I live in a walker’s city, so naturally the (female) company I keep is of the, um, walking persuasion. And of course, of the fabulous footwear persuasion, too–it goes without saying. A recent friend I made, who is a slender, petite actress, asked me for some advice regarding shoes. “I love to walk around town,” she says, “and I’m on my feet a lot, but I also need to keep a polished look and I really need the height.” To accomplish that, she often resorts to wedges, but she wondered if there is more to life footwear than that. I’ll start by telling you all I said before, which is, stick to lower heels or flats with good arch support, value health AND comfort over short-lived glamor, keep yourself informed about shoe brands with a reputation for comfort, heed the advice of experts (e.g., try on shoes in the evening when your feet are most likely to swell, shoes should fit right out of the box, with no “break-in” period, etc.). But, when you need the extra height, and you need to look glamorous for your job, AND you need to traipse around the city while looking glam and somewhat tall(er), then…you’re either in for a tough break, or you need to start making some compromises. Yes, do the wedge thing as much as you can, but if you want heels you can walk in, forget stilettos; wear those only in extraordinary circumstances (the job requires it, and you only need to do a limited amount of walking). However, you can still achieve the height and the look with some more sensibly-shaped heels, such as any 3″ or slightly higher from the Taryn Rose collection. The Canela, for example, is super-classy and kinda tall (3 1/2 inch high) and at $545 yes, kinda expensive, but see above re: compromises:
Why would I recommend such a high-heeled shoe? Well, here’s the thing: I own a 3″ pair of Taryn Rose pumps and they’ve been more comfortable than certain flats I own. I am not sure where this magic happens (nothing short of alchemy, if you ask me: turning painful high heels into golden comfort wear), but it’s probably a combination of materials (lightweight Poron), padding, built-in arch support, and angle of the heel relative to the sole. One of the issues with Taryn Rose shoes is they often tend to look orthopedic (at least they did in the beginning), and if not so, then a little stodgy and on the mature side. Or, let’s put it this way: they’re not exactly youthful. I can certainly understand that: given their prices and emphasis on comfort, you don’t want something that may go out of style by next year. Sometimes, however, the style reflects the current fashion, such as in this “Cheval” oxford sandal ($495 at Zappos):
Or these metallic peep-toes, Calexa ($475 at Zappos)–which are also timeless and elegant:
Apart from Taryn Rose, there are precious few brands that I can recommend for this particular problem. I LOVE Thierry Rabotin, definitely some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned, period, but they are often stodgy and seldom give you the height you may want. There is Donald Pliner, which I would qualify as only semi-comfortable at heights over 2.5″. There is Anyi Lu, but they cater to the more mature, over 40 crowd, and you can sort of see that in their designs. Oh, I know–there is Robert Clergerie, also very high end, and definitely not for everybody (definitely for me, though!); these beaded sandals are kind of sexy and are only 3″ high AND on sale at Zappos for $297 (down from $500):
One brand that I want to explore and about which I heard only good things is Chie Mihara. They don’t market themselves as a comfort brand, that’s true–but there is attention to comfort in the cushioned molded insoles and the overall architecture of the shoe (no stiletto heels, for example!). These strappy numbers, the Bankok model, are chic, edgy, thick-heeled, and….padded ($368 at PedShoes):
We invite you to share your experiences of fashionable and comfortable heels in our forums. We’re always eager to learn!