The Hunt: Black Pumps

comfortable black pumpsSure, we all know professional women are supposed to have a pair of comfortable black pumps in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Wow – I don’t think we’ve done a Hunt on basic black pumps in a LONG, long while.  Which are your favorite black pumps right now, ladies? Do you prefer a more modern style like the popular Vince heels or Steve Madden heels featured below — or are you classic all the way, like one of our more traditional Hall of Famers? Do you personally prefer pointier toes or more almond toes (there are a ton of both on the market right now!) If you were looking for a new pump for an interview outfit, what would you buy? It’s great to see so many options in low heels, high heels, and strappy pumps.

Update: Check out some work outfit ideas involving some of the pumps you see featured here!

(Curious for our previous roundups of black pumps? In addition to the several specific shoes mentioned in our Guide to Comfortable Heels, we also did a 2013 guide to interview pumps and to low heels, a 2012 guide to black pumps under $250, 2008 guide to basic black pumps.

Classic Black Pumps for Work

classic comfortable black pumps

From our Hall of Fame category above! Pictured: 1 / 2 / 3 // 4 / 5 / 6

Six Trendy Black Pumps

nine west margot pump on saleWe’ve featured these shoes a lot over the years, but still, they’re worthy of mention because of the HUGE number of colors they have available right now.  Zappos has 13 colors available at full price, and Amazon has a ton (some as low as $2o! the pictured shoes are $50).  They’re $79 at full price, available up to a size 13, and come in wider widths as well. Nine West Margot Heel
comfortable heels under $100I always have a soft spot in my heart for Anne Klein’s line of comfortable heels (sometimes called the Flex line or the iFlex line) because I met my husband while wearing a pair of AK pumps (a strappy red peep toe, if you’re curious). These are affordable, the cutouts and textured toe add a bit of interest, and they have five solid reviews — one reviewer liked them so much she bought all five colors the shoe comes in.  The shoe is $79, and available in sizes 5-11. Anne Klein Firstclass
block heel for workBlock heels are THE trend of the moment — and you can find them in all price points. Because they are so trendy I’d probably stay to the lower end of the price spectrum, but that’s me.  These Steve Madden ones are getting a lot of good reviews over at Nordstrom as well as Zappos, but several reviewers note that they run small.  (Note that at 4″ high, these are only for the devout high heel lovers among you — if when walking you look like a baby giraffe, find another shoe.) Other similar styles include: Corso Como ($140), Calvin Klein (round toe, $99), Calvin Klein (pointy toe, $129), and Marc Fisher LTD ($130) — on the higher end you have Alexander Wang, Chloé, Jimmy Choo, and Tod’s. Pictured: Steve Madden Primpy Heels ($99)
classic black pump for interviewsThis Via Spiga heel is also getting a ton of great reviews over at Nordstrom (and I’m strangely drawn to the black and white patterned one).  I like the walkable heel, (2.5″) and the wide range of sizes (4-12). It’s $195, at Nordstrom. Via Spiga Medora
modern black heel for officeThese highly-reviewed heels from Vince are a much more modern look, but also a bit harsher/less leg-lengthening with more traditional styles with a dip in the vamp. (Note that they have a similar lower-heeled version as well; if you prefer Alexander Wang heels, here’s a similar style; here’s a slightly more affordable version from Paul Green.) They’re $375, available in sizes 5-10. Vince Claire Heel
classy black heel for workFerragamo shoes are favorites among the readers for their comfort and quality — several of their more classic pumps are in our Hall of Fame listing above (skinny heel, low heel), so if you’re hunting for a trendier block style and you like bows, do consider the Ninna. It’s $575, which is definitely splurgey — but it’s got a ton of good reviews at Nordstrom (where it’s almost sold out) and Zappos.  Salvatore Ferragamo Ninna.


Like this feature? Check out other recent installments! Ladies, which are YOUR favorite, most comfortable black pumps? 





  1. Are 3.5 inch black pumps too high to be professional? I just got a pair of Cole Haans that are surprisingly comfortable but are higher than I usually wear. My typical heel is 3 inches or under.

    • Wildkitten :


    • Anonymous :

      Generally, no, but if you’re six feet tall, I would advise against 3.5″ heels.

      • Marshmallow :

        I disagree. There is no reason tall women shouldn’t wear heels. Every time I hear this advice I feel like it’s coming from some desire not to overshadow the men you work with.

        • Anonymous :


        • I have a pair that make me 6’2, and they are awesome.

        • + 1 million – I’m nearly 6 feet tall & regularly wear 4+ inch heels & I think it looks proportional and powerful. I will rock them until I can no longer walk.

          • Cosign (5’11” here)! Love me some really tall heels. I got over being tall a long time ago. I only wear flats when I am with someone higher up the ladder who I know is short, and we’re seeing clients. It weirds them out when I am this amazon with a pipsqueak superior who’s sensitive about it.

      • I say this a jealous short person, but I LOVE when tall women wear heels. It looks so powerful.

        • I agree, but WISH I were taller. The tall women with high heels I know realy make me look squat and dumpy. Dad and the manageing partner both insist that I try and wear 4″ heels whenever possible. I prefer flat’s but know that men are NOT interested in me if I look short and dumpy. FOOEY!

      • Anonymous :

        That is the best when you’re tall! You get to stand there like the colossus, towering over even the tall men. So satisfying. That said, I don’t think that anyone would notice a difference between 3 and 3.5″ heels. I think you want to stay away from any of the taller styles of heels with an obvious platform on the front, though.

      • I’m 6′ tall and I love my heels. Not my problem if it makes shorter people (men) feel uncomfortable.

      • I’m 5’9″ so they do make me feel really tall, but it’s fun to be tall sometimes :). Thanks everyone, I’ll plan on keeping them.

    • They’re fine so long as you can walk in them.

  2. Anon and tired :

    I’m a senior associate in a transactional practice (mid/biglaw). I generally like my job but lately I’ve started really despising being on calls negotiating agreements, which unfortunately is a large part of my day. I’m just so d*mn tired of making the same argument over and over, dealing with really unreasonable and often abrasive people who go out of their way to try to undermine me and make me look bad in front of my client. (Very often I’m negotiating against a partner at another law firm or inhouse counsel at very large companies where I’m representing the smaller company, so I get a lot of the “well you’re young and just not experienced enough”) even though i have plenty of experience in my area (I’ve been doing this for 9 years). I just get so tired of it. I don’t otherwise want to give up on this career as I like my clients and I like drafting documents and coming up with creative solutions, but these calls are just wearing me out and making me feel so stressed both before, during and after. It’s like a pit in my stomach.

    Not sure if I’m looking for advice or just venting, but if anyone has a good suggestion on how to get beyond this extreme distaste for negotiation calls, let me know!

    • Anonymous :

      I’m on the other side – I’m represented by outside transactional counsel; negotiating against customers with outside counsel. I think this is something you like or you don’t.

    • I once knew a lawyer who got a lot of that (was young, looked young, woman), and she took great joy in then handing opposing counsel their heads.

      It is awful when it happens, but people who behave that way are exposing a flank. It isn’t hard (but takes getting used to) to use their snittiness to your own advantage. “This isn’t about my age; this is about X problem….”

      (Or heck, if you’re feeling particularly snarky, “If I were trying to make the argument you’re making now, I would rather talk about the age of people who disagree with me than try to justify it.”)

      Some lawyers make these sweeping, categorical statements, even on positions on which they don’t have a solid argument. “We both know it’s a lot more nuanced than that, (insert point)” can be very effective at shutting it down.

    • So, I am in house for a large company – and I would never say this to a fellow member of the profession FWIW. I generally take a more collaborative approach at the beginning of the call when the introductions are made. It generally is something like…I’d like to to hear your issues with the open items because my experience is that we can reach mutually acceptable language after both parties articulate their particular concerns. Let’s try to come up with solutions that work for everybody, so we can get the deal done!

      Yes. This is pandering to the clients — who want to get the deal done.

      This approach is pretty effective. My experience with other lawyers has generally been very congenial, so think about your style and whether something is setting these people off. (Or not — you could just have a bad lot!)

  3. SAHM BFF? :

    My best friend since we were kids is moving to my town after living multiple states away for the past number of years. We grew up going to summer camp together, went to the same college, our husbands were fraternity brothers, we got married in the same time frame, had similar lives in our 20s, had our first kids at the same time in our early 30s. We talk multiple times a week– just a facebook message here or there, one of us saw something funny, etc. The only way our paths have diverged is that she became a SAHM and I did not. I’m so excited about living in the same town, but … I’m a little worried. Is it going to be weird? Will we have things to talk about? Do I just need to chill out and not borrow trouble? Do any of y’all have a SAHM BFF?

    • Anonymous :

      It depends on the person.

      None of my friends is a true SAHM — many have just become more PT as their kids have gotten into more activities / spouse has work travel / finances have allowed. The slow fade, if you will. They get where I am coming from, which truly helps.

      A lot of them I see at kid activities (so kids do activities and moms visit). I like that. Makes me (FT Biglaw partner) feel less out of place.

      Others I see on weekends. Still others will want to go out for drinks when husband gets home from work.

      It really depends. When it works, it is great (and FWIW, I never see some FT working mom friends anymore, so I am happy for *any* friend time I can get).

    • I think you are borrowing trouble here. Are you worried that you are going to judge each other? Of course there are other things to talk about besides what you do all day. You can still talk about what your kids are doing generally, what’s going on with your husbands, what book you are really into, etc. Sounds like you have plenty of background to base things on. And she’s not living in your town right now and you’ve managed to keep a friendship alive. Now you just have to work out the details of when and how often to see each other. I think the bigger difference will be adjusting to the constant hanging out that comes with the student/young adult years and balancing that with the needs of spouses/work/other adult life activities.

    • Anonymous :

      I think you’re borrowing trouble. If you talk multiple times a week online you are not going to have nothing to say to each other in person.

    • Yes! One of my best friends is a SAHM and I love it because she tells me how annoying her kids can be so I don’t feel like the grass is always greener, and I tell her about my work problems so she can see the same.

  4. I wore out my last pair of plain black pointy toe pumps, so I recently bought a pair on sale at Coach. They’re a classic shape and very comfortable:

  5. purplesneakers :

    Anyone have ideas for self-dates? I’m currently hunting for jobs and fighting against my tendencies to hermit. So far I have: going to a matinee, sketching/reading in the park, getting a day pass for the bus and riding around, visiting a wacky museum.

    • Any hobby you’ve always wanted to do?

      I started leasing a horse and I ride alone every Sunday morning and it’s the only way to empty my brain.

      Otherwise, check out your local Visitors’ Center and look for wacky tourist attractions. We have a corn maze that is a half acre that people come from all over to see and it makes me laugh hysterically :)

    • Readings at bookstores
      Beer or wine tastings (often free or subsidized by the vendors)
      Yoga (several places in my area do pay what you wish)
      National park walking tours
      Art openings at galleries
      Concerts on college campuses (e.g. conservatory or grad student recitals)
      Dollar midnight movies or arty movies at your local art museum
      Cooking classes
      Farmers’ markets with free music
      Pretty much any local art fair or festival

    • Classes — I’ve found some interesting classes at the local community college / tech center – I took an electrical basics class (5 classes) and I learned how to wire a switch, install a ceiling fan, put in a ground outlet… came in pretty handy after I bought my first house :)

      Pottery classes — everything I ended up making looked pretty phallic, but whatever…

      Volunteer – I asked to be put on a volunteer “rotation” at the local hospital, so I get something different each time I go. One time they had me pull weeds in the garden, the next time I got to hold opiate addicted babies. Last time I had to work in the gift shop, which wasn’t that fun but it was only 2 hours, so not so bad. I also like volunteering at the humane society and the boys and girls club (dog walking and glitter crafts!)

      Beer / wine tastings as mentioned previously, although I tend not to do this alone – makes me feel sad

      buying nail polish / nail art items from Duane Reade, CVS, etc and then trying to replicate nail art on yourself that you see on Pinterest (highly recommend supplementing this with wine for improved / entertaining results)

      Check for hikes or kayaking ideas, then do it on your own

      Check out a murder-mystery dinner. These are really fun to go to by yourself because you can get more into character and it doesn’t feel weird to be there eating alone.

      Zoo/aquarium/anything animal related

      Visit any store where they have a personal shopper service – nothing feels better than to have clothes picked out that fit perfectly and are different from what you’d normally pick out for yourself. You can do mini-makeovers for free at Sephora afterward!

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