How to Buy Pain-Free and Long-Lasting Heels or Flats
It’s a conundrum faced by many women: How to find high heels that are fashionable and comfortable. Does a classic looking pair of painless high heel shoes—or low-heeled flats for that matter—even exist?
Turns out, they can be found, it just takes some insight into what to look for. And if you’re more of a flats kind of person, those can actually be problematic, too, but we’ve got you covered there as well. Here’s how to find the most comfortable AND beautiful heels and flats that you can wear from the office to happy hour and beyond—pain free.
Know Your Size—And Look For a Customized Fit
Did you know that 60 percent of women have two differently sized feet? What’s more, nearly 1 out of 10 women consistently wear shoes that don’t fit. When it comes to finding the most comfortable and beautiful high heels or walking flats, you’ll want to know your measurements first.
Since most people’s feet vary in size, and there is truly no standard across different shoe brands, it’s essential to have both of your feet measured for the most accurate shoe size. What’s more, you’ll want to pay attention to toe shape, if you have a high or flat arch, and how wide both of your feet are—as all of these factors play a role in a shoe’s comfort.
How should you measure your feet? You can either use a tape measure at home to find out your approximate size, or, find a retailer like Antonia Saint New York that specializes in personalized fittings in their NYC showroom, providing customized fit shoes to get a more accurate assessment.
Pro tip: The best time to try shoes on is in the afternoon when your feet are naturally a little swollen from bearing your weight all day. This will help you avoid purchasing shoes that are too tight.
Pick a Shoe With Solid Construction
If you’ve ever purchased a brand new pair of high heels or flats, only to find them falling apart a few weeks after buying them, you’re not alone. Flimsy shoes aren’t just found on sale racks, they’re everywhere, which is why it’s essential to look at a shoe’s construction to ensure comfort and durability.
If you’re looking for the most comfortable, durable high heels or flats, you’ll want to look at a few things including:
- Stitching and labels—proper stitching can help prevent blisters, and printed labels are the best, rather than stitched cloth pieces which can chafe the foot;
- The construction of the outsole (the part of the shoe that comes in contact with the ground found on the bottom of the shoe)—is it made with a coating of paint, or will it be sturdy to withstand wear? Does it have flexibility when you bend it, or can it not bend at all? Is it sticky or bouncy to the touch, or very hard? All of these indicate if it will give you poor or good flexibility and shock absorption.
- Heel tips and heel post—this is harder to tell at purchase, but once you wear a particular shoe brand, pay attention to how the heel tip wears down. Take note if it wears down after just a few weeks out of the box. As for the heel post, the part that wraps around the shoe, is the post easily knicked, scratched or torn? A good heel will help provide stability.
- Upper material—is this made with overly soft leather that can tear easily, or does the texture feel like it will hold up to aggressive walking and moving? Run a fingernail along the side and see if it leaves a mark or an easy indentation. After all, these are carrying you through the streets of life, so it had better be durable!
When designing the Victoria High Heel and the Jane Autumn Flat, Antonia Saint New York Co-Founder and CEO, Antonia Saint Dunbar, paid special attention to these critical components to ensure the company’s shoes would last for years while still appearing brand new.
Find a Shoe Designed For Comfort
Now that you know your shoe size and have an idea of what to look for in the construction of a shoe, it’s time to learn how to spot comfortable high heels and flats for standing and moving all day. When you’re shopping online or at a store, try to look for:
- Cushion—does the shoe have ample cushion in the heel, ball and toe area? Does the inside top of the shoe feel hard to the touch, or is it soft there as well?
- Insert—is the shoe made with an insert for comfort and support? Note: It’s critical that this be an internal component. Adding an insert into a shoe after purchase will throw off how the shoe fits completely, and can very well lead to issues on the top and sides of your foot as you leave less area for the foot within the shoe.
- Heel height and placement—how tall are the heels? Does it feel like the pitch is sending you too far forward? And is the heel placed well so that you don’t feel unstable as you walk? Make sure the heel height and placement feels good as you walk around the store, because it will either help or impede your ability to walk or stand for long periods of time.
When looking for the most comfortable pair of flats for walking, try to pick a pair with a small heel to protect your arches. Flats with no heels oftentimes will not provide enough support. Side cushioning can also help to prevent blisters, especially when walking for an extended time.
The bottom line: take your shoe selection seriously and don’t settle for low-quality footwear. It’s never worth it.
Antonia says that it's important that we start holding our shoes up to a higher standard, similar to when she purchases other things in her life, like diamonds. “When a woman either gets a diamond for herself, or is presented with one, the quality is considered on what’s known as the four or five C’s: Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat, and sometimes, Certification. Yet a diamond is simply a meaningful ornament; not a part of the very foundation upon which she moves through life.”
Dunbar urges women to apply the same consideration to purchasing a pair of shoes that will impact not only your style and your daily mobility but your long-term health as well. “We feel it is time to hold our shoes up to a higher standard, and at Antonia Saint New York, we call this standard the 3 C's of Customized Fit, Comfort and Construction.” Every pair is tailored to fit each one of your feet perfectly, be as comfortable as possible, and last for months and years without showing signs of wear.
When it comes to comfort, you should absolutely consult your feet first and foremost. Use these tips the next time you’re shopping for the most comfortable and beautiful heels or flats, and you’ll be sure to find a pair that makes your feet happy—and keeps you looking good.