As a woman who loves wearing heels, I know the struggle of trying to find a pair that looks great but also feels comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time. The key to wearing heels all day is finding ones that provide adequate support, cushioning, and a proper fit. In this article, I’ll discuss how to choose heels you can wear comfortably from morning to night.
Consider Heel Height
One of the most important factors in choosing comfortable heels is the height of the heel. While stilettos and super high heels may look sexy, they are often impossible to tolerate beyond a few hours. For all day wear, experts recommend sticking to heels that are 2 inches or shorter. This provides some lift while still being low enough to remain comfortable.
|1.5 inches or less
|Most comfortable for prolonged wear
|Still relatively comfortable for all day
|Comfortable for a few hours at a time
|Difficult to wear for more than short periods
As you can see, ultra high heels over 3 inches are not ideal for wearing from morning to night. Aim for heels in the 1.5-2 inch range if you want to look polished while still feeling good.
Choose the Right Shoe Materials
The materials your heels are made of also play a key role in all day wear. Leather and suede tend to be the most comfortable materials for heels. Leather has some give to mold to your feet, while still providing support. Suede is softer and allows more flex. Stay away from stiff materials like plastic, plexiglass, or patent leather if you want heels to get you through the day pain-free. The lack of give in these materials can cause blisters and discomfort when worn for too long.
Focus on Comfort Features
When shopping for comfortable heels, keep an eye out for shoes that incorporate comfort features. This includes:
- Padded insoles – Cushioning helps absorb shock and prevent foot pain.
- Rubber soles – More shock absorption and traction.
- Ankle straps – Prevent sliding and provide stability.
- Almond or rounded toe shapes – Allows toes to spread out naturally.
- Arch support – Prevents feet from overworking to support arches.
Heels with multiple comfort features will be much easier to keep on all day than plain pumps. Don’t be afraid to try shoes on in the store and walk around to gauge the comfort level before purchasing.
If you already own heels you love but find them uncomfortable for prolonged wear, try adding cushioning inserts. Gel pads that stick onto the balls of your feet or heel cushions can make a big difference. You can also replace the existing insole with a more padded insert like those from Dr. Scholl’s. Custom orthotics from a podiatrist are another excellent option for optimal support. Inserts allow you to turn your favorite heels into shoes you can wear comfortably all day long.
Bring Backup Shoes
Even if you choose the most comfortable heels possible, your feet may still get tired after 8+ hours of wear. For days when you need to look stylish for long hours, bring a backup pair of comfortable flats. Keep them in your car, bag, or office so you can swap your heels out discreetly when needed. Having a change of shoes allows you to get through the full day without foot pain.
Take Breaks from Heels
Giving your feet occasional breaks from heels will keep them happier and more comfortable when the heels go back on. If you commute to work in heels, change into flats or sneakers while at your desk. Rotate between heels and other shoes throughout the day. Kicking off heels under the table whenever possible can help a ton.
Stretch Feet and Legs
Simple foot and leg stretches can prepare your muscles for a day in heels. Try things like:
- Calf stretches against a wall
- Gently flexing and pointing toes
- Gripping mat with toes
- Rolling a tennis ball under arches
Take 5 minutes in the morning and evening to stretch out your feet. This helps strengthen muscles and prevents cramps in heels.
How to Walk Properly in Heels
Having good walking posture can eliminate much of the discomfort of prolonged heel use. Practice these tips for walking gracefully and pain-free in heels:
- Take shorter strides – Overstriding strains calves.
- Walk heel to toe – Strike the ground first with heel, then roll through the step onto the ball of foot before pushing off toes.
- Engage core – Keep back straight and engage abdominal muscles for stability.
- Relax shoulders – Don’t hunch or clench shoulders.
- Align knees over ankles – Don’t let knees cave inward.
- Keep feet straight – Face both feet forward as you walk instead of angling them outward.
With practice, walking properly in heels can become second nature. Your posture may even improve overall from developing these skills!
Most Comfortable Heel Styles for All Day Wear
Certain types of heels tend to be more comfortable for long term wear. Here are some of the best options:
Wedges distribute your weight across the full sole rather than concentrating it all on the ball of the foot. The platform reduces strain on feet and makes wedges some of the most comfortable heels to wear all day. Opt for a low or mid wedge 2 inches or under.
A chunky block heel is far more comfortable than a skinny stiletto heel. The width and profile give better stability, spreads pressure, and minimizes sinking into soft surfaces. Go for chunky heels in a short to mid height range.
Heels from 1-2 inches tall are often called kitten heels. The low and thick heel provides stability, allows the foot to remain flat, and only mildly alters posture. For all day wear, kitten heels are a fabulous choice.
Platform heels have a thick sole under the toe area to balance out the angled heel in back. This helps take pressure off the ball of the foot when standing and walking. Platforms over 1 inch can start feeling wobbly, so aim for platforms under 1 inch high.
Slide heels like mules and clogs have backs that are open instead of strapped closed around the ankle. The looser fit reduces rub, swelling, and pain. Look for slide styles with padding and arch support for optimal comfort.
Thick Ankle Straps
A thick ankle strap adds comfort by holding the heel securely on your foot. This prevents slippage and friction from causing blisters or instability in the shoe. Make sure any ankle strapped heels you select have a wide, padded strap for maximum relief.
Most Comfortable Heel Brands
Certain shoe brands design heels with comfort in mind. Here are some reputable brands for all day heels:
Known for comfort and orthopedic support, Clarks makes many wedges, chunky heels, and kitten heels ideal for prolonged wear. Their Cloudsteppers line has excellent cushioning.
Naturalizer specializes in heels with padded insoles, flexible soles, and cushioned foreparts. Their N5 Comfort system ensures all day wearability.
Rockport is renowned for comfortable walking shoes. Their heels use proprietary cushioning and flexible midsoles designed for being on your feet.
With a focus on core comfort technologies, Aerosoles makes heels ideal for work and play. Features like memory foam, cushy insoles, and flexible outsoles provide comfort.
Orthopedic support with a touch of style defines Vionic heels. Built-in arch support, cradling heel cups, and shock absorption allow you to wear them for hours.
Known for their professional clogs, Dansko also makes stylish block heels and wedges conducive to standing and walking all day thanks to rocker bottoms and cushioned footbeds.
Most Supportive Heel Styles
In addition to overall comfort, supportive heels are essential for prolonged wear. These styles provide the best arch support and stabilization:
Low Wedge Booties
Wedge booties with wrapped ankle support prevent rolling and provide comfort and stability when worn for hours.
The broad strap across the instep of Mary Janes enhances stability and distributes pressure evenly across the foot for added comfort.
T-strap heels wrap securely around the ankle and foot to keep your heels aligned and supported.
The solid structure and toe box of pumps offer supportive comfort while the peep toe allows feet to breath.
Slingback heels have an ankle strap in back that prevents slippage while still allowing your foot to move naturally.
Care Tips to Keep Heels Comfortable
Taking proper care of heels helps maintain their comfort even after hours of wear. Follow these tips:
- Apply moisturizing cream on feet before and after wear to prevent chafing and blisters.
- Spritz the insides with deodorizing spray to keep feet fresh and dry.
- Use gel heel inserts and cushions for added padding.
- Stuff with tissue paper between wears to retain shape and absorb moisture.
- Rotate between different heels to evenly distribute wear.
- Resole heels when tread gets thin to refresh cushioning.
- Store heels on shoe trees to prevent creasing.
With the right care, your heels will last longer and feel great each time you wear them.
The key to comfortable heels you can wear all day lies in choosing the right height, style, materials and comfort features. Focus on low chunky heels, wedges, and platforms from reputable comfort brands. Seek out cushioning, arch support and a proper fit. Use inserts or backups if needed. Practice good posture and care for heels to maximize comfort. With the right shoes and techniques, you can look fabulous in heels from morning to night!