When I first started dating my boyfriend, he proposed an interesting date night idea: swing dancing.
I said yes — exciting! — but I didn’t know what to wear. The internet told me to buy a special kind of shoe for dancing commonly used in theater and ballroom dancing, but that seemed like a lot of work for one date. I would just have to make do with the shoes I already owned, none of which seemed like they would be comfortable heels for dancing.
I was in college and didn’t have a lot of money to drop on quality shoes, but since then, I’ve worked on understanding my personal style and building a wardrobe that will rise to the occasion for all kinds of sartorial demands, including a spontaneous need for comfortable heels for dancing. (Dancing in heels can be slightly miserable if you’re not prepared.)
If you’re in the market for a pair of dancing shoes — say, for wedding season or weekends at the bars — keep reading for tips to help you stay comfortable, balanced, safe and confident in your heels. No need for sacrifices on style.
Every season brings waves of new microtrends (and Instagram advertisements that follow you around the internet) which brands ride, each aiming to convince you to buy this or that pair of heels. Swept up in options, it’s hard to anticipate which heel style, height and color will fit into your closet and lifestyle and which will cause you to wonder in a few months: why did I waste my money on those?
Shoe expert and consultant Susannah Davda, of The Shoe Consultant, recently shared her best tips for finding comfortable heels with VICE VERSA, which you can read in depth in another blog post, but here’s the gist:
You’ll want a pair of shoes with a leather lining. Leather keeps feet comfortable and dry because it absorbs moisture, unlike other linings made out of plastic. In a pair of heels lined with leather, your feet won’t slide around when you start working up a sweat while dancing.
Also important: cushioning. And not just any cushioning, but substantial cushioning. Some brands design heels with the appearance of cushioning to sell their shoes, but ultimately don’t include enough cushioning to make much of a difference. There’s a test to find out whether a shoe’s cushioning is the real deal: press your thumb into the cushioning to see if it compresses easily. If you can feel the bottom of the shoe easily, then that’s no good. But if there is some resistance, then the shoes will absorb your weight and keep you from feeling like you’re walking barefoot on hard floors.
Lastly, pay close attention to where the heel is positioned on a pair of shoes.
The heel should be placed a little bit in front of the back of the shoe — not all the way to the back. You want your heels to be under your center of gravity and in line with your legs for more support and balance.
How to tell? Check for a curve at the back of the heel. If it’s curved or placed inwards and not straight down, then you should feel more balanced while wearing those heels.
Many people think the key to comfortable heels lies always in the height and shape of the shoes, but that’s not true, according to Davda. A shoe’s lining, cushioning, design and width are all important factors to consider before making a purchase if you want comfortable heels for dancing the night away.
Image: How VICE VERSA’s innovative folding technology works.
A little evening bag doesn’t hide a pair of sneakers very well.
Thanks to VICE VERSA’s innovative heel-folding technology, there’s no need to carry around a second pair of shoes to save your feet from your heels, or worse, end the night barefoot with your eyes glued to the ground hunting for shards of glass on the sidewalk. As if.
Invest in a pair of high-quality foldable heels for nights spent whirling around the dance floor. Any one of the pairs of shoes in VICE VERSA’s debut collection could carry you through a night out (and from your commute to work, to walks for coffee and to happy hour).
Start the night in heels and fold down to flats whenever you need a break. Your comfort is in your control.
Have you ever bought a tiny gadget that made your life so much easier? Like a pair of scissors designed specifically to cut candle wicks or a comb made for picking the pills off of your beloved sweaters?
The internet is full of accessories to make life in heels easier and more comfortable. So say hello to your new best friend: Dr. Scholl’s.
Canadian physiotherapy clinic Strive Physiotherapy and Performance recommends the following accessories to make your heels work for you.
For heels that are lacking in the cushioning department — or for those of us who can never have enough cushioning — buy ball of foot cushions to slip into your heels. They won’t be seen, only felt. Or perhaps you’d prefer a new sole entirely?
Add gel heel liners to the backs of your shoes to prevent blisters from forming around your heels and ankles.
If it’s your toes that are feeling the pain, buy toe protectors — like tiny little sleeves for your toes — to protect your toes from rubbing up against your heels and each other.
Feeling comfortable and confident in heels requires a bit of work on your part, too.
As professional dancer Linda Kuo told The Huffington Post, there are things you can do to feel stronger and look better when dancing in heels.
First, Kuo suggests stretching your feet, calves and thighs before leaving the house in your heels. Your body’s lower half is going to put in some extra work to keep you balanced and poised in heels, so help it out.
Second, pay attention to how you’re using your body while dancing in heels. Engage your core so your strength comes from there, relieving stress on your legs, and keep your shoulders rolled back, Kuo said. You don’t want to look hunched over with your knees bent like you’re just trying to balance. Carry yourself with confidence (and core strength).
Once you’re back home, there are a few more exercises you can do to wind down and prevent pain from greeting you the next day.
According to PhysioTec, an Australian physiotherapy practice, try stretching your calves once the heels are off to ease them into a lengthened position again, as wearing heels shortens your calf muscles. A foam roller can also help relax your muscles after a night of dancing in heels.
Everyone’s favorite YouTube yogi, Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene, even has a free 30-minute class aimed specifically at alleviating foot pain and stretching out your feet, calves, hips and back.
Image: VICE VERSA. When you’re folding your heels and your favorite song comes on.
You could follow all of these tips and still not feel comfortable if you’re not confident in your heels.
Finding the most comfortable heels for dancing also means finding a pair that you’ll love wearing.
Whether you’re so in tune with your personal style that nearly every purchase is a banger or whether you’re still discovering what you want your clothes to say about you, a pair of heels can go a long way in bridging gaps in your wardrobe and elevating (literally) your outfits.
So let’s get to the bottom of your style.
Many books and articles have been written about the value of finding your personal style and how to go about the process.
Tan France, a fashion designer and host of popular Netflix shoes Queer Eye and Next In Fashion, is somewhat of an expert in helping people discover their personal styles and therefore, feel more comfortable in their bodies. (He’s also a good friend of style icon Alexa Chung.)
And he has a Master Class in defining your personal style, which he defines as “the way an individual expresses themselves through aesthetic choices such as their clothing, accessories, hairstyle, and the way they put an outfit together.”
His tips? One, start with what you have.
Pull your favorite clothes from your closet and find what they have in common. Maybe they already begin to spell out your personal style.
Next, get inspired. Inspiration should come from a variety of sources — friends and family, celebrities and influencers, magazines and media. Pool your inspiration together in one place by making a mood board — Pinterest is a wonderful platform for this — where you can see what inspires you and begin to analyze patterns.
Now it’s time to do some shopping. France advises you to begin by building a capsule wardrobe — a collection of basics — and branch out from there into some more experimental wardrobe choices.
When it comes to heels, you’ll want a pair in both categories — basic and fun.
VICE VERSA’s collection of convertible heels features everyday pairs in neutral colors such as black and red, as well as eye-catching styles in interesting colors and designs, like the shimmer heel in mist purple and the disco slingback in midnight black. They’re the perfect heels for a timeless, quality capsule wardrobe featuring comfortable heels for dancing.