The Hunt: Interview Pumps

2016 Update: Check out our most recent discussion and roundup of comfortable black pumps.

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have 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.

It feels like we just talked about black interview pumps — the simple, closed-toe, walkable pump — but in fact it’s been a full year since I’ve done a round-up of basic black pumps (see here for our roundup of black pumps under $250, our 2010 roundup of black pumps under $100, and our original 2008 roundup of classic black pumps.  A lot of these pumps are true classics, and are still available — the Naturalizer Lennox, the Franco Sarto Cicero pump (on sale at Amazon as low as $32 depending on the color), the Cole Haan Air Talia pump, the Stuart Weitzman Platswoon and Blog pumps — and of course our recent discovery, the $20 Payless pump that a number of readers swear by, is still available.  Readers, what is your favorite, basic black pump?  What shoes do you wear for interviewing?

Clarks Tempt AppealThe Artisan line by Clarks always wins rave reviews from readers for comfort, and this simple 2.5″ heel looks like a great basic. Zappos has a few sizes on sale for $75, while Amazon has even more sizes and colors marked around $99-$110. Clarks Tempt Appeal
Tsubo AvocaThis Avoca pump is by Tsubo, another brand that ladies swear by for comfort. While I’m not a fan of how it looks in the static picture, if you watch the Zappos video it looks pretty great. Zappos has it in a few sizes for $85.99; Amazon has a wider selection of colors and sizes for $120-$135 (was $230 originally). Tsubo Avoca
GEOX Closed-toe slip-ons I’m a fan of Geox shoes — they’re known for “breathability,” and in general I think of them as comfortable, yet classic shoes. Yoox has these closed-toe slip-ons for $118. GEOX Closed-toe slip-ons(Note this slightly less classic black pump by Geox at Nordstrom for $150.)
kate spade new york 'karolina' pumpI’ve featured the Karolina pump before, but never in the basic black — it’s been around for so long that I think it deserves to be in a Hunt! Love the almond toe, the 3.5″ heel, and the price — I think it’s a great value for the money. It’s $298 at Nordstrom (Amazon also has a number of colors and sizes marked as low as $142.) kate spade new york ‘karolina’ pump
L.K. Bennett 'Sledge' PumpI’m not a huge fan of platforms for interview shoes, but these are only .5″ high, giving you a bit of an edge with a 4″ heel. And, as Kate Middleton’s favorite (in a nude-for-her beige) they’re very popular right now. They’re $345 at Nordstrom. L.K. Bennett ‘Sledge’ Pump
Christian Louboutin Simple 85 Leather PumpsWe’ve talked about whether Louboutins are appropriate for the office — are they appropriate for interviewing? This is one of those “know your audience” kind of situations, I think — these are not shoes that you wear to the nonprofit interview. But I think the “simple” pumps are tasteful and classic, and they will signal to an interviewer (if he or she recognizes them at all) that you’re making an investment in your work attire, which can be a positive. The Simple 85 pumps are $625 at Saks. Christian Louboutin Simple 85 Leather Pumps

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!  Also, don’t forget to check out the Corporette Guide to Comfortable Heels!



  1. I scrolled down quickly and literally thought this was a bunch of pictures of the same shoe.

  2. Gift Ideas :

    Sorry to TJ so early on, but can any of you ladies suggest gifts for a man in his mid- 50s? My dad’s birthdya is coming up and I have no idea what to get him. He likes technology and gadgets but pretty much has the latest ipods, ipad, pc, etc. He doesn’t work in a corporate enviornment so nothing like cufflinks would work. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! TIA

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      Once got my dad an iPhone case with his college sports team logo embossed on the back. To date, best gift. I got it from Coveroo

      and it was inexpensively priced and he *loves* it. I got it in a muted color with the logo cut out so it’s not super obvious but he uses it all the time.

      • wintergreen126 :

        I second this! A friend of mine bought one for her fiance, and he thought it was fantastic. It’s a nice, unobtrusive way to show off team pride

      • wintergreen126 :

        I second this! A friend of mine bought one for her fiance, and he thought it was fantastic! It’s a nice, unobtrusive way of showing off team pride.

    • Does he like food/wine? Or cooking? Depending on how much you want to spend, 1-3 good bottles of wine would be nice. Or a Le Creuset dutch oven (my dad wouldn’t spend that $ on himself, even though he clearly can afford it more easily than me).

      I’ve also gotten some nice clothes (like a sweater pullover or desert boots) from J.Crew for him.

      Or what about an experience gift? Like a nice dinner out, or taking a class together, etc.

      Or perhaps his inner geek would like something like this:

    • Maybe a case for the gadgets? I LOVE the cases at and; not crazy expensive, but a bit of a luxury for someone who doesn’t buy a lot of things like that for themselves. Plus, with reauthored, they recycle actual books and you can pick the genre to make it more personal.

    • I have lots of gadget lovers in my life — and things that have gone over well are – weather stations (has a remote sensor outside that broadcasts exact data on a screen on your counter) and portable meat thermometer for the grill (same idea, put the temp reader in the meat, leave it and monitor the temp remotely while you grill).
      Good luck! Keep us posted, I’m always on the hunt for new gadget ideas.

    • what’s your budget? I think this is a really cool gadget that is new enough, I believe it’s built by someone who used to work at Apple:

    • Saacnmama :

      What’s your budget? Could you get him a cool experience? Para sailing and race car driving are the classics, but my dad loved the individual yoga lesson I got him a couple years after I started working. The instructor was as old as he was, and was darned impressive!

    • The default gift for my dad is a good bottle of Scotch.

  3. Diana Barry :

    Rant: I don’t have enough work again! I hate being slow – I can feel my vacation time just ticking away, since I won’t be able to take all my vacation if I am short on my hours. BLERG!

    • goldribbons :

      Can you work on pro bono stuff? Or create a CLE? Just trying to think of self-motivated projects to help you fill out the hours…

    • Calibrachoa :

      Time for some sort of Useful Training And Certification Thing?

    • Precedents. The bane of my existence, but always a good thing to work on.

    • I am in the same boat. One week I am busy, the next I am looking for things to do. Finding productive ways to fill my time is not the problem–I will happily attend CLE and see to non-billable tasks–but those productive hours are not *billable* hours. Do some firms seriously count CLE, pro bono work, etc. towards their billable requirements? Billable = billable around here, and all those productive-but-non-billable things I do when we are not busy will not earn me a bonus. Blerg, indeed.

  4. springtime :

    Is patent leather appropriate for an interview? Seems as though most of these shoes are patent.

    • anon in-house :

      I’d say they’re fine peeking out of a pant leg, but it might be a bit too ‘shiny’ with a skirt suit.

    • yeah, I always thought a regular leather finish was more appropriate for interviews (especially if it is at a place that is more business formal).

    • a passion for fashion :

      i think its fine. But then, i dont treat patent any different than regular leather

    • Anonymous :

      I wore patent leather Michael Kors pumps to all of my interviews for BigLaw, and did extremely well. No one ever said anything, and they certainly didn’t affect my overall performance. I think patent is fine, as long as the shape of the shoe is conservative. (FWIW, I think a rounded-toe patent pump looks more conservative than a pointy-toe patent.)

  5. Calibrachoa :

    I feel like an ugly stepsister with my canoe-sized feet right now… :(

    • No–I highly recommend the Platswoon from Stuart Weiztman–comes in Size 11, 11.5 and 12 for all of my giant sisters! They last forever and are crazy comfortable. You can sale-stalk them, but the classic colors (e.g. black) rarely go on sale. But they are the best.

      • Calibrachoa :

        I checked their UK site and unfortunately they don’t come in the size I need – EUR42 is the biggest I see and I need a EUR43, preferably wide-width. *sigh*

      • a passion for fashion :

        I just a 6.5, but also highly recommend the Platswoon. I’ve worn my black pair into the ground and need a new pair. The are the most comfortable high heels you will ever own. And, they come in tons of colors.

  6. I love the Kate Spade Karolinas. They’re my go-to pump. But, I just tried some shoes by Ivanka Trump (per suggestions here), and so far I’m a (surprised) fan.

  7. At this point, I think that Louboutins have come to communicate a desire to own something that is recognizably expensive, and so I wouldn’t wear them to an interview.

    Actually, I wouldn’t wear them at all (Prada makes very similar shoes at a lower price point, and they’re more comfortable and don’t telegraph in the way that Louboutins do), but that’s just me.

  8. I like Ann Taylor’s pumps for interviews. They’re simple, fairly comfortable, and pretty inexpensive in the scheme of things (they’re always running % off promos).

  9. Any ideas for pumps (not platform) with a 2-2.5″ heel?

    • Try the Ann Taylor Perfect Pump with the kitten heel. It’s just as nice looking in person.

    • anon in tejas :

      I bought a beautiful and cheap pair of Audrey Brooke (connie) from DSW recently in black.,300036&isBrand=y&categoryName=women

      They are a little higher than what you’re asking for, but they are super comfortable since they are a stacked heel.

  10. I want to toss in the Ann Taylor Perfect Pump – I run around in them nearly all day everyday at work, and they are really comfortable and easy to walk in for the heel height. The patent ones are available in store and online, and the non-patent are available online. Really good for $128!

    • I used to love the Ann Taylor perfect pump–they were amazing! But they recently–about six months ago–started making them with rubber soles, instead of leather soles. And charging the same price. (Sort of like when Ann Taylor switched most of its blouses from silk to polyester without changing the price, and thinking we wouldn’t notice). Sadly, the Ann Taylor perfect pump just isn’t the same without the leather sole. The quality and fit is vastly inferior. I wish I had stocked up on them before they stopped making them.

      Ann Taylor, if you’re reading this, you’ve been a disappointment, and I will refuse to purchase any more apparel from you until your prices reflect your quality (in either direction).

      • I second everything you said. Major disappointment – used to be my go-to store. No more.

  11. Which doctor? :

    I figure I’ll see if “the hive” has any insight. I have a sebaceous cyst very close to my lady garden though not actually in the tulips. It is being monitored by a dermatologist who thinks it needs to come out due to its reoccurring nature. He, however, has never removed one from a lady garden and I am very concerned about not damaging the flower beds. The procedure will involve taking a pretty large area since the cyst is currently below the skin and I am always out of town when it decides to appear above ground.

    I saw my gyno who confirmed it is a cyst and nothing to do with the lady garden per se. I also ran it by a GI during a routine appt who confirmed it is a cyst that should probably come out. I decided to try to find a plastic surgeon who has operated on lady gardens before. I contacted the best one in my town and he is declining to take the case and saying it should be treated by a gyno. My gyno says it should be treated by my derm. My derm hasn’t operated on a lady garden. So, do I find another derm? Keep looking for a plastic surgeon who will take it? Try a new gyno? Which tree should I bark up next?

    • This time just C :

      Not sure if this is helpful, but….I had to have a cyst (a gartner’s duct cyst) removed from the lady garden. I saw a doctor who does minimally invasive gyn surgery.

    • If it’s not actually in the tulips it’s just skin and regular old tissue (and the cyst). That means it’s not the gyno’s area of expertise (which is female organs), and the dermatologist should be fine. But perhaps EC MD or another doctor will weigh in.

    • Which doctor? :

      Thanks! I thought this was the coffee break so I will be reposting over there.

    • Anonymous :

      I would look for a fellowship trained gyn surgeon or look for a gyn oncologist (lots of lady garden surgery) to take the case. Next on the list would be someone specializing in urology/gynecology. I would NOT let a dermatologist touch it. No offense to any derms out there.

  12. TO Lawyer :

    I desperately need some comfortable black pumps. I love heels but the last time I wore my black pumps to court (that I previously thought were really comfy), I could barely walk back to my office.

    Any suggestions? I tried Cole Haan’s, and my most recent (and prettiest) are Michael Kors.

    • I have never had any luck with Michael Kors shoes in the comfort department. I also don’t find CH heels to be that good on my feet because they tend to pinch my toes.

      I really like Joan & David for comfortable heels. Their lower price line Circa by J&D is also pretty good, at least for my feet. Geox shoes can also be great, if sometimes frumpy. I have the shoes in the Geox Norsdtrom link (the $150 ones, not the main featured) and they’re very comfy (if not the best looking ever).

  13. I know there’s a separate post dedicated to dressing professionally while in a cast, but I broke my ankle three weeks ago, and have a few interviews lined up this month. Could someone point me to a nice pair of black flats? I’m afraid I won’t be wearing heels for quite some time.

    • That sounds awful! Try the Cole Haan Air lines. I have the Air Bacara and find them very comfortable. They have a tied bow on the heel, which you may or may not want, but some of the other styles may work.

    • I really love J Crew’s Viv flats in black patent and plain leather. I go to them when I need “grown up” flat shoes. I wear my normal size, although the toe is a little snug and a lot of people suggest sizing up a half size.

      E bay may have them in black if the store is sold out.

  14. I’ve been going through my closet doing a little pre-spring cleaning and have identified 4 pairs of shoes to toss. So as a reward I get to buy some new shoes. I’ve never shopped at DWS and was thinking of checking it out – any brands you would recommend to buy or stay away from there? I’m a 7.5, slightly wide, usually wear 2-4″ heels for work. Also I’m on the “frugal” side.

    • DSW sells lots of mainstream brands so you’ll probably recognize brands that have fit you in the past. I agree with whoever upthread recommended Joan and David Circa, I’ve gotten some super cute shoes by them that have held up well (bought at DSW)

    • I am often disappointed with my DSW purchases. Now, I would rather shop online (Zappos) where I can take my time, read reviews, and try them on at home for a while before deciding (I know I could return to DSW, but I just don’t, whereas I return to Zappos all the time). YMMV, but I find DSW a more stressful shopping experience than it’s worth, especially if I am shopping on a deadline for a particular pair of shoes.

  15. anonforthis :

    I have the Clarks tempt appeal! I like them. They run big in the heal for a lot of people, but just use a heel gripper.

  16. My absolute favourite work shoes of all time (black or any other colour) are the classic Ann Taylor pumps, 3.5″ heel and almond toe and they feel DIVINE to walk in. I have them in about 4 colours and they are all I wear during the week. Here’s the classic black pump I just bought:

  17. San Diego Lawyer :

    My go to interview/court shoe is Ivanka Trump Amoro.
    I have the tan and the black. I have walked the 10 or so blocks to court in this many times with no issue or pain. They look polished and are the perfect heel height.

  18. I’m surprised so many of the shoes featured have such high heels. I would think you would want to be more in the 2-3″ range for interviews. Speaking of which, my wear-all-the-time, super comfortable, and would wear if interviewing black pumps are Stuart Weitzman Court and they are going to need to be retired soon. It doesn’t look like they are made any more – does anyone know of a similar shoe? I love the 2.5″ heel and the classic look.

    • Here’s a link:

      • I think it depends on how tall YOU are to start with. At 5’2″, I need the help of a 3-4″ heel. I also prefer a small hidden platform.

    • Via Spiga “Angie” is a 2″ heel that I just ordered. I have loved every pair of shoes I have purchased from Via Spiga. On sale at Nordstrom:

  19. I’m all about these Jeffrey Campbell Lane pumps in basic matte black leather.

    Currently unavailable, sadly, but scooped ’em up for $100. Basically the only leather-lined leather pumps I’ve ever found for such a low price, and they fit my wide feet ball-of-foot without slipping around like crazy on my heel (virtually unheard of).

  20. If you’re looking for a basic pump with a lower heel, I’m a big fan of Calvin Klein’s Diema.

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