Best High Heels Reviewed & Rated
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Whether this is your first or twentieth pair of high heels, fit needs to be your main focus when deciding which pair to get. Even if you are a high heel pro, unless you consistently buy the same style from the same brand, chances are they are not always going to fit the same way, and you probably will not be the same size in every brand.
The first step to buying your new pair of heels is knowing your exact size. Take the time to measure your feet, and then based on the brand know whether or not you will need to size up, down or stay true to size. Brands are all different, some offer different width sizes for wider feet, which is great for those with larger feet that have a hard time finding their size. If you have wide feet and the brand you’re looking at does not offer different width options, always size up ½ to a full size.
The amount you will need to either size up or down not only depends on the brand but shoe style as well. You want to find a shoe that has enough space to properly accommodate your feet and toes. Even though you may love the look of a certain style, if it just doesn’t work for your foot shape and size, it is not worth buying and then suffering through pain while wearing. The three most popular toe shapes in high heels are:
Pointed Toe – Get the appearance of longer legs while looking sleek, and sophisticated. Not a good option for wide feet, as they may cause toes to feel cramped. Perfect heel for work or business events.
Round Toe – Great for making feet look smaller, as no length is added on to the toe area. These also have much more room in the toe box which is very accommodating for wide feet. Depending on the style, these are a better style for going out and not the workplace.
Open Toe – The perfect choice for warmer months, but can cramp toes if the fit is not right. Keep in mind your toes are exposed so a pedicure may be needed prior to wearing. These are the best option in the summer.
Unlike running shoes or most sneakers, high heels will need to be broken in, and that is not always the most fun or comfortable process. Breaking in your new heels may happen quickly, or could take quite a bit of time, and this all depends on the style, heel height, and material.
Leather or suede is always the best option when not only looking for long-lasting quality shoes but ones that will fit best the quickest. These materials are much more flexible than say a synthetic fabric and therefore will mold to your feet much faster. Depending on the type of leather and its stiffness, after a few wears, you should notice the leather sort to almost soften and the shoe feels much fitted to your foot without any sort of irritations occurring.
The fit is very important when buying high heels and fit plus size varies from brand to brand. Therefore, it’s important to know your shoe size and how each brand constructs the fit of their shoes. For wider feet, you might have to go ½ or one-size up.
Shoe style plays an important role in shoe fitting. Some styles are more accommodating than others and if a certain style brings pain to your feet, they are not worth it. Pointed, rounded and open-toe are the most common styles.
High heels have to be broken in and that can be short or long depending on various factors such as heel height, material, and style. The material is usually the best determining factor in fit. Leather and suede will break-in and mold to your feet the quickest and synthetics can take longer. Natural materials can be more durable too.
When it comes to high heels, quality can be quite important and be the difference between owning a pair of shoes that not only feel great but look great as well. There are many details and features that come into play when picking out the perfect pair of heels and although they may not all seem important, they will make a difference long term.
A trendy or seasonal item can be fun however they are not shoes you should invest in because they generally are not something you will reach for very often. As the seasons change you will start reaching for other shoes, and slowly your heeled sandals will be pushed further and further back into your closet. Always think about the amount of use you will get from the shoes, and if by next season, or year they will be something you will want to wear.
The first thing you will notice when looking at and trying on high heels is the material of which they are made. They will either be leather, suede or a man-made, synthetic material, and it is important to pick the right one for you. If you are looking to splurge, and invest in a pair of heels opt for higher-end brands and fabrics that you know will never go out of style, and not fall apart after a few wears.
Leather is the most classic material and is timeless, so you can be certain that regardless of the season, or place you are going, a pair of leather pumps will add to any outfit and look sophisticated. It is also a relatively easy material to care for and keep clean. If you wish to not wear animal byproducts, there are plenty of designers creating beautiful vegan leather shoes that are of the same high quality.
Price is an easy way to determine whether or not a shoe is genuine leather or suede, however, if you are still uncertain, the inside of the heel will either state “man-made upper” or “leather or suede upper”. If you wish to wear this long-term, or as an everyday type of work shoe do not purchase a synthetic material, however for short-term wear, or to simply wear once to a special event, this is fine.
The sole is also very important, especially the way it is put into the shoe. If it is glued in it has a higher chance of lifting sooner and is a sign that they are not expensive quality. Sewn insoles last much longer and look more seamless. The insole lining should be made of leather and be throughout the shoe, not just on the insole. This not only is great for comfort, and preventing irritation but leather is a very breathable material and will allow your feet to breathe throughout the day not feel clammy and hot.
Quality determines how high heels look and feel and many details can determine quality. Focus on the material (leather, suede, synthetic); its construction and style. Trendy shoes only last a season and synthetic shoes sometimes last only a few years.
Take a look at the soles. Glued on soles can be a sign of cheap quality but sewn-in is usually a sign of top quality. The insole should be looked at too. If the insole is leather, you have a quality heel, and it’s even better when the leather is throughout the heel.
Your high heels will not instantly feel comfortable the second you slip them on, there will be a break in period, however, look past needing to break them in and think about the long-term comfort. The height of the heel, if any part of it rubs against your ankle or foot in a bothersome way, and where you plan on potentially wearing them.
You will know fairly quickly the comfort level of your new heels and whether or not they will be best suited for your workplace, events, or one-time wear. If you are looking for a heel to wear for hours on end and plan on being on your feet you need to choose a style that will ensure stability. Stability and comfort go hand in hand and you may look past small features, but these can make all the difference.
Straps – Ankle straps, gladiator style, slingbacks and any other style that is adjustable and can be secured will add support. Your foot should not be sliding around in your shoe as this will make it harder for you to walk and can cause your ankle to roll which may lead to injury.
Thick Heels – The thicker the heel, think wedges, for instance, the more stable you will be on your feet, and the higher you can go without being wobbly.
Platform – This added bit of height to the front of the shoe can make a large difference when it comes to high heels being comfortable and easy to walk in. The higher the heel, the more platform it should have. Otherwise, your foot will sit at a very uncomfortable angle.
When deciding which heel height is best for different events and day to day wear there are a few general rules of thumb. However, it’s good to always trust your style and go off what feels best for you. The most simple, and easiest to wear is the kitten heel, this is usually under 2” and should be comfortable for long hours at a time. The most common heel for work and any other business or everyday event is 3 inches, and this is usually the average height on a pair of pumps. When you start getting in 4” and up you will notice most of these shoes have platforms as well and are best suited for evening events, dinners, and will not be the easiest to walk around in.
The first time you slip on your shoes you should notice how much cushioning they either have or lack, and this will determine whether or not they are worth getting. High heels are not known for their immense cushioning and plush insoles because unlike running shoes they are not meant to be walked in for long periods. However, they should have at least a small amount of padding in the front of the shoe, where the ball of your foot sits because this is where the most pressure is applied due to the angle your foot is on.
If you plan on wearing them for longer than you feel they’ll be comfortable for, insoles can usually always be added in to help with cushioning, however, ensure that with these added in there is still plenty of room for your feet, and the shoes do not fit too tightly now. If your heels are too tight, the first place you will notice it is in your toes. Depending on the material it may potentially loosen and stretch slightly, so if they are ever so slightly too tight that may be ok. Squeezing your toes and causing immense discomfort though will not get better with wear and time.
On first wear, high heels can be uncomfortable, especially during the break-in period, but do not give up on them too quickly; give it time. However, if the discomfort comes from rubbing or too much pressure from the heel, you might want to pass the particular heels on.
Take note of how and where you are planning to wear your heels. Longer hours or lots of activity require a heel that offers stability and cushioning. Certain heels fit best in certain environments so those party heels might not hold up in the office.
Don’t forget style and height too. Thin and lightweight heels might not provide much in comfort but heels that have ankle straps, platforms, and thick heels can. The heel height will determine the comfort.
Remember, the higher the heel, the more pressure on your feet. 2’’ and lower is best for longer wear, 3” is best for work, and 4” or more is best for occasional and special wear.
Lastly, there should be cushion padding in the ball and heel of the shoes as most foot pressure accumulates there. For additional comfort, you can add insoles but make sure they aren’t so thick that your heels become too tight to wear.
It may seem like common sense; however, one of the most important criteria that we utilized to develop this list was the type of heel. You'll notice that there are a few different types of heels on our list. The heel type helps to determine the comfort, use, and often occasion you'll wear the shoe.
Types of Heels include:
The last piece of criteria that we want to discuss is relating to the relationship of the price tag to the value that the footwear offers. Now, as consumers, the goal is to purchase a product that offers either equal value to the price tag, or more value. However, given the culture that we live in today, more people have become accustomed to, and okay with, purchasing products at a much higher price tag and much lower value.
We assessed each product on the criteria above and compared the value to the median price point. We focused on answering the following questions:
1. Aerosoles Highway
An option that is a little bit different than the rest in terms of style, the Aerosoles Highway is a trendy, strappy sandal that you will love to wear in the height of summer. It is not meant for the workplace, but rather it is a fashion-forward choice that you wear on your days off, when you want something cute yet versatile to pair with your new sundress and cool shades. It is equipped with the brand’s Heel Rest technology, and its stacked block heel is amazingly comfortable to stroll around in.
The Highway is made from genuine leather and consists of three sets of three thin straps. The ones at the ankle are adjustable with buckle closures, so you can easily find the width that suits you. There is a zipper in the back for an easy way in and out of the design. The Highway comes with the Heel Rest technology, which helps evenly distribute your weight through the shoe, away from the ball of your foot. This lessens the strain and helps you stay on your feet for longer.
Furthermore, the Highway has a diamond flex sole for superior traction and a memory foam insole to pamper your feet. What more can we possibly want in such a lovely, summer-friendly design! Treat your feet today with the Aerosoles Highway sandal!
2. Clarks Brier Dolly
These classically styled pumps provide ultimate comfort with their cushioned Ortholite insoles. Combining support and reliability, they enable you to move around for long periods without discomfort. These 3 ½” almond-toe shoes are classy and casual, making them a great pair for the work setting. Made from leather and coming in a variety of neutral colors, they nail it when it comes to fashion and function.
The cushioning inside the Brier Dolly is made from a material that provides 95% breathability. This helps to manage moisture and keep the foot cooler. Unlike most other insoles, these will not compress or change shape. The material of these pumps is relatively bendable so that they will form to your foot with any movement. Slightly angled front platforms also help the ease of movement during walking.
The quality of the Brier Dolly makes it well worth the slightly higher price. The Ortholite insoles provide comfort and long-term reliability that also validate the accuracy of the price.
3. Naturalizer Amie
While in the picture the Naturalizer Amie may seem like a big, clunky design, we assure you that it is not. In fact, it is its thick heel and its platform underneath the forefoot that provide stability and comfort as you take on the world in this amazing work to weekend design. It is sleek, it is a little bit sexy with its peep-toe front, and it will complete your wardrobe in a blink of an eye.
The Amie is crafted from a genuine leather or suede upper, depending on your color preference. It has a peep-toe silhouette that goes well with any style, and it is outfitted with Naturalizer’s signature N5 Contour technology. N5 Contour includes dual-density cushioning, as well as additional padding in the pressure points. It means the Amie has a contoured insole and specially molded arch support, as well as a heel area that keeps you well-balanced throughout. The heel is about 3 ¾ inches high, but the platform and the blocky shape make it incredibly stable and easy to walk on.
The Naturalizer Amie is a bold, yet sophisticated choice. It will elevate your height and it goes well with jeans and a flowy blouse, as well as a pantsuit or a pencil skirt and a crisp white button-up. You can mix and match to your heart’s desire, and be sure that you’ll always look effortlessly elegant in the Naturalizer Amie
4. Rockport Total Motion Plain
These 3-inch pointed toe pumps by Rockport provide total comfort, made for long-term reliability and moving around. Foam insoles and back lining work together to deliver comfort and stability, forming to your foot. The flexible leather material comes in many different colors, reflecting a casual, classy style that is perfect for the office and dress occasions.
The retention foam footbed in these pumps allows your foot to come in full contact with the shoe. This helps to provide extra support in the arch area, as well as the heels and balls of your feet. Rubber soles, leather material, foam insoles, and TPU midsoles make a real winning combination. All-around, these pumps were made for nothing but comfort. Able to keep your feet at ease, you can get some real work done with this pair.
Similar to the Clarks Brier Dolly, the comfort and support provided in these pumps make them worth every penny. Fashionable and extremely functional, this is a design that you can rely on.
5. Sam Edelman Patti
A little sexier than block heels, these two-piece dress sandals will add elegance and appeal to any outfit. 3 ¼-inch heels and adjustable ankle straps make for a sassy design that is still stable enough to dance around in. Sleek design and a variety of colors make it a great choice for work and formal occasions. It is a sophisticated, chic and luxurious, but also affordable.
The Patti is simple and sexy, a style that can be worn by a variety of ages. Its thin, narrow appearance provides more focus and shine to your skin. A style like this brings energetic and playful vibes to any outfit. Glossy, bold colors, matte leather, sparkles, and shine can all be found here. Some color options provide more of a professional appeal, while others are bright and sexy. These sandals leave a lot of room for experimenting with style.
Fun and fashionable, but maybe not fully comfortable. The Sam Edelman Patti is more for looks than support but is still a good design in general. An average cost combined with good materials puts its value in the middle range.
6. Ivanka Trump Kayden 4
Timeless and classic, this executive style pump creates a powerful yet feminine fashion statement. A little taller than the rest, these 4 ¼-inch heels are made from leather and have a small square metallic logo on the back of the design. This pointed toe silhouette comes in a variety of colors, also featuring metallic and matte textures. They work best in a formal setting and are perfect for special occasions.
The classic pointed toe pump has been modernly recreated to meet all of today's fashion needs. This design works well in a variety of formal events and can also be worn in professional work settings. The Kayden 4 is made to be a companion to your clothing, creating unity in an outfit. The material on these is comfortable and drastically adds to the elegance and beauty of the design. Soft, suede material comes in a variety of colors and adds a chic finish to your look. This suede is aesthetic perfection.
Relevant and cost-effective; these pumps are on the lower-price scale. The material is cheaper than in other options on our list, however, the outer appearance is highly formal. More fashion than function, you get what you spend on with these pumps.
7. Jessica Simpson Cirrus
Your fun, festive and go-to party shoe! This two-piece dress pump features a pointed toe and an adjustable thin ankle strap for a fashion-forward look. A little taller than the others, this 4-inch heel has memory insoles so your feet won't suffer. The fabric material this design is made with is sleek with a slight shine and comes in many different colors.
The stylish ankle strap helps to lock in your foot, providing security and stability. It is adjustable to your ankle size so you won’t have to worry about it rubbing against your ankle. These fabric pumps create more of a light, enjoyable vibe versus leather heels that come off looking more classic and professional. The lightweight material also provides comfort to the bare foot.
Low pricing makes the Cirrus a good choice for those on a budget who still want to look on trend. More fun than functional, these work better as short-term footwear and the pricing is reflective of that.
8. Calvin Klein Gayle
Another classy, modern pointed toe pump featuring a sculpted heel with a metallic brand logo plate in the back. Depending on the color chosen, each design is made of a different type of fabric and unique comfort insoles; customization that allows for maximum comfort and usage. These 3-inch heels master minimalism and are perfect everyday pumps for the work setting.
Most other shoes don’t come with a brand logo unless they’re top-quality brands. Calvin Klein is a well-known American fashion brand with a reliable reputation. Having their metallic logo on your pumps shows others you have a high standard of quality. The Gayle comes with gel pod insoles for maximum comfort, making it great for a long work day or an exciting night out. The insoles provide a cushioned arch that fits your foot for extra support.
The Gayle is a higher priced design, mostly because of its brand name reputation. The quality value is slightly under the price value; they may not last through heavy wear but instead might make better special occasion dress shoes.
9. Cole Haan Juliana
Cole Haan is a brand with over 90 years of experience in crafting only the most elegant, the most impeccable of footwear. The Juliana is a pump which is a reflection of this - a graceful, versatile pump with a pointed toe that everyone needs in their wardrobe. It is made from premium leather materials and comes with the brand’s signature Grand.OS technology for undeniable comfort.
The Juliana has a genuine leather upper in several different color options - from classic nude and black to metallic silver and this striking leopard print. It is fully lined on the inside and has a rubber insert in the forepart of the outsole for slip-resistance. The heel of the Juliana is around three inches, making it comfortable to wear all day long. However, what truly makes it stand out in terms of comfort is the concealed Grand.OS system that offers flexibility, cushioning and a breathable, lightweight experience.
There is truly nothing more you can wish for in a pump. The Cole Haan Juliana has it all, and it is also versatile enough so that you can wear it literally anywhere - to the office, to a lunch meeting with friends, a formal gathering of any kind, even to a fun night out at the club! It is truly a staple piece that won’t let you down.
10. J. Adams Daisy
Versatile and fashion-friendly, these sandals are great for those just beginning to wear high heels. They feature a lower, 2 ½-inch block heel which makes it super easy to balance and walk in. Stylish ankle straps secure your foot while moving around. This simple and sassy style can complete all types of outfits whether you’re wearing jeans, shorts or dresses.
Wider than stilettos or pumps, the block heel makes walking much easier. The shorter heel height makes them a step up, so they’re great for beginners or those looking to add just a little height, nothing drastic. Coming in a variety of colors and being a simple design, these heels can work for a large range of ages compared to others of its kind. Teens and adults alike can create endless combinations of outfits with these sandals.
Another great, low-costing option. These can be worn for longer periods of time, as they are more comfortable than the Jessica Simpson Cirrus. Great cost and value overall, recommended for beginners.