We’re guessing that you’ve already read lists of the un-lovely traits that make a shoe comfortable. They usually include things like sturdy heels, roomy toe boxes, and other fashion indignities.
As much as we’d rather not suffer for fashion, we also don’t want to sacrifice style, so we asked shoe designer Taryn Rose — who just so happens to be a top orthopedic surgeon — to share with Most Wanted her tips for finding heels, flats, booties, and boots that no one will ever guess are actually comfortable.
Ahead, her expert advice, plus 12 options we've shopped out that pass the test.
GO LOW … BUT NOT TOO LOW
“In a 3-inch heel you have seven times your body’s pressure on the balls of your feet,” says Dr. Rose — so if you’re choosing something sky-high, make sure it has the smarts to back up its good looks. “Walking or dancing in heels for a long period of time will be less painful if they’re designed with technology to dissipate this pressure,” she adds, something brands like Aetrex, Clark’s, Vionix and her eponymous line offer. And, counterintuitive as it might sound, a completely flat shoe can become just as painful as a high heel, so select a flat that elevates your heel a half-inch or so. The Goldilocks height for everyday wear: a 1- to 2-inch heel.
ROUND OUT YOUR OPTIONS
“Look for a rounded or squared toe box for shoes that won’t squeeze your toes. Make sure you have room in the width to wiggle your toes,” says Dr. Rose. If, however, pointed-toe shoes are your signature style, follow a little trick: “Make sure there is enough width for the widest part of your foot. When your toes go into the pointed part of a shoe they’re crowded, which can lead to a variety of troubles down the line.”
THINK BLOCK OVER STILETTO
“One universal advantage of a thicker heel is better balance,” says Dr. Rose — and lucky for us, the block heel is stepped off the runway and into shops in 2018 courtesy of everyone from Marc Jacobs to Prabal Gurung.
GIVE YOURSELF SOME SPACE
While you'd never dream of shoving your size 8 foot into a size 6 pump, we're betting you don't think much about width when shoe shopping — and ignoring that many designers offer narrow, medium or wide options has its consequences. “If you wear shoes that are too narrow you will be in pain,” says Dr. Rose, in fact, a study by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons study showed that 80 percent of women who wore shoes just a half centimeter narrower than their feet complained of pain. “Conversely, wearing shoes that are too wide may hurt at the tips of the toes if you slide forward.” Use your tracing skills to figure out whether your shoe is sized to fit your width: “Stand on a piece of paper barefoot, draw an outline of your feet, and compare this outline with the shoe,” she suggest. If the two don’t match up, time to look for a wider or narrower width.
Taryn Rose ‘Rochelle’ Pumps
Vionic ‘Josie’ Pumps
Naturalizer ‘Michelle’ Pumps
Vionic ‘Posey’ Flats
Aetrex ‘Jodie’ Flats
Taryn Rose ‘Blythe’ Flats
Taryn Rose ‘Fortuna’ Booties
[listicle title="Naturalizer ‘Westing’ Booties
Clark’s ‘Maypearl’ Booties
Aetrex ‘Chelsea’ Boots
Vionic ‘Lanie’ Boots
Taryn Rose ‘Catherine’ Boots
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