12 Editor-Tested Heels That Are Actually Comfortable
A comfortable heel is somewhat of an oxymoron. No heel is going to support your foot quite like a cushioned sneaker can, but ask anyone who wears heels, and they'll wax poetic about the one pair that actually feels pretty OK to walk, stand, and even dance in.
The key to finding comfortable high heels is looking beyond aesthetics to certain structural characteristics. For instance, while stilettos and pumps have a visual appeal, you're more likely to find comfort in shoes with a lower, wider heel. Anyone who's ever worn heels knows this from experience, but it's also backed up by Dr. Hillary Brenner, DPM, PC, who we tapped for insights on how to pick out heels that won't leave your feet blistered and sore.
What to Look for When Shopping for Heels
The most comfortable heels will likely have a heel height that's lower than 3 inches, good arch support, and supportive cushioning, according to Dr. Brenner. "You want to buy a shoe with a heel that is wide and chunky, as opposed to a stiletto, which is narrow and can throw off the gait cycle," she adds. And if you must wear shoes with heels higher than 3 inches tall, she suggests only wearing them for two to three hours of standing time.
Buying the right size shoe is also important, so consider properly measuring your feet before making a purchase. It's helpful to take into account how bony your feet are, too, as some strappy shoes can irritate bunions and hammertoes, Dr. Brenner explains.
How to Break in a New Pair of Heels
Even shoes with low, wide heels and supportive insoles may require some breaking in before they're truly comfortable. In this case, Dr. Brenner recommends wearing your shoes around the house. Start with one hour the first day, two hours the second day, and three hours the third day. "After the third day, you can wear them out, but make sure you will not be doing much activity and walking on the first few days you wear them," she says. She also suggests having a first aid foot kit handy just in case.
How to Make Uncomfortable Heels More Comfortable
If you must wear uncomfortable heels, there are a few tricks to make them a bit easier to walk in. Dr. Brenner suggests adding extra cushioning to the sole of a shoe for more support. "I like Foot Petals, as they make tons of products specifically for high heels," she says.
We asked 12 shopping writers to put their favorite heels to the test to look for signs of pinching, rubbing, slipping, and other fit issues that cause blisters and foot pain. Unsurprisingly, most are low block heels, but you'll also find a few wedges and traditional heels in the mix. Keep scrolling to find out what it's like to walk, dance, and drive a mile in their shoes, and shop their top picks.
- Most Versatile: A New Day Ramona Strappy Block Heeled Sandals
- Best for Work: Soludos Suede Collette Heel
- Best Strappy: Calvin Klein Becca Slip-On Strappy Dress Sandals
- Most Affordable: A New Day Michaela Heels
- Best Traditional: Clarks Ambyr Joy Black Patent Heel
- Best Slides: Jeffrey Campbell Platform Sandal
- Best Wedge: Michael Kors Berkley Espadrille Wedge Sandals
- Best Boots: Thursday Boot Co. Heartbreaker
- Best for Travel: Franco Sarto Mable Sandal
- Best Platform: Chinese Laundry Theresa Platform Sandal
- Best for a Wedding: Sam Edelman Yaro Ankle Strap Sandal
- Best for Wide Feet: Vionic Perk Blaire Open Toe Heel