High heels and comfort are two concepts that just don’t seem to vibe…ever.
Or do they? It’s no easy task hunting down a heel that doesn’t eventually make you want to saw your foot off. However, if you ask Elle AyoubZadeh about the topic, she’s a lot more optimistic than you or I.
AyoubZadeh is the founder and head designer of Canadian footwear brand, Zvelle. Her chic line of vintage-inspired shoes have become a personal favourite of Canada’s girl-on-the go, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. On more than one occasion, Trudeau has been spotted pounding the pavement in Zvelle.
For every girl who has hobbled home in five-inch foot crushers, we asked this shoe guru the age old question(s): Do stylish and comfortable heels even exist? If so, how the heck do we identify them? We all want to look fierce while feeling like we’re walking on a bed of memory foam pillows, amirite?
“Style and comfort should not be mutually exclusive. It’s not any one thing that you do to make the design comfortable, it’s the sum of everything you do starting from what you think she will be doing in the shoes to heel height to things like hidden comforts to materials,” explains AyoubZadeh.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau in silver Zvelle flats on a recent trip to China. (Photo via Instagram/iamzvelle)
She also points out that what works for one person might not work for the next.
“Keep in mind that everyone’s feet are different,” she says. “Some are wide, some are narrow, some have high arches, low arches, shorter toes, longer toes, high insteps, etc.”
She adds that even current shoes trends have affected the changing needs of our feet.
“Our feet have also gotten much wider compared to the past as a result of rise in the popularity of the sneaker, which allow the feet to spread. There is not one perfect style of shoe for everybody on the planet. The most important thing should be to shop and dress for yourself. You know your body and feet best and that should be your guide.”
To make things crystal clear, she offers a checklist of things to consider when shopping for heels.
Heel height: A six-inch heel is not designed for running in the airport, even though some may look glamorous doing it. The lower, the better.
Arch support: Is there any padding to support the arches and prevent long-term fatigue?
Heel support: Is there any padding there, and is the upper portion of the shoe going to hold your foot in? You don’t want something you’re going to be coming in and out of. You need your feet to be cupped in, which relives pressure from your toes (because you are not clinching them in to hold on to your shoe).
Gregoire Trudeau rocking pink suede Zvelle shoes and a Lucian Matis frock alongside U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. (Photo Instagram/iamzvelle)
Insoles: You need a shoe with a good insole. Touch the inside of the shoe and see how your fingers feel. Good insoles don’t necessarily mean lots of padding – it’s the quality.
Balance: You should feel overall support and balance immediately – so be honest with yourself. You don’t want to be wobbling in your shoes.
Materials: Not all leathers or materials (non leather) are treated equally. You want something that will soften with wear.
Stylish and comfortable high heels do exist – but they’re a rarity. Given the gaping hole in the market, we have to wonder why designers aren’t clamouring to fill the gap.
“Because the people making stylish shoes are not thinking about comfort and the people making comfortable shoes are not thinking about style…It takes a lot of work to design something that is also wearable,” explains AyoubZadeh. “On the flipside, it’s easy to make something frumpy, but to make it stylish and timeless is not without its challenges.”
Do you have any tips for making sure your shoes are comfortable? Let us know your tricks by tweeting @YahooStyleCA.