Many of us will be putting together that all-important outfit. But while it’s fun to get dressed up, it’s also important that you take good care of your feet: after all, you’ll be on them all day.
If you’re off to the races, Rachel Clinkard — from family-owned shoe retailer Charles Clinkard — shares her top tips on how to stay comfortable and enjoy your day in style.
The races have always been a formal affair, but the popularity of events like Ladies Day means that the clothes have become almost as important as the horses. Famous for the hats and fascinators, races attire usually consists of a dress or jumpsuit with a pair of high heels — and while they might look gorgeous, everyone knows what a toll these can take on your feet. Read on to find out how you can spend the day comfortably while still looking fabulous.
Look after your feet – The right style for you
We’ve all been there: it’s nearing the end of the day, the soles of your feet are burning, and you want nothing more than to kick your shoes off. Online searches for ‘comfy heels’ have actually soared by 511% year on year, as well as a 271% increase in searches for ‘easy-to-walk-in heels’ (SEO Monitor). Evidently, we’re all on the hunt for footwear that’s comfortable as well as stylish. This is why picking the right shoe is a vital part of enjoying the races pain-free. Remember that for events when you’re constantly on your feet, it always pays off to be more cautious with heel height. Similarly, opting for slightly thicker heels rather than ultra-thin stilettos can also prove to be better for longer wear and uneven ground like the grass of the racecourse. So, if you’re dressing to the nines for Cheltenham or Aintree this year, it’s best to swallow your pride and swap the six-inch stilettos for something a little kinder on your feet.
While we all hope for warmer weather by Cheltenham in March and Aintree later in April, the Great British weather often has other ideas. If the forecast is colder or threatens rain, then a chic pair of boots can still complete your race day outfit while also keeping you warm and dry. You could even use this chance to lean into the equestrian theme, pairing your boots with a wide-brimmed country hat and a fitted blazer (tweed fabric optional).
Look after your feet – Planning ahead
Research by Plymouth University has linked regular use of high heels to a number of problems including bunions, painful skin lesions, and even reduced muscle power in the feet. However, taking the time to care for your feet before and after you wear high heels can make a real difference in preventing these problems. Firstly, never debut a brand-new pair of heels at an event like the races. You don’t know how they’re going to feel for all-day wear, and you won’t have identified any problem areas like rubbing or being too tight. To avoid ending your day with blisters, be sure to try on your high heels a few days beforehand — even if it’s just to walk around the house for half an hour. This way, you’ll know whether you need to apply blister plasters, adjust an ankle strap, or decide against wearing them altogether. Some people swear by wearing thick socks underneath when stretching out high heels to avoid getting blisters before the big day. This goes for men’s shoes, too: using a shoe stretcher for formal footwear like brogues can help make them far more comfortable.
Look after your feet – Tips and tricks for comfort
When you find a pair of heels that meet the perfect balance of comfortable and stylish, consider buying them in multiple colours. These are a valuable find that can be enjoyed with every outfit, and getting ready for an event without the dread of foot pain is undoubtedly worth the investment. However, if you’ve got your heart set on a pair that you know aren’t that kind to your feet, there’s a few things you can do. As well as wearing them in before the big day, come prepared with gel inserts that cushion the ball of your foot, arch, or the back of your heel as these can be a big help. Always remember to bring spare inserts and plasters with you in a purse or pocket, just in case. One tip that might sound a little obscure is taping your toes. While this may sound like an old wives’ tale, some podiatrists have actually backed the science behind taping the third and fourth toes together when wearing high heels. Reportedly, this can help to reduce pressure and inflammation in some of the key nerves responsible for foot pain (Strive).
Look after your feet – Proper aftercare
If you’ve done all the preparation possible but have still been bested by your shoes, then proper aftercare is a must. Soaking your feet in warm water after a long day in heels can help relax tight areas like your arches or Achilles’ tendon, as well as keeping any blisters or broken skin clean to avoid infection. To really give your feet some TLC, add a moisturising bath soak or essential oil to the water to soothe any sore, dry areas. Let your feet recover and wear your most comfortable flat shoes before the next race!
With Cheltenham and Aintree welcoming back the crowds this spring, many of us are excited to get dressed up for the occasion. If you’re dusting off your high heels for a day at the races, make sure you spend it in style and comfort with these top tips for looking after your feet.