The 12 Most Comfortable Heels of 2023, According to a Podiatrist

The ultra-versatile Clarks Un Cosmo Pump is our top pick.

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Most Comfortable Heels
Courtesy of Aldo, Amazon, and Cole Haan

Whether you're planning a romantic getaway, want to look polished while traveling for work, plan to tear up the dance floor at an upcoming wedding, or just want to elevate your everyday look, a good pair of heels will carry you through.

Our top pick is the Clarks Un Cosmo Pump, a sophisticated, versatile shoe with a modest 2-inch heel and a supportive footbed. But to help you find the perfect option, we rounded up the most comfortable heels for every season and occasion — and spoke with celebrity podiatrist Marion Yau. Yau recommends relatively low styles with wide, thick heels, built-in arch support, and cushioned footbeds. "The most important thing is comfort for the individual," she says.

Here are the most comfortable heels to shop:

Best Overall

Clarks Un Cosmo Pump

Clarks Un Cosmo Pump


Why We Love It: It features a thick, modest heel, built-in arch support, and a cushioned footbed with shock absorption.

What to Consider: It might take a few wears to break in the leather.

When it comes to comfortable heels, Clarks is a tried-and-true brand you can rely on. Per Yau's recommendation, the Un Cosmo Pump has a thick 2-inch heel. While you'll still get a noticeable boost, she explains that the modest height reduces "the distance from the heel to the floor, which provides more overall support for the foot." But the comfy design doesn't stop there. This thoughtfully engineered shoe has an OrthoLite footbed with built-in arch support, ample cushioning, and shock absorption with every step.

The Un Cosmo has genuine leather uppers. Yau is a fan of the material, as it softens over time and conforms to the shape of your foot, making it all-around more comfortable.¹ Having said that, it might feel slightly stiff during the first few wears while you break in the leather. Available in wear-anywhere hues like black and navy, this sleek pump boasts a versatile yet sophisticated silhouette that'll work with endless outfits in any season.

Price at time of publish: $130 for Size 7 in black

Sizes: 5–11 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2 inches

Best Vegan Leather

Naturalizer Warner Pump

Naturalizer Women's, Warner Pump


Why We Love It: This podiatrist-recommended pump has a roomy square toe, a block heel, a supportive contoured footbed, and a non-slip outsole.

What to Consider: The faux leather may not soften as well as genuine leather.

If you prefer vegan leather, Yau recommends Naturalizer's Warner Pump. "It has a block heel that will prevent any fall," she tells Travel + Leisure. "I love the square toe box, which means the toes are not squeezed into the feet too tightly." The thick heel is 2.5 inches tall — not so high that it'll be hard to walk in but also not so low that you won't feel elevated.

The Warner also has a contoured footbed to provide all-day arch support, while the non-slip outsole provides traction underfoot. "This smart, sophisticated pair of high heels is a wonderful addition to any outfit," says Yau. And you can choose from several chic hues ranging from rose to navy to champagne gold.

Price at time of publish: $99

Sizes: 5–12 | Material: Vegan leather | Heel Height: 2.5 inches

Best Block Heel

Marc Fisher LTD Zala Block Heel Pump



Why We Love It: In addition to a thick block heel, the Zala Pump has a roomy toe box, a padded footbed, and genuine leather or suede uppers.

What to Consider: Not everyone finds a pointed toe comfortable.

According to Yau, block heels tend to be the most comfortable type of pump, especially if you're going for a taller style. With this in mind, we're loving the 3-inch Zala Block Heel from Marc Fisher LTD. It's got a lightly padded footbed with moderate arch support and a grooved outsole for extra traction.

Available in several statement hues and versatile neutrals, these classy pumps have smooth leather or soft suede uppers. While a pointed toe might not be everyone's idea of comfy footwear, the roomy toe box won't squish your toes. Not only that, but you can expect the uppers to break in over time.

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5–11 | Material: Leather or suede | Heel Height: 2.75 inches

Best Mule

Aldo Velalith High Heel Sandal

Aldo Velalith High Heel Sandal


Why We Love It: This open-toed mule has a thick block heel, contoured arch support, a padded footbed, and a rubberized outsole.

What to Consider: They may be too wide for people with narrower feet.

Aldo's Velalith Sandal is our favorite heeled mule. With a squared-off footbed, a slightly flared block heel, and a single wide strap over the forefoot, it's undeniably stylish and endlessly versatile. From weddings and wineries to dinner dates and shopping excursions, you can wear this shoe almost anywhere. Not only that, but Yau says open-toed styles like this one minimize pressure on your toes, which can prevent foot pain and ingrown toenails.

The Velalith has a molded foam midsole with contoured arch support, plus a padded footbed to keep you comfortable on your feet. What's more, the patterned, rubberized outsole provides a sturdy grip. To complement a wide range of outfits, this leather shoe comes in white, black, cognac, and light orangy-blush. Since the upper isn't adjustable, one thing to note is that it might be slightly too wide for folks with particularly narrow feet.

Price at time of publish: $90

Sizes: 5–11 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2.75 inches

Best Sandal

Madden Girl Sohoo Lug Sole Sandals

Madden Girl Sohoo Lug Sole Sandals


Why We Love It: The podiatrist-recommended Sohoo has a thick lug-style heel, a sturdy midsole, and stretchy straps for a secure fit.

What to Consider: At 3 inches, the heel is relatively tall.

Interested in heeled sandals? Yau recommends this pair from Madden Girl on account of the "nice, thick heel and platform with multiple straps to support the foot." With a 3-inch heel, this shoe is definitely on the taller side, but thanks to the 1-inch platform, it'll feel more like 2 inches.

The Sohoo has a wide, rounded toe bed and a sturdy midsole that curves with the shape of your arches. We also appreciate the stretchy fabric straps, which offer a secure, adjustable fit while still being super easy to slip on and off.

Price at time of publish: $59

Sizes: 5–11 | Material: Fabric | Heel Height: 3 inches

Best Pump

Easy Street Passion Pump

Easy Street Passion Pump


Why We Love It: It's perfect for professional and special occasions and features a flexible outsole and padded footbed.

What to Consider: The faux leather uppers may not soften like genuine leather.

Looking for a classic heel you can wear for business travel and on special occasions year-round? You can't go wrong with the Easy Street Passion Pump. This shoe has a rounded toe with plenty of wiggle room and a modest heel height of just over 2 inches to add sufficient height without compromising stability.

Beyond that, the flexible outsole is designed to keep you comfortable on your feet for hours on end, while a padded insole provides plush cushioning. Just a heads up that though the faux leather uppers are vegan-friendly, they may not soften like genuine leather.

Price at time of publish: $55

Sizes: 5–12 | Material: Vegan leather or vegan suede | Heel Height: 2.25 inches

Best Dressy

Naturalizer Joy Ankle Strap Sandal

Naturalizer Women's Joy Sandal


Why We Love It: This podiatrist-approved shoe has a cushioned insole, a thick block heel, and a slim, adjustable ankle strap that exudes elegance.

What to Consider: The heel is nearly 4 inches high, but the platform reduces the tilt.

For weddings, fancy dates, fine dining, and other dressy occasions, Yau recommends Naturalizer's Joy Dress Sandal. While the heel is nearly 4 inches tall, she explains that the platformed footbed minimizes the angle of your foot to reduce strain on your arches. Additionally, she says, "the cushioned insole will give the foot stability."

Available in genuine leather or suede in your choice of several statement hues and versatile neutrals (plus a few metallics and snake prints), the Joy Sandal is undeniably elegant. The open-toe design helps prevent cramping, and you can count on the uppers to soften to the shape of your foot over time. "With a slender strap to give support, this pair of high heels is designed for comfort," says Yau.

Price at time of publish: $120

Sizes: 4–12 | Material: Leather or suede | Heel Height: 3.75 inches

Most Versatile

LifeStride Parigi Pump

LifeStride Women's Parigi Pump


Why We Love It: These simple slip-on pumps have modest heels and cushioned insoles.

What to Consider: The uppers may not soften very much.

If you're in the market for heels you can wear virtually anywhere, in all four seasons, the Parigi Pump is a solid choice. This simple slip-on shoe has a modest 2.5-inch heel and a comfortable rounded toe. LifeStride's Soft System comfort technology ensures the foam footbeds offer plush cushioning and flexibility with every step.

The Parigi Pump comes with vegan leather, microsuede, or fabric uppers. It's available in several bold tones, florals, and animal prints, but Sethi recommends getting pairs of dark and light heels in neutral hues for maximum versatility. "Nude or tan and navy or dark gray will coordinate seamlessly with many outfits in your closet," she explains.

Price at time of publish: $70

Sizes: 5–12 | Material: Vegan leather, microsuede, or fabric | Heel Height: 2.5 inches

Best Low-Heel

Soft Style by Hush Puppies Angel II Pump

Soft Style by Hush Puppies Angel II Pump


Why We Love It: The grippy outsole will keep you stable on your feet.

What to Consider: They almost look like flats, so they're not the best choice if you're going for a pump statement.

Prefer a lower heel? Check out the Soft Style Angel II Pumps. They're just over an inch tall with thick, tapered heels that'll keep you stable on your feet and comfortable for long periods. "You'll actually be able to walk in them, and they're perfect for more formal occasions," says Sethi.

Available in several colors ranging from cherry-red to glossy black to deep taupe, these pared-down pumps have patent, embossed, or smooth vegan leather uppers that easily wipe clean. Although the material may not break in as well as genuine leather, the padded foam footbeds and soft tricot lining offer all-day comfort while the grippy outsoles keep you stable on your feet.

Price at time of publish: $90

Sizes: 5–12 | Material: Vegan leather | Heel Height: 1.25 inches

Best Slingback

Kenneth Cole Blanche 85 Knot Slingback Sandal

Kenneth Cole Blanche 85 Knot Slingback Sandal


Why We Love It: These comfortable slingbacks have soft, plush uppers, stretchy ankle straps, slightly flared heels, and rubber outsoles for maximum stability.

What to Consider: At just over 3 inches, the heel is on the higher side.

You can usually count on Kenneth Cole for comfortable shoe styles for special occasions, and the brand's Blanche 85 Slingback is no exception. Available in your choice of Tiffany blue, warm beige, or black, this heeled sandal has soft vegan leather uppers with a plush knotted design.

At just over 3 inches, the heel is on the higher side for comfortable dress shoes. And while it's relatively thin, the flared bottom and rubberized outsole offer stability. Additionally, the curved design of this heeled sandal hugs the natural shape of your arches, and the stretchy ankle strap prevents it from flopping around on your foot.

Price at time of publish: $125

Sizes: 5–11 | Material: Vegan leather | Heel Height: 3.25 inches

Best Wedge

Ugg Cloverdale Espadrille Wedge Sandal

Ugg Cloverdale Espadrille Wedge Sandal


Why We Love It: These wedges have solid foam midsoles and rubberized outsoles with patterned tread, plus soft leather uppers with adjustable ankle straps.

What to Consider: These shoes only come in two colors, though both are very versatile.

With extra stability from a continuous heel, wedge sandals are among the most comfortable footwear styles for women. We're particularly fond of the UGG Cloverdale, which has a corked-wrapped foam midsole and a molded rubber outsole with patterned tread. Though the heel is almost 3 inches tall, the 1-inch platform makes it feel more like 2 inches.

Leather uppers and adjustable ankle straps are icing on the cake of this endlessly comfy heeled sandal. There are only two colors to choose from (black and camel), but both are highly versatile, and espadrille-style jute braiding around the base offers a down-to-earth, vacation-ready appeal.

Price at time of publish: $120

Sizes: 5–12 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2.75 inches

Best Boot

Vionic Harper Ankle Boot

Vionic Harper Ankle Boot


Why We Love It: These leather booties call on podiatrist-designed arch support, while the weather-treated uppers protect against rain and snow.

What to Consider: It may take a few wears for the leather to break in, and they might be slightly too narrow for wide feet.

Heading to a colder climate? Vionic's Harper Ankle Boot is an excellent choice. At just over 3 inches tall and rising just above the ankles, this versatile bootie has a chunky block heel and a convenient zip-on design. Like all shoes from Vionic, this pair features contoured footbeds with podiatrist-designed orthotic technology. In other words, built-in arch support, deep heel cups, and ample cushioning will keep you comfortable no matter where you're headed.

The uppers are treated for weather resistance, so you won't have to worry about walking around in heavy rainfall or snow. But they're genuine leather, so it may take a few wears to break in these booties. And since the silhouette is relatively narrow, they might not be ideal for people with wider feet.

Price at time of publish: $180

Sizes: 5–11 | Material: Leather or suede | Heel Height: 3.1 inches

Tips for Buying Comfortable Heels

Choose features that signal comfort

When shopping for heels, there are a few features to look out for that signal a comfortable design. Most importantly, Yau says built-in arch support will prevent your arches from collapsing, which can lead to foot pain. Beyond that, a thick block heel will help keep you steady on your feet. "Platforms are even better, as they have less foot tilt, meaning less pressure on the front of the foot when walking and greater stability," says Yau.

An open-toe style is ideal as long as it's appropriate for the occasion. "This reduces pressure on the toes and nails, preventing damage and pain," explains Yau. Otherwise, look for a wide toe box with plenty of wiggle room.

Look for high-quality materials

Some footwear materials are more comfortable than others. "Try to pick high-quality leather heels if possible," says Yau. Genuine leather is easier to break in than other materials, meaning it softens over time and conforms to the shape of your foot. It's also naturally breathable with anti-fungal properties, so it's less likely to harbor odors.

Also worth noting: "A very hard sole is not ideal, as this does not allow the foot to adapt to the walking surface," adds Yau. Instead, look for a pair with molded foam, rubber, or cork soles.

Know how heels should fit

One of the main culprits of foot pain and discomfort is poorly fitting footwear. Not too tight or overly loose, a pair of heels should have plenty of wiggle room for your toes while fitting securely around your foot. "The shoe should not cause any pain in the legs or toes, as this means the heels may be too high or too small for your feet," says Yau.

Additionally, pumps, wedges, or platforms that flop around or slide off your feet can lead to unnecessary strain. "If your feet come out of the heels easily, go for a pair with a strap to help hold the foot in place," says Yau.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are platform or wedge heels more comfortable than stilettos?

    Platform and wedge heels are typically more comfortable than stilettos because they're more supportive and have better weight distribution. However, you can make any pair of heels more comfy by adding gel pads or other inserts.

  • Are taller heels less comfortable?

    They can be, since higher heels put more strain on the balls of your feet, but it depends more on the person and specific shoe. Shoes with block heels and sufficient cushioning may feel quite comfy even if they're high, while kitten heels can easily feel uncomfortable if they have a hard insole and thin heel. In general, though, you should choose a lower heel for sightseeing and travel days to avoid stumbling through the airport, cobblestone streets, or other uneven terrain.

  • How do I pack high heels?

    You'll want to pack them on their sides to make them as flat as possible, and then place them against the walls of your suitcase to save space and keep them from moving around too much. If your heels are on the softer, more malleable side, consider stuffing them with socks and underwear to help them keep their shape. Still having trouble packing heels? You may want to invest in packing cubes or a weekender bag with dedicated shoe storage space.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Theresa Holland is a commerce writer specializing in travel, lifestyle, and fashion. For this story, she compiled recommendations from a podiatrist and a personal stylist, then considered dozens of heeled shoes from various brands before narrowing it down to the most comfortable, versatile, flattering pairs.

Article Sources:

  1. Barton CJ, et al. Development and evaluation of a tool for the assessment of footwear characteristics. J Foot Ankle Res 2, 10 (2009).

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Updated by
Hillary Maglin
Hillary Maglin, Associate Commerce Editor
Hillary Maglin is an associate commerce editor at Travel + Leisure who’s been covering travel products since 2018. Her work has also been featured in publications such as People, InStyle, and more.
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