Competition Heels for Figure & Bikini
Over the years, we've held a lot of Contest Prep seminars and at almost every, at least one person asks about shoes. Where should I get them? What kind should I wear? Is there a heel height requirement?
For Figure, the bottom line is that you need to have clear heels. You can get these online (Snaz75 has a huge selection and they have free shipping on all orders over $49 but make sure you read over their return and exchange policy as they do charge a restocking fee for each returned item) or at local lingerie shops (Venus Unveiled in Uptown Minneapolis is a great choice, they're familiar with the events and you can try different types of shoes on in person).
From there, you have some style choices. The two that matter most are heel height and platform size. The NPC doesn't specify a required heel height, but a 4-5 inch with a spike heel (vs. a chunkier square or cone shaped heel or wedges) is your best choice - it just looks the best on and is what most of the ladies wear. You always want to stand out from your competition - but in a good way. Choosing a lower heel height will make you seem shorter than your competition since the ladies in your class will likely all be about your same height (unless you're in a masters class or at a competition with fewer classes). If you're really uncomfortable walking in 4-5 inch heels, practice. Wear heels to work or when you go out with friends or family (just regular heels, not your stage heels), to get comfortable wearing heels to start with. And wear your stage heels around the house, doing chores, making dinner, practicing your posing - eventually, they'll be just as comfortable as your tennis shoes 😜.
As far as a platform goes, you should find a shoe with a 1/2" platform or less. The judges will always be sitting below you, creating the illusion that your legs are longer than they really are, and when you add a high platform shoe in to the mix, it just adds to that distortion. Your goal is to have your physique look as symmetrical as possible, so unless you naturally have short legs and a long torso, forgo the platform. If you do have shorter legs and a longer torso, a bit of a platform can help visually correct that. If you're not sure, have your trainer or a friend to look at you and help you decide.
The other style options are up to you. Some ladies prefer shoes with an ankle strap because they find it easier to walk in them or because they worry less about the shoe falling off on stage. The strap is clear, so it really doesn't make a difference appearance wise, it's more about what you're comfortable with. A pretty common wardrobe malfunction backstage is a broken strap, so if you feel more comfortable in shoes that have a strap on them, it wouldn't hurt to have a back up pair just in case.
Your final choice is how much bling do you want on your shoes? This, like the amount of bling on your suit, is completely up to you. There is nothing wrong with picking a plain clear shoe, the Ellie brand shoe shown in the photo above is a very common style for figure competitors. If you want to go all out with the rhinestoned shoes, that's just fine too! Just make sure that the shoe isn't too distracting.
Bikini ladies, all of the above applies to you too, except that when bikini was first introduced competitors were allowed to wear colorful heels instead of just the clear acrylic heels. The rule hasn't changed, but nearly all competitors do go with clear shoes now so know that wearing something different could be a distraction for the judges. Whatever you choose, just make sure you stick with the height and platform guidelines above!
Now, go make like Cinderella and get yourself some glass slippers!