But it is possible to find truly comfortable heels. Getting the right heel height is everything here, says podiatrist Grace Torres-Hodges, DPM, a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association. “I recommend 1.5 to 2 inches, maximum,” she says. “Above that, and you put a tremendous amount of pressure onto the ball of your foot and create ankle instability.” Chunkier heels also give you more surface area to teeter on, so steer clear of razor-sharp stilettos. Also look at the toe box—rounder toes mean that your foot won’t slide forward and get crushed in there. For additional stability, you should also consider shoes with straps across the front of the foot.
Of course, it’s difficult to recommend one-size-fits-all shoes for everyone. You need to try them on and see what works for you. And, if you have a foot deformity or an injury that compromises your foot health, talk to your podiatrist about what specific shoes will be best for your condition, recommends Torres-Hodges.
That said, if you have normal feet, these 10 picks just might be what you’re looking for.
Yes, these are 3-inch stilettos, but here’s Lehrman’s take: “If it’s fun and cute and you want to wear it, do it,” he says. And even with the high heel height, reviewers describe these as comfy as “walking in flats.” Test them out yourself; if needed, you can always wear different shoes while you’re in transit and sport these for the main event.
Here’s a healthy shoe secret: You can go higher in the heel if you have a platform. Having a half-inch platform on a 3-inch heel, like these peep toe slip ons, actually equals a 2.5-inch heel, says Jeffrey Lehrman, DPM, a podiatrist at Crozer-Keystone Health System in Pennsylvania. The platform keeps your ankle in a friendlier position.
A 2-inch heel gives you the height you’re looking for without going overboard (or making your podiatrist unhappy). Rockport slides in a footbed that hugs your foot and cradles your arch for a good amount of support. And, they’re available in three go-anywhere colors, taupe or black patent leather or traditional black leather.
A modest heel is made even better by the fact that that it’s block style. “More stability is gained with a wider heel,” says podiatrist and APMA spokesperson Jan Andersen, DPM, of InStride Chapel Hill Foot & Ankle Associates. “You’re less likely to sprain your ankle.” This shoe also features a cushioned footbed and an ankle strap that prevents slippage.
This brand is dedicated to foot health and comfort. These slip-ons have an arch support to treat your feet, plus the wedge keeps you steady as you walk. The soft leather upper is giving, so it won’t squeeze toes.
Sometimes you need a kitten heel in an animal print, bright floral, or emerald green. Welcome to your new favorite shoe. These have a foam-padded insole for cushioning, and thanks to the comfort and style, people are begging for them to make them in even more colors. One thing: You’ll have toe cleavage in these shoes (which may not be a bad thing if you’re into that!).
Flight attendants and cocktail waitresses wear these. Need we say more? These Mary Jane pumps boast a sneaker-like feel thanks to the OrthoLite insole and a 1.5-inch heel, which is blocky to enhance stability. The rubber sole helps prevent slips, too. Because of the cap toe, your feet will feel good from heel to toe.
Read more: High heels – the strong declaration of women