High heels. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. Okay, you can live without them, but many women don’t want to. Yes, we’re talking about high-heeled shoes.
Some are willing to deal with the pain, blisters and burning soles that come with their fave pair of pumps or stilettos. However, wearing uncomfortable shoes can cause serious foot issues or worsen existing ones.
That doesn’t mean you have to swear off heels altogether. Whether you already have problems with your feet—or they’re just fine and you want to keep them that way—these are the heels you should add to your collection.
If you have flat feet…
Try: Naturalizer Whitney Pump
There are two main issues when it comes to wearing heels if you have flat feet (also known as low or no arches): flexibility and balance, says Sophia Deben, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Surgery Center at Doral in Miami. “A flat foot is considered a very flexible foot, so these feet can be wider and have more of a prominence on the inside part of the sole,” she says. People with flat feet also have a tendency to have poor balance. Therefore, she recommends a wider shoe with a soft, low arch.
The Whitney Pump comes in narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide widths. Dual-cushioning and arch support should keep you pain-free. Even better, the shoe has a 2 1/2-inch block heel.
If you have wide feet…
Try: Bella-Vita Nara Block Heel Pump
With wide feet, the thing to avoid is trying to force your foot into a shoe that’s too narrow. Doing so can cause bunions and other foot problems. You want to look for a shoe that has a truly wide width, not just a wide toe box. (Here are 10 things podiatrists wish everyone knew about their feet.)
The curved almond toe on these 3-inch heels give you wiggle room for your tootsies, and the shoe comes in wide and extra wide widths so your whole foot is comfortable. A chunkier heel offers more stability and allows for a greater surface to distribute weight across, advises Erik Sims, DPM, a podiatrist and managing partner at Sims and Associates Podiatry in New York. That means you’ll have a more stable (and sexy) strut.
If you have corns…
Try: Michael Kors Berkley T-Strap Platform Dress Sandals
“With corns, open toe shoes are generally more comfortable,” says Casey Ann Pidich, DPM, a podiatrist at Park Avenue Podiatric Care in New York City. That said, you’re probably not anxious to show your corns off to the world.
No worries! The wide band on these heels should cover most corns nicely without pressing up against them and causing pain. The shoe height is four inches, but the raised platform and blocky, thicker heel make it feel like a comfy 3-inches. Although these shoes shouldn’t bother your corns, if you want more protection, Pidich recommends buying rubber corn pads, which cushion the corns from friction and pressure.
If you have bunions…
Try: Julie Lopez Shoes Kate Heel or Sam Edelman Stillson Pump
It’s all about the toebox for women with bunions. “As a rule of thumb for patients with bunions that want to wear heels, we recommend a heel with a slightly wider, rounded toe box that is made of a stretchable type of material,” says Sims. The Julie Lopez brand was created specifically for women with bunions. The “Kate” heel sports a roomy toe box, it’s flexible, and care was taken to eliminate pressure and seams over potential problem areas. That means you don’t have to worry about annoying material pushing up against your bunion.
If stilettos make your bunions ache, the Sam Edelman Stillson Pump can give you height but with a sturdy, comfortable block heel. The 3 1/2 inch shoes sport a squarish-round toebox, which is more accommodating for bunions than pointy toe shoes. And the upper (the part that wraps around your foot) is made of genuine leather, so it will stretch and conform to your feet.
If you don’t have any feet problems…
Try: Corso Como Linden
Don’t think you can wear any old heel simply because you don’t have any issues with your feet. If you want to keep them in tip-top condition, you have to be careful with your choice of footwear.
These heels are a good pick if you like a sleek pump with tons of comfort. They’re just shy of three inches, so they give some height without being too tall. The rounded toe gives more space up front, and the gel- and foam-cushioned footbed provides a good feeling throughout. Bonus: The shoes also have built-in arch support.