Friday, February 17, 2017

How High is High?

Yesterday, our male mail man (how redundant is that?) delivered my new shoes from Payless.

Whenever I shop in person at Payless, I try on sizes 11, 12 and 13 even though 12 is my "normal" size because sizing is very inconsistent and varies depending on the style and the maker of the shoe. So buying shoes online is a crapshoot and I try to avoid it because my success rate is about 50%.

But occasionally this girl falls in love with a shoe that she just knows will not be on the racks in her size at her local Payless store, so she orders online and hopes for the best – as was the case with the shoes USPS delivered yesterday.

As quick as a Playboy bunny, I switched from boy sox to knee-highs and tried on my new shoes. They fit perfectly and felt comfortable as I took a short tour around the house.

I was a happy camperette, put the shoes back in their box and stacked the box with my other shoe boxes, while plotting outfits to wear with my new shoes.

Then it occurred to me that the heels of the shoes looked higher than I expected them to be. Not that I have any trouble walking in high heels, but I was curious about their height because Payless claimed they had a 3 ½-inch heel.

So I got out Stan's Stanley tape measure (all his tools are personally engraved) to size up the heels of my new shoes and confirmed my suspicions: the heels were 4 ¼ inches high, not 3 ½ inches high.

This girl knows her heels!

Source: Intermix
Source: Intermix

Long time Femulate reader, pretty Mindy


  1. I have had similar experience when I would measure a heel height and find that it was taller than advertised.
    My theory is that heel heights are standardized for a woman's size 8 shoe. When you look at and admire the shape and slope of a shoe you are likely looking at a standard sized shoe. when the shoe last is sized for a larger foot it has to increase dimensions in all directions. Therfore, in order to keep the shape and slope of a high heel when the manufacturer increases the size from an 8 to a 12, all dimensions must change, including the height of the heel.
    Just a theory. Shoe manufacturing is outside my area of expertise.

    1. That makes sense, Pat.

    2. Yes it makes sense, its simple right angle triangle trigonometry from our school days ('c' = square root of ['a' squared + 'b' squared]). One of the top buy attributes of heels is the angle of the foot (angle A). The 'look' would change if the length of the shoe ('c' the hypotenuse) would be longer (bigger size) or shorter (smaller size) and the height would stay the same. Therefore the absolute height of the heel ('b') has to compensate to keep the same angle and ultimately the 'look'. The metrics given for heels (size and heel height) are, as discussed below, are based on the manufacturers internal standard shoe size. Sometimes it's mentioned in the small print on the web sites usually not.
      Now to your homework.
      We have the specs for two pairs of shoes of standard size 8, one with a foot angle of 45 degrees and the other 60 degrees (we will base the angle on the arch of the foot, not including the almost flat angles of the toe and heel regions). After calculating the height of the heels compare the heights (in ratio and absolute difference) to a second set of shoes of size 11. Please formulate the results in not more than 300 words. Comparing the wobble and running experience between the two angles is optional but can affect your endnote. Reports on my desk by tomorrow morning at the latest.
      My homework is to go through my heels and make a table of the advertised heel height and measured values and then update my blog heel collection table. :-)

  2. Had to giggle at the Male mail man. I have a friend that corrects me constantly that they are now refereed to as Mail Persons.
    As for the height, Pat has a really good theory. I've noticed the same difference in several pairs that I've had in the past.

  3. I've held Pat's theory for many years - only in reverse. I always figure that the heel height advertised is going to be the same for all sizes. Simple geometry dictates that the style of the shoe cannot be the same for a size 8 as it is for a size 11, so, when I look at a shoe I have to imagine how it might look in the form of a different triangle. If there are manufacturers making shoes that are proportionate, that's great news. It would be greater if they would advertise as such, though. Still, the problem remains that increasing the height to match the length, while making my foot look great, puts the top of my head ever-closer to the stratosphere.

  4. Good theory...sounds logical!


  5. I recall reading a website some years ago (can't remember where) that had an explanation exactly like Pat's. It was somewhat authoritative (a fashion site, I think), so I figure it was correct.

  6. Dear Stana,

    The following are just my thoughts on high heel "heel height" specification. I could be totally wrong ... dunno. Perhaps the heel height specification by the shoe manufacturer is the height increase the heel will give to the wearer, rather than the height of the shoe's physical heel itself. Due to the slope (incline) of high heel shoes, a 3" physical heel probably would only result in a 2-1/4" or 2-1/2" apparent increase in the wearer's height. I once read that the wearer's height increase for a high heel shoe should be measured approximately 2/3 to 3/4 up the slope of the shoe, rather than simply measuring the physical heel's height. Who knows?

    I have a number of pairs of Payless pumps spec'ed at 2-3/4" or 3" heels that only increase my apparent height by 2" to 2-1/2".



  7. Turns out Pat's theory is probably right. Here are links to several sites that all agree--the advertised heel height is generally keyed to a size 8, and the height will increase a bit for larger sizes.