Yes, it is possible to find stylish work heels that don’t hurt your feet.
As a runner who also works in an office all day, I’m constantly on the lookout for work-appropriate shoes that are truly comfortable and supportive. I have good reason to be extra-picky about support—I suffer from plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot through the arch and heel (thank you, years of competitive running and dance!). Having sufficient arch support is essential for keeping my heel pain at bay.
While it’s not difficult to find supportive running shoes (and I religiously wear my custom insoles in sneakers), finding a stylish work shoe that's foot-friendly is kind of like tracking down a unicorn. I usually stick to flats or slides in the summer and low-heeled ankle boots in the winter; because I do so much walking in New York City, where I live, pumps or heeled sandals are pretty much out of the question.
Luckily, I hit the jackpot with these Vionic Solana Heeled Sandals ($140; amazon.com, zappos.com). I've worn them to work nearly every day since I got them, as well as on my 40-minute walking commute. Needless to say, I'm obsessed.
The Solana has terrific arch support that's covered with plush cushioning. The thick straps on the ankle and toes have (very well-hidden) Velcro, so they're easy to put on and adjust for a perfect fit. A 2.5-inch block heel delivers enough stability for long walks, but adds just enough height to feel a little formal and put-together. I also love that the soft leather doesn't irritate my feet, make me sweat, or cause blisters. I have the tan pair, which goes with everything; I wear them with skirts and slacks to work or with dresses and jeans on the weekends.
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Vionic is known for their comfortable, ultra-supportive footwear (many podiatrists Health has interviewed for previous stories have recommended this foot-friendly brand for those with conditions such as bunions and flat feet, or anyone who needs shoes with extra arch support), but I've been truly impressed by how well this particular pair melds style and support. I was lucky to receive them as a sample to test from the brand, but as soon as they wear out, I intend to replace them in both tan and black.
It’s funny how something so simple can make life easier, but anyone who’s struggled with foot problems like I have likely knows the impact a good shoe can have. The "Which shoes should I wear?" decision is much easier every morning, and I no longer have to stress about whether or not I've packed Band-Aids or a change of flats in my work bag. I can confidently throw these on and walk around New York City all day knowing I won’t have achy feet by the time I get home. That’s a major win.