If you've ever owned a pair of flats—ballet, loafers or even sandals—that were so painful you practically couldn't walk in them, then this story is for you. (We know your pain!) Sure, every pair of new shoes takes time to break in, and we're willing to give a grace period before we officially condemn a pair as too uncomfortable to wear. But past that point, our patience wears thinner than the bottoms of our uncomfortable soles.
In the spirit of always pursuing comfort in fashion, we've come up with a foolproof strategy to ensure your heels are consistently wearable. Here's what you need to know: When shopping, always reach for a pair with a supportive sole, thick heel and low arch. These three factors combine to make one shockingly comfortable pair of heels—and often mean the shoes are even more comfortable than flats, which provide little support.
Keep scrolling to shop the five types of heels that are more comfortable than flats!
The key to a pair of heels that won't have you yelping in pain: a thick block heel. Though they don't necessarily recommend wearing heels as a general rule, podiatry experts far and wide nonetheless suggest steering clear of pinpoint-width stilettos in favor of wide heels that guarantee more support for your delicate ankles.
Another great tactic for relieving the painful stress high heels put on your arches: the platform. This is a similar logic to wearing mid-height heels, but instead of bringing your heel lower to the ground, you're bringing the sole of your foot closer to the sky via the platform. Most modern-day heels have a platform beneath the sole, even if it's a hidden one. But if you're looking at a pair of classic pointy black pumps, for example, it's going to be a tougher find. If you're unsure whether a pair has a platform, you can always ask a sales associate!
It's common sense that the higher the heels, the more difficult they are to walk in—but the higher they are, the more painful they have the potential to be. The reason? The higher your heel juts up toward the sky, the more severe the arch of your foot down toward the sole—and the more pain caused by the unnatural distortion of your foot. The solution: A lower heel is a great place to start. Think two to three inches instead of five to six, and if you are dying to rock a stiletto, this is the heel height at which to do it.
Another reason heels can be so painful: The heel itself just isn't that well constructed, which leads to wobbling, teetering and undue stress on your ankles. A good solution? Look for a pair of heels wherein you can actually see the stacked construction of the heel; often, these heels are wooden, which gives you the confidence that they're not made from a synthetic material prone to breaking or otherwise not giving you enough support. Look for the striations, or ridges, on heels to confirm that they're made from wood and constructed with the solid, stacked method.
Lastly, one of the most painful experiences often served up by a pair of heels is the narrowness at the toe. When your toes are squeezed down inside a space barely a couple inches across (if that!), it is rarely a comfortable experience. A good solution: a pair of open-toe shoes that are wide across and give your poor toes room to breathe and move around. Try them on in-store and walk around a bit—even the slightest pinching can be a sign of danger.
What kind of shoes do you find most comfortable? Tell us in the comments below! And why not check out our edit of the best ankle boots to buy now.
This post was originally published on Who What Wear U.S.