I’ve never been a casual footwear type of gal, which is precisely why finding the one hack to wearing high heels without pain has been an important mission of mine. Honestly, the thought of slipping my feet into sneakers just never sat right with me. And despite a brief fling with Doc Martens, the number of sensible shoes in my wardrobe began to rapidly deplete until I realized I owned not one pair of flat kicks. But as they say, with beauty comes pain. Despite my commitment to a life of platforms and high heels, I never quite got over the blisters and discomfort that so often come as a byproduct.
Now, I’ve yet to find a cost-effective method of preventing blisters that actually works, apart from committing to constant tights-wearing or reapplying Band-Aids all day long. Unfortunately, even those methods don’t help with open-toe heels.
Platforms and flat-forms came to be my saviors for a while. I can stomp around all day and night as long I’ve got a thick wedge placed between my heels and toes. Stilettos and block heels, however, have long proved to be trickier.
I may be a hardened heel advocate, but the lower foot pain in this case just never seemed to be worth the payoff. However, I’ve come to swear by one very cheap, slightly weird-sounding, simple trick to avoid that dull pain in the balls of your feet. You know, the kind that comes from attempting to wear anything taller than three inches with a heel thinner than a pencil for more than two hours straight.
This technique was pioneered by Marie Helvin, the ‘70s supermodel, muse, and former wife of British photographer David Bailey, who spent countless days and nights during her formative years on the catwalk and red carpet in sky-high shoes.
Helvin spilled her heel-wearing secrets a few years ago, and I’ve been an advocate ever since. What might that secret be, you ask? Taping your third and fourth toes — from the big toe outwards — together.
Now hear me out. I know it sounds ridiculous. I know this because every single person I proceeded to tell in amazement after trying it laughed me out the door.
But it works.
Helvin outlined some sketchy science in her explanation to The Daily Mail in 2014, noting that by taping your middle toes together, the muscles in your feet align, thus taking the pressure off the balls of your feet.
Whether her explanation is 100 percent scientifically sound is, in this case, slightly irrelevant. By my fourth day of wearing five-inch ankle boots without any pain, I was sold. Personally, I prefer using Band-Aids, bandages, or soft tape, since the thought of securing my two toes together with anything stickier gives me goosebumps and the fear of damaging my feet even further.
On the occasions when I want to completely avoid any signs of blisters, I still allow for enough heel-free days to allow my feet to recover. Or I slip back into my sturdy platforms.
I’ve heard people argue that my new, near-daily ritual is ridiculous, that no shoe is worth that much pain or effort. But how different are heels from other small rituals we undertake every day, such as applying makeup? The payoff in terms of the confidence I feel when stomping down the street in a pair of killer heels is worth way more than the extra 30 seconds added to my morning routine.