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How to Buy Comfortable Heels, According to a Podiatrist

I trust the doctor.

Street Style - Copenhagen Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018: Day 2
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I sat down to write this post on "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. date with your bestie to go shoe shopping. I selected some winning heel options based on the doctor's recommendations, below, to get y'all started.

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1
The Seasonal Ankle Boot
Trixie Luxe Bootie
Rockport nordstrom.com
$189.95

One of the brands recommended by Dr. Kapila is Rockport. This little bootie features the brand's "truTECH" construction for a shock-absorbing sole. That means your feet won't feel the impact of walking on concrete like it does when you're in sandals. A 3-inch heel offers a height boost, but won't leave you teetering on your tippy toes.

2
The Winter Wedding Heel
Nicola Monochrome Kitten Heels
Self-Portrait shopbop.com
$400.00

The last thing you want to do is expose your toes to the cold as you head into the ceremony or reception. This black-and-white 2.5-inch kitten heel mule will keep your feet (partially) covered and offer a comfortable height to stand in as you watch the couple say their"I dos."

3
The Work Shoe
Linnie Mules
Sam Edelman shopbop.com
$120.00

The next time you're about to wear the same battered black ballet flats to work—stop. Swap them for an of-the-season mule like this backless cognac-colored pair from Sam Edelman. Thanks to the low heel, it won't put too much stress on the ball of your foot or toes, so you can stand comfortably while you nail that presentation.

4
The Comfy Party Heel
Romy 60 Glitter Pumps
Jimmy Choo mytheresa.com
$725.00

These Jimmy Choo shoes are the epitome of the pretty, comfortable party heel. The heel height is only 2.5 inches, and the sparkly silver-to-blue ombré glitter gives the shoe a fun, frosted coating. Give these babies a spin on the dance floor to capture everyone's attention.

5
The Slip-on-and-Go Weekend Heel
Raffia Wedge Sandal
Prada nordstrom.com
$690.00

For Saturday nights when you know you'll end up hanging out at the bar until 3 a.m., wear a pair of wedge heels instead of stilettos so your feet don't scream bloody murder in the morning. As for that hangover? You might need to take an Advil or two.

6
The Sophisticated Loafer
August Loafer
Naturalizer nordstrom.com
$115.00

Naturalizer, which has been around since 1927, is known for creating, "the shoe with the beautiful fit," so it's no surprise Dr. Kapila mentioned it as one of the brands that should be your new go-to. The beauty of this black loafer is in its simplicity and cushioned soles, which makes it a solid, no-fuss everyday shoe. 

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