Stiletto Science


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One day, I hope to own a pair of Christian Louboutin stilettos. One day, I'll be known as "the broke journalist with nice shoes." But why is it that I have such a fascination with stilettos? When I put them on, I don't find myself teetering and tottering around, but I turn into a confident person who makes the world her runway. Why is it that I can walk in 4.5+ inch heels when other people can't? Louboutin

After doing some digging, I managed to find a very interesting article from APS Physics entitled, "Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Stilettos."

Paul Stevenson, a professor at the University of Surrey (that's in England), did a study based off of Sex and the City, and Carrie Bradshaw's love of Manolo Blahniks. The question that he and other researchers asked themselves was "What is the height of the heels that Carrie Bradshaw could wear without falling over or cramping up in pain?"

Stevenson helped out his colleague, Dianne Stilwell, a physicist at London's Institute of Physics with an interesting equation: h=Q x (12+3s/8).

The formula helps people calculate the tallest heel they'll be able to wear before they tip over and fall. The h represents the heel height, Q depends on a bunch of sociological factors, s is the shoe length, and the numbers show how foot slope increases one's ability to tip and fall.

Going back to Q, just what are the sociological factors that it depends on?
  • Q is defined as:
  • Q=[p •(y+9)•L]/[(t+1) •(A+1)•(y+10) •(L+£20)].
  • p is the probability that wearing the shoes will turn heads.
  • y is the number of years experience you have wearing high heels.
  • L is the cost of the shoes, in British pounds.
  • t is the time since the shoe was the height of fashion, in months.
  • A is unit of alcohol consumed.
I would do this equation to calculate the tallest shoe height I could wear, but I'm not a math person. It's too much thinking for me this morning!

But basically, this equation is a fancy way to say that the higher the heel is on your shoe, the more unsteady you'll become. This is why wearing stilettos is harder (and puts more pressure on the foot) than wearing wedges, sneakers, or even shoes with a chunky heel, like Jeffrey Campbells.

3 Comments

Who knew there was a formula to determine the tallest heel a female can wear before they trip over and fall. I wonder does this formula change if a guy is wearing shoe and why does the cost of the shoe matter???

That's so bizarre that there's a calculation for that! It's interesting to think of the different factors that would effect the calculation. Or if they type of shoe would matter (I'm sure it would have to)? I'm still not entirely sure what they're referring to in regards to the sociological aspect.

That is crazy that there is a formula for determining how high of a heel one can handle. I too am in love with Louboutins and dream of the day I can finally own a pair. I found this really interesting article regarding an operation for patients suffering foot damage from wearing heels. The £380 operation (nicknamed the “Loub Job” after shoe designer Christian Louboutin) involves injecting a dermal filler into the toes, heels and balls of the feet, in order to cushion the feet from the spirit-crushing agony of clopping around in disproportionately high heels. The effects of the fillers last for up to six months and then the procedure needs to be repeated. Check it out here: http://www.sabotagetimes.com/fashion-style/killer-heels-women-having-a-loub-job-need-to-get-a-grip/

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