How to Buy Comfortable Heels, According to a Podiatrist

Make a Zoom date with your BFF to do some online shopping.

Two women walking down the street wearing heeled shoes.
(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

I sat down to write this post about "the comfiest heels" at a loss. In my experience, no high heel is comfortable until you break it in. But this column isn't about my opinion, it's about objective information, so I turned to an expert. The first question I posed to Tania Kapila, doctor of podiatric medicine at DeLoor Podiatry Associates, was, "Do comfy heels exist?" The short and depressing answer: no.

"There isn’t an ideal heel out there because they all cause some trauma to your feet," Dr. Kapila says. (Think: corns or calluses, to start.) Before you break out the Band-Aids or foot numbing cream, Kapila shared three quick tips for finding heels that won't completely destroy your feet:

  • The best height heel height is between one and two inches. If the shoe is extremely tall, it will cause jamming of the toes and ball of the foot every time you walk.
  • Pay attention to the shape of the toe box, whether it's pointy or curved. A pair that's too sharply pointed will squeeze your foot.
  • Look for something with a breathable material, like nubuck or suede.

Regardless of the style you're shopping for, there's one more factor that can have a massive impact on whether or not your shoes will be killing you as soon as you step outside the store: when you choose to buy your heels. "Feet tend to change in size throughout the day because they swell. It’s best to buy shoes in the afternoon or later in the day rather than in the morning. Whatever size shoe fits you better during the afternoon is the size you should be buying," said Kapila.

Now that you're armed with all the facts, make a 3 p.m. Zoom date with your bestie to do some online shopping. I selected some winning heel options based on the doctor's recommendations, below, to get y'all started.

Marina Liao is the former fashion news editor at MarieClaire.com, where she covered celebrity style (from Meghan Markle to Katie Holmes), fashion trends, and shopping advice, plus conducted original interviews with industry insiders. She's also had many opportunities to write content in other areas such as beauty, food, tech, and even home. Her previous fashion stints include POPSUGAR and Cosmopolitan.