How to measure heel height on pumps, sandals and boots

If you would like to learn how to measure your shoe’s heel height, you’ve definitely come to the right place! This method works perfectly with stiletto boots, sandals, pumps, and almost any other kind of similar-style heels you might have in your closet. All you’ll need is a flat surface and something to measure with, like a ruler or tape measure. 

  1. Place the shoe you’d like to measure on a flat surface such as a table (note that an elevated surface will be much easier to measure from than lying flat on the floor). 
  2. Grab your ruler or tape measure, then measure from the top of the heel cap to the highest point of the heel. You can also include the heel cap in your measurements, but remember that most shoe sellers will not include the heel cap in their description of the heel. 

That’s it – now you can decide whether your heel is suitable for your day out or night on the town! Next, I’ll explain how to find out the height of different styles of heel.

How to measure heel height on platforms

To measure the height of a platform heel, you use the same method as the one we use to measure boots or pumps, with one important extra rule! If you are measuring platform heels, you have to take a measurement of two things:

  1. Measure the platform itself, from the bottom of the platform to the point where the shoe starts and the heel that you would typically measure.
  2. After that, just subtract the platform size from the heel size to work out the overall heel height. For instance, a five-inch heel with a two-inch platform will create an actual “true rise” of three inches. 

How to measure heel height on wedges

Since wedges don’t have a gap between the platform part and the heel part, it might seem more difficult to find an accurate measurement. The best method is to simply replicate the platform method mentioned above, using the shortest part of the wedge at the toe as the “platform” measurement and the tallest part at the back of the foot as the “heel” measurement. Subtract the platform height from the heel height as usual and you’ll find the height of your chosen wedges.

How much height do heels actually add?

It’s important to remember that heels do not add the full length of the heel itself to your height. A six-inch heel most likely will not add six full inches to your height. The height that your heels will add to your height actually depends on the size of the platform and the incline of the heel. For example, a pair of six-inch heels with no platform will add around 3.5-4 inches to your height. On the other hand, a pair of six-inch heels with a two-inch platform will add 4-4.5 inches to your height! This comes down to the designer’s choice of how much the heel itself is inclined. If you wanted to increase your height most effectively, you’d be better off opting for a dramatic pair of flat platforms. Flat platforms are a modern and stylish alternative to the more classic style of heels. Simply remember that walking on larger flat platforms requires plenty of practice too. Don’t be fooled by the lack of incline! In general, you can estimate that around two-thirds of the size of a heel will be added to your height.

Does heel height change with shoe size?

Although many think that heel size changes in proportion to shoe size, this is actually completely untrue! Most shoe manufacturers ensure that the heel size is consistent on every shoe size, so there’s no need to worry about whether the shoes you buy will be different to the height you were advertised for online!

How to find your ideal heel height

Wondering what heel height would be most well-suited to your foot size? There’s actually an easy calculation to figure this out! Although comfortability in heels depends on many different factors, from how much experience you have with walking in heels to the material of the shoe itself, the following steps can give you a general idea of which heel height would be best suited to you based on the size of your feet. This way, you’ll know where to start when you hit the stores!

  1. First, grab your trusty ruler or measuring tape and measure the length of your foot.
  2. Make sure that your foot is resting on a flat surface to ensure that you get an accurate reading. You can also ask a close friend to take the reading for you.
  3. Be sure to convert the measurement to centimetres if you’ve recorded the length in inches or millimetres – the calculation only works if you use the right unit of measurement.
  4. Divide your foot length by 7, and you’ve got your ideal heel height. For example, if your feet are 22cm, then your ideal heel will be about 3.1cm, which falls into the mid-height heel category (more on categories of heel heights in the “What is a comfortable heel height?” section).

Another simple method of finding your ideal heel height is to measure the length from the heel of your foot to the ball of your foot. Think of the heel of your foot as the beginning of where your foot starts, and the ball of your foot as the place where your foot bends when you stand on your tippy toes! Sit in a chair and stretch your leg out in front of you. Don’t hold your foot out straight – let it relax and hang without any tension. The idea is to measure the natural incline of your foot while in its most natural state. Then, ask a friend to use a ruler or measuring tape to measure the length from the heel to the ball of your foot. This exact measurement is your ideal heel height! 

What is a comfortable heel height?

Finding the most comfortable heel height for you is all about preference, experience and occasion. Read on to find out more about the different categories of heel heights, and which one is best suited for you!

  • Low heels are typically 2.5”/64mm and shorter, including styles such as kitten heels, brogues and pumps. This height is not only suitable for the workplace, but also for more formal occasions – you’ll be able to dance the night away without suffering from aching soles at the end of the evening. If you are at the beginning of your journey with heels, low heels are a great place to start so that you can get comfortable with your movement. 
  • Mid-height heels range from 2.6”-3.4”, or 65-89mm – think ankle boots and wedges! The average-sized heel – 3” or 75mm – falls neatly into this category. Mid-height heels are classic, feminine, and suitable for any occasion whether day or night. 
  • High heels can be anywhere from 3.5”-4.5”, or 90-115mm. Once you’ve practised with smaller heels, a high-heeled boot or stiletto is the perfect way to add some flair to your look. Keep in mind that you can always make your shoe more comfortable with a gel or memory foam insole.
  • Very high heels are 4.6”-5.5”, or 116-140mm. In this category, you’ll often find a platform has been added to the ball of the shoe to make the heels easier to walk in. However, some will have all the height in just the heel. Whether you opt for a larger platform or heel is completely up to you – just think about which look you prefer and how much experience you have with wearing heels.
  • The final category of heels is extreme heels, which are 5.6”/141mm or more! While these shoes are definitely not for beginners at strutting in heels, they are an eye-catching style for the more practised fashionista. Extreme heels are beautifully dramatic and edgy. They are not comfortable for most after very long periods of wear, but absolutely can still be worn on dressy occasions.

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Here’s a helpful chart summarising the heel heights and categories mentioned above:

Name
Height (inches)Shoe StyleHeight (mm)
Kitten heels
2″ or less

Sandals52mm or less
Low heels
2.1″ – 2.5″Mules / Block Heels / Sandals53mm – 64mm
Mid height heels2.6″ – 3.4″Block Heels / Court Shoes65mm – 89mm

High heels
3.5″ – 4.5″
Pointed Heels / Stilettoes / Wedges90mm – 115mm
Very high heels
4.6″ – 5.5″Wedges / Platforms Heels / Peep Toe Heels116m – 140mm
Extreme heels5.6″ or morePlatforms Heels / Peep Toe Heels141mm or more

Can a cobbler reduce heel height?

If you’re struggling to walk in your heels because of the height, don’t fret – a skilled cobbler should be able to reduce the height of the shoe if needed! Cobblers can even increase the height of a shoe if you’re feeling particularly daring. However, there is a limit to how much even the best cobbler can alter the height of a heeled shoe. Most heels can be reduced by about 0.5” or 12mm with no issue, but more than that can seriously change the balance of the shoe. All heeled shoes, no matter the size of the heel, are designed with a specific balance that cannot be altered to an extreme extent, without making the shoe impossible to walk in. You can get a general sense of your heel’s balance with this quick trick: hold your chosen heel to the edge of a flat surface, letting the heel itself hang off of the surface. Next, gently tilt the heel downwards as much as you would ideally like to decrease the height. If the toe raises off the table a lot, it’s probably too much to adjust the heel. Just remember: there’s no shame in practising your model walk with shorter heels before buying bigger ones! It’s always better to take your time expanding your heels collection than to rush the process.

I hope you found this guide useful! Let me know if you have any questions by connecting with me on social media. I will be publishing more guides on my blog as well as my Youtube channel. Whether you are about to buy your first pair or just dreaming about it, you can do your homework and prepare for the day when a special pair of heels from your favourite brand goes on sale!