The Search for the Holy Grail (of Heels)
A long long time ago (like 3 weeks) on a Facebook page not far from here (it was actually here), readers were asked what they would like to hear more about. We wanted to do some of your research so you could do other more important stuff, like watch April the giraffe or play Pac-Man in your google maps app. One of the things that came up was finding a pair of “comfortable heels.” These words sounded a bit contradictory, like “act natural” or “pretty ugly”. Now I am not one to wear heels on the regular, so Sincerely Us figured that I would be the perfect person to offer you an “unbiased opinion”.
Luckily for everyone, my good friend, Dr. Amber Treaster, is a podiatrist. So before ordering anything, I asked her what one should look for in the perfect heel. Here’s the scoop from the expert:
Realistically I’d say there’s an inverse relationship between cuteness and function. That being said, they need to have a supportive sole, and anything over a 2.5 inch difference between the forefoot (front of the foot) and rearfoot (heel area) tends to place too much pressure on the ball of the foot in gait, predisposing you to the nuisance of neuromas (pinched nerves in the ball of the foot) and capsulitis (joint socket inflammation behind the toes) in addition to aggravating bunions and hammertoes. In general wedges tend to be better than heels because there’s more support throughout the midfoot during propulsion, as the foot moves as a unit. And FYI ballerina flats are usually even worse for your feet than heels, generally speaking. My overall advice is nothing too flimsy or anything that bends easily in the middle (so leave your foldable flats, flip flops, and mules in the closet for long days and long walks).
After meeting with Dr. Treaster, my general, non-doctor language takeaway was if you’re in your 20s, wear whatever you want because everything will be back to normal by noon the next day. If you’re in your 30s take a Motrin before you put on that 4 inch stiletto, and if you’re 40+ and you think they MIGHT just MIGHT play ‘Rhythm is a dancer’, throw together a nice Goldschlager on the rocks and dig out those wedges.
Empowered with knowledge from Dr. Treaster, I sat down for some special time with Zappos, DSW, and Nordstrom. I ordered a selection of standard heels and wedges from several brands. There was a clear winner and also 2 additional pairs that I kept out of spite because when I asked Sincerely Him what he thought of my shoe pictures, he said, “I think we need to clean the grout.”
For reference, I wear a 9 in running shoes and an 8.5 in these dressier shoes. All sizes were TTS (true to size) at 8.5 unless indicated. Scroll to the end for the top 3 if you can’t take the suspense!
The Neutrals, with standard heels:
From left to right:
- Micheal Kors: In addition to consulting a podiatrist, I also asked a hairstylist (hey Steph!) since she always looks cute and is on her feet all day. She recommended Michael Kors, Steve Madden, and BCBG. These brown ones were comfy, but my 3rd and 4th toes were snugly, so they may be better for narrow feet or once they stretch. Padding throughout the entire sole, which I enjoyed. I would wear these.
- Nine West: These were really cute, but I wouldn’t wear them all day because they had no padding at the ball of my foot. Sincerely SIL is a big Nine West fan, but I have never really had luck with them in heels. I think they may be better for people with less of an arch.
- Sam Edelman: OMG. This shoe (shown in oatmeal suede) makes me want to have an office job. I CAN NOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH HOW MUCH I LOVED THEM. I had no trouble walking in them, despite the 4.1″ stiletto heel. Keep in mind that I literally wear sneakers and slippers all day. Nice padding throughout the whole shoe. I will dream of these shoes and find a reason to buy them. If you have a reason, you need to buy them. These shoes are to my feet like Sincerely Him’s Tommy John’s are to his unmentionables (get him boxers at 20% off by clicking here…. that way he won’t notice your shoes). More colors ON SALE here!
- Nine West: These were also more narrow on me, and I found the slingback annoying. It kept slipping off. Perhaps if I would have made them tighter? There’s a genius thought.
- BCBG: These were padded on the ball of the foot, but not as much as the Sam Edelman’s. Also a little more narrow in the toe box.
From left to right:
- Franco Sarto: No toe cleavage here if that is something you are concerned about. These were comfortable and the shoes I have in this brand are deemed “walk to school worthy,” the highest honor that can be given to a shoe. The leather they use stretches nicely.
- Steve Madden: These were comfortable and the buckle made a little more of a statement than the other shoes. I am a big fan of Steve Madden’s and haven’t met a pair my feet didn’t like.
- Franco Sarto: Bought these since I have good luck with Franco’s. These had a fun pop of color to brighten up an otherwise neutral outfit, which is a fashion tip from a stylish 2nd grade teacher who loves dachshunds. They zip up the back, so you don’t have to be bothered with those pesky buckles.
- Aerosoles (no longer available): Bought! These were a close second to the Sam’s of my dreams. They are Aerosoles, so they are very comfy. Since I am 40 and they have a wedge heel, all I need is some booze and I’m ready to twerk. Would love to find an open toe version of these for summer, but for now, at least I will have something to look forward to when it gets cold again (which is probably tomorrow because weather is stupid here).
The ones in shades of blush:
From left to right:
- BP: I had my eye on these when they were first sent to me with my trunk from Trunk Club this past summer. I sent them back for now, because I bought those 2 wedges, but I plan on buying them for a wedding this summer. They don’t have the same amount of padding at the toe, but I think they would be find for dancing the night away. Size half a size up for more comfort.
- Sam Edelman: These are the same shoe as the nude (above), but without the laser cut. They still had great padding, but I think the laser cut gave them a little more breathing room. I would still get these, especially to wear to a Pretty in Pink party. Additional colors on sale here.
- BCBGeneration: (no longer available) These were cute and comfy, but if I wore these all day, my feet would look like I was in my 10th month of pregnancy. Also, I am a moron and laced them up my leg, which was not a good look. If you get these, lace them all around the ankle like they do on the actual website. I guess I thought I was going to star in Black Swan.
- Michael Kors: These are the same Michael Kors style as the nude pair from the 1st heel picture, but it seemed to me a little more narrow in the toe. The material was slightly different, so that makes sense. Other than the BP, these were may favorite blush pair.
The ones with a lower or more substantial heel:
From left to right:
- Madden Girl: The heel here is still a little high (3.5″), but since it was a block, I felt steady. I would have kept them, but I have a similar style. The buckle was a little annoying so if you wear them, only put them on once that day and don’t go trying on clothes all over the mall because it will drive you nuts. My foot felt comfy, but this is over the recommended 2.5″ differential.
- Steve Madden: These have a 2″ heel, so they meet Dr. Treaster’s criteria. They are very on trend with the lace up front. Also comes in olive and tan. I would also get these because Steve Madden was my first shoe boyfriend.
- Aerosoles: This says 3″ heel, but I question their ruler. Seemed lower and the zipper gave it some flair. Since they are Aerosoles, they are comfortable. It says it right in the name, so it must be true!
For not being a shoe person, I actually fell in love with a lot of these. But again, SAM SAM SAM. I will be watching these like a hawk for a sale and will notify you all on Facebook if it happens. If anyone wants to invite me to the Golden Globes or the Oscars, I will buy them for both of us! They come in tons of colors, as do many of these shoes. Keep in mind Dr. Treaster’s advice if you are looking to minimize foot pain and hang out in them all day long. All shoes have the heel height listed on the websites. You can also get some more height with less differential by finding a heel with a little platform under the toe, like these Bandolino ones I danced all night in without trouble. Another area of shoe woe is the bunion. Dr. Treaster suggests a strappy open toed heel, but you really have to try them on to see where the toe strap hits. Remember that Nordstroms and Zappos always have free shipping and free returns. DSW has free shipping over $35 and you can return in store for free. Having them all come to you is nice so you can try them on with your own stuff. See:
My top 3 comfortable heels:
- Shoes on left here (no longer available)
- Shoes in middle here
- Shoes on right here (swoon, they are the Tim Riggins of shoes). Other colors on sale here: http://bit.ly/2nvBd6N
- Jeans: Articles of Society, soft and stretchy
- Tunic: Runs a little big, mine is a small. $27.90 and I own it in 3 colors. There is now a blush-looking one called “violet ice”
Did you see anything you have to try? Do you have a brand that works for your feet? Let us know in the comments!
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