Blog

WILL THIS HIGH HEEL BE COMFORTABLE?

The problem

Have you ever bought high heeled shoes which made you walk as though you’d had a few, when you hadn’t touched a drop? Some high heels aren’t designed to be comfortable, others are badly made, and some look as though they’d provide support but don’t.

woman wobbling in red high heels and white socks

I wasted too much time and money in my youth trying on and buying high heels, which just weren’t comfortable. In fact, some were simply unwearable. Over the years I’ve been working in the footwear industry, I’ve developed simple methods for making and buying comfortable high heels.

The impact

Unless you’re looking to start a shoe brand (if you are, give me a shout), you’ll be interested in the buying side of things.

Trying on shoes can be a faff. Shoe shops are often over-heated and noisy. Taking off your shoes and socks and prising on a pristine pair can be hot work. I’ve put together this video, so you can discover in under 2 minutes which heels to bother trying on (and which to leave on the shelf).

How to do it

In case you can’t watch the video just yet, I’ll summarise.

The Shelf Wobble test

Simply poke the shoe from the side whilst it’s on the shelf. If it wobbles and keeps on wobbling, or even falls over, then it won’t support you.

If the shoe stays nice and flat on the shelf, and just swings around as you poke it, then it stands a much better chance of being comfortable.

A word of warning: be careful not to damage the shoes! I can’t bear to think of you paying for uncomfortable shoes.

Be a shoe shopping whizz

For more essential tips on finding comfortable, beautiful shoes, download my book The Shoe Shopping Kit. Alternatively, you can join my mailing list, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Do you have any shoe-finding tips you’d like to share with other shoe lovers? Why not pop them in the comments below?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GIVE YOUR GIRLS THE SHOE EXPERIENCE

We’re excited to announce that our very own shoe-themed hen party activity The Shoe Experience is now live on the excellent party planning website Freedom.

high heeled shoes of different colours lined up on a shelf shoe experience

The Shoe Experience takes place in a top department store in London, and promises to “send you rocketing into shoe heaven”.

Book London Shoe Experience, and you and your friends will get a crash course in shoe shopping like a celeb.

Meet for a glass of fizz and nibbles. Get a quick run-down of which celebs wore what recently, discover the hottest celebrity shoe trends, and the 5 secrets of shopping for glamorous shoes which are actually comfortable.

champagne in cooler and full champagne glasses shoe experience

After that, your very own shoe expert Susannah Davda (as seen on TV) will guide you on a VIP shoe shopping experience in a top London department store. You and your friends can try on as many pairs as you like, and receive honest, unbiased, personalised advice from the expert.

Susannah has over 18 years’ experience in the fascinating world of women’s footwear. She loves to help groups of women to shop smarter when shopping for shoes, and has even written a book about it: The Shoe Shopping Kit. She also helps brides and wedding guests to find the perfect footwear for the big day. Don’t forget to have a look at all of her personal shoe shopping services on the VIP page .

photo of susannah davda in circle

This activity is perfect for fashion-loving groups, and is bound to leave the bride gushing about the wonderful day you planned for her. Top friend points to you!

If you’d like more details, head to the Freedom website, where their amazing team will help you plan the perfect weekend to end all (single) weekends!

Freedom logo shoe experience

Choose Freedom for all your London hen party needs; an unrivalled choice of activities, in the very best locations, with accommodation if needed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HIGH HEELS AT WORK – TV APPEARANCE

I received a call from a TV producer last Friday, asking if an ITV reporter could come and talk to me about shoes. Parliament were due to debate the petition entitled “Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work” on Monday 6th, and they knew I had strong opinions on footwear.

petition to government high heels at work

The petition was started by the rather brave Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from work at PwC for refusing to wear high heels. Thanks go to Nicola for raising awareness of this issue.

To find out what I had to say about work, women and high heels, have a look at the clip.

Susannah Davda on ITV TV News talking about high heels video

Were you as surprised by the statistic my survey revealed as I was?

I find the journey we’ve faced as women in the workplace fascinating. In the past, there were just a few job opportunities available to our gender, and only until we married. The magazines I read as a teenager led me to believe that everything was now equal, but in fact we’re still working towards having complete freedom of opportunity in the UK and around the world.

Just Seventeen magazine cover

 

Every little step made towards this goal should be seen as a success. Shortly after the news story hit the media, Nicola Thorp’s ex-employer Portico amended its dress code to allow flats. Parliament devoted one hour and eleven minutes to debating whether employers could dictate the wearing of high heels. Their unanimous decision? Absolutely not!

I say let your shoes help you to the top. Don’t be afraid to wear smart flats if that’s how you feel most comfortable and confident. Still love your heels? Don’t worry, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort. Sign up to my mailing list, or download my book The Shoe Shopping Kit to get top tips on finding comfortable, beautiful shoes.

Are you a flats fan, or do you refuse to wear anything but heels to work? Do you feel forced to wear high heels by a company policy or by the culture of your workplace?

woman's legs kicking off heels office chair

I’d love to hear about your experience. Please let me know what style of shoes you wear to work in the comments, or via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WONDERFUL WOMEN – ROBINA BRENNAN OF SMART WORKS

I meet many great women who do amazing things, so I thought I’d introduce you to some of them. In my Wonderful Women series we talk about life, shoes and what these women do to make a difference. In the first part of this series, I enter the world of Robina Brennan, Partnerships Manager at the women’s charity Smart Works.

Do you fancy having a spring clear-out of your footwear? Read on to find out how your shoes can change lives.

Meet Robina Brennan from Smart Works

Robina Brennan of Smart Works with clothes rail

Q. What does Smart Works do?

A. Smart Works is an organisation which is all about empowering women and boosting their confidence to help increase their chances of getting a job. We support women who are out of work or on low incomes by giving them a free styling session, smart interview outfit and interview coaching. It’s an extremely effective service and 58% of the women we see go on to get a job within six months. Women are referred to us from a range of partners, from job centres to charities that work with ex-offenders and people suffering from domestic abuse or homelessness. Each woman spends two hours with us before an interview, getting that crucial bit of support and encouragement. We follow up with clients a month after their appointment and if they are still jobseeking we can signpost them to organisations we work with that can give them further, specific support. If a woman gets a job, she can book a ‘second dressing appointment’ and come back to get five pieces to add to her work wardrobe to help build up that capsule wardrobe that she can wear to work. We also invite clients to join our Smart Works Network which meets monthly and we have different talks, workshops and sessions on personal and professional development topics.

Happy Smart Works client Maxine French in a smart black and white dress

Q. What’s your role at Smart Works Robina?

A. I’m extremely lucky to have a very varied role. As Partnerships Manager, I work on research and outreach to work effectively with our partners and increase our outreach to support as many women, specifically ‘hardest to reach’ clients, as possible. I also work with our retail partners, such as Bobbi Brown and Hobbs, to co-ordinate donations and fundraising events and campaigns and work with our corporate supporters in a range of ways also. I’m very lucky to be responsible for the Smart Works Network and to be the Smart Works Representative on our fundraising volunteer group, Smart Works Inspire.

Robina Brennan of Smart Works with her back to a rail of clothes

Q. What’s your favourite part of your job?

A. As we are a small team, I get the chance to be really involved in a variety of areas, which I enjoy immensely. Working at Smart Works is extremely rewarding, I see amazing women realise their potential every day. Sometimes I get to spend time styling clients or giving interview coaching sessions and I’m hugely passionate about it. Seeing a woman come in really nervous and unsure of what to expect, lacking eye contact and feeling anxious and then seeing her leave standing taller, prouder, looking you directly in your eye and smiling with her newfound confidence is something which will never get boring.

Happy Smart Works client Maxine French laughing

Q. Which styles of footwear do your clients need?

A. Our clients go for every job under the sun so it’s great for us to be able to offer a range of options. Some clients like high heels, some flats and the same goes for colour, texture and shape. As we are dressing women for interviews, flat shoes of any colour and style are very useful as are shoes with small-medium heels or block heels- shoes which are generally easy to walk in.

Full length photo of Smart Works client Maxine French in work outfit

Q. Where does Smart Works get shoes from?

A. We rely on the kindness and generosity of individuals to donate shoes, as well as receiving some from our retail partners. As shoes are often items which people are sentimentally attached too, it always seems to happen that shoes and handbags don’t tend to get donated often so we are always thrilled to receive these pieces.

A rack of colourful women's shoes at Smart Works

Q. How can I donate my shoes to Smart Works?

We have two offices in London (Islington and Ladbroke Grove) and offices in Reading, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh with more to come. You can post us items or bring them to one of our offices, which is a great chance to see what we do in person. All location details can be found on our website.

Women's high heeled shoes displayed at different heights at Smart Works

 

Many thanks to Robina for taking the time to talk to me. I volunteered at Smart Works as a stylist for several years, so I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact that Robina describes.

Now what are you waiting for? It’s time to detox your shoe wardrobe and send your unwanted styles to Smart Works.

If you’d like some help working out which styles to keep and which to donate, why not book my Shoe Wardrobe Analysis service? One client said “Thrilled with my new shoes, my wardrobe analysis and my VIP shopping trip. Years of discomfort followed by ugly compromise are OVER once and for all!”

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

5 WAYS TO TELL IF YOUR SHOES WILL GIVE

Have you ever been told by a sales assistant that the shoes you’re trying on will “give”? So have I! But what does it mean?

Will my shoes stretch or give?

Some shop staff use the word “give” to mean “stretch”. They might encourage you to purchase a pair which are too tight when you try them on, by saying “they’ll give over time”.

Here are my 5 fool-proof ways to tell if your shoes will stretch:

Question 1: Are they lined?

A. If yes, the double layer makes your shoes less likely to stretch than a single unlined piece of leather.

Question 2: What are they made from?

A. Woven fabric and synthetic leather uppers are less likely to stretch than leather. Stretch fabric will usually give to the shape of your foot.

Question 3: Are the uppers stitched?

A. If there’s a row of stitching where you need the shoe to stretch, this will either prevent the “give” effect or the stitching will break under pressure. If there’s a larger panel without stitching, this may stretch a little where your foot pushes against it. Beware of unstitched straps on sandals, because they can quickly stretch and become too long.

Question 4: How stiff is the upper material?

A. Patent materials have an extra coating which creates the shine effect. This is like adding an extra layer which as you’ve seen in Question 1, adds stiffness and reduces the ability to stretch. Any coated materials or extra thick leathers are less likely to give in a short period of time. Suede usually stretches more than standard leather, especially if it’s lined with a stretchier material such as pigskin leather.

Question 5: How much time do you have?

A. Are you willing to go through pain to (possibly) get comfortable shoes? How many wears could you put up with discomfort, before you achieve the holy grail of comfortable, beautiful shoes?

Can I get my shoes stretched?

This is always risky. You should consider the following 6 points before using shoe stretchers, methods on the internet, or taking your beloved pair to a cobbler.

1. Your shoes can become overstretched, or stretched in the wrong places leading to a further compromised fit

2. Stretching could break the stitching, so the life of your shoes could be shortened

3. The upper material could be weakened or torn

4. Shoes will never stretch in length, because the sole and structure prevent this

5. They might not stretch enough, so you could waste time or money

6. The look of your shoes could be altered

Will my shoes get more comfortable?

Unless your shoes have a serious design flaw (I remember a pair of Puma Mostro trainers with a hard plastic heel stiffener – ouch!), they should become a little more comfortable with wear. The upper will crease where your foot flexes, and the material should lose some of its out-of-the-box stiffness…eventually!

One last warning: If you buy shoes which are too narrow and they stretch to accommodate your feet, you could end up with some unsightly bulges on the sides of your shoes.

The moral of the story

You should always buy shoes which fit your feet on first wear, because they’ll look and feel great on you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MEET THE DESIGNER – SARGASSO AND GREY

If you enjoyed reading Sarah from Yull’s insights into the world of shoes, you’ll love the next interviewee in my Meet the Designer series.

Katie Owen is the founder and director of Sargasso & Grey. We met a few years ago when she reached out to me for some shoe business advice. Since then her brand – which specialises in wide-fitting footwear – has gone from strength to strength.

Meet Katie Owen

Q. What has been the most successful pair of shoes you’ve designed?

A. The Ava shoe has been a real hit. It is a nice wide EEE fit so even though it is pointed, it doesn’t squash the toes. The heel is a stylish yet sensible height and the lace up detail is ideal for women who may need a wider fit at the front but have slim heels, as it keeps the foot firmly in the shoe. Kitten heels are the hot style for 2017, which makes it stylish as well as comfy! We launched it last autumn in black suede and it got such great feedback that we now do it in a navy suede and a maroon suede.

Q. Can shoes change your life?

A. Well ill-fitting shoes certainly can. But not for the better! I know a number of women, some under 40, who have endured painful foot surgery due, in part, to years of wearing poorly fitting shoes. However, when these same women find a pair of shoes that fit them perfectly and make them feel elegant and comfortable, well then that really can feel life changing!

Q. What are the elements that make a high heel comfortable?

A. Some women can wear heels with little discomfort; others struggle with anything over a few CM. I can happily wear a 10cm heel all day so long as the shoe is wide enough at the front. If you aren’t used to wearing high heels but want to wear them then my advice is to avoid stiletto (skinny) heels and opt for a wider block heel, giving a wider base to support your body weight. Be sure to find a pair of shoes that are the correct width.

Be sure to find a pair of shoes that are the correct width - Katie Owen Click To Tweet

The wider the shoe the bigger the surface area to support the ball of your foot and the more space you have to spread your feet. Cramped toes = pain! A high heeled shoe which has a strap or other type of fastening over the bridge of the foot will help keep the foot back, and help prevent your toes from constantly trying to grip the shoe to keep it on.

Q. What’s your favourite place you’ve travelled with work?

A. The furthest I have travelled for my shoe business is Spain. That said, I love going there and seeing the shoes being made. I also love wine and tapas! In one of my previous jobs I got to live in New York for a while. That was a lot of fun!

Q. How did you become a shoe designer?

A. Quite by accident. I have wide feet and was moaning to a shoe designer friend that I could never find stylish shoes in a wider fit. She suggested I design some of my own and put me in touch with a shoe factory. Things just went from there. I had to educate myself on all aspects of shoe making and design so, as well as visiting a number of shoe factories and learning from the shoe makers themselves, I also enrolled on a shoe design course at London College of Fashion. I can’t really profess to be a shoe designer; I simply make classic shoes for women who want them to be stylish but need them made in a wider fit.

 

Make sure you check out more of Katie’s elegant designs over at Sargasso & Grey. Even if you don’t have wide feet yourself, your wide-footed friends and relations will thank you for a recommendation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

7 LAST MINUTE VALENTINE’S E-VOUCHERS

Would you rather receive a card picked up in a supermarket, or a lovely pair of shoes for Valentine’s day? I’m guessing that as you’re reading a shoe blog, you’d prefer the latter.

Shoes as Valentines

Do you trust the love of your life to pick out a pair of shoes you love, and which fit you perfectly? Neither do I!

I don’t want anyone to end up with carnations from the garage, or a disappointing pair of shoes. So here are my last-minute shoe e-voucher options. Buy them for your loved one, or drop hints to them so they can fund your shoe habit.

These are all instant e-vouchers, so you don’t have to wait for the postie. Just email them straight to your partner’s inbox, or print them out.

Zalando

This German website has a massive selection of lovely shoes. From brands that you’ll recognise, to smaller made in Spain labels. They offer free delivery and returns to the UK. I’ve ordered several pairs in the past and been impressed with the service.

Evans

Although not top of the range, Evans offers a good selection of affordable footwear. They have wide E fit and extra wide EEE styles as well as standard D fit options.

Debenhams

With a reasonable selection of shoe styles from work to occasion wear, most ladies could find something they like in the Debenhams footwear department. If not, they can always spend their voucher on the great make-up selection.

Ecco

Did you know that Ecco sell comfortable high heels? With cushioning in the right places, soft leather and supportive heels, these could be the answer to your shoe prayers. Ecco also make flat boots, work styles and casual options, as well as being famous for golf footwear.

Karen Millen

A brand famous for its dressy styling, Karen Millen also sells elegant workwear and sleek casual options. The shoe range is concise, like a capsule wardrobe for a sophisticated woman. The quality of manufacture and materials are good, so this voucher will suit those who like a little luxury.

Topshop

If you want trendy shoes inspired by the catwalk, opt for an e-voucher from this High Street stalwart. Topshop are never shy of colour or edgy shapes. Shop here and stand out from the crowd of people wearing generic footwear styles.

House of Fraser

This department store has a great selection of unusual shoes for occasions. That’s on top of plenty of work and casual options. If you haven’t checked out their shoe selection recently, it’s definitely worth a look.

Don’t forget to share this post with your lover (hint hint!) and your friends via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, so everyone gets warm fuzzy feelings on Valentine’s day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

VALENTINE SHOE TREAT

Are you (im)patiently waiting for Valentine’s Day? Perhaps you’re hoping that your Valentine’s gift will be shoe-shaped.

Pamper yourself

Don’t wait around for someone to shower you with flowers, cards, chocolates (and if you’re lucky, shoes). Treat yourself to something life-changing.

Help I’ve got too many shoes!

Do you have a wardrobe full of shoes you can’t wear? When you book a Shoe Wardrobe Analysis session, I will personally come to your home to help you sort through your footwear.

You’ll try on your shoes and we’ll discuss whether they fit, are comfortable and if they reflect your lifestyle and personality. Don’t worry, this doesn’t take long, because I can spot why a shoe is uncomfortable in an instant.

We’ll then make three piles:

  1. Keep
  2. Sell
  3. Give Away

I’ll look at your clothing, and provide you with a shopping list of missing footwear styles you need.

I can even take away the shoes you don’t want, sell them, and split the profits with you. This saves you time, and means you don’t need to worry about queuing at the post office.

 

The perfect shoes

If you’d like my help to fill your shoe gaps, you’ll love my One-to-One VIP Shoe Shopping experience.

We go shopping for footwear which looks great on you, fits perfectly, is comfortable, works for numerous occasions, and makes you smile.

Painful footwear can ruin your mood, and your day. After you go shopping with me, you’ll never have to hobble to an important meeting again.

It’s important that you look and feel good. High quality footwear doesn’t have to cost a fortune, so I’ll help you understand what to look for. As a result, your shoes will look so good, people will think your clothes are top quality too, even if they’re not.

You’re under no obligation to make a purchase, and I never work on commission for brands or stores. You’ll simply be guided towards the shoes of your dreams.

You can transform your shoe wardrobe with my help.

Because I love to have you reading the blog, I have a Valentine’s shoe treat for you. Get a massive 30% off the regular price of either (or both) of these services:

Simply enter the code “valentine17” when you purchase either of these transformative experiences, and your discount will automatically be taken off the price.*

 

*This discount is available until midnight on February 14th 2017.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MEET THE DESIGNER – YULL

I love meeting people who care about shoes as much as I do.

In my new blog series Meet the Designer, I reveal the fascinating discoveries I’ve made by interviewing my favourite shoe designers. You can read all about what drives and inspires them here.

I first wrote about fabulous British brand Yull’s colourful brogues in 2015, and after meeting the designer Sarah at a trade show, I couldn’t resist sharing her AW16 collection with you.

Meet Sarah Watkinson-Yull

Q. What has been the most successful pair of shoes you’ve designed?

A. Hmmmm, that is a hard one. Our longest standing shoes are the Chelsea Boots which we sell all year round! However our most popular shoe so far has been the Harrogate shoe which is launching for retail at the end of February. The wholesale orders for this one shoe were phenomenal!

Q. Can shoes change your life?

A. Absolutely! I am a firm believer in this. All of our of shoe boxes read ‘Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life’ The right pair of shoes can give you confidence to achieve your dreams I believe.

Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life - Sarah Watkinson-Yull Click To Tweet

Q. What are the elements that make a high heel comfortable?

A. The pitch is the most important thing. Most people think that it is about height however a higher heel can be a lot easier to walk in and more comfortable than a kitten heel depending on the pitch. The distribution of weight in a shoe as well which is why stilettos are not as comfortable as a block heel. The lining and fabric used on the shoe also matter. We try where possible to put extra padding in our shoes.

Q. What inspires you?

A. All of our shoes are named after and inspired by a place or event in the UK. For example in the new collection we have the new additions Margate, Tenby inspired by the beautiful coastal towns.

Q. What’s your favourite place you’ve travelled with work?

A. Recently with work I’ve been to Hong Kong and Paris. Both amazing cities but very different, too hard to pick a favourite I’m afraid!

Q. How did you become a shoe designer?

A. I’m not really sure to be honest! I sort of fell into it. I think it found me!

 

You can look at/drool over/purchase Sarah Watkinson-Yull’s unique and wonderful designs over at yull.co.uk

Don’t forget to drop shoe-shaped hints to whoever’s trying to woo you this Valentines day!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SHOE TREATS

  • This season Vogue has given us permission to colour clash (link in blog). Neon embroidery contrasts against sweet pink patent. I love the easy 55mm heel.
  • Rise above others wearing their classic summer colours (blah), in these stark black and white calf leather beauties. The 1970s platform vibe is here to stay.
  • These pointed flats in soft lavender-coloured kid suede give comfort with an edge of cool. The neon red embroidered butterfly is a Sophia Webster signature.
  • These bow sandals are anything but twee, with their tan and neon colouration. They even come in a mini me version for your daughter/niece/granddaughter.
  • Mid height Mary Janes don't have to scream "librarian". These glamorous silver leather shoes have been embellished with a delicious crystal covered bow and heel.
  • Stash these away for the warmer months, or do the socks and sandals thing. Blue sandals make all but the palest bare feet look tanned.

 

Have you got the winter blues? Cheer yourself up with Sophia Webster’s new collection in delightfully unexpected colour and material combinations.

Need more inspiration to try the colour clashing trend? Vogue recently published a feature showing us how to wear 5 unlikely colour combinations.

Click through the slide show to find buy now, wear now styles and a couple to save for Spring.

Can’t afford them yet? Start saving now, or even better, drop some Valentine’s Day hints.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment