As Editor of celebheights I've read a lot of commentary by visitors on how much shoes or heels actually give you over your barefoot height. From people saying timberlands give 2 easy inches, to people thinking a 3-inch heel gives you 3 actual inches and that 2-3 inch lifts are common fair amongst celebrities....there's a tiny bit of misinformation floating around ;-)
The truth is, with women's heels for instance, they really don't give what you might imagine. Its all to do with the pivot point of your foot. Although the foot itself isn't that simple a pivot, the following image (click to see larger version) gives an idea that the amount the back of your heel is raised is not an actual indication of the real raise in height you obtain. Naturally, this is because of the way your foot pivots. The maximum I can measure whilst standing on my tiptoes, in pretty much the same extreme angle as illustrated in the image is 2.85 inches over my barefoot height, and I'm a size 8.5 uk (US 9-9.5) so not a great % of women would have larger feet. That's the maximum real angle you could stand in high angle stilleto heels, unless you want to walk around like a ballerina!
The vast majority of traditional style women's heels (those were the front section is 1cm or so) will give 2-3 inches over their barefoot height. When a moderate platform is added to the heel this certainly can take you higher. I've measured a girl in numerous heel styles, below are just a couple of examples:
The very typical slightly below heel on the left gives a women 2 inches over her barefoot height and the one on the right, a quite typical size, gives 2.3 inches over barefoot.
Now, imagine the 1cm platform part of the above heel as typical of what the front of many women's shoes are like, and then go on your tiptoes quite high and you'd be doing very well to get anything over 3.25 inches when standing in those large heeled, thin-fronted pumps and pointed toe stilletos which get advertised as 4 and 4.5 inches.
The following medium wedge gives a women 2.5 inches over her barefoot height.
The platform part of that shoe has about 3/4 of an inch. To get to 3 inches the front platform would need to be 1.25 inch, for a true 4 inches over barefoot we are talking 2.25 inches on the front section, which is a huge sized platform.
In the following image, this wedge gets you 2.4 inches over barefoot. So adding larger platforms at the front is really needed to get well beyond 3-inches and near 4 inches.
When the front part of a heeled shoe is about 1/3 of an inch, the most you can get with high angled heels is really around 3, at a big push 3.25 inches, but the angle is very extreme. You'll need to add more platform onto the front of the shoe to get 3.5-4 inches over barefoot.
Here is a ladies heel that would get advertised as 4-4.5 inches, the front gives about 1cm, and the angle is pretty high. This kind of heel will give you 8cm over your barefoot height, or 3.15 inches.
Sneakers (trainers) nowadays can vary a lot. On one hand, the extremely popular Converse Chuck Taylors will give me 0.53 inches exactly, whereas a standard pair of Nike Shox gives near 1.4 inches. A sturdy boot like the Doc Martin or Timberland gives nearer 1.5 inches, not over. When I meet celebrities at events I find most of the footwear men wear tends to fall within the 1-1.25 inch range but I know how much a lot of styles will give and will always make mention if I notice larger/smaller footwear outwith this range. For nearly every celebrity event I attend, I have worn trainers in the 1-1.25 inch range (on the sneakers page here you can see styles). If a woman is wearing traditional heels she will usually gain anywhere from 3/4 - 2 inches on me depending on the heel type. If its a platform heel with say a 1 inch front, then its possibly more in the 2-3 inch advantage range.
When it comes to the matter of Elevator shoes, there is a myth that 2 inch lifts are easy to obtain. They aren't, 1-inch of actual gain over a dress shoe height is *big* in the land of celebrity height enhancement. When people say 3-inch lifts, I have to laugh. I probably even thought myself a few years ago that 2 inches of actual lift gains may been possible in a normal styled shoe, but it really is extremely difficult to obtain, and you really require a boot to pull anything like that off. Let me illustrate how ludicrous the notion of 2-3 inch lifts being common really is:
The above image shows a Nike Shox, which in the trainer world at near 1.4 inches is on the large side. To the right of it is an elevator shoe, a monstrous looking thing that needs to be that size in order to accomodate a lift and make sure your foot isn't going to fall out of the blasted thing. This particular beast is advertised by the manufacturer as giving 3.5 inches over barefoot height. This, is absolute poppycock. The height that elevator shoe actually gives is 2.45 max inches over barefoot. Remember, the pivot point of the foot is not at the back of the shoe. Manufacturers of these shoes measure the highest point from the base of the heel to the highest part of the insole, which quite clearly is very very wrong. A celebrity is doing extremely well if they manage to get a 1.5 advantage over a 1-inch casual shoe and not have the shoe look overtly big. In order to do so, the shoe needs to be designed larger in order that the pivot point on their foot gets to 2.5 inches, either by elongating the front end a little bit so that a slight platform can be concealed within the leather and not make it obvious on the outside.
Getting 3-4 inches over barefoot really means needing some sort of larger boot and the angle of your foot for 4 inches is going to be so extreme as to give you sore shins! You can see in Heels versus Elevators
that although they definitely give you a boost, real high heels on ladies give more than a big elevator shoe can get you.