Haute Thoughts by Heidi Dillon: The Pleasure and Pain of Fabulous Footware

UPDATE: Shoe Goddess responds to Heidi’s post! 

As much as I sympathize with Heidi’s pain, I wonder if there was any preliminary sign to her foot situation and if she always wore well made shoes? I kind of see the article as a terrible blow to all the women (aged 50+) who gracefully wear high heels without the need of a trainer to teach them how to keep their balance in their high heels.

This article also seems complete nonsense to me as a 45-year-old French woman, who has been wearing heels since I was 16 years old. I understand both Heidi and her mother’s issues with high heels, but I also wonder if there were any steps that could’ve been taken before reaching the extreme. Although narrow shoes and high heels can contribute to bunions (hallux valgus) there is also a hereditary factor and choosing the right pair of shoes is really important. (jump to read more!)


florencefeet.jpgUnless a shoe has perfect balance, I stay away from it. Pointy and very tight shoes are also a big no no. Being married to a fashion designer and a shoe maker, I can tell you that brands like Nicholas Kirkwood, Christian Louboutin, Marni, Roger Vivier, Brian Atwood, to name a few, don’t use a generic last. The lasts are handmade in their factories in Italy. It takes a long time to come up with the perfect last. There are a lot of steps in the process involving over 100 technicians and designers. First a piece of wood is sculpted and carved to become the last. The heel is created in different materials, but it has to come together perfectly with the last. Then the upper, made of soft leather, fabric, or any material, is stretched to mold to the last. The lining is then stitched to the inside of the leather. The sole is sewed to the upper. Once these processes are completed, the shoe is transferred to a machine that simulates walking. The shoe is tested for at least a whole day before being approved.

Besides buying quality shoes there are a few things you can do to help your feet. Massaging your feet daily with oil right after a shower can help by reducing inflammation (which also can be a form of arthritis). There are also a large selection of padded inserts readily available on the market that will provide a tremendous help. We really like Foot Petals. Regular pedicures and the use of a foot cream at bedtime are a must. My favorite is QTICA Overnight Intense Foot Repair Balm. Also don’t hesitate to take off your heels and slip into a cozy pair of slippers as soon as you get home. Your feet will thank you!

I am not too worried about the future of high heels because even if bunions are a major issue that should be addressed seiously, women are not ready to give up the beauty and elegance of a fabulous pair of killer heels.

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Heidi’s original post———————————————–

Heidi Dillon is the founder of The Fashionistas

marnihighplatforms.jpgAs I grow older, my deepest fear is that I will lose my ability to wear high heels. If you take a look around, you will notice that most women over the age of, say, 50 have turned in their hot Nicholas Kirkwood skyscrapers for more “sensible” shoes. My mother, at 85, hasn’t been in a pair of heels for at least 30 years. I am now 55 and my fear runs so deep that I actually instruct my trainer to make me do exercised specifically designed to keep me balanced in my excruciatingly high heels. It’s all about the core and leg strength. Even though I train diligently 5 or 6 days a week, I still feel like I’m teetering on the edge of disaster every time I go out in a pair of my beloved Fendi’s or Lanvin’s.

I only wear killer shoes, as a rule, in the evenings and I usually need two spotters to get me safely from my car to a bar stool where I can then swing my beautifully clad feet around in an amusing manner. The beginning of this downward spiral began three years ago when I had massive foot surgery. Because of my life-long love of fabulous footwear, I developed two bunions and eight hammer toes. (Heredity and years of slamming my feet on the aerobics floor may have hand a hand in this disaster as well). Post-op I was given the most hideous booties and a walker. Honestly, just having a walker made me feel like an old lady.

heidisfeet.jpg priceofheels1.jpg

I will never forget Tina coming to visit me, bearing a bottle of Cristal (though I was in excruciating pain for months, that and a couple of Extra Strength Tylenols were the only pain-killers I needed). I wanted to go out with my husband that evening, but just couldn’t see myself making an entrance with a walker. Tina and I tried to make it work by draping Hermes scarves on it, but it didn’t help. Exasperated, I gave the damn thing to my son who promptly dismantled it and made weapons.

When Bill and I arrived at our favorite restaurant, I had to be carried in. It took six months for the swelling to go down enough just to get into a pair of sneakers and awful looking Taryn Roses’ that I purchases especially for the occasion. Every day I sat in my closet looking at all of my beautiful shoes and cried. A year post- op I was back in my highest heels. Now, most days, I wear my Nikes or flats and save the heels for evening. I pray the day never comes that I have to give them up all together.

19 thoughts on “Haute Thoughts by Heidi Dillon: The Pleasure and Pain of Fabulous Footware

  1. I always wear high heels. But now for daytime I wear comfortable 2-3 inch heels and make sure the toe area is not too pointy. I save the louboutins for evening. I saw my friends with bunions and did not want to get them.

  2. I really wish that you had put that photo behind a cut with a warning. I had to hold back the vomit.

  3. Heidi Dillon on said:

    Hey, how do you think I felt? I had to live with that for months. Just to rub it in, those pins were 3″ long!

  4. Oh my..That looks like a horrid and traumatic experience!! A girl should never have to give up her heels! I’m glad you recovered well =)

  5. …Is it really that big a deal? Foot surgery and a walker are undoubtedly bad news, but I think saving the heels for certain occasions only isn’t horrid news.

    Then again, I prefer “cute” over “sexy,” and that probably doesn’t fly post 40.

  6. OMG. I didn’t know that was a real picture of your feet. I thought you had found a random photo off Google. Were your feet problems all from wearing heels too often??? Looks painful!

  7. Heidi,

    Thank you for sharing! I also have a love of high heels…”the higher the better” I always say!

    Your post shows me a valuable lesson – everything in moderation. Perhaps I can bring a pair of flats in my handbag if I know I will be walking far, or perhaps not wear my highest heels often.

    I’m glad you are back in your favorite shoes and recovered through surgery.

  8. oh.my.goodness..so that photo is a possible look into my future ahhh..i hope by then they have less invasive procedures…i cant believe that in this day and age they dont have an injection that will shrink those bunions or some laser instead! :(

  9. Heidi…my friend at only 18 had to have bunions removed and was on bed rest for months! She is now back in smaller heels and sometimes bigger heels than she should…much to the disgust of the doctors!!

    Her scares where much less how come yours look so bad…btw what is hammer toe….an those pins look so painful!

    L.xo

  10. Heidi Dillon on said:

    Don’t worry. Just because you wear high heels doesn’t mean that you will end up like me. Heredity plays into it and also, I did Muay Thai kick-boxing for a number of years up until I was 51 and, believe me, that didn’t help! (You’re supposed to kick the bag or person with your shin, but I missed a lot).

    Hammer toes are when the middle joint of your toe pops up into and sticks up above your other toes. When this happens, it’s impossible to wear shoes without a lot of pain. They have to cut out that joint and put 3″ pins in your toes until the bones grow together. It’s awful.

  11. My cousin is 26 now. When she was 23, the podiatrist told her to go on “soft landing” (read: flat, cushioned orthopaedics) shoes for 6 months. Since then, she has worn heels sparingly.

    My mother is 60. She still wear heels, at least 3″ every work day, 6 days a week. Her only exercise is hand cleaning her double-storey house marble floor every day and walking up the hill at a nearby nature reserve. She has never seen a podiatrist.

    I wish to be 60 one day and still have never seen a podiatrist, with nary a bunion or hammer toe. Wish me good luck.

  12. Francesca on said:

    ohhh that looks so painful. I am glad u recover, Heidi. Few of my comments in here n I just gotta to say sumtin. I really just glad u are okay now. I know walking in heels just so much more than looking good. I always prefer high heels and still be able to wear heels when I grow older (I am 29) n I know many women arround me who cant wear heels again n it just scared me if I end up like that (see we feel the same) … thank u for ur sharing this with us … I am going to take care of my feet lotsss more now

  13. Heidi Dillon on said:

    Good luck to all my heel loving girls! I will pray that you never have to endure the torture of foot surgery.

  14. Interesting article. Thank you for the picture, it is not usual to post it but I do appreciate it from a scientific stand point. Thank you for bringing up the term “hammer toes.” I am 22, never really wore heels as much as a regular 22 year old (sneakers is more my thing, though I have found myself wearing heels more for work). I think one of my toes is a hammer toe… The joint has always poked up higher than others. I think I’ve always had it, so with some shoes it is uncomfortable as it does rub against it a lot. I have found bigger shoes that it is less of a problem (thick socks help). I think my flat feet and heavy frame prevent me from wearing heels too high. I can never last more than an hour in them. Maybe I just haven’t found the right ones. I have been wearing Naturalizers that are actually pretty cute and the heel height is appropriate for office work.

  15. I am 57 & I wear 3″ heels every day to work. The only thing I notice is my toes hurt alot at night after a day of wearing a different pair of shoes. I wonder if that Yoga Toe thing you see in the magazines works. Also ps offer something to inrease the fat in the bottom of your feet by injection. It is $900 so it costs alot… Better than giving up the heels though!

  16. Beauty Snob Tina on said:

    I think heredity does play into it but you do have to take really good care of your feet!

    I’ve been tittering on sky high heels since I was 13 years old but my feet are fine. I use very rich creams on my feet (they are indulged as much as my face) and I get regular foot massages to stimulate the circulation.

    Thanks to both Heidi and Florence for sharing their views!

  17. My God, the photos of your feet are so painful to view, my dear. Hopefully, you won’t ever have to endure that type of surgery again. It’s a lesson to learn for women who think that “higher is better” in terms of what is fashionable and what do-able. There are so many articles out there that talk about the pitfalls of wearing high heels for extended periods of time (i.e. years on end), but many women don’t take heed to these warnings from medical professionals, not to mention their own bodies talking to them after they remove the painful shoes from their feet each night.

    Be good to yourselves ladies, take care of your feet and they will take good care of you. Treat them badly, by wearing sky high pumps, stilletos, and pointy-toe sandals and they will treat you badly!

  18. Choosing the right shoes is the key, but sometimes we’d rather endure the pain for the sake of looking good. Vanity has its price :)

  19. Sherry on said:

    Just saw this article and wanted to comment, even though its an old one. I know someone, she is over 50, who fell and broke her ankle coming down stairs in high heels. I don’t think her age mattered. I love the look of high heels, but save them for only ocassionally. You can really hurt yourself in these sky high heels.Yes, they are fun, but why do women suffer for fashion??????

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