4.07.2012

essentials: the comfy chic heel

she looks pretty happy here - this is how i want to look when i'm wearing heels! 

so as i was having my morning coffee today, i came upon this post on jezebel: What Makes a High Heel Comfortable? well, the comfy yet still chic heel is pretty much the Holy Grail of women's shoes, right up there alongside the perfect jeans as Wardrobe Items Every Woman Needs But Dreads Shopping For.

after reviewing my wardrobe editing project from the last three years, the results are pretty clear. i have, for the most part, covered all the main foundation pieces (ie: trenchcoat, leather jacket, all-purpose boots). now i can gradually focus on getting more of the 'fun stuff'.

however, there are still a handful of classic foundation items that i have been long on the hunt for. on the top of that list is the *comfortable* black work-to-evening heel, otherwise known as a wardrobe workhorse that seamlessly goes with everything: a suit, a dinner dress, cuffed jeans, you name it.

the pair i've been fruitlessly looking for for years is:
  • a mid-heel (2.75"-3") 
  • slightly pointy/almond-toe simple pump
  • in basic black 
  • with quality leather uppers, lining, and outsole 

such a simple set of criteria, yet so many designers still get it wrong, or worse, seem to stop offering this altogether! almond-toe because it's roomier in the toe box and has an elegant shape that is appropriate for all occasions. a 2.75-3" mid-heel because, well, i can wear a 3" heel comfortably and still be normally mobile without needing to play the dreaded 'cab-to-curb heels game'. besides, 3 inches is the new kitten heel anyway considering all the bedazzled sea creature shoes that have been taking over the shops these days. 

mid-heel black pumps, for work, evening, or whenever
i really love these loeffler randalls - the heel height is just right, and i love the almond-toe. finally, a classic and elegant pump that flatters a woman's foot, and looks like...a shoe! i have the LR tall boots and they are divine. gorgeous gorgeous boot that has gotten me so many compliments. 


as a splurge-y alternative, i'm considering these manolos - such a classic pump and i'm finding it more and more difficult to find a classic basic black pump that's not 4 inches or higher. these come in patent leather, which are so low-maintenance and hardier. hmmm...

what do you think? what's the most comfortable pair of heels that you own?


28 comments:

  1. Get the Manolos, they're so comfortable, classic, and will last forever. I think the heel on the LR shoe is a bit too chunky to be a classic.

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    1. hmm, thanks for your take on it! i do like the slimmer stiletto on the Manolos. very timeless.

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    2. I think either heel is very classic and don't see anything too chunky and therefore limiting about the LR heels. I love the texture of the black ones and prefer a true almond toe to the pointier MB's. I'm not that fond of patent leather myself--but it is very durable!

      This post caught my attention because I am in the exact predicament. I think shoe designers are missing the boat and missing out on a great deal of business by not making the basic pump in a lower heel without a huge platform etc. I wouldn't even mind (for comfort) if there was a very small hidden platform. But I just don't find they exist. Most are busy making crazy-ass shoes with giant heels and loads of details.

      J Crew shoes are terrible quality for the money and mostly uncomfortable. Ann Taylor makes gorgeous shoes/pumps but they are usually way too high! I am surprised by this--they seem to target a conservative buyer that would like a 3" heel. Their shoes are a great value, though. Very well-made with leather heels and uppers. I will have to check out those LR's.

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  2. I think J.Crew and Ann Taylor does the sort of heel you're looking for every season.

    All my Kenneth Cole New Yorks heels are very comfortable and last, and are not absurdly expensive. I have been on my feet 8+ hrs straight with them, no problem. And I have one that is sky high, but has a lug sole so it adsorbs all the shock. I also have pretty good luck with the Michael Kors lines. I have 2 pairs from Nine West that are comfortable, but quality can be so hit and miss with them.

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    1. yeah i like the look of jcrew's ever-increasing shoe offerings, but in many cases they still scrimp on quality details. like using synthetic linings and soles. it's not much of an issue for a ballet flat but for a pump i want better quality, and their higher-end Collection shoes are priced around the same as LR. i just can't do synthetic linings on shoes :P

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  3. I am also looking for a comfy day to night pair of black court shoes and it's SO hard! I love the loeffler randall heels you have found... hmmm could they be 'the ones' :)

    Love, Rachel

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    1. hehe - i've only great things to say about LR after getting their tall boots four years ago - their quality and sleek and elegant designs are some of my favorites.

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  4. Anything by Stuart Weitzman or Ferragamo. Except my Simple 70 black almond-toed Louboutins. I bought them a little big, put in a metatarsal pad, walked 10 Manhattan blocks easily.

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    1. yeah i did own a pair of Louboutins a few years ago, but bought a half size too small and ended up selling them. i've not really tried SW's shoes because i don't like their shoe silhouettes as much. Ferragamos are always fantastic.

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  5. Those Manolos are so beautiful! I don't own any Manolos but I have heard they are very comfortable. My most comfortable heels are See by Chloe and Marc Jacobs. Both clocking in at about 4 inches.

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    1. same here - heard rave reviews on that comment thread on the Jez post about Manolos too. do you walk everywhere in your 4" heels too? i don't have flat feet or super high arches, but i still find 3"ish to be my limit...

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    2. I could do it in London, no problem, but in Delhi pavements are not as commonplace so I tend not to use them as much here. But they are tremendously comfortable.

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  6. I hear you on the toe box shape (almond) and the heel height. Anything over 3.5" for me becomes uncomfortable. 3" is perfect--still elongates the leg, but doesn't start to look a bit stumpy, like 2" can do (for me at least).

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    1. yeah i know what you mena. i think the Valentino strappy studded kitten heels may be the exception, but it gets tricky trying to find a flattering, leg elongating heel at 2".

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  7. My most comfortable heels are actually sling backs - for some reason that style feels more snug and secure and doesn't risk the chance to rub at the back of my heel. I used to have a pair of Bandolino slink backs with a "kitten heel" that I could wear all day without complaint... that was years ago, they don't make them anymore. Now I do Ferragamo mid-heel or kitten heel - wait for a sale or go to an outlet, it's worth it and the quality is solid.

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    1. I have some basic black Bandolino pumps w/a 3.5" heel and a slight platform. They are so comfortable! They aren't in the same league as Manolos obviously, but so comfortable, and they've lasted me a couple of years.

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  8. Oh I've been looking for some black heels that fit these exact requirements. Those Manolos are lovely, but the second I scuffed the heel I would be in tears after paying $600. I don't seem to have a problem paying more for heartier boots...but heels, I seem to be so rough on. For about half the price, I'm kind of digging these, though they don't quite meet all the criteria: http://couture.zappos.com/kate-spade-new-york-licorice-black-suede

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    1. oh a great cobbler can do wonders with maintaining and fixing things like scuffs, so i know if i got my Manolos they'd be lasting me for years and years. patent leather is especially easy to maintain. i saw those Kate Spades but they are about a 4" heel and definitely a lot less comfy...more of a sexy party shoe where you're not going to be doing much walking ;)

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  9. I looked for about a year for "my pumps and longer for my "nude shoe". My pumps are by Hugo Boss and are black patent, almond toe with 3" heel. A label conscious friend mistook them for the Christian Laboutin "simple" pumps. Sadly, the Hugo Boss are not available anymore but I want to emphasize how glad I was I kept looking and didn't settle. Ditto with the nude shoe which I found really hard because I was being picky about the comfort level, quality and the shade with my skin tone. I have found the Stuart Weitzman "lively" sling to be a workhorse so far and with a 3 1/2" heel but 1/2" platform they are a good comfort level. Both shoes are all leather which I agree is critical. Unfortunately it keeps coming at a higher and higher price point. Ferragamo also seems to be great bet for quality and a selection of true mid heel pumps that are elegant! Can't go wrong with Manolos if they are comfy. So many copy his timeless design.

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    1. yeah, go you! there's nothing worse (and i have way too many examples in the past, as do many women!) than not being picky enough with a pair of heels and then realizing they're not well made/comfy/flattering enough and just letting them collect dust. :P i'm with you - i love Ferragamos too :)

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  10. Just realized my typo on Louboutin! Yikes.

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  11. Cole Haan has quite some offering meeting your criteria.
    I like Air Violet Pump 60 - very classic and comfortable (built with Nike Air tech).
    Maybe they are not so eye catching compared to premium brands; however, they do make the person (rather than the outfit) looks elegant.

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  12. I've actually just started to look for a pair of classic black heels myself. I think it was prompted by the fact that I seem to have accumulated a couple of pairs of wide-legged trousers over the past 6 months or so, but I don't really have any closed-in shoes that go well with them (and closed-in options would be nice with winter coming up here). I had the pairs of trousers hemmed so that they suited a low to mid heel, but all my enclosed shoes are either flats (which would make the trouser hems drag on the ground) or boots (which I feel look a bit odd with looser trouser legs). I decided that classic black heels would not only go with such trousers but also pretty much everything else in my wardrobe. Finding the right pair, though - I feel like I'm going to be looking for a long time as well. I saw these Bally heels - http://tinyurl.com/7dbrspb - the other day in a department store and quite liked them. I generally dislike anything too kitten heel-ish but that seems like it's verging on an acceptably high kitten heel, and the heel is shaped nicely (I'm not a fan of those heels that just jut out from directly underneath the heel of the foot - I think it looks more classic and elegant when the shoe's heel curves around to the back of the foot). But I'm still looking because I want to get a better idea of what my options are. Hopefully it won't take me a huge amount of time to find something that fits my criteria, which are very similar to yours, but I'm willing to take my time to find something excellent. (I took my time to find a pair of loafers and tried on and passed up so many pairs, then just last week, out of nowhere, when I was in a department store I glanced over to a display table as I was on my way to an escalator, since I wasn't even in there looking specifically for shoes, and I saw a beautiful pair of Tod's loafers that fitted all my criteria - and the only pair left was my size and they were 80% off. Worth the wait!)

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  13. Nice post. I have been looking for the perfect heels and I am still yet to find it

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  14. A classic pair of black pumps is on my list of essentials to acquire this fall as well. I had a pair of 2" heel patent leather Ferragamo pumps that I bought for around $10 at a thrift store that were in perfect condition when I got them and lasted through 4 years of college parties, classes, interviews, and everything in between. I've since retired them and am thinking about getting a sleeker pair with thinner heels, but I still find myself drawn to lower/chunkier heeled Ferragamos. They're just so comfortable and easy to walk in!

    I'm also on the hunt for a new wallet. I know that you have a red CDG one--I am also considering purchasing one but am at a loss for which color/size to get. Here's my post about it...please let me know what your thoughts are! Thanks :)
    http://damnfinecoffee.blogspot.com/2012/04/wallet.html

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    1. i personally think the square ziparound that i have is the perfect shape and size.

      i know what you mean about Ferragamos - i think one needs a sleek stiletto and a round toe Ferragamo low heel! :)

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  15. Ha, so funny as I was rubbing my poor tired aching feet after a long day on heels when I clicked on your blog!
    I only own one pair of classic black pumps with manageable 7 cm heels other than that I'm a boots girl.
    The Loubs are great classics but never tried them on so I can't bring any input other than aesthetic. Good luck in your search!

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  16. my first pair of black heels were some pretty awesome leather almond toe lower pumps by Isaac Mizrahi at Target, the style name is Riley http://cn1.kaboodle.com/hi/img/2/0/0/f/a/AAAAAoWY41MAAAAAAA-tzA.jpg?v=1163288604000 I don't know what you'll think about those though haha

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