These days, however, designers and manufacturers are catering to the fashionable woman on the go with shoes to fit their lifestyle - and their feet.
Dr. Suzanne Levine, a New York based podiatric surgeon whose personal shoe collection includes some 300 pairs, from stilettos to pumps, is a staunch advocate of women staying fashionable while maintaining healthy feet.
She stopped by The Saturday Early Show to offer some advice on buying comfortable shoes. Dr. Levine also showed us a selection of the latest comfortable and stylish heels.
What to look for in a comfortable shoe:
- Cushioning on the balls of your feet, which is most important when wearing heels
- Flexible and breathable material (leather is good; plastic is bad)
- Lightweight material
- Materials that expand or fit around the widest part of your foot
- A thicker heel that looks thinner from the back
- A pointy shoe with a false front (if you're buying one - they're stylish now)
Some enhancements and help for problem feet:
- Orthotics (shoe inserts that are intended to correct an abnormal, or irregular, walking pattern)
- U-shaped pads for balls of the feet
- Surgery using the CoolTouch II(tm) laser, ultrasound therapy, and injected implants
Here are the shoes Dr. Levine showed us, some of their features and where you might find them:
- Aerosoles, pink round-toe Mary Jane pump, 3-inch stacked heel . Also available in black and natural leather.
Features: Extra-cushioned insole for added comfort. The flexible diamond sole is a signature of Aerosoles shoes. It disperses tensions evenly across the foot. In the mid 1980s, Jules Schneider found himself surrounded by a city full of stylish women walking to work in unstylish running shoes. He realized women were not willing to sacrifice themselves to pain for fashion, so he created Aerosoles. About $59; Aerosoles stores and department stores
- Easy Spirit, black loafer, 1 1/2-inch stacked heel
Features: This shoe has a crocodile plug with a soft leather upper. A cushioned insole with a flexible lightweight bottom makes this an excellent choice for career wear.
About $69; Macy's, Lord & Taylor, JC Penny, Nordstrom, Easy Spirit retail and online stores.
- Linea Paolo, wine-colored suede pump
Features: This shoe has a higher rubber content to provide more cushion and better non-slip protection; padded sock with foam padding that retains its density for life; soft upper; and flexible lightweight sole
About $89; Nordstrom
- Naturalizer, brown and black pumps
Features: These shoes have cushy padding and flexibility, and soft linings that are breathable with cushioned comfort for the upper foot . The shoes are crafted to fit the natural shape of a woman's foot and feature a combination "last" that assures more toe room and a snug fit around the heel . Each style is available in a wide variety of sizes and widths.
About $ 70 at Naturalizer retail stores
- Linea Paolo Black sling-back
Features: This lightweight sling-back shoe has higher rubber content to provide more cushion and better non-slip protection. It also has a padded sock with foam padding that retains its density for life, a soft upper, and a flexible sole. About $79; Nordstrom
- Taryn Rose, black leather boot with adjustable calf-strap, "Lenore" Boot
Features: The leg of the boot is elastic and adjustable for a wider calf area. This boot is made with butter soft nappa and padded with Poron, which does not collapse like foam. The boot's patented arch support and lightweight construction reduce fatigue and give more room in the toe area. All Taryn Rose shoes are handmade in Italy with more than three hours of labor in each pair. The designer of the boot is an orthopedic surgeon who started her own collection five years ago. About $695 ; Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Taryn Rose retail stores .
- Cole Hahn, "G Series" (Nike sneaker collaboration), black calfskin, 4-inch heel boot
Features: This boot has Nike ZOOM Air in a cupped lug sole. It's molded with a thermoplastic shank that is ultra-light . It also has a sports mesh lining and "bamboo" tread . About $245 ; Nordstrom and Cole Hahn stores .
- Aerosoles, pink suede ankle boot, 3-inch covered heel ("Smartistic")
Features: (See Aerosoles above.) About $89 ; Aerosoles stores and department stores
- Stuart Weitzman Strappy silver sandal
Features: This sandal has a lining designed to gently caress ball of the foot. The sole's fibers are softened for the utmost flex and bend when walking. Stuart Weitzman says the design encompasses fit as well as fashion with soft soles, soft sides and soft linings. About $185 ; Stuart Weitzman stores, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom .
- Jean-Michel Cazabat, orange suede high heel
Features: The Jean-Michel Cazabat claims to be comfortable, feminine and fun. The arch is aligned perfectly to the height of the heel to provide comfort. About $350 ; Bergdorf Goodman NY, Fred Segal LA, Josephine Chicago
- Jimmy Choo, black suede stilettos
Features: Made of suede with cushion at the balls of the feet. About $575 ; Jimmy Choo retail stores and department stores.
Features: These shoes feature cushy padding, flexibility, and soft linings that are breathable. The upper surrounds the foot with cushioned comfort. Naturalizer says the shoe is crafted to fit the natural shape of a woman's foot and employs a combination last that assures more toe room and a snug fit around the heel. Each style is available in a wide variety of sizes and widths. About $89; Naturalizer stores and Macy's East .
- Taryn Rose, black satin slip-on with suede flower (Lilly)
Features: (See Taryn Rose above.) About $399; Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Taryn Rose retail stores