Update: This is still a fun discussion on the best brands for comfortable heels, but 2012 was too long ago — check out our most recent roundup of the Top Ten Most Comfortable Heel Brands!
One of the top Corporette posts of all time, The Quest for Comfortable Heels, turned into one of the best resources on this site: our Guide to Comfortable Heels (which I’ll be trying to update today). But I’ve long wondered what the top brands, for the most people, truly were.
These are some of our favorite heels as of 2023, but check out our entire Guide to Comfortable Heels!
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Some of the shoes that I’ve worn into the ground were actually from random brands (such as a pair of red peep-toe Liz Flex heels that I bought on sale for $17!) while other much-lauded brands have sat in my closet, unworn.
And then there are some high-end surprises — after all, Tiffany of I-Am Styleish praised Miu Miu above other designer brands in her Newbie’s Guide to Designer Shoes.
So I want you guys to dig deep, and think: you know that amazing pair (or two? or three?) of shoes in your closet, the super comfortable ones? What brand are those shoes? We’ll also accept answers for “when it’s time to find a comfortable shoe, the first brand I check out is…”
I’ve arranged this as a poll — please write in if there are other brands and I’ll try to add them. You’re allowed up to 10 answers. If you know the style names, please add them in the comments!
I would also add Naturalizer to the list.
I agree – just bought a pair of deeply discounted Naturalizer boots at Ross. They are a wow!
Thirded. The only reason I’m moving away from Naturalizer’s basic black knee-high boots is because I’m trying to invest in real leather that won’t be as damaged by salt.
Naturalizers are pretty much the only pumps I buy anymore. They just work for my feet. I even got an awesome pair that’s all sparkly for black tie type events.
Naturalizer are my absolutely go-to brand for comfort. I bought a new pair of sandals this summer and then 3 days later spent 10 hours (mostly on my feet) at the Calgary Stampede without any problems at all. And I buy them directly from the store after they go on sale, and then with a further discount coupon. Except for the boots I bought this year (and when I bought those the combo of sale & coupon made it like getting a pair of flats for free) I’ve never paid over $50 for a pair of their shoes.
My problem with them is that they’re not real leather and absorb foot smell in a bad way.
For the mid-size heel category (3″), the absolute best for value I’ve seen is the Women Karmen Pump by Comfort Plus by Predictions at… hold your breath… Payless ShoeSource. http://www.payless.com/store/product/detail.jsp?productId=70962
Forgot to mention, they’re incredibly comfortable and although it doesn’t show on the website today, the shoes are available in 7 different colors – blue, black-matte, black-patent, red, brown-croc, beige and white.
Whoa. I love the wedges in their work shoes section and they’re $20 and BOGO. I kind of thought I’d “graduated” from payless, but I think those will be mine today.
Ha, same here. And then I tried these on and ended up getting them in 3 colors.
I had to buy those when I needed work shoes in a pinch, and while they’re comfortable for heels, the fake leather makes my feet sweat. I’ve only worn them without hose though, wearing a trouser sock or hose would help. So now I keep them under my desk for emergencies. My circa 2007 express suit and payless heels make for an awesome emergency court outfit!
Also, I got them in wides for my bunions and they fit great in that area. So I do recommend them if you have bunions and have a hard time finding heels. My aerosoles and fitzwell 3″ heels are managable at the office, but I could prob walk further in the payless ones (with socks/hose).
Coach shoes are super comfy. They always have enough “cush” at the base and hold up really well.
I answered Enzo Angiolini but that is partly because of how they fit me. I swear, it’s like they were made for my foot. Unlike Calvin Klein, which tend to be too narrow for me.
I voted for Clark’s, but it’s actually the Indigo by Clark’s line that I’ve worn with great success.
I agree, the Indigo for Clark’s line is great, and they actually look cute, too, not frumpy. I basically have replaced all of my heels with Indigo heels, esp for the days when i have to run around for 10 hours.
My heeled boots are Ecco’s. And every once in a while Born has a really cute heeled shoe, but you have to get past all the big chunky things, and the weird heeled sandals they keep trying to do. but i have a heeled ankle booty from them that looks great with suits in the winter and keeps my feet warm.
For me keys to a comfy heel are a thick rubber sole, good padding inside, and a stacked heel. I’m kind of a klutz, so for me it’s about not having to think too hard about walking ;o)
Ditto everything you look for in a comfy heel!
I recently scraped my knee and the front of my ankle by…trying to text and walk at the same time :-P
So I feel you.
I have some Indigo by Clark’s, and I believe I also have some work-appropriate Artisan by Clark’s.
srsly…. i am just really prone to rolling my foot, and wobbling, and not seeing gaps in DC’s horrible brick sidewalks, or tripping over my. own. feet. you can’t take me anywhere. ;o)
I have fallen off my clogs in the OR standing still.
That is all
Smart but klutzy women FTW!!
You should add Brooks Brothers and Anne Klein brands as well. I literally lived in Brooks Brothers pumps this summer and I loved them.
Yeah, Anne Klein are one of the brands I know I can buy a pair of in an 8 and they will fit and feel awesome.
Aerosoles are the best for running around like a crazed chicken in a law office. I call them sneakers with heels.
Please Add Naturalizer and Kenneth Cole Reaction to the list
I would also add JCrew to the list. Just bought a super comfy pair of Mona pumps from JCrew.
Seconding J.Crew; also Brooks Brothers
Alanna of Trebond
I have had mixed results with Jcrew–some of them are lovely, some tear up my feet.
I would add Pour La Victorie to the list. I love their 3″ heels — the heel is slightly thicker than Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps and they have a versatile almond toe on most pairs.
I wish I could get better at predicting which heels will work for me. I tend to try them on, and if they fit in the heel (I have a narrow heel, so slippage is common) and length, I figure it fits. But, long-term comfort seems to be as much about where the heel is under my foot? Something like that? A shoe can fit well in length an width, but some are so much more comfortable for me than others – and that’s regardless of heel height. I have 3″ heels that I feel like I could run in and 3″ heels that make me sore after standing in them for more than 15 minutes. What’s the X-factor?
Heel cross-section area and positioning. Obviously, the wider the heel is, the more your weight is spread out across your foot. If you really *really* like narrow/skinny heels, look for ones that taper. In terms of heel positioning, look for heels that curve a bit so that the heel aligns with your ankle and leg. That way, the heel is an extension of your leg and your weight isn’t shifting back, which requires compensation from the rest of your foot in order to maintain your balance and walk properly.
I second this entirely. I have found that heel position and width are much more relevant to comfort than heel height.
Attilio Giusti Leombruni are extremely comfortable. I stand on my feet for hours delivering training programs and they are the best so far. I also like Prada low heels for comfort and style.
I second Prada…they are hands down my most comfortable heels 3 1/2 inch with small platform. Expensive, but findable at end of season sales as long as you aren’t looking for basic black. Though I might pay retail for the black- I find them that comfortable
I would add Bruno Magli to the list as well, and second the addition of Brooks Brothers. I also voted for Cole Haan Air and Corso Como, for what it’s worth.
Reposting after the morning thread, since this is kind of on topic:
I’m in the market for a pair of riding boots. Does anyone own a pair of Frye riding boots, and are they worth the $$? I’m considering the Frye Melissa button boots or the Cole Haan Air Daelin boots, but only if they will last for a really long time, given the expense. Also must be super comfortable. Thanks!!
I don’t have Frye riding boots specifically, but I have the engineers boots with a cuban heel and LOVE THEM. Wear them all the time with jeans, and even more casual slacks.
Couple caveats: If you’re looking for a knee high boot, I’d make sure you can try on one by Frye (even if not the Melissa specifically) and make sure the shaft fits. Frye’s are generally leather and can be stretched a bit by your cobbler, but not excessively. Secondly, the heels on mine, which are not tall, maybe 2 in at most, are incredibly loud. I’ve known other Frye owners who agree, it’s something about their construction, probably not helped by my prominent heel strike.
That said, they’re very, very sturdy boots, totally worth the money.
Frye boots with with “extended” shafts (for wider calfs) are available online, including at Bloomingdales.
I have Frye Melissa boots that I got on super sale a couple years ago. They’ve worn well and they’re very comfortable. I can wear them with tights or with skinny jeans and I think I have normal calves. Also, I highly recommend that you have grips (?) to the soles of the boots — your cobbler will know what I mean — because these really helped with keeping the soles protected and also let me avoid the initial slipping around in new soles problem.
Perhaps others will disagree, but I think if the quality of the leather is decent, any pair of classic boots will last a long time. I have a brown pair of BCBG leather heeled boots that has held up really well for 4 years with moderate wear in NYC and a pair of black riding boots that have lasted for 3 years and counting. Purchased both pairs on sale but with attention to leather quality. I previously had a pair of not so good riding boots that held up for only 1 season and I think the reason was that the leather was poor quality.
When it’s time to find a comfortable shoe, the first brand I check out is……
John Fluevog, without a doubt. Unfortunately Fluevogs are a bit pricey and not to everyone’s taste, but I could live in my Fluevogs quite happily.
Second. But Fluevogs are hard to order online due to inconsistent fit. I’ve been wearing ‘vogs since about 1998 and I have all manner of sizes in them.
I have bad feet so I feel my vote should count double – here were my choices
Naturalizer (surprisingly attractive styles but not as well made)
I will also add Farylrobin, but the comfort factor is hit and miss.
I second the Naturalizer not being well made. While they are very comfortable, mine have fallen apart after a season.
Also: ecco and softspots.
Recently bought a pair of ecco brown booties with 3″ heels, and while they’re not exactly running shoes, they’re pretty darn comfy for a 3″ bootie (with high arches!).
Softspots’ basic black 2″ heel is widely recommended by airline attendants and military officers for their dress blues, and they’re my basic pounding the pavement shoes for when I need to metro/walk a lot and can’t bring an extra bag to carry my flats. They took a tiny bit to break in the width, but after about 3 wears, they’re my most comfortable heels.
(Off to add Naturalizer, Coach, Kenneth Cole, Brooks Brothers, Anne Klein, Campers, JCrew, Pour La Victoire, & Attilio Giusti Leombruni to the poll…)
(former) Clueless Summer
Definitely Naturalizer – I also find Michael Kors pumps to be surprisingly comfortable. They don’t have the cushioning/chunky heel of comfort brands but I find them just to fit my feet well. Also Ecco are great although I only have flats from them!
Second for Kors Michael Kors
I would add Via Spiga to the list as well.
Don’t forget Munro! I have wide, bunion-y feet and they’re the only shoes that are comfortable all day.
I picked up two pairs of 4inch Lerres at DSW years ago and they are the most comfortable pairs I own – seriously, more comfortable than my 3inch and 2.5inch Ann Taylors, which are my other go-to comfort shoes.
SF Bay Associate
Kate Spade (Italy), Ferragamo (Italy), and Stuart Weitzman (Spain) for me. I’m testing out some LK Bennett (Spain) ones. So far, so good, but they are too new to really know how comfortable they are yet. I won’t buy shoes made outside of Europe – they always end up hurting my feet. High quality leather is an absolute must.
SF Bay Associate
So, Kat, please add LK Bennett to the list. The Duchess of Cambridge wears her Sledge pumps everywhere for hours, so I figure she must be on to something. I loved seeing the inside of her shoes at the mosque during the recent trip – they are as worn and broken in as my favorite heels are. I’m giving LKB Shilos a try.
For the record, I put Superfeet high heel insoles and Foot Petal Tip Toe ball of foot pads in every pair of my shoes.
LK Bennett and Kate Spade are my go to heels. Comfy, well made, stylish without being trendy. LOVE.
(Off to add Bruno Magli, Ecco, Softspots, Via Spiga, Munro, Lerres)…
In addition to my Calvin Klein and Ann Taylor pumps, Abarane by Ralph Lauren (on sale now at Lord & Taylor) has been incredibly comfortable! I have walked miles in all of these with no blisters!
Perhaps these are too low budget for most, but Anne Klein Flex always seem to be my “long day on my feet” heels.
Easy Spirit, seriously.
Naya are also great.
I love easy spirit parnellas…my everyday work shoe.
Easy Spirit is the first place I look for comfortable professional shoes.
I like Michael Kors too. I have also surprisingly found Bandolino heels to be comfrotable.
Ms. Van Squigglebottoms
I love Ivanka Trump’s low heeled pumps. As comfortable and chic as Jimmy Choo’s lower heeled styles at a fraction of the cost. But my “18 hour day” shoes will always be Naturalizers and Cold Haans. They can’t be beat!
Athena Alexander makes the most comfortable sandals I’ve ever owned. You can get them at Nordstrom.
LK Bennett for sure. Good enough for the Duchess!
SF Bay Associate
Sweet, you like them too, jpo? Which style(s) do you have?
Chie Mihara. Spendy, but beautiful, handmade and total value for money.
Also I would add that Dr. Scholl’s For Her inserts make almost every heel more comfortable.
Oh my gosh. How could I forget Chie Mihara? I adore Chie Mihara, though sadly only have 2 pairs, both purchased on deep discount. Probably my favourite pair of shoes that I own is a pair of Chie Mihara peeptoe booties (yes, yes, I know, peeptoe + bootie = questionable utility – but I couldn’t resist) and despite the very high heel I would wear them every day if they were remotely work-appropriate.
Chie makes the most comfortable high heeled shoes. I stalk websites that carry them for the moment they go on sale.
off to add LK Bennett, Abarane, Anne Klein Flex, Easy Spirit, Naya, Bandolino, Novacas, Ivanka Trump…
I ended up buying a pair of LK Bennet “court shoes” in Oxford, while looking for a black skirt because they were on sale, and they are absolutely my favorite pair of “work shoes.” While they are not the duchess’ “sledge” platforms, they are soooo wonderfully solid and comfy, yet don’t look like “grandma” shoes.
I just regret not buying more while I was there (but I was also a 3L, so broke).
Odd – I don’t see Easy Spirit as an option on the poll.
My recent favourites – Jessica Simpson Oscar pumps, on their way out I suspect as had trouble locating them once I bought one pair in DSW sale. I managed to track down another two pairs online at DSW but it was a challenge. They are like slippers.
Ivanka Trump ones aren’t bad either, but nowhere near as good as my Jessicas!
My favorite’s are NINE WEST’s. In fact, I wear them to court, and they are good b/c I have to stand up alot and having comforeteable closed toe’s are the best. Even more in the winter b/c it is COLD in NYC and I do NOT want to get wet.
One of my case’s was CONTINUED, b/c the plainetiff had COUNSEL with him and he is known in the industry as tough. The manageing partner said he would second chair me with him b/c the case will be going to trial unless they acept our setttelment offer. We asked the CLEINT how much they would be willing to pay to settel, but the client said only $3000. The counsel laffed at me and said, we will see YOU in court. Fortuneatealy the case is in front of the manageing partners’ law school pal, and he like’s me, so I figure I have a good chance at a pretrial to get the judge to get the guy to settel, not for $3000, but mabye for $5000. If I can get it done for $5000, the cleint will be very happy b/c I told the manageing partner I thought I would not settel for less than $10000 if I was the plaeintiff.
So that case I have to prepare for in 2 week’s! Fooey. I like it when they do NOT show up and I WIN automaeticeally! YAY!
I like Soft Style by Hush Puppies. Certainly not very stylish, but I have several workhorse pairs with soft uppers and low heels that I can wear all day and then teach in at night. And cheap – typically I buy them for $45.
I like Hush Puppies in general. Excellent flats for the office that won’t do you wrong if you have to walk around outside.
CPA to be
PSA: I bought Nurture shoes about a year ago. They’re the Dillards brand of not-that-ugly comfort shoes. I’ve only worn them a couple of times because they are not very attractive, but they’re nice basic black pumps… so I wore them to a networking event a couple weeks ago. By the end of the event, I was literally limping from pain. I had 5 giant blisters, which are just now healed. It was so bad I walked several blocks to my car barefoot because that was less painful than wearing those shoes one more minute. My mom wears the flats in that brand a lot and loves them, but I would steer clear of the heels.
Least comfortable shoes!
This topic is worth a separate post.
Mine were flats “Poetic Ideals” by Poetic Licence. They are the cutest shoes I’ve ever seen, and they are open-toe flats. Should be hard to screw up open-toe flats, right?
They are strangely narrow in the front and the appliques sit on little knobs that put pressure on the foot. They are also plasticy and narrow in the heel. After walking like 100 yards indoors (mall) I got blisters on both feet front and back and barely made it to the car.
So if you like a PL shoe, do yourself a favor and try it on on a store before you buy.
(adding Chie Mihara, Jessica Simpson, SoftStyle)
Nine West – Izabela (Classic pointy toe pump on low 2” heel). I have run all over federal office building in them, walked multiple blocks for lunch, and then kept them on for evening meetings without even a second thought. Its as if I’m wearing flats!
That said, the Cole Haan/Nike Air shoes everyone raves about: my feet can’t stand them! They are the least comfortable pairs of shoes I own. So if you love these, then my beloved Izabela’s may not be good for you.