Our feet have been experiencing some serious high heel hibernation ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit more than two years ago. But at last, the days of night clubs and social events seem to be returning (knock on wood?), and we can finally say goodbye to the Zoom uniform of business on the top and barefoot on the bottom. While we’re certainly excited to get back to our favorite platforms and pumps, our forced break from them has changed one thing—our priorities.
Comfort matters to people now more than ever, as evidenced by the rise of athleisure, matching sets, and literally any pants that aren’t rigid denim. Heels aren’t going anywhere, but comfort has definitely shifted to the forefront. We know “comfortable heels” sounds like a bit of an oxymoron. Even the patroness saint of pumps, Sarah Jessica Parker, admitted that no heel will last you for hours on end. But has that ever stopped you from wearing a pair of strappy stilettos to a swanky party? Our guess is no. With that in mind, we spoke to celebrity podiatrist Dr. Suzanne Levine, DPM about what makes a comfortable high heel, from heights to materials. We also got her insight on bunions and different foot concerns that can be aggravated by heel-wearing. Lucky for us, Levine is a heel lover herself and doesn’t discourage them. On the contrary, she enables us: “High heel shoes are not good for you, but we love them anyway.”
All feet are different. You should try on each shoe, walk around in them, and make sure they are comfortable for your own feet. The key is moderation, and alternating heel heights depending on your activity. For standing up to eight hours, your ideal heel height should stay at two inches; increase the height, and you limit the time you can spend on your feet. “It’s like having your cake, but not making it a daily activity,” says Levine. “It doesn’t have to be done every day or in excess, but there is nothing wrong with wearing a fabulous pair of heels.” Amen to that.
Also, remember to stretch and exercise your feet, use creams, and take breaks. It is helpful to buy over-the-counter metatarsal pads for the balls of your feet for extra cushion. “My patients don’t give [heels] up, but you have to do something to counteract them,” she adds.
Ahead, our edit includes tips for finding the best heels that will last you all night (or until that acceptable hour when every woman removes their heels on the dance floor). Read on for more intel from the pro, along with ELLE editors’ personal favorite heels that strike the balance between style and comfort, below.