Posted on January 11 2017
High heels have been a staple of fashion since 1590. They are a versatile shoe, pairing well with formal and informal clothing—ranging from jeans to cocktail dresses. But it’s not just history and tradition that make high heels a keystone for women’s couture; all types of high heels offer benefits that everyone can appreciate.
High heels provide a taller appearance and slimmer physique, which can wonderfully boost self-confidence for a variety of reasons. They also manage to work leg muscles, forcing the calf to compensate for how the shoe is worn. So we know what a high heel (pump, wedge, or otherwise) can do for you, but what comprises a heel? And what can you do to select a pair that is comfortable?
The Anatomy of Heel
The high heel consists of many parts, but today’s piece focuses on the five parts that greatly influence the comfort of wearing this style of footwear.
- Breast: Under the arch of the sole is where you’ll find this forward-facing part.
- Counter: Stiff material positioned between the lining and upper that helps keep the shape of the shoe.
- Heel: The part of the sole that raises the shoe’s rear, which should range from 2” to 6” and of a width based on preference.
- Sole: The portion of the shoe that the wearer’s foot rests upon (insole) and the exposed part of the sole that contacts the ground (outsole).
- Top Piece: Portion of the heel that comes in contact with the ground.
As you can see in our illustration, there are other parts of a high heel, but we’ll save some tips, tricks, and hints for those at another time. We do want you to come back, after all.
5 Qualities of the Heel To Make Wearing High Heels Comfortable
So let us explain the five qualities of a heel that can make wearing this type of shoe comfortable or uncomfortable. This is true for heels, ranging from fun and flirtatious to sophisticated and cultured, made for both girls and women.
Where is the heel placed?
Placement of the heel is vital. If it’s too far back, it won’t properly support your weight. A quick reference to determine if the heel is in the proper place is to check if the center line of the heel sits directly under the center of your own heel.
How thick is the sole?
As with most things in life—from cars to couches to bedding—you’ll feel more comfortable when given some extra padding. This is especially true on hard surfaces. Check the insole for appropriate padding; if not, think about adding a gel insole. A platform-style outsole can also help reduce discomfort through added impact absorption.
How rigid is the sole?
If the sole is quite rigid, it’s likely made out of wood or hard plastic. Soles composed of leather and rubber have more pliable, so they adjust better to inconsistencies on walking surfaces.
How thick is the heel?
So, you already read in this article that heel thickness is based upon preference. Here are some things to consider: the wider the heel, the greater the stability. If you have difficulty walking in heels or have any sort of balance issues, a thicker heel is recommended.
How secure is the heel?
If your high heels are easy to slip out of, they will be more difficult to walk in. Any footwear should feel like an extension of your physical body, not a foreign object that could flop off at any given moment. A slingback or high heel pump will likely be better for you than a mule, and a boot or heel with a strap that secures your foot and ankle from the front is even more highly encouraged.
At SRI Shoe Warehouse, we have an incredible selection of high heels, running the full gamut of types, forms, styles, and more. And if you need questions answered, our knowledgeable staff will be happy to guide you to the best possible high heel for your preference and the occasion.