Choosing the right walking stick is very important. A lady's walking stick should be fashionable and elegant. Not only must it offer appropriate support for your requirements, it must also suit your personality and your wardrobe. A walking stick is as much a fashion accessory as it is a mobility aid, and the choice of walking stick can reveal a great deal about its user.
Many people give walking sticks little or no thought until the day comes when the doctor or physiotherapist suggests that perhaps the time has come to start using one…. Possibly, they will proffer a depressing object in shiny aluminium with grey plastic fittings. If the thought of using such an ugly stick does not fill you with horror, then there is no need to read on. However, if just looking at it makes you feel frumpy and dejected, please be cheered. You don't need to use that object; instead, you can discover the elegance, style and dignity that a really good walking stick offers.
The first consideration is your physical requirements. Do you need a cane for light support and balance, or do you have specific orthopaedic requirements? A wooden cane can be traditional or contemporary and there are many styles, colours, woods and finishes. A derby handle is often the most supportive, but try lots to find the shape and size that fits most comfortably in your hand. An acrylic handle is smooth to the touch and pleasant to hold. Wooden canes are also lighter in weight than equivalent aluminium ones, which you may prefer. Traditionally, brown canes were used in the morning and in the country; black ones in the afternoon and in town. As a guide, if you prefer brown shoes and handbags, a brown cane is probably right for you, and similarly with black accessories.
Aluminium canes are usually adjustable in height, which is a useful feature if you sometimes wear flat shoes and sometimes wear heels. They are also available in patterned as well as plain finishes. Look for a retailer who offers a wide choice. You can express your individual sense of style with floral, animal print, tartan or abstract designs, choosing patterns and background colours to match or contrast with your clothes. In autumn and winter, canes with black, brown, grey, purple and red backgrounds are often popular, whilst in the spring and summer, pinks, blues, creams and other pastel shades are in demand.
When you choose a walking stick, try to find a full length mirror in which to appreciate the overall effect, just as you would when trying shoes or handbags. If you don't look more upright, well-accessorised and smart with the cane than without, then don't buy it. A good cane adds poise and elegance. Many women accumulate large collections of canes so they have suitable ones to accessorise town and country outfits, summer and winter clothes, evening ensembles and so on. Weddings, cruises and race meetings are often the special occasions that instigate the purchase of a new cane.
A folding cane is a practical addition to your cane collection as it can be folded quickly away when not in use, for example in a restaurant or on the train. Some airlines now only allow folding canes in the cabin.
If you have a very special occasion to attend, a silver-handled cane or one studded with Swarovski crystals may be the finishing touch your beautiful evening dress requires; nothing destroys the elegance of a lady's formal ensemble faster than a hospital-issue walking stick.
If you have problems with your hands caused by, for example, arthritis or rheumatism, you may well find a shaped orthopaedic handle is easier to hold and more supportive to use. These are available in various shapes and sizes, so again, find a retailer with a good selection and try lots to find the best model for you. As with other walking sticks, there is no need to tolerate an ugly orthopaedic cane. There are beautifully finished wooden models with acrylic handles available, and there are also aluminium ones with attractive patterns if you prefer a more contemporary look.
Be sure that your walking stick is the correct height for you. A good retailer of walking sticks will know how to measure you for your stick. If the stick is too long, it will not offer sufficient support and will make you hold your shoulder too high. If it is too short, you will have to stoop or bend forwards to use it, which will only cause problems over time. Always ensure the rubber ferrule on the end of your stick is in good repair. They are widely available and are inexpensive. A wrist loop fitted around the neck of the cane will prevent you dropping and damaging your cane.
To prevent damage, keep your canes in a walking stick stand so that they are easily to hand. Positioned near your front door, they will attract attention from your visitors and, who knows, perhaps they will present you with new ones for your collection.
Finally, have fun with your canes. No one should be embarrassed by their cane. If yours are stylish, well chosen and perfect for your needs, they will become much-loved friends.
Managing Partner, Classic Canes
31st October 2011