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Walking in heels either comes naturally to you or it doesn’t. Judging by the fact that you clicked on this article, I’m gonna guess that it’s the latter. But that’s okay! You can get by with pair of slip-on sneakers, comfortable flats, or sandals most places. With that said though, knowing how to walk in heels is a good skill to have in your repertoire for a dressier moment when the occasion calls for it. With the help of a few YouTube videos, some must-have shoe accessories, and years of my own experience being a short person, you’ll be taking long, confident strides in a pair of super-high stilettos in no time. Keep scrolling for all the best tips.
Step 1: Choose Your Shoes
To quote the great Hilary Duff, “Let’s go back, back to the beginning.” Before you can learn how to walk in heels, you must first choose the right pair. If you’re a beginner, stick with a shorter, chunkier heel with good ankle support and thick toe straps. A good place to start is with a wedge or a bootie that’ll make your foot feel secure and supported.
As you get more comfortable walking in heels, you can advance to a platform or a strappy heel. Although platforms are usually on the taller side, they’re still a more comfortable option, and thus, they’re easier to walk in. Why exactly? The higher the platform, the less your foot will arch in the shoe, and the less your foot arches, the more comfortable the shoe will feel. Got it? Good. Let’s move on.
Step 2: Stretch Those Ankles
If you typically wear flats or sneakers, you’ll likely benefit from stretching out those ankles. If your foot isn’t used to arching at such an extreme angle that’s required of wearing heels, you’ll need to get them adjusted to it. Pick up yoga, or try a few moves from this YouTuber (she’s a model, too, so she knows what she’s talking about).
Step 3: Practice on Carpet, Not on Hard Floors
For obvious reasons, you don’t want to learn how to walk in heels on hard floors. (I’ve definitely gotten a few bruises that prove my point.) Move yourself to the carpet, and try a few paces back and forth to get the hang of things before moving to surfaces where you could hurt yourself. The thing about carpet though is that it can be slippery! One trick to prevent you from sliding all over the place is to score or sandpaper the bottoms of your shoes slightly. The less smooth the surface, the more traction you’ll get on slippery surfaces.
Step 4: Step Heel First, Toe Second
Just like walking in any other shoe, you’ll want to place your heel down on the ground first, followed by your toe. Yep, it’s really that simple. One other thing to keep in mind is that when your foot is fully planted on the ground, your knee should be straight. That awkward, stompy walk is the result of three things: when the knee is bent, when the foot is planted toe and heel at the same time, or when the toe is placed first. If you straighten your legs and walk heel-toe, you avoid all that nonsense and make it look effortless.
Step 5: Find Your Balance
You can’t have step No. 4 without step No. 5, but this one is so important it deserves its own paragraph. Placing your heel on the ground first also serves as a way to test your balance before fully committing to the step. If you place your heel first and find that your ankle or weight is off, that’s when you’ll roll your heel and topple over. Jackie Aina breaks it down in the vid below: find your balance first with that heel, then plant the rest of your foot, shift your body weight, and walk. In other words, each step has to be intentional, but it’ll become second nature the more you practice.
Step 6: Walk in a Straight Line
This step isn’t all that important unless you’re like, a runway model, but if your goal is to look more graceful in a pair of heels, try placing each foot directly in front of the other when you take a step. This will make your walk look much more elegant and less, you know, like you’re waddling.
Step 7: Look Ahead, Not at Your Feet
The tendency when walking in heels is to look straight down at your feet to watch your footing—or ogle your own shoes—but resist the temptation do that. If you’re always looking straight down, you won’t notice an upcoming crack in the sidewalk, a subway grate, or a cobblestone road until it’s too late. So heads up. Always.
Bonus Tip: Stock up on the below accessories to make walking in heels easier.
Step 8: Forget Everything When It Comes to Stairs
Now that you’re feeling more confident in your walk, time to throw in a few common obstacles. The first? Stairs. When walking, you want to lead with your heel, but when going up a flight of stairs, you’ll want to plant your toe first. (Tricky to remember, I know.) This is because it’s hard to judge the depth of a stair, and if you place all of your weight on your heel and miss the step, well, you know what happens next. When going down the stairs, slightly angle your body toward the handrail so you can fully plant each foot without having to worry about missing a step.
Step 9: Shift Your Weight on Grass
When it comes to heels, the grass is not always greener. In other words, grass = the enemy. Avoid it when you can and if you can’t, shift your weight to the ball of your foot and lead with your toes first to prevent skinnier heels from becoming golf tees. It’s not exactly the prettiest look, but hey, neither are muddy heel caps.