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Stylish and comfortable heels: An urban shoe myth?

August 3, 2010

It’s definitely true what they say: New York is a concrete jungle. And you walk. A lot. No joke, one of my favorite parts of the day is when I get home after a long day on my feet, stand fully clothed in the shower, stick my feet under the faucet and let the cool water rush over them. I can’t overstate how good this feels. Seriously.

Image courtesy of Melanie. She visited me in NYC in 2008 and took a photo of her blistered feet. Believe me, they look much better than mine currently do.

During The Great Clothing and Shoe Purge of 2010, I donated two huge Hefty bags full of clothes and shoes to Goodwill, gave some items to Melanie and a whole lot ended up in my baby sister’s closet too. (She made out pretty well for herself in my move. New clothes, a car…)

Anyway. I may have gotten a little overzealous in my willingness to get rid of things. I looked in my closet the other day, and I have only two pairs of black heels left: some seriously strappy concoctions that look like bondage shoes (in my defense, they’re still in style) and my beloved pair of satin peep-toe Stuart Weitzmans. Neither are exactly your basic black pump that can be worn with anything, for any occasion.

So, I’m on the hunt. But these can’t just be any basic black pump. As I mentioned above, my feet have been destroyed in just four weeks of living here, and conditions aren’t going to improve. I can’t rely on Target or Forever 21 for these black pumps. I need some seriously comfortable, stylish and — here’s the catch — affordable basic black heels. Does such a pair exist?

Melanie already delved into the in-store version of this hunt. Being the crazy online shopper I am, I’ll be tackling the online stores. Your endless.coms, your overstock.coms and on and on. I need some snazzy (yet simple) black heels, and I need to be able to walk more than 10 blocks in them (that’s a mere half mile, in case you were wondering). For these, I’m willing to compromise and fork over more than I normally do for footwear, since comfort and style are both key, and that combination usually doesn’t come cheap.

(The reason those ones on the bottom left from Zappos are so expensive is because they’re Cole Haan Air Pumps, which are supposed to be more comfortable.)

To be honest, I think I’m leaning toward trying out a pair of Kenneth Cole’s 925 collection. Named for the shoes’ technology, which is supposed to let the wearer be on her feet from “9 to 5,” there are lots of cute styles for relatively affordable prices. Although many of the shoes I’ve highlighted may not be considered “thrifty” per se, I think it’s important to realize what’s worth spending money on. For people on their feet constantly (i.e. all New Yorkers), comfort is key, but I certainly don’t want to sacrifice style. I’m viewing this purchase as an investment, and I want to get a fairly classic pair (as evidenced by my choices above) while still looking modern.

I do plan to hunt around to see if I can find these any cheaper than $160, and a website with a good return policy is key. I’ve sent items back if they didn’t fit properly, and now that I don’t own a car and have to rely on my own two legs for transportation, it’s time to get a leg up when it comes to comfortable heels (pun intended, of course).

Where do you turn when you need comfortable, stylish shoes?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth Farrar permalink
    August 3, 2010 2:42 pm

    Stuart Weitzman made my wedding shoes! Got them from Fit perfectly!

    Stylish + comfortable = necessary for brides as well. 🙂

    • August 3, 2010 2:46 pm

      Oooh pretty! I can’t wait to see! I have been considering super-splurging on another pair of Stuart Weitzmans. I love the ones I have, but they’re not exactly everyday shoes — they’re peep toe platforms with ankle straps. Love love love them. They’re fairly comfortable, so if I don’t love the 925s, I may get a (less sky-high) pair of Stuart Weitzmans. is awesome!

  2. August 3, 2010 3:08 pm

    I am with you with the heels! The love/hate relationship continues!

  3. Katy permalink*
    August 3, 2010 3:36 pm

    I don’t walk a long way to my job or anything so usually shoes aren’t a huge deal. But today, I wore what I thought were comfortable shoes to a meeting in DC and I have the biggest blisters. I hate it. Now I’m sitting at my desk without shoes on because it hurts to walk. And I really want to go to the kitchen to get my Diet Coke. Lame. Haha.

    • August 3, 2010 3:50 pm

      Yeah, I have a pair of flats I wore into the city today and I ended up tucking my pants into them, behind my heels, because the blisters were so bad. Living here really makes me redefine what I consider “comfortable” shoes. I used to wear my Target heels to the office all the time, and now, I’d be limping before I reach the subway.

  4. Laura permalink
    August 3, 2010 5:47 pm

    Anti-blister suggestion #1: Nexcare waterproof band-aids. Not necessarily for preventing the blisters, but once you have them, these are the ONLY band-aids I’ve found that don’t rub off in 2 seconds of shoe wear. They even survived my 14+ hour days on my feet in the OR last month.

    #2: Are you at all willing to carry your shoes to work? My best friend from college, who is now an attorney in DC, is all about this method, as are many of the professional women she interacts with regularly. Flats/comfy shoes for the commute, heels at work. Granted, this requires a large bag, but finding an affordable, functional and cute bag is a lot easier than finding affordable, cute and comfortable shoes, in my opinion.

    Yes, this doesn’t really help with the actual question, really, but trust me on the band-aids. Seriously, they’re a life-saver.

    • August 3, 2010 9:23 pm

      Thanks for the Band Aid tip! I will definitely be purchasing those the next time I’m at Duane Reade.

      I definitely wear flats to walk around in and then put heels on in elevators, etc… Unfortunately, many of my flats are already pretty worn out, and they’ve been giving me blisters too. My bags are certainly roomy enough to carry an extra pair of shoes, and I do this pretty often. I’d just like a pair of heels that don’t kill my feet in general. Even carrying and wearing flats for a bit, I’m still on my feet quite a lot during the day. (That is, if I leave the house. Working from home is interesting, to say the least.)

  5. August 5, 2010 12:25 am

    I’m lame but I tend to wear flats! If flats ever go out of style I will still wear them. Or I sometimes wear platforms but change to flats or flipflops as soon as I can!
    It was so great to meet you tonight and fabulous blog!

  6. August 5, 2010 12:16 pm

    The only comfortable heels I’ve found thus far are bandolinos, but they’re also the only types of heels I’ve ever purchased (from DSW, obviously) as per the suggestion of my more stylish former roommate/ best friend. But I am open to new ideas! I am fashionably inept and usually just wear Banana Republic pencil skirts and things to work. Let’s just say weekends are rough. 😉 This blog will be very helpful to me, so I’m glad I got to meet you! And I’m with Deirdre – I usually wear flats. But heels make me feel more powerful, or something, so I’m workin’ on it.

    • August 5, 2010 2:12 pm

      Apparently Bandolinos was having a huge sale recently (there’s a post about it in our archives). I’ve actually never worn them but I really should try a pair.

      I do generally wear flats and carry my heels if I need to wear them, but I’d like to end a night out without hobbling home from the subway at 3 a.m. due to crazy heels. 🙂

  7. August 9, 2010 2:48 pm

    Love the blog! It was great to meet you last week. I can’t wait to read more. 🙂

    My go-to black heels are from Marc Fisher. I got them from Macys I believe. They’re 3-4 inches, peep-toe, and perfect width heel. I looove them and they go with everything. Actually, after I bought them I went online to try and find other pairs by Marc Fisher and couldn’t find anything I liked. It was strange. These are very classic and all the other stuff by them I was finding wasn’t. So I can’t really vouch for the brand as a whole!

  8. August 16, 2010 8:10 pm

    Hey Shannon, congrats on making the move to NYC! I have a tip from my lovely flight attendant friend Emily (my roomie in college … pretty sure you guys met) who is on her feet for innumerable hours at a time and HAS to wear heels.
    She says Cole Haan all the way. She has the Cole Haan Nike Air heels, and she says they are wonderful. They’re pricey, but if you’re willing to throw some money at the problem, then these might be an answer.

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