If you’ve ever found yourself packing bandaids in your purse or walking home barefoot with your high heel slung over your shoulder, you know the plights of uncomfortable dress shoes. It almost feels like a rite of passage for women, but why should that be the case?
Instead of asking yourself how you can manage to fit your toes into a high heel shoe, consider asking this instead: what are the most comfortable women’s dress shoes?
If you want your feet to be comfortable, normally you’d wear sneakers. But in this modern age, it’s easier than ever to shop for comfortable dress shoes that work with your feet instead of working against them.
We’ve compiled a list of the most comfortable women’s dress shoes to give you the support, comfort, and confidence to wear your most stylish shoes to any affair.
It’s always a good idea to start with the basics. This fundamental piece of footwear provides a flexible sole with sturdy support to ensure that you can get where you’re going with ease.
Fortunately, flat shoes for women with arch support are more accessible than ever. With so many new approaches to this classic dress shoe, a flat is anything but basic. Switch up your look by opting for a fun variation of the infamous flat such as a Minna Ballet Slippers.
Before slipping into a cushy pair of flats, remember that the type of fabric you choose can make a big difference in your comfort shoes’ general maintenance and wearability. Consider the following:
While they can take some time to fully break in, high-quality leather shoes are like a loyal friend—they’re in this for the long haul. Plus, leather is typically very easy to clean and maintain as long as you do it regularly. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to clean leather shoes with a dry cotton cloth. A lightly dampened cloth works fine, but you should allow wet leather to dry independently rather than throwing it in the dryer. Leather should avoid any direct heat source whenever possible to prevent peeling or other damage.
Another durable companion, suede shoes are buttery soft, and easily malleable. To keep them in top condition, use a damp cloth or a specialty brush to apply your favorite suede cleaner.
Like heeled shoes, flat shoes come in different forms, such as ballet flats, sneakers, Mary Jane, etc. Not only are they designed for different occasions, but some are also created for certain foot conditions, such as flat foot, bunions, plantar fasciitis, and many others. So if you are experiencing foot pain, it’s good to have several kinds of flats in your closet.
In addition to their comfortable fit, flats earn bonus points for being a cinch to style. Pair them with high-waisted pair of trousers or a pencil skirt, and you’ll be strutting through the office in a head-turning fashion.
#2 Heeled Sandals
Next up, we have a summertime staple. Although, if you’re lucky enough to live where it’s sunny year-round, feel free to sport heeled sandals for women whenever your toes are itching for some extra vitamin D.
This versatile and comfortable dress shoe combines sophisticated style and maximum support. Elevate your look—literally—with a striking heeled shoe that’s easy to slip on or off at a moment’s notice.
Cohesive with many looks, your heeled sandals can take you anywhere, including:
- Brunch with gal pals
- Cocktail parties
- Bridal/engagement/baby showers
- Boardroom meetings
If built with proper podiatric care, a heeled sandal can provide you with effortless elegance—and soothing style.
Leave it to loafers to bring the vintage look back in a big way. Built with a sturdy sole to provide security and stability, choose loafers for those days when your schedule keeps you on the go.
Whether you decide to go with a classic neutral shade or make your loafers a statement piece, they can easily accessorize a variety of ensembles:
Slacks and loafers together create a timeless look that’s perfect for work. Whether your job requires you to sit in an office, trailblaze on the city sidewalk, or even stay at home, loafers can complete your workday outfit in a classy, professional manner.
Pair your loafers with a skirt for a posh European look. Adding a pair of tights can provide a warm, colorful layer to the outfit while keeping your shoes at the forefront.
Wearing visible socks with your loafers has become a sweeping new trend. Socks can act as a pop of color to pull the final look together—or as a fun conversation starter.
Another good thing about loafers is they are also good work shoes for women. If you’re on the hunt for a notoriously comfortable shoe that can turn any outfit into a fashion statement, loafers may be the shoe for you.
#4 Wedged Heels
Slip on a fashionable heel to take any outfit from casual to classy. Plus, if you struggle with balance, wedges tend to offer more stability than a standard pair of high heels. You’ll be able to achieve a boost in height while maintaining adequate support thanks to an increased amount of sole surface area.
That said, there’s more to a wedged heel than meets the eye. Explore many unique wedge styles and let your comfort shoes do the talking:
For some, a simple heel lift isn’t enough. Platform wedges offer additional height as they raise your entire foot and heel. Stand tall and stand your ground in these bold and comfortable dress shoes.
Looking to add some sassy flair to your beachy business event? Wedge sandals elevate the classic casual beach shoe by giving your heels a boost. Plus, the addition of straps can help you feel secure with every step. Easy to slip on and off, this shoe’s perfect for your pool party needs.
Want to know a secret? Hidden wedges can give you the height of heels without making it obvious. You can walk tall through any event, secretly reaping the benefits of a comfortable heel. It’s never too late for a growth spurt.
The addition of a wedge can elevate any look into an elegant one. With increased stability and cushion on your side, a wedged heel can become a staple for your shoe closet.
#5 Ankle Boots
For a more functional shoe that can still enhance your look, an ankle boot’s the perfect fit. Opt for a short boot to complete your ensemble. It’s made in various textiles and designs.
Ankle boots can also act as a tasteful expression of your personal style. Which person do you feel like being today?
The classy city slicker
Seamless black leather ankle boots are perfect for pounding the pavement with a commanding stride.
The chic cowgirl
Add some cute western flair to your outfit with a pair of suede ankle boots. The addition of a buckle or a heel will have your feet saying, “Yeehaw!”
The edgy alternative
Who says punk has to be painful? Try a pair of lace-up boots to give your outfit a touch of edginess.
No matter what type of person you want to be today, ankle boots can give you the support you need to come alive in style.
#6 Platform Sandals
Some believe sandals to be too casual for a classy event. Luckily, plenty of carefully crafted sandals fit in with the formal crowd.
Forget everything you know about flip flops because platform sandals change the game.
Offering arch support that may be non-existent from other forms of sandals, platform sandals are an excellent pick for an active day in the sun.
Strap on your sandals—they’ll accompany you just about anywhere:
- Wander the botanic gardens
- Explore the local farmers’ market
- Enjoy a beach day
- Dance all night at an after-work mixer
The world doesn’t stop moving, so why should you? Rethink your flimsy sandals for a more elevated pair.
Picking a Pair of Comfortable Shoes: A Closer Look
Now that you’ve got a shopping cart full of the most comfortable dress shoes for women, you’ll want to narrow down your picks based upon an essential component: comfort.
A survey done in 2009 showed that 87% of women suffered from shoe pain, many of which reported continuous blisters and foot pain.1 This study begs the question: why are some women’s shoes still designed without proper foot care?
Unfortunately, with decades of unrealistic beauty standards in the rearview, ill-fitting shoes for women seem to be deeply rooted in history.
A Peek Into the Present
With the advancement of technology, we’ve learned a lot about how an adequately crafted shoe can help prevent foot damage such as ingrown toenails or calluses—and keep you looking fresh and refined.2
Generally, the main components of a good shoe include sound stability, thoughtful arch support, and proper cushioning.
A good shoe should allow you to feel stable and solid—but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a heavy, chunky sole. A shoe achieves excellent stability by balancing support between the arch and heel.
Your arches play a significant role in the overall comfort level of your feet. While every foot is different and may require different types of support, a quality shoe will have the fundamental curves designed to maximize comfort.
Proper cushioning does wonders for your joints. A layer of soft protection between the hard ground and your feet can help to alleviate pressure and improve mobility (cushioning on the heels can also relieve Bursitis of the foot). Cushioning can also alleviate some of the pain in top of your foot.
By size, we don’t just mean the length but also the width. Fortunately, more shoemakers are crafting wide-width shoes for anyone with wide feet.
Some feet are more sensitive than others, especially if you’ve just had an injury or have an existing foot condition. For added support and comfort, look for shoes with features like cushioned insole, rubber sole, wide width, ankle strap, etc. The bottom line is a comfy shoe should have adequate support.
So, before you whisk away any old shoe from your favorite online or brick-and-mortar shop, be sure it checks all of the necessary boxes. They don’t have to be performance shoes, but they should at least be comfortable.
Slip Into Something More Comfortable with Vionic
If you’re looking for stylish support, look no further than Vionic.
At Vionic, we believe that comfortable footwear is a right, not a privilege. Whether you’re searching for casual footwear or a more formal affair, reap the benefits of a shoe crafted with the utmost care, expertise, and innovative research that prioritizes your feet, health, and lifestyle.
Comfort and style are just a step away with Vionic.
Dr. Jacqueline Sutera is a surgically trained doctor of podiatric medicine specializing in the prevention and treatment of foot pathology. She graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Philosophy. She later attended the New York College of Podiatric Medicine where she earned the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).
Dr. Sutera received her postgraduate residency training at the busy level-one trauma center at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, NY and Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. During her time there, she served as chief surgical resident and received and completed training in all aspects of podiatric medicine and surgery. Dr. Sutera is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons.
She is also a proud member and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association and the New York State Podiatric Medical Society. As one of NYC’s premier podiatric physicians, she is a caring, conscientious and extremely personable doctor who prides herself on being holistic in her approach to foot care. Where other doctors treat feet only locally, she has a unique gift of being able to link some foot problems to other underlying conditions taking place in the body.
- “Down At Their Heels.” APMA. https://www.apma.org/files/FileDownloads/APMAFootAilmentsSurveyNewsWorthyAnalysis012309.pdf
- Mellinger, Kristina. “The Worth of a Comfortable Shoe.” Western Michigan University. 2009.https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1842&context=honors_theses
- Foreman, Amanda. “Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium.” Smithsonian. February 2015. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-footbinding-persisted-china-millennium-180953971/
- “Shoe care.” Vionic.https://www.vionicshoes.com/shoe-care