I know there must have been a time when I didn’t wear high heels on a regular basis but I honestly can’t remember it. I’m the person who looks at those pictures of Suri Cruise and thinks, “Yeah, nice shoes”. Everything about high heels are fabulous – the way they look on the foot; how looking down at them when you’re having a rough day can make things seem not quite so bad; the confidence boost those extra inches give; and yes, legs look better in heels than they do in flats. They just do.
Whilst wearing heels can certainly make you feel more confident and sexy, that really only works if they’re worn in a sexy and confident way. Which makes it more about the woman and not just about the shoes. Knowing how to walk in high heels is a skill and these days not necessarily something which all girls are familiar doing. So they think that they can’t wear heels, don’t wear them because they feel self-conscious if they do and before you know it there’s a whole generation of women walking around in what are basically big furry slippers.
Over the years so many women have said to me “How do you do it? How can you wear heels that high all day? Aren’t you in agony?” I am fully aware of how annoying and smug it must seem when I reply that I’ve been wearing them for so long it’s second nature. What I tend not to say is that sometimes I’m in absolute bloody agony but I’ll be damned if I’ll admit it to anyone. But now I have a much better answer: if you want to know how, go and see Sarah Toner.
Sarah runs workshop classes teaching ladies how to be ‘Fabulous in High Heels’. That means fabulous in how you walk, how you feel, your pain threshold and how you look. It’s a 90 minute session which you can do one-to-one, as a small group or with up to forty or so other women.
Having worn heels so often for so long, I had a feeling that I may have picked up some bad habits along the way and was a little nervous to see what Sarah would make of my walk. The other two girls in my class were sisters who’d flown in from Germany especially to do this. Students who claimed to only ever wear flats, although the quality of the heels which they pulled out of their rucksacks meant if that were true they were clearly determined that Sarah’s class would put them on the right path to a life spent in heels.
The first part of the class is about massaging the foot and warming up the muscles. Then you do some exercises to strengthen the muscles in and around your feet and ankles. Sarah’s philosophy is that your feet should be strong enough to support you in the shape of being in a heel even if you aren’t. So you’re not relying on the shoe to keep you up there.
About halfway through we put our heels on and took a walk around so that Sarah could gauge our fabulousness. And then she set to work realigning us. We learnt to open up our hips and walk as if you’re pushing your inner thigh forwards, with your feet slightly pointed outwards. I know that makes it sound a bit duck-like but try it, it’s genius. Sarah taught us to relax the knee so that the lower leg moves easily and before we knew it we all had the sexiest hint of a hip-wiggle. Open up the shoulders, push them down and move them in harmony with your arms and hips to create one fluid movement through the body. There’s an imagination exercise involving an orange which worked wonders for me and was worth being there for if only to see the totally bewildered expressions on the German girls’ faces.
Sarah was a ballerina and so it’s no great surprise that many of the exercises were focussed on enabling us to understand and take control of the body, to have a core strength that would help us to walk well and confidently. In case that sounds like the whole thing is being taken far too seriously, the reality is that Sarah mercifully runs the class with a huge dollop of wit and humour.
Not even she is suggesting that you do the full programme of exercises every morning before putting your heels on. It’s about doing the exercises as and when you can and then reaping the benefits when those heels do go on. Since the class I’ve been trying hard to remember Sarah’s tips on how to walk in my heels and they’re swiftly becoming second nature. The difference feels clear to me and let’s just say that if my husband is to be believed, then the difference can be seen too. Am I now more Fabulous in High Heels? Yes, I do believe I might be.
More information about Sarah’s classes can be found at www.fabinhighheels.com