Ask Belle: Comfortable High Heels
Oct 16, 2012
I just found your site a few days ago and now I am addicted. I went looking through the archives but I couldn’t find the answer to a question that been bugging me for years. How do women walk and stand in heels all day? What are these magic brands that they are wearing.
I have over 15 pairs of heels – from kitten to four inch platforms, from pumps to strappy sandals, from pointy to peep toe – and I have never been able to find a set that I feel comfortable in for over 45 minutes. What am I doing wrong? Do I need to forget about DSW and Macys and shell out over $300 a designer brand (the only thing I have left to try)? I am most interested in finding a work pump – as a third year law student, I’m spending a substantial time standing in a courtroom – but any direction you can give me, I’d appropriate.
While it is no secret that I prefer flats, I have found some comfortable high heel brands over the years. And, yes, comfortable shoes usually cost more because comfort is about good construction.
J.CREW. I own two pairs of heels from J.CREW, and both pairs are fairly comfortable. I have a pair similar to the Valentina Patent Pumps ($238) that are great for walking and have worn well over the past three years. And I adore my new Martina suede wedges in vibrant plum.
Cole Haan. The two most comfortable pairs of shoes that I own are from Cole Haan. Sadly, the brand no longer makes shoes without the Nike Air Technology. Their Nike Air shoes are comfortable for 90-percent of women who try them thanks to having the guts of an athletic shoe and the soul of a heel, but I am not one of those women.
Aside from brands, there are some features that you can look for to help make your shoes more comfortable.
Hidden Platforms. This pair of Via Spiga Anita Pumps ($140) has a secret, a hidden platform that helps absorb shock and comforts the ball of the foot. I have two pair of hidden platform pumps, and they are the only shoes I own that don’t make the pads of my foot weep in pain after an hour.
I don’t love chunky, clunky platforms. But a sleek half-inch or one inch platform on a heel with a height of 4″ or less is a good idea.
Rubber Sole. Some women can’t give up the look of a leather sole, but for my money, rubber is so much better. These Clava Pumps from Naturalizer ($70) have a leather sole which helps cushion shock an prevent pain.
Many inexpensive shoes have a thin layer of leather on the sole, but I try to find shoes with a quarter-inch thick layer. It can be tough to find shoes with a thicker sole but brands like Sofft, Rockport, Naturalizer and Aerosole are a good place to start. Though it can be tough to find shoes from those brands that aren’t clunky. These Broadway shoes from Sofft don’t look too bad, and these Rockport high heel boots look pretty chic.
Block Heel. A thin heel doesn’t provide a lot of support for your foot, and as a result the rest of the foot has to pick up the slack–this can cause a lot of pain. I’ve found that a thicker heel can provide a lot more support, and reduce stress on the foot. The Ann Taylor heels above will set you back $158, and these Carvela heels are more affordable at $44.
Padded Footbed. If you walk or stand for long periods of time, a heel with a padded footbed will save your life. These Corso Como heels offer a decent amount of cushion for the price. I own a pair and on a scale of 1-10, they’re about an 8. Joan & David also makes shoes with a padded footbed, as does Via Spiga.
Have any recommendations for comfortable shoes? Leave them in the comments.