Our feet have been experiencing some serious high heel hibernation due to the global pandemic. Gone are the days of night clubs and social events that require a powerful pair of heels. Meanwhile, Zoom meetings typically consist of business on the top and barefoot on the bottom.
Don’t worry, heels aren’t going anywhere, but comfort has definitely shifted to the forefront considering the times. 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 the importance of stretching your feet. Lucky for us Dr. Levine is a heel lover herself and doesn’t discourage them. In fact, she enables us: “High heel shoes are not good for you, but we love them anyway.”
First off, all feet are made different. We should try on each shoe, walk around in them, and make sure they are comfortable for our own feet. The key is also about 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 time spent on your feet. “It’s like having your cake, but not making it a daily activity,” says Dr. 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!”
Read on for more tips from the pro, along with our favorite heels that strike the balance between style and comfort, below.
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Breathable materials like natural leathers that will give is important to achieving comfort. Cushioning on the foot bed, especially on the ball of the forefoot, will allow you to stay on your feet longer. These white pumps are made of real leather with a thick trapeze heel that will support your arches. An added bonus is that its gold ankle chain was one of the biggest shoe trends of the season.
Keefa Platform Sandals
If height is what you’re after, platforms should be your best friend. They allow you to stand much higher for extended periods of time due to the chunkier heel and thick support throughout the forefoot. The gradual arch can be more comfortable despite standing five inches off the floor. These gold platforms are a ‘70s classic and will be your go-to shoe year-round. Wear them with tights for a winter wedding then go bare with a springtime dress.
After thirty years of practice, Dr. Levine is finding that bunions are genetic. “High heel shoes do not cause bunions. You’re getting the bunion no matter what—aggravating the bunion is another thing.” Look for a deeper, wider toe box to accommodate the foot, avoiding pressure at the widest area where shoes can irritate bunions or cause ingrown toenails. These Suzanne Rae shoes offer a great solution, plus the brand is rooted in environmental responsibility.
The Editor Heel
“Don’t go cheap,” Dr. Levine says. “I’ve seen shoes that go for 25 dollars with wooden or hard plastic bottoms— they’re not good for your feet.” Rubber or leather soles are best to absorb the shock and weight of your body as you walk. Don’t confuse affordable for cheap, though. Everlane’s Editor Heels are chic, inexpensive, made with quality materials, and are the perfect height for everyday wear.
Bulla Cara Patent Square-Toe Loafers
Loafers typically have a wider and deeper toe box. Try Nodelato, one of the newest and coolest shoe brands of 2020. Beyond encompassing quality Italian footwear, Nodelato has a signature ‘70s-inspired heel which gives all of their shoes sturdy support.
While it is important to accommodate your toe box, that doesn’t mean pointy shoes are out of the picture. “You can still have the look, but you’ve got to be careful about the styles,” says Dr. Levine. As long as the widest part of the shoe does not create too much pressure, you can still go for a sleek and sexy point. These cream mules start with a square toe but taper into an pointed shape.
Date Night Pumps
“If you start exercising [your feet] at a younger age, you probably won’t develop as many foot abnormalities like bunions, corns, and hammer toes which develop over time,” explains Dr. Levine. “You’d see a different foot by age 40.” Stretch your heel cords every day and try exercises like picking up a pencil with your toes, which strengthen your intrinsic muscles. These Fenty white heels are attractive and fitting for what they’re named after: “The Date Night Pumps.” When you excuse yourself to go powder your nose, take a minute to stretch your toes. It sounds ridiculous, but it will prolong a night on your feet.
Bette Suede Pointed-Toe Ankle Booties
Boots give a sense of security because your foot and ankle are fully enclosed. These are made of a soft suede leather and can be dressed up with a skirt or dressed down with jeans.
Waverly Mary Jane Block Heel Pumps
The words “cute” and “cool” come to mind when describing Mary Janes, but “safe” is one we would’ve never have guessed. “The biggest problem with the heel is that if you misstep, you can easily twist your ankle and you tend to go over the outer border of your ankle,” explains Dr. Levine. “If you can, have a thicker strap to lend more support.”
This edgy pair has a super secure strap and a chunky heel, not to mention the footwear designer, Marion Parke, happens to be a foot and ankle surgeon. Parke’s footwear collection is designed with the foot anatomy in mind without sacrificing style and elegance.
Lauryn Mary Jane
These gorgeous heels are a fresh twist to the classic Mary Jane. They have a modest rounder toe and are made of supple black leather from Italy. Let Brother Vellies’ heel become a seasonless staple in your wardrobe for years to come.
J.Crew: Clothes, Shoes & Accessories For Women, Men & Kids
“Some people actually do better with a heel if you have a high arch to begin with,” says Dr. Levine. “Your foot is almost meant to be in a heel if you think of a Cinderella foot.” If you are blessed with high arches avoid super flat shoes, but don’t go crazy with stilettos every day. Enjoy wearing heels but mix up the heights and shapes to find your most comfortable fit.
Lupita Leather Slide Sandals
You know what they say: everything in moderation. That also applies to the coveted pair of four-inch stilettos your heart desires. “If women take care of themselves, they can wear high-heels,” Dr. Levine says. “I think it’s important for women to wear what they’d like to wear, even if it’s for a short period of time.”
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 added cushion. “My patients don’t give [heels] up, but you have to do something to counteract them.”
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