There is nothing wrong with striving hard to look one's best. However, whether it is through fashion, exercise, or dietary choices, balancing trends with personal preference can be tough. This is especially true when it comes to one of the most notorious of women's fashion options: high heels. Many women may want to wear high heels, but are justifiably concerned about the relationship between wearing heels and being comfortable in one's own shoes, literally.
This leads to the common question, "What is the most comfortable heel height"? Unfortunately, the answer is not as clear as it may seem. There are several aspects that define a heel from its type to the way in which the heel is measured. In addition, the comfort of a heel is not solely at the discretion of height alone. Reviewing all of this information is really the only way to tell which is the most comfortable heel height for each individual.
About High Heels
Technically around since medieval times, the modern perception of 'heels', as they are commonly called, is really only as old as Word War II. The trends that surround heels and their heights have fluctuated with a surprising frequency since then, however, this is why it is important to understand all of the elements which go into defining a heel before even beginning to tackle the 'most comfortable heel height' question.
Types of High Heels
When shopping for high-heeled shoes, there are many different terms used by manufacturers to help shoppers understand what it is they are buying. In general, these terms are broken down into seven broad types of heels, described in the table below.
Type of Heel
A rounded heel that closely resembles its name
The part of the heel which meets the shoe is significantly broader than that which touches the ground
A slim heel which is never higher than 5 cm and no more than 1 cm thick where it contacts the ground
A heel with three, flat sides which meets and forms a triangle at the point that meets the ground
A square heel that resembles a block of approximately 5 cm by 5 cm
Spool or Louis
A heel that is equally broad where it contacts the shoe and ground, yet is markedly slimmer in between
A slim heel with a height that is 5 cm at minimum and which is no more than 1 cm thick where it contacts the ground
Rather than extending down only from the physical heel area of the foot, a wedge occupies all of the space under the heel as well as the arch
Some of these heel types describe the general height of a heel and others describe a shape. It should be noted that their purpose is to help showcase the variety of options out there when it comes to buying heels and display why there is no simple answer to the most comfortable heel question.
Measuring Heel Height
In addition to the general shape and guidelines for a type of heel, it is important for women to know how a heel is measured in the first place. It is one thing to say that a heel is 10 cm and another to know what that really means, since the actual elevation of a 10 cm heel may actually be higher.
There is a simple process to measuring heel height that begins with locating the centre of the top of the heel, where it meets the shoe. From there, a measurement is taken straight down along the line of the heel to the end of the physical piece of heel itself. This does not include the heel cap, which generally adds another centimetre of height to the shoe. Therefore, a 10 cm heel with a heel cap actually elevates the back of the foot to 11 cm.
Comfort Is About More than Height
Once women are aware of the types and measuring processes that go into heel height, the question about the most comfortable heel height can finally be posed. However, the answer is still not clear since there are several additional factors that go into determining the way that a high heel shoe is worn and how it feels on each person's foot. This includes everything from the size of the shoe itself to the way in which it is cut.
Shoe sizes change throughout a woman's life due to hormonal shifts, especially those during pregnancy, as well as natural changes that take place in the soft tissue of the body over time. As such, one cannot assume to know her shoe size based on the past. Instead, women need to periodically measure their feet for length and width. Shoes which are too long or too wide cause the feet to shift, leading to pain and discomfort regardless of heel height. Similarly, shoes that are too narrow pinch the feet, leading to the same end.
In addition to the size of one's feet, which is incredibly personal, one can also predict the comfort of shoes and their heels based on the overall design of the shoes themselves. Shoes that do not provide enough 'coverage', which usually means they are only secured to the feet with small, thin straps, allow for additional motion of the feet when walking.
This causes discomfort regardless of the height of the heels. Similarly, shoes with pointed toes need to have enough material to actually cover the toes in their entirety. Otherwise, toes need to work extra hard to maintain balance, leading to contractures overtime and discomfort in the short term.
Extreme Height Is Always a Problem
Finally, while it is possible to use additional considerations to make a higher heel more comfortable than a lower one and vice versa, there is one cold, hard rule about heel height and comfort: extreme height is always a problem. While experience walking on heels alleviates some problems associated with heel height and comfort, and allows women to graduate from a 5 cm kitten heel to a 10 cm stiletto, the fact is that height increases pressure on the balls of the feet, and there is a natural give that every woman must discover for herself.
The Most Comfortable Heel Height
Bottom line, the best way to determine the most comfortable heel height is through trial and error. Each woman needs to find heels of varying heights and wear them for at least an hour while on her feet. This determines the relative comfort of the heel according to her body and foot type alone, and what works for one woman may be horrible for another.
Buying High Heel Shoes on eBay
Regardless of the heel height that wearers ultimately choose to wear, shopping with eBay is a great way to access a variety of women's shoes at great prices. Offering buyers the chance to interact with sellers who are literally stationed all over the world, eBay serves as a marketplace rather than an individual retailer, allowing for easy price and item comparison across many brands of shoes without the hassle of going from store to store or website to website. Searching deals on heels is another way to search for your next pair of shoes.
Getting started with eBay is simple and once an account is established buyers can easily begin the searching process. When searching for shoes, like any women's fashion item, it is important to be as specific as possible. Include size, colour, and even brand to narrow the field. Alternately, conduct a general search for "kitten heels" and then use the limiters provided by eBay to quickly whittle down results.
While the desire to look great is strong in every woman, feeling great at the same time is also incredibly important. That is why many women are left to ask themselves about the most comfortable heel height when deciding on an outfit or a look. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer to this question.
Heels come in several styles that alter the way that they feel on one's foot. In addition, true comfort in shoes is determined by far more than heel height alone. Indeed, the most comfortable heel height for one woman is much different from that of another. Ultimately, it comes down to trying different shoes and deciding which one works for a particular body and feet.