We have a love-hate relationship with heels. The four-and-half-inch stilettos that make you feel like you own the world Friday night leave you scarred with blisters the next morning. What’s a girl to do? Get smarter about heel purchases.
Scroll down for the top five things you should know before making a purchase, and to shop our comfortable shoe picks.
Manufacturers put a stiffening agent in the heel area, or the counter of the shoe, so it retains its shape. The stiff nature of the counter makes it a prime spot for friction and blisters. Opt for shoes made of real leather or suede, because it’s more pliable than synthetic materials, and will mold to the shape of your foot, thus reducing chafing after a few wears.
You shoes are guaranteed to hurt if you buy them too small! There should be a thumb’s width from the front of the inside of your shoe to the end of your longest toe. Leaving this bit of space is crucial for your foot to have a little wiggle room when it moves in the shoe, rather than forcing it to create friction against the sides.
Don’t just stand up in the shoes and walk a couple steps, go for a cruise around the store. In department stores, the shoe sales floor is specially padded to heighten the appearance of comfort, so it helps to walk out of the area—if it’s available, try walking on tile. Secondly, close your eyes so your sense of touch is heightened, and focus on how your feet feel. Look out for pressure at particular points, which is a sign of future blisters.
All of these things work to take pressure off your foot, leaving you with pain-free feet at the end of the day. Conversely, you can expect that very high, single-soled stiletto heels will likely hurt your feet.
Your foot expands slightly throughout the day, especially in the summer, so if possible try to shop for shoes toward the end of the day. If you buy shoes in the morning when your foot is at its slimmest, they may be too tight by the end of the day.
Reed Krakoff Suede and Leather Ankle Strap Sandals ($195)
Loeffler Randall Maisy Chunky Leather Sandals ($350)
Walter Steiger Suede High-Vamp Curved-Heel Wedge Pumps ($382)
Belle by Sigerson Morrison Fresco Ankle Strap Mules ($295)
Ann Demeulemeester Wide-Band Platform Sandals ($389)
Maison Martin Margiela Chunky Heel Sandals ($755)
10 Crosby Derek Lam Glinda Hand-Painted Leather Wedge Mules ($325)