Pilates in Heels: The Experiment
New York City fashion. In most ways, I feel like I've nailed it. How to pair black and wear color, how to sport statement pieces, vintage finds, silk, leather, carryall bags, tiny clutches, you name it. And yet when it comes to heels, I'm as clueless as a Wisconsin dairy farmer.
Don't get me wrong. I love a gorgeous pair of heels and I would love to pull them off effortlessly. I'd love to meet a 7-foot-tall guy and wear 6-inch stilettos 12 hours a day. But honestly, I find it hard to wear anything over 4 inches for an hour. It's remarkable how many girls in New York can pull this off. And like me, they're not all fashion editors with a car service. Like me, walking is their primary mode of transportation, and they clock miles a day without a change of shoes.
There are stories that heel masters like Victoria Beckham wear stilettos on the treadmill. (Don't worry it's a rumor; she only just started exercising). And sure, they admit, no pain no gain. But there's a difference between suffering a little pain for fashion and walking around like a defeated hobbit after the workday is done.
Is there something I'm missing? Is there a way to train your feet to withstand the pain? When it comes to learning, I'm an immersion type of gal. So I, with my friend Bryce Gruber over at TheLuxurySpot, decided to try a little experiment for the sake of fashion. In a new series, we're going to try out a variety of vertigo-inducing heels in the most inappropriate situations possible. An activity that's totally insane to do in anything but flats? We're there. Could we find out the hard way some tips and tricks for wearing heels? If I were to run a mile in stilettos, would it make wearing them to the office a breeze?
For the first run, we decided to start out simple, something active, but not too strenuous. What's the one place we regularly frequent that would draw stupefying glances our way as we treaded on $4,000 machines in sharp heels? Pilates. And to go all out for our stiletto workout look, we donned some fabulous leotards, courtesy of American Apparel.
The lovely folks at Kinected Pilates Center graciously allowed us to do so throughout their beautiful Flatiron space. Owners Carrie and Matt McCulloch led us through a traditional sequence that, with added height, was all the more challenging. As a Pilates and Gyrotonic fanatic, it was a thrill to try out the moves in an unexpected way. Would I work out in heels at home? No chance.
For this round, Bryce and I traded off two pairs of shoes throughout the two-hour workout to sample how each felt. I started with the latest fashion craze, lacy sky-high heels, with the new Heart Beat model from Chinese Laundry. For a brand known more for fun fashion than a focus on comfort, the elastic-back heels were surprisingly easy to wear. I teetered a bit when I first put them on, but after a few walk-arounds, I was wearing them with ease. And with little active movement or strenuous work, I could easily wear them for hours. The secret is in the front heel platform. An added 1-inch to the front makes the overall angle of the shoe a mere 4 inches. Take a cue from Jessica Simpson and seek out heels that provide this added comfort bonus. Cuteness factor: 7. Comfort factor: 6.
I next tried on a model from Pelle Moda, a gray heel with a crisscross snakeskin front. They looked splendid with my blue-and-black getup. I mainly did a ton of stretching in them, so again, didn't put them to a hard test. I was a big fan of the soft leather. The heavy weight of the shoe actually helped me keep my balance for such a height. Would I take them for a walk around the city? Not quite yet.
Stay tuned for more experiments into the wide world of stilettos as we delve further and further into arduous situations. And if you have any suggestions for where we should try on some heels next, please let us know.
Follow Ariston on Twitter @Aristonian.
Gallery: Pilates in Heels: The Experiment
Photos by Adrian Rand. Styling by Jeremy Jankowski.