by Elisa Lewittes May 12, 2022
Versatile, comfortable heels are a closet essential – perfect to wear for work into the night or for several hours while dancing at a wedding. Low block-heeled shoes are often considered the most comfortable heels by default. However, the overall anatomy of the shoe – beyond the heel height (or shape) – determines how comfortable your heels are. Consider how the shoe’s general silhouette, material composition, and features like insole support and toe box design impact whether your heels are suitable to stand in all day.
Whether you have a special occasion coming up or need a new staple shoe for your professional wardrobe, here are the features to know, consider and look for when shopping for comfortable heels.
Why It’s Difficult To Find Comfortable Heels
When looking to shop for comfortable heels, it’s helpful to understand why most heels cause significant pain after an hour or two of wear. When you’re wearing heeled shoes, 75%-90% of your body weight shifts forward onto the balls of your feet. Heeled footwear often is uncomfortable because they have thin insoles that lack proper cushioning under this foot’s pressure point. With no to little support on the balls of your feet, you intuitively transfer this unsupported weight onto your toes. Most heeled shoes also have a narrow toe box, which only compounds this concentrated pressure placed on the front of your foot.
Higher heel heights tend to be less comfortable than shorter heels to walk around or wear all day long. However, the back heel height matters less than the arch of your foot inside the shoe. As a general rule, the steeper the arch, the more uncomfortable your heels will be. Shoes with sharper inclines create more concentrated pressure on the balls of your feet. Especially without cushioning, these factors can make a pair of stilettos feel extremely painful only minutes after slipping them on your feet...
Know Your Angles
A lack of support on the two main pressure points, the balls of your feet and under the heel, can make any pumps or heeled boots uncomfortable. If you’re standing flat-footed, the weight is distributed almost evenly between these two pressure points. However, once you elevate your heel, the pressure disproportionally shifts forward towards the balls of your feet and toes. The higher the heel, the more weight gets concentrated on the front of your foot. When wearing shoes with a 10 cm heel (around 4-inches) or higher, at least 90% of your body weight rests on the balls of your feet.
Platform heels offer the best of both worlds and raise your footbed to reduce your foot’s arch for a more comfortable fit. This elevated look allows you to get away with considerably taller heels without the same level of pain or footbed pressure that you would typically feel with a heel of the same stature. Subtract the height of the platform from the height of the back heel to determine the height that the shoe “feels” like when on. Most Elizée shoes feature at least a 0.4-inch platform to minimize your foot’s incline and elongate your legs with less pain.
Cushioning is Key
While pain comes from concentrated pressure, the most comfortable heels will also keep you from having warm, sweaty feet. Every pair of Elizée shoes is crafted with a breathable, luxurious Italian leather upper construction and lining. The top layer of our custom-made insoles is made from biodegradable, eco-conscious leather (a by-product of the food industry) with a custom glaze finish that keeps the material’s pores open for maximum shoe breathability. Glazed kid skins are considered the high-quality leather lining option, the type used for the insole in every pair of Elizée shoes. Our specialty glazing process makes this buttery material even softer to ensure every pair of heels feels comfortable for all-day wear.
The two lower layers of our custom insoles also feature lightweight, breathable technology. Below the glazed leather lining, the insoles layer a breathable cushion gel with a memory foam base layer that features open-cell technology to keep your feet cool and supported and to add a spring to your step for a more comfortable heel-wearing experience.