In the bleakest winter months, when Michigan sends its love in ice and snow, a mighty few defy the elements. While the more sensible (or the weaker) part of the female population trundles around in boots, others can be seen toiling up the hill in high heels.
You might have wondered, how do they do it? How do they avoid falling? Can the spike of their stiletto double as an ice pick? Can they even feel the cold?
Three Hillsdale sorority sisters offered their tips and tricks, and weighed in on just what it is like to wear high heels through ice and snow.
How do you walk in heels on icy sidewalks?
Shayna Fields, senior in Kappa Kappa Gamma:
“The first thing to do is make sure the bottom of the heel isn’t too smooth, because otherwise you slip really easily. If it is, scuff it a little bit. Second, you always want to make sure you have plenty of time if you are going to be wearing them because you have to walk very slowly and do a bit of a shuffle. The next thing is to make sure the back of the heel fits you perfectly. I normally go a half a size down from what I normally wear, just to be sure that it fits me snugly. Lastly, once you get inside the building, you want to wipe the bottom of your heel off, because if they are wet you will slip inside.
“Ice is really ok. I haven’t had a problem, knock on wood. I think it has a lot to do with how often you walk in them and how comfortable you are in heels. The more often you walk in them, obviously the more balanced you can be in them and the more confident the walk is.”
Jordan Ahlers, senior in Chi Omega:
“The trick that I use most often, especially when I’m walking on ice, is I put my weight forward on the ball of my foot and shuffle, almost. If you’re going downhill, it’s pretty much the same thing. Just make sure your weight is centered and everything is completely balanced and you are on the front part of your foot. Otherwise, you will fall. And if it’s really snowy and icy, wear boots and change into heels.”
Glynis Gilio, junior in Kappa Kappa Gamma:
“It’s the ice that will get you. Snow is annoying, but I will avoid an icy area and walk on a snowy area because I know that the snow won’t make me slip. Especially if it’s good packing snow, because then it grips together. If you’re walking on the ice, you’re a goner. You’re probably going to fall down.”
What about wearing heels in the snow?
“If I know I have to go somewhere and walk on something that has thicker snow, I just bring boots with me and wear the boots and put the heels in my bag.”
“We have a rule in Chi Omega where we are not allowed to wear boots with our pin attire. We are allowed to wear boots up the hill, but we have to change when we get to class. [Freshman year] I didn’t want to put that much effort in because I was a lazy freshman, so I would trudge up the hill. I learned to walk fast in heels that winter because it was a long, hard, cold process. It was especially difficult because I was a freshman, trying not to fall. Since then, it’s gotten way easier. I think my feet have gotten tougher or I don’t notice it as much. But that first winter was horrible.”
“It’s something that comes with time. It’s not something where you join a sorority and learn how to do it. We wear pin on Mondays just to show respect for our organization. There’s nothing that requires us to wear heels. I always try to do heels. Luckily I’ve never fallen. I know I’ve slipped a little bit, but I’ve always caught myself. That’s just women’s shoes in general, though. It’s a challenge, but my sister always taught me, ‘pretend you have a book on your head,’ because if you stand tall and don’t lean forward, you won’t fall forward.”
Maybe wearing heels in winter is worth it after all. Gilio offered some final words of encouragement.
“When I was a freshman, I would always wear boots,” she said. “But now I’m sort of a daredevil. Over time you get used to it, because we do so much in heels.”