What if there were a magic number you could measure that would tell you exactly what high heel height would be your most comfortable to wear? What if science could finally tell you why your coworker could wear her 4 inch Manolos all day at work like nothing, while you can barely muster a kitten heel? According to an article I rediscovered buried in my browser bookmarks, there is!
So maybe not that magical, but I have been meaning to try this test (written by a podiatrist) to measure your ideal heel height for some time now, and given a change in my recent shoe purchases, this seemed like a good time to do it. You see, spurred by a mix of moving near San Francisco (hills! more walking! less driving!) and that boring, nagging thing that can no longer be ignored after a certain age called “practicality”, my beloved 4 inch high heels are slowly getting replaced by easier-for-me to walk in 3 to 3.5 inchers. This got me thinking back to that magical measurement I had been meaning to try, and curious as to what it would say is my “ideal” heel height. Could it be in any way accurate? Would it correspond with the recent heel height trends taking place in my wardrobe?
Let’s try it, shall we?
Depending on many factors including the shape of your foot, flexibility, arch height, etc., your foot has a natural incline while in a state of rest, that if measured, can indicate which shoe heel height would feel most natural and comfortable.
I’ll note here that I made one modification to the original instructions. Instead of using the tip of the big toe as a measuring point, I chose to use the point where the ball of foot bends. This just made an enormous amount of more sense to me because 1) isn’t that where your foot naturally starts to incline in high heels?, and 2) I would have an “ideal” heel height of around 5 inches using the original instructions, which is just crazy-talk.
Measurements will be taken with the following points of the foot in mind:
- The heel (where the high heel of a shoe would sit)
- The bend at the ball-of-foot (this is my modified step)
- Sit in a chair and extend your leg straight out in front you.
- Let your ankle and foot relax so it rests at its natural incline.
- Tip: I did a few rounds of exercising my ankle and foot (rolling my ankle, pointing my toes, etc.) and then letting it relax to get a feel for what my true “relaxed” state felt and looked like.
- With a measuring tape or ruler, measure the distance from the heel of your foot, straight out to the point where your ball of foot bends.
- The measurement on the tape measure where your ball of foot bends indicates your foot’s natural incline and “ideal heel height”.
Tip: this is easier with the help of a friend, roommate, or significant other, but it can be done by yourself with a little creativity.
How I measured without help:
- Set up a camera to take photos against a wall with a camera remote, but a self-timer, selfie stick, or the buttons on an iPhone head phone cord could also be used to take photos from a distance.
- Taped a measuring tape onto the wall at the same height as my extended leg while sitting in a chair.
- Made sure the measuring tape, and my extended leg/foot were all within the picture frame by taking a few test shots.
- Sat in a chair, extended my leg, and took a few photos with a camera remote. I stretched my foot and rolled my ankle in between to make sure I got a few “relaxed” shots.
- Uploaded my photos and drew lines in Photoshop.
My Ideal Heel Height
After a few rounds of taking measurements, my “ideal heel height” came in somewhere below 3.5 inches, which just so happens to correspond with my recent propensity toward heels in the 3 to 3.5 inch range. In my case, this formula seems right on the money!
I’m super curious to hear if this test works for you! Let me know in the comments if take the test and if your measured “ideal” heel height really is one that is most comfortable for you.