Walking around campus can be hard enough, but can you imagine adding heels to the mix? Well, that’s just what two Her Campus UFL team members did. For a week, editor Jessica Curbelo and writer Veronica Quesenberry wore heels to class. These ladies braved the shoe-induced pain and are sharing their perspectives on this unique fashion challenge.
I wouldn’t know how to classify my results, but the experience definitely reshaped my previous sentiments about people wearing heels all day. Wearing heels for a week also made me reevaluate my personal expectations for the better.
I’m no stranger to wearing heels for a day-to-day look. I have several pants that are way too long for me, so I pair them with platforms. My personal philosophy is that while an ensemble should go together, the shoes should stand apart, so I’m often wearing some form of heel. When I wear them, I’m not usually out all day, and if I am, I choose a comfortable heel. But, being away from home and thus being away from all of my shoes, I had limited options and still wanted to mix it up.
I wore six-inch platforms, lace-up booties and pleather wedges to class for a week starting on a Thursday. Luckily for me, this meant I had a two-day break after the first two days of wearing heels, which I needed.
I spent all day that Friday walking across campus for hours in the six-inch platforms, while carrying heavy bags. At the end of the day, as I sat in my room writing a different article, I realized that I had pinched a nerve in my right shoulder blade. So, I spent the rest of the weekend in my dorm room stretching, resting and trying to turn my head again.
It turns out that if something happens to your feet, another body part can also be affected. An alternative healing method known as reflexology evaluates the relationship between the pressure points in your feet and corresponding pressure points throughout your body. I must’ve walked with too much weight on the balls of my right foot to have messed up my shoulder.
Ditching the platforms, I stuck with the shorter wedges and booties throughout the next week. I didn’t have any more problems with pinched nerves, but I noticed some people had some problems with my heels. Just based on the looks and general disposition of others glaring at my feet as I walked passed them, it was clear that something about my heels disgruntled them.
Was it just the audacity that someone, a student, would wear heels to class that was off-putting? Were they upset that it was me personally wearing them? Did they secretly wish to wear them, too? Out of politeness, I didn’t ask any passer-byers why they seemed annoyed when they looked at me and my heels. I assumed it wasn’t something to do with me specifically but rather something to do with them.
One thing that did actually bothered me, was when I walked on a narrow sidewalk with other people. If there were many people passing by me or if there was one person close to me, none of them would move. I had to dodge people and walk in the grass and dirt beside the sidewalk. What happened to manners, hello? All jokes aside, whenever I see someone, whether they’re in heels, carrying something heavy or whatever the case is, I give them enough space to walk comfortably because I know their journey is not one of comfort. So, I was surprised that other people on campus weren’t as cordial.
This expectation I had of others changed. Now, I realize that I can’t expect others to go out of their way for me regardless of what I’m wearing or what my situation is. However, I still made it to class despite people being in my way or trudging through sand. I made sure to leave early – just in case I lost some time from tripping – and I made it despite the obstacles I put in front of myself. I realize how much physical strain my feet and my body can take before it gives out. My time management skills improved. Basically, I’m unstoppable.
The reality of the situation is that I won’t wear heels every day again until I’m in a position that requires it. But, I will wear them to class more often, knowing that they won’t be a major setback in my day.
Let me preface this by saying that I am definitely one of those girls that wears heels to class for no reason other than because I felt like it. Heels are so much fun for me, and I have so many that my freshman-year roommate would look horrified every time she looked over at the dozens of pairs underneath my bed.
I do have my favorites, however, that I wear more frequently. So, when Veronica brought up the idea of wearing heels to class every day for a week, I knew exactly what I was going to do.
Wearing them every day for a week wasn’t a challenge for me; been there, done that (and I’ve gotten the blisters to prove it). No, for me, the challenge was to wear a different pair every day and to force myself to pick out the ones buried at the bottom of my shoe storage.
I started off easy on Thursday. It was a long week ahead of me, and while I’m ambitious, I have a healthy amount of self-preservation, too. On Thursday, I wore my black lace-up boots. The three-inch block heels made it easy to walk over the brick paths all over UF, and they’re the same heels that I wore during a performance last semester, so if I can dance in them, it goes without saying that I can walk in them.
Friday, on the other hand – I went big (and promptly went home, because… oh boy). I pulled out some sky-high nude stilettos that turned heads when I walked. People were probably wondering what a college student was doing wearing shoes that looked more like I was about to take my kids to their ballet lessons after picking them up from private school. The heels weren’t the worst that week, but they were just inconvenient enough that I didn’t revisit stilettos until Tuesday.
After taking a step back and wearing some comfy brown booties on Monday, I decided that I was going to wear my faux suede stilettos. This pair is one of my all-time favorites. The pop of red makes any outfit look a thousand times more stylish, even if all I’m wearing is black denim jeans and a white t-shirt underneath a black denim jacket. I never really get to wear them, which I think is a damn shame because everyone should get to see them.
This was my biggest mistake. Maybe it was the result of poor planning, or maybe I was putting my weight on all the wrong spots that day, but Tuesday was the worst possible day for me to wear those shoes. Tuesdays are my long days. My classes start at 10:40 a.m., and they don’t end until 7 p.m. when I get out of my reporting lab. Right after my 10:40 class gets out, I have exactly 15 minutes to run from Matherly to Weimer.
Now, if you’ve happened to glance down while walking across Plaza, you’ve probably noticed that the bricks that make up the walkway from one corner to the other corner are oddly spaced apart. There are gaps in between every brick. Every. Single. Brick. I did not have the time to be carefully checking where I planted my foot because I needed to get to lecture on time or die trying. I almost died trying. I lost count of how many times I felt my heel drop just a little (along with my heart) when it hit a gap. My only saving grace is that I’ve gotten so used to wearing heels that my poker face every time I slip up is near-flawless. My recovery time isn’t so bad either.
I definitely cheated a bit and switched to flip-flops when I walked home after my lab, but in my defense, it’s at least a 20-minute walk in the dark, and Gainesville has no chill when it comes to its brick aesthetic.
The entire week culminated in the one pair of heels that I was determined to wear from the very beginning: a pair of denim mule heels that are ridiculously high and ridiculously hard to style – for me anyway.
Those shoes hadn’t seen the light of day since I impulsively bought them from the clearance section of Macy’s. Every now and then, I’d look at them and think mournfully about what could be if only I was more of a fashionista. They’re really cute shoes, in my opinion, and they’re very different from any other pair that I own, but I’m not the greatest at putting together stylish outfits, especially if it involves pieces like these shoes.
This was my challenge though. I wanted to force myself to style all of those shoes that I had neglected for so long. I didn’t want to keep limiting myself by thinking that I’m not fashionable enough to wear a pair of heels like that.
The outfit I chose that day – granted, with some help from all of my roommates – is my personal favorite from the whole week. I’m so proud of myself for finally wearing those shoes and rocking them, too, because now, I’m not so self-conscious about my fashion sense. I’ll probably even wear them again, although not for a while considering how much they hurt.
I probably won’t wear any heels for at least a month (or a week, we’ll see), but the experience wasn’t so bad. I ended up rediscovering the love I had for all of my shoes (much to the horror of my freshman-year roommate who still lives with me), and I realized that I’m a lot more capable of putting together a nice outfit than I thought. Heels are always going to be my favorite part of fashion, and this experience reaffirmed that just as much as it revived the old blisters I used to get. I’ll take the pain any day for the feeling of confidence and empowerment that heels give me.
Photos taken by Her Campus UFL writer Cassandra Kuhn.