How to Find Sexy — and Comfortable — Heels
Yes, you can wear hot, healthy shoes (no sneakers allowed!)
-Kathryn H. Cusimano
When we think of power shoes, we think of sky-high heels. Just take a look at the heels Jessica Alba has on! Say the words “comfortable shoes,” and visions of Birkenstocks and loafers dance through our heads. Is there some middle ground between the two? We checked in with Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, to find out what to look for in a great pair of shoes. Lucky for us, Sutera knows her way around a four-inch heel, so she was able to tell us how to maximize comfort and style while minimizing pain and damage to our feet.
“The three major things you want with a shoe [are] arch support, cushioning and shock absorption,” Sutera says. She recommends shoes with extra cushions in the heel and front part of the shoe, as well as opting for cork heels whenever possible. “[Cork] is one of those materials that helps absorb shock.” Sutera also says women should avoid spending a full day in pointy-toed shoes. “You’ll be better off if you limit your time spent in that particular shoe.” Sutera’s favorite brands: Nine West, BCBG and Tahari shoes, but she also recommends Aerosoles and Geox. Read on to find out what to look for when picking out specific styles.
Heels: Heel heights may soon rival the Empire State Building, but Sutera says women should generally try to stay closer to the ground. “You really want to try to avoid wearing a heel that is more than three inches [high],” she explains. Though she will make exceptions for special occasions, Sutera said there should be a limit for an everyday heel. “Keep in mind that a three-inch heel puts seven times the stress [on the foot] as a one-inch heel.” Seven times! We had no idea (though the balls of our feet suspected as much). Sutera recommends looking for heels with deep toe boxes to avoid crushing your toes, and chunkier heels to help distribute your weight across the shoe more evenly.
Wedges: Sutera says wedges are among her favorite shoes, because they don’t force you to sacrifice height for comfort. Much like chunky heels, wedges allow your weight to be distributed more evenly across the surface of the shoe. However, wedges aren’t for everyone: “if you have bad ankles or you’ve had a sprain recently, you probably want to avoid [a wedge], because it can create a balance problem.”