Comfortable Summer Shoes

Walkable alternatives to killer stilettos.
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Have you checked out the season’s hottest heels? They’re the fashion equivalent of forbidden fruit: glossy, candy-colored, and seriously tempting. The catch is that the heels are too high: five, six, seven inches — the kind of towering heights that make podiatrists rich.

To help you find chic shoes you can actually wear, I tested all the latest styles. In the Connecticut suburbs, Laurette Kittle, an artist (shoe size 8 1/2 or 9); Suzanne Frank, a charity event planner (9 narrow); and I (size 6 1/2 ) teamed up to try on 30 pairs of shoes. In New York City, I tested 30 more with fashion coach Susan Sommers (another 9 narrow), founder of DressZing; and Kim Isaacsohn (size 8), president of Clever Carriage, her own handbag line.

Five outspoken shoe mavens, and yet we all awarded top honors to the same two brands: Aerosoles and Taryn Rose. Read on for details.

Most Comfortable Flats

These were comfortable on everyone — and Suzanne loved the toe cleavage. Car Shoe shantung ballerinas ($375; Nordstrom, 800-695-8000).

Best Flats for Wide Feet

For our testers with wider feet, these were nirvana. Why? The toe box of most fashion shoes is 3 inches; Geox’s is 3 1/4 — the widest we tried. Geox python-print flats ($130; for stores).

Best Flats for Narrow Feet

These Kate Spade yellow pebbled-leather flats ($328; Kate Spade, 800-519-3778) scored high with the narrow-footed. Cranky Kim dissented: "They’re like cardboard; there’s no bend."

Best Pointy-Toe Flats

Salvatore Ferragamo green patent flats ($450; Salvatore Ferragamo, 800-628-8916) were the only pointy-toe pair that didn’t hurt (the toe box is 3 1/4 inches).

Most Comfortable Affordable Wedges

Aerosoles silver leather cutout wedges ($79; Aerosoles, 212-226-4090): Run and get these shoes! They look stylish, feel like slippers, and are only $79. Aerosoles and Naturalizers, the traditional comfort brands, have hired hot designers, which deserves our applause and our credit cards.

Most Comfortable Designer Wedges

Taryn Rose silver-foil patent Daphne peep toes ($495; Taryn Rose, 877-440-7673): I could live in these! This brand runs $425 to $495, which Kim feels is too much.

Best Wedges for Minimal-Walking Days

Bruno Magli Barni black patent pebble-texture shoes ($375; Bruno Magli stores, 800-624-5430): "Only if I commuted by car could I wear a wedge like this," was Kim’s verdict.

Best Platform Wedges

Fratelli Rossetti white perforated patent leather platform sandals ($490; Fratelli Rossetti, 212-888-5107). They look like nurses’ shoes — until you put them on. Says Laurette: "Surprisingly comfortable."

Most Comfortable Designer Heels

Cole Haan Carma OT Air Pump patent peep toes ($275; Cole Haan, 800-201-8001). Suzanne, who has back pain, declared: "I could run in these!" (The secret: Nike Air Technology, which supports the ball of the foot.)

Most Comfortable Affordable Heels

Naturalizer T-strap in black with patent trim ($79). Susan: "These have cachet — and look expensive." I’ll say. They could pass for Prada.

Originally published in MORE magazine, July/August 2008.

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