Strictly speaking, stilettos, named after the long skinny knives, are skinny heels three inches and over, although many people use the term stilettos and high heels interchangeably. Also known as spiked heels, stilettos are the most challenging shoes to walk in because the heels are so delicate.
The rules for buying heels are the same for buying any shoes: Do wear the right size. Don’t cram your feet into too small, too narrow or too big shoes. But they also come with their own set of rules: Don’t wear super high heels more than 12 hours at a time. Do stretch your calves after wearing heels; high heels can cause your achilles tendon to shorten over time.
Here are some other things to look out for when buying high heels:
Platforms make it easier to wear high heels since they reduce the angle of the heel and balance the foot better.
Pointy toed shoes make your legs look longer, which makes you look thinner. When trying on these shoes, remember that the point is ornamental, not functional. You’re not supposed to squeeze your foot into the point, there should be plenty of room in there. And don’t do anything stupid like having cosmetic surgery on your feet. Shoes come and go, but your feet have to last a lifetime. Since ultra high heels push your feet forward, you may even want to go a half-size larger when selecting pointy shoes. But make sure the shoes don’t flop off your heel when you walk. You could break your ankle, or get a blister.
Spotlight a slim ankle with a strap. Ankle straps also help hold the shoe on your foot–helpful if you have narrow heels.
Pair peep toes with tights–opaque or textured–not sheer panty hose. Matching your tights to your skirt or your shoes creates a long leg line. For a subtle look match neutral shoes with tights of the same color. If you’re wearing bright shoes and a neutral dress or skirt, match the tights to the garment. If you’re young, slim and daring you can opt for bright tights and neutral shoes, but this isn’t a look everyone can wear.
Do not wear sheer hose with open-toed strappy sandals. In fact, do not wear sheer hosiery at all. If you want to protect your foot from straps that rub or bite, use a product like Blister Block to protect your feet. It really does work, but you have to remember to reapply it if you’re wearing the shoes for any length of time. Do make sure your feet are sandal worthy before donning strappy shoes. Chipped polish, unsightly callouses or rough soles will detract from your look. A pedicure is worth the investment.
If you’re under five feet tall, don’t wear sky high heels. Everyone wants to look taller, but jumbo heels and big platforms can make you look like a little girl playing dress up. Stick to shoes three inches and under that are more slim than chunky. Slingbacks, which help give the illusion of height, are another good option.
As we grow older, we lose some of the fat on the bottom of our feet–fat that cushions our heels and the balls of our feet. Look for built-in comfort features such as gel insoles or padded footbeds. You can also buy inserts specially devised for high heels.