The idea to use so-called nude shoes to create the illusion of height came from the movies. It was found that being unable to tell where Ginger Rogers’ legs ended made her appear taller in her dance sequences. This trick was taken over by other actresses and eventually became popular in beauty pageants.


The illusion is to make someone who is at a distance, like a judge, see “leg” when they should already see “shoe”. To achieve this “trompe-l’oeil”, the best nude shoe is one that is closed-toe, made of natural or suede, NEVER patent, leather, in a colour that closely matches the colour of your own skin.JIMM-WZ10_V2 copy It is not always easy to find a perfect colour match. Therefore, if your skin is darker than the shoe you should get the nude shoes and dye them to a colour that is close to your own skin colour. If your skin colour is lighter than the shoe, buy white ones and have them dyed appropriately.

In recent years, nude platform shoes and sandals have become wildly popular, supposedly with the intention of creating the illusion of height. In a swimwear round though, platform footwear will have the opposite effect. Rather than making the feet disappear, they actually draw attention to them.

For any type of platform footwear to work as a way to create the illusion of height, the shoes must be invisible. This means they must only be used in the evening wear round and preferably be in the same colour and material as the gown you are wearing.

Even though Miss Universe uses the so-called “tippy tops” in their swimsuit competitions, these shoes are a shorter girl’s worst enemies. If everyone is wearing the same shoes, height differences will be just as visible as without them. If your height is less than 5’7”, these sandals will make you look like you are walking on blocks and accentuate your real length. Tippy tops truly only look good on the tall girls, those who should not feel the need to create the illusion of more height.

While the Miss Universe contest can be blamed for the popularity of the “tippy tops”, they actually did provide their contestants with the ideal footwear during their 1997 contest, as can be seen in the picture below, even though the shoe colour was not always a perfect match.

IMG_0844 copy

When selecting footwear for particularly the swimwear competition, make sure that your shoes do not say that you are unhappy with your height. This will definitely tell the judges that you are less than confident with who you are. And that is not a good thing!

Published by

Richard John Isa

Emerging photographer and Pageant Consultant

One thought on “TIPPY TOPS? TIPPY NOTS!”

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