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There's nothing sexier than a great pair of high heels—that is, if you can master walking in 'em. We asked runway models, shoe experts and Miss J. Alexander to share their top tips for wearing serious stilettos with grace, style and minimal pain.
OK, so being naturally stunning is one half of the whole modeling gig—but keeping your balance in treacherous shoes on a slippery runway is the hard part! Model Hana Jirickova, who will hit the catwalk in a slew of shows this Fashion Week, says yoga helps keep her balanced. The more aware you are of your core muscles, the better chance you have of staying steady.
Take a seat every 20 minutes or so
"Whenever and wherever you can, sit, sit, sit!," says J. Alexander, the reigning diva of fancy footwork on America's Next Top Model. "And cross your legs so that all can see your beautiful, fashion-forward, painful footwear. Think of yourself as a model on a photo shoot and stretch from the waist." So don't be afraid to give your tootsies a rest every now and then—you'll last longer with breaks and give people a better view of your incredible shoes.
Customize and cushion your shoes
When you buy a new pair of shoes, you need to customize them for your feet, says Meghan Cleary, a shoe expert and the author of The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoe Says About You. "Bring them home, wear them for an hour, and anywhere you feel a bit of pain or rubbing, that's where you want to address because it will become very painful after four hours of wear," she says. "You mostly feel it on the ball of your foot, because that's where the pressure has been distributed." She recommends padding them up with Dr. Scholl's Ball of Foot Cushions ($6.49 at Drugstore.com) and Rub Relief Strips ($6.99 at Drugstore.com) "Do it before the first time you wear them out!"
Straighten up—from legs to spine
"Walking in heels is not an easy task, even for us models who wear them almost every day," says model and runway regular Ali Stephens. "Make sure when you take a step you straighten and extend your leg—it'll help you move gracefully and elegantly. Otherwise, you can look very uncoordinated, and your walk will appear choppy."
Slice and dice the soles of your shoes for safety
A slippery surface plus sky-high heels spells inevitable disaster. Prep your soles with a discreet little pad like Grippy Steps, which affix to the bottom of your shoe and help create some traction on marble, tile and carpet. In need of a quicker fix? "Scratch the bottom of your soles with sandpaper," J. Alexander suggests, or—even cheaper—head out to the driveway and start scuffing
Focus on your core
Yup, getting a feel for where your weight falls in high heels is easier if you try it with your eyes closed first—just don't take a step! "Before you even walk in them, stand up, close your eyes, put your hand on your core and get a good feel for them," Meghan Cleary says. "Then open your eyes a little bit, then a bit more, and start taking a few steps while you focus on that core area." Your body will be forced to readjust and use other muscles to help you balance.
There is absolutely no substitute for knowing you look amazing in a pair of stilettos. All our experts agree: "You have to feel good and make it work!" says model Ariel Meredith. "Don't let the fear of stumbling keep you from owning these shoes," advises Ali Stephens, while Miss J. suggests you "think of yourself as a model in attitude and presence," and Camilla Morton reminds us, "When you wear high heels, you look good and you feel good!" You said it, sisters!
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