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Shoes that make you taller – and the best bet is ALWAYS quality elevators

Shoes that make you taller – and the best bet is ALWAYS quality elevators

Style tips by Big Rob

I have added height since my mid teens, over 20 years ago, looking for shoes to make myself taller, and have been through the entire process and almost every option. It took me well over a decade to get to the ideal option – elevator shoes! – and I am going to try and help you get there quicker than I did. I had no help and frankly did it all by trial and error.

There is no need for you to do the same and over such a long period. So I will share with you the entire process of how I made myself 2 inches taller, then 3 inches taller…and finally up to 6 inches taller! If you do copy me, then try and get to the best option WAY quicker than I did! 

The key to making yourself look taller, and to wearing shoes that make you look taller, is comfort, quality and the complete ability to ensure no one will ever know what you are doing. And understanding the details of your lifestyle in terms of just how much you can add.

To be really effective, I learned that you need something on your feet that looks good and that you know looks good – and that applies whether you are working or playing, in dress shoes or basketball shoes. You just cannot go with something simply because it adds height. It has to look and feel right. Shoes that make you look taller cover a variety of possibilities but all roads to the best option lead to elevator shoes. Why is this? The best way to start is to go through the other ways of adding height in your footwear. And this is how I started.

So let’s look at these options, that I suspect most of you have probably tried or considered. You need to get them out of your system!


One thing I did right from when I was 16 to find shoes that make me look taller was to buy things like things with thicker soles like sneakers, workboots or even Beatle boots with the Cuban heels. If you have done this, you will be aware yourself that you do feel noticeably taller. Even if you have added just an inch or so on top of your normal footwear.

It is a pleasant surprise and I guess a good way to get to grips with the fact that adding height is not in itself difficult or likely to draw too much attention – you will feel taller but you suddenly realise that no one else notices at all. I myself in the late 90s and early 2000s went for all those things, like the high top trainers, the Air Maxes, the Doc Marten revivals etc.

There are similar trends right now where you can pick and choose to add height. A section on stylish men’s boots this winter in USA Today featured a load of boots that add at least an inch and usually more. But here is the problem – you cannot wear these casual things at all times – there is no way a pair of thick soled sneakers or trainers will go with an office suit on 90% of the occasions you would have to wear one. Sure there are those who DO do this, but that is a specific fashion look and is just weird if it is not really on trend right now.


Here is what I discovered: sure I could add height 80% of the time or more as a late teen wearing these things. But gaining me about an inch to (max max) 2 inches. OK but really just not enough. At this time, the 60s Beatle boots came back into fashion – winklepicker styles we called them with sharp pointy toes and a heel – usually around 2 inches of slanted heel. They looked cool and are still fashionable with certain clothes. But guess what? They LOOKED like they added height, but in reality they had a very very thin sole at the front and only that 2 inch heel between you and the ground.

So the actual gain was small in comparison to, say, a pair of thick soled sneakers. Or even a pair of office shoes with some sort of heel. Casual shoes to make you look taller were somehow easier at that level, but I very quickly started to think of things to put in my shoes to make me look taller: adding shoe inserts or lifts.


Shoe inserts or lifts are cheap and easy to stick in your footwear. Back in the day before ebay etc they were not so easy to get hold of but today of course they are everywhere. I often made my own. And so I would add inserts to my chunky sneakers or workboot styles for that extra inch. And so of course we are talking about a total of a couple of inches extra now. Today, inserts come in all shapes and sizes, but getting it to look right (and above all FEEL right) is very very difficult. And this is because your shoes, if they fit right, are not designed to have you sticking anything other than maybe an inch of extra material in the heel.

The pressure on the foot changes the nature of the way you walk and reduces your comfort level. I used to say that every quarter of an inch over one inch was another 25% more in loss of comfort. Your feet feel tired quickly and if you want to go out and about walking then forget it. They slip (oh God they slip), and they wear unevenly so your foot is slipping down on one side or another. And of course again the height addition is small in reality, and just think – in your life, those options are limiting: you are only adding an inch or two in certain circumstances.

If you have to wear dress shoes, or a suit, or certain footwear that is more formal, then you are back where you started. OK I had a spot of style luck – in the UK and Europe big flared pants came back in for men in the early 2000s and my shoe inserts had a lease of life in unzipped boots and jam packed. All neatly hidden under an enormous bell bottom. If I look back on using inserts in ‘normal’ shoes and boots, I like to think that it taught me a lesson, the main one being I should have looked more quickly at the options! Like elevator shoes.

But I think that today the worry is that guys might start doing it and think that elevator shoes are the just going to be the same. And that is just the complete opposite of how it is.


So having added a couple of inches very uncomfortably in some of my footwear, my mind turned to elevator shoes.

If you go back 15 years, and again this was before the meaningful start of online selling through ebay and Amazon, or interactive websites for almost every company, you had a hard job locating stuff. Sure it got easier every year around that time but it is NOTHING like it is today. This meant that my perception of elevator shoes was still stuck in the distant past, that they were all badly-made rubbish from China or the far east generally. In real old fashioned styles and small sizes. I finally got my act together to check out elevator shoes and was amazed at what I saw.

Perhaps one of the biggest shocks was that I could get dress shoes with a lift of 4 inches. This just knocked out of court anything that I could do with lifts if I had to go to a wedding or something formal wearing a suit – a maximum of 2 inches extra with lifts shoved into regular shoes if you were lucky - and in discomfort. It took me ages, though, to do anything. I cannot quite remember why – was it cost? Was it fear that they might not do what they said? Did I worry that they would look too obvious? Did I think “everyone will notice”? Or be uncomfortable like my lifts? But one day I took the plunge.


I went for the highest boots possible without a thicker front sole, the aim being that I could wear them both casually and formally – a 4 inch pair in a very standard wingtip/brogue style, black. It is the Guido Maggi Ischia style.

Now I can only say that wearing these was a revelation for me. The first thing you notice is that they look exactly like normal shoes. But you put them on and you are taller again than you were with the thick-soled boots or sneakers and lift combo you were wearing all that time. If you want shoes to make you look taller, then really the only option is elevators. The comfort was also a revelation – squeezing into ‘normal’ boots with an extra inch of lifts seemed like it had been some mad dream. And I was hooked.

The key of course that I now know is that quality elevators are not just normal boots with a few fixed lifts stuck in them – they are designed in all major elements to be able to contain the area of lift so that it is both comfortable and does not show. So there is greater room in the places that need it, while the boots are styled to look ‘normal’. I wore these Ischias everywhere and still, I suppose almost a decade later, wear them on the occasions I need something a bit more formal. Because I myself have moved to the higher 5 inch and 6 inch boots.


Now before I go on about these, a word about “lifestyle” – it’s part of what I call the comfort aspect of buying elevators and what it means is that you must buy what suits your lifestyle.

My 6 inch boots suit me because I live in jeans and casuals. Almost 99% of the time. I would just absolutely NOT be wearing these very much if I wore a suit every day. It would not look right. Workboot style soles are for casual and that, really, is the beginning and end of it. I searched all my 20+ years looking for shoes that make me look taller and have found the ideal in elevators, which I am certain will be the same for you.

So had I been in a career office based and fairly formal, then I would have stuck to my Ischias at 4 inch total maximum. And probably had a couple of pairs of 3 inch regulation standard dress shoes. That is serious height addition and cannot be achieved by standalone lifts added to regular footwear.

And it is really the same if you are sporty, which I mention elsewhere in a separate section: you can add a certain amount of height if you are into sport – both off the pitch and on. You would be amazed at how many guys in basketball learn how to run and jump adding an extra inch or two: it should be logical that it might actually help you in the sport if you can finesse it – which you should be able to do.

But it would be tricky to pull off taking part in a swim team, then getting dressed and pulling on a pair of 6 inch elevators! So being sporty and all that goes with it of course is a good example of an area that obliges you to limit your height addition – unless and until, of course, your lifestyle changes.

These changes and limitations are really important to help you decide at what level you want to go. But you can still add 2 or 3 inches with no difficulty, as people’s power of observation is not actually that great and ‘normal’ footwear varies so much anyway. And that is really good news, because instead of adding 2 inches uncomfortably with lifts and limited footwear, you can add 3 effortless inches through elevators in almost any style of footwear you want and experience total comfort. The flattest of dress shoes and sneakers will give you 3 inches.


Well it did not take too long for me to go from my 4 inch Ischias to a 5 inch pair and then two 6 inch pairs (I have the Hong Kongs and the Laurel Canyons). I guess a couple of years really. On reflection I would have gone straight from the 4 inch ones to 6 inch and cut out the 5 inch.

And once again the reason is that the sole of the 5 inch and 6 inch boot is very similar and that extra inch from 5 inches to 6 inches is so great to wear, but does not attract undue attention: “OMG he is a whole inch taller”. The real point about these bigger guys is that they have a thicker front sole than the others. They have to. You cannot get a boot that size of lift with a front sole that is like a dress shoe or a 4 incher like my Ischias. But they look superb with jeans and for myself I find I want that level of extra height. I have found that after a short period of practice, I was easily able to walk and do most of what I normally do. I would not run in them. Just wouldn’t. Another great thing.

When you add height you do not want anyone focusing on your footwear. That’s a given. But it is good when your footwear is both cool and adds height. There is no doubt at all that most guys want a kind of quality that comes with a brand name and a designer look. Nothing outlandish or ultra high fashion for most, but on trend enough to fit in and look good. Mine was a very long journey and it took about 13 years – from stuffing socks in my biker boots at the age of 15 to buying my 6 inch boots.

You always look back and wish you could know then what you know now. But things have changed anyway, info is more available and I am glad I went through all the aggro of bigger boots and shoe inserts. Because it taught me that there is just nothing like doing it properly, and going for specially made footwear that fits properly and gives you a comfortable and taller (much taller) ride every day. Note: What follows is a first cutoff story that can be put in to break up the piece and make it look a bit different – the aim is to avoid 3,000 lengthy words of text and no proper break

10 Things to do (and not to do) when adding height

Don’t wear 3 inch elevators at work and then go into 6 inch ones outside – offduty move up to 4 or maybe 5 inch at first

Don’t at first wear thicker soled 5 inch or 6 inch boots with anything other than jeans or casual pants (like looser cargos or whatever)

Buy your first pair as the style and type you are most likely to get maximum wear out of above all in work and outside

With colour, you should carefully weigh up what you usually like best and go for that at first. You can get almost everything from black to white, grey to green

When you get your elevators, go for a solo short to medium walk in them as soon as possible

Elevator sneakers or trainers are actually a great great way to ease yourself in – not only are they uber comfortable but sneakers are just seen for what they are: you will look EXACTLY like anyone else in sneakers, just 4 or more inches taller

Do not try and go for something unusual or offbeat at first unless that really IS your style. You will quickly tire of them and anyway draw too much attention

With your first pair, aim to add two or maybe three inches on top of what you currently do to add height – if you are regularly wearing lifts and thicker footwear go for 4 inch elevators. Otherwise aim for 3 or 4.

Don’t ever ever tell anyone you add height. Anyone.

Learn as quick as possible how to walk easily and naturally – it is very straightforward. If I can do it in 6 inch boots, you certainly can

Note: Another Cutoff – this time about sport

Sporting Lift

You might be surprised to learn that many athletic guys at a high level in certain sports add height, most off the pitch or court, but some on.

They are very careful and cannot go too high. But they add. I learned by chance some years ago that height obsessed guys in tall sports like basketball have finessed all sorts of ways to add height. Of course as I guess you realise, basketball is a real sporting standout in that height is a truly MAJOR factor.

They key though is that many top players have worked out ways of actually taking to the court wearing an extra couple of inches. And many add MORE height in their off-court wear. This is because the additional height psyches out the opponents and is of course effective in play. But only if you keep it relatively low and really learn how to run and jump.

“Every inch counts,” said one contact to me who plays the game “and people might think it totally crazy but we all know it is just a fact”.

Other sports where small amounts of height are added are rugby, Australian football, baseball pitchers, MMA, rowing and certain players in American football – the stories about inflated “official” heights are legendary and guys away from the field of play will often add the extra 2 or more inches to keep up the impression. And this is why sneakers and slip ons in the 2 to 3 inch range are popular among guys who tend to be sporty.

Even if they wear NO extra height on the court, they can get away with that extra 2+ inches very easily after the game.