Though they lend an air of unmistakable femininity to an outfit, high heels can cause a great deal of foot stress and strain, making a day at the office or a formal night out a deeply uncomfortable experience. Many designers have taken note of this dilemma, and have set about designing heels which retain all the allure of a traditional heel with discreetly hidden padding more often found in sports footwear.
One of the more interesting developments in women's high heel shoe design is the marriage of the traditional high heel with padded sport sneaker comfort features. The unlikely partnership of Cole Haan and Nike has recently introduced a line of heels which utilize Nike Air technology for a less strenuous forefoot walking experience, but with all of the elegance of a standard high heel. These shoes retail for between $300 and $350.
While most people associate Victoria's Secret with lingerie, the company has also designed a high heel shoe that is comfort-minded, yet still feminine. The Victoria's Secret Platform Sandal features a high four-inch heel, but the heel of this padded shoe is stacked and thick rather than thin and spindly, offering more weight support and less painful wobbling. This heel comes in black, brown or pewter and retails for around $60.
For between $200 and $300, women shopping for a comfortable, but attractive, high heel can pick up the Easy Spirit "Edrie." Designed by Tara Subkoff, known for her fashion line Imitation of Christ, the "Edrie" is meant to look like a pump, but feel more like a comfortable around-the-house sneaker. The outside of this shoe is constructed with high-quality suede and leather, but the inner soles are made of a thick, shock-absorbing padding called Poron. The "Edrie" has a 3 3/4-inch wedge, comes in six different colors, and is available through Easy Spirit, the footwear company that designed the cushioned padding.