’s dog? That was nuts. While I probably can’t do that, I can catch a toddler or a cab in mine. The trick is simple: shift all your weight onto the balls of your feet and make those heels fly. Don’t give in to the temptation to bend your knees too much or shorten your stride.

Find a good shoe repair guy. My heels are so fab and I get such good wear out of them that I have to have the heels recapped or the shoe resoled. Find someone who uses quality materials and doesn’t overcharge (resoling costs about $15, toe caps about $3, heel caps about $5). When your shoes start to show signs of wear, take them in for some freshening up. It’s cheaper than buying new shoes.

If you are new to heel wearing, the best way to go from novice to expert is to learn how to live in heels. Prince, a man in his 50s, lives in his heels and so can you.

  • First, get yourself a pair of heels at about 3 to 4 inches tall. Platforms are nice because they add extra cushion, but keep in mind they also add extra height. Pick a pair that have a half inch to a one inch wide heel and aren’t too pointy. Once you get your groove, you can go higher, thinner, and pointier.
  • After making them feet friendly, for 30 minutes each day, walk around your house doing your normal chores in your heels. Don’t sit on the couch or just walk across a room. Mop, climb stairs, play with your dog, cook, or whatever. The more active the better. Try not to focus on the heels; focus on the task and doing it as quickly as you would in flats. Increase the time to an hour once you can handle 30 minutes. Your goal is to pick up your feet and move, not shuffle along like a crazy bag lady looking terrified that you will fall on your face.
  • If you find your posture makes it hard to get your stride going, do that old book on the head thing with your shoulders rolled back.
  • As you get stronger and more balanced, try to add new challenges. Go out to get the mail. Run errands around town. Once you get the balance and stride of it, you ready for the most important part.
  • Dance party!

Dance party is my heel breaking in ritual. I put on Tina Turner, starting with “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and ending with “Proud Mary.” Man, can she work some heels–her walk in “What’s Love Got to Do With It” kills. By the time I get the the literal running in place required at the end of “Proud Mary,” my shoes are pretty broken in. If they still feel snug, I repeat wearing socks with them.

Now you can be this:

And not this: