Belfast Telegraph

Are killer heels a real pain?

Most women want to ditch their uncomfortable stilettos after three hours, but these local women bear the pain, as our reporter finds out

By UNA BRANKIN

We've all been there, dressed to the nines and in our killer heels. Just as the party is getting into full swing suddenly there is that stabbing pain in the feet.

So what do we do. Bear the agony or kick off the heels and take to the dance floor in our bare feet, or sneak on a pair of pumps?

According to a survey by retailer Debenhams, it takes less than three hours in high heels for the pain to kick in.

Debenhams quizzed 2,000 customers on the issue and found that 67% believed carrying a pair of comfortable flats was the key to an enjoyable night out.

But do Northern Ireland's most fashionable women -- and one man! -- agree?

Over half (58%) of heel loving fashionistas felt that following in the footsteps of style icon Victoria Beckham by using gel pads in the insides of their shoes paved the way for many more comfortable hours on the dance floor.

Katie Larmour (29), television presenter and model:

I wear high heels a lot but I stick to a very small expensive collection I've gathered up. Mum always encouraged me not to buy cheap shoes as they damage the feet, although I must admit I ignored that advice when I was younger, and even bought a size smaller and squashed my feet into them.

I wouldn't ditch my heels on a night out -- I'd wear them right until the end. I used to take them off to walk home from my favourite bar when I was a student, which isn't very hygienic, but the bar was at the end of the road where I lived so I didn't have to go far.

I have never really struggled in them; the only pain I've had is with cheap shoes.

These days I always keep gel stickers in my handbag. They're for trekking and hiking but I find them great when I'm walking around London for hours, especially if I skin my heel, which can be really painful.

I'm five-foot-five and was conscious of not being on the tall side modelling when I was younger, so I never wore flats.

I've got more comfortable with my height as I've got older so I do wear them more now.

You can get some elegant day-wear flats -- I have a pair of Miu Miu pumps with a bit of bling that I love.

The highest heels I have are actually the most comfortable. They're six-inch Yves Saint Laurent 'Tribute' shoes -- a design originally from the '70s that is ongoing in different colours every year. They're platforms and extremely comfortable even though they're very tall.

I'm lucky I haven't fallen over in heels. I don't know if I've good balance -- I don't drink much, which helps.

The only time I fell was on a wet floor in an airport.

I broke my finger and my mum blamed my shoes for it!

I'll definitely be wearing heels for my wedding. My fiance (publican Harry Diamond) is taller than me so I have free rein.

I'm so into shoes.

I'm more excited about getting my wedding shoes than my wedding dress and will probably spend more on them -- I'm serious!

Finola Guinnane (24), former Miss Northern Ireland, model and journalist:

I've never ditched my heels — it would spoil your outfit, wouldn't it? I like to look glamorous and there's nothing like a pair of sparkly high heels for that. I do keep a pair of flats in the car but that's because I don't drink and I'm always the designated driver, and flats are better for driving.

I don't find flats glamorous at all though. Trainers are OK and walking shoes are fine, and you can get some cute sparkly pumps, but flats in general remind me of workwear — I used to have to wear them working in a shop — and the sensible black ones I used to have to wear at school.

I'm always in heels — I'm never on the catwalk in flats. I'm five-foot-eight, which puts me well over six foot when I'm wearing my six-inch heels. I always wanted to be taller and I work with a lot of girls who are. I suppose some men might find that intimidating but my boyfriend of eight years (quantity surveyor Diarmaid McPhillips) is pretty tall and my heels don't annoy him.

I don't get sore feet or bunions from my heels but I don't know what it's going to be like when I'm older. Cheap shoes are bad for your feet so I try to buy good quality ones. I can't afford the big designers but I have a Kurt Geiger pair that I like.

I haven't fallen over on the catwalk in heels thankfully, but I have stumbled a bit on the cobbles in the Cathedral Quarter! It's easier to walk in platform heels, and a bit more comfortable. But what I'd say is, if high heels are causing you pain, don't wear them!

Cathy Martin, (40) director of Belfast Fashion Week and owner of public relations agency, CMPR:

I wear high heels a lot, especially for all the social events I have to attend, but as a mum I have to be practical sometimes and wear flats. I have been known to bring flats with me on occasions like the races. The fold-up ballet ones are great for your handbag.

High heels can be very sore and bad for your back.

I wear gel pads in them like Victoria Beckham. They help support the balls of your feet, which can get painful in heels. I've no bunions thankfully, but I have suffered discomfort! It was worse when I was younger and wore heels all the time; I'm 40 now and alternate shoe styles more often.

I do like heels for giving me a bit of height. I'm five-foot-five and I like to be on eye-level with all those models I work with -- not that I feel insecure; it's just nice to feel tall. And my husband's six -foot-four.

My highest heels are five-and-a-half-inch Christian Louboutin and Kurt Geiger platforms. Platforms used to be more comfortable but it's much of a muchness now.

Tina Turner says heels help her dance better. I know I don't like dancing in my bare feet, so I wouldn't ditch my heels to do so.

I have fallen in them many times. I've had stilettos caught in drains and had heels flipped, which have sent me flying forwards, and I've had the odd wobble like Naomi Campbell's famous one on the Vivienne Westwood catwalk.

MARCUS Hunter-Neil (31), aka Lady Portia Di'Monte, drag queen and maverick cabaret hostess:

I take size eight in shoes, so I don't have much trouble getting heels. I have some massive ones I can do cartwheels in.

The trick is to buy shoes that fit perfectly. The higher the platform the better, as your arch will not be as raised. If they pinch when you buy them they'll kill you when you're out.

I've never fallen in heels -- I suppose I've good balance from dancing.

I'd usually wear them all night but when I was hosting in a Dublin club last year I put really nice big heels on at the start, then changed into flatter ones for a few hours -- I could hide them under my long dress -- then change back into the nice ones for the end of the night.

I've got some eight-inch platforms, like those giant black ones Victoria Beckham wore. I got them in Brown Thomas in Dublin -- I had to stretch them as they were so high, they curved the arch of my foot. I use gel pads sometimes but they push your toes into the roof of your shoe if you're not careful.

When I'm off stage I wear boots a lot; I'm not into trainers. My tip for wearing heels would be to put one foot in front of the other! And to wear them in well around the house before you go out, even with socks, to get your balance. Otherwise you'll end up dancing in your bare feet and could cut yourself on glass. There's no chance of that happening to me -- I could do a marathon in killer heels!

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