I’ve been meaning to do this piece for awhile now, especially for those first-time shoppers that are just diving into the designer shoe world! All are beautiful, but not equal. Sizing, leather, comfort—it varies from fashion house to fashion house. While this is my humble opinion, I’ve definitely gained an idea of what shoes work for what situations and what ones are worth wearing daily. Because it will take me forever, I narrowed it down to the main five I see the most and also wear the most.
Let’s Talk About Sizing
**To note, in contemporary and mid-level brands I’m a size 7, a solid size 7. Generally in designer shoes a 37 = 6.5 in US sizing (37.5 = 7 US Sizing).
Christian Louboutin: The hard thing with CL is they vary so much, you really do have to try them on, BUT generally I need to go a half size up. I need a 37.5 and with So Kate’s a 38.
Jimmy Choo: I always go a half size up, and I always, without fail, buy size 37.5.
Gucci: These have always been true to size for me, 37 fits like a 7 in this case. I always buy 37.
Yves Saint Laurent: Same as Jimmy Choo, I need to go a half size up. I buy 37.5 in their more classic pump styles.
Manolo Blahnik: MB can be a bit tricky for me, at times I feel like they run true to size for a 7, while others I need to go up a half size and buy 37.5.
Prada/Miu Miu: I’ve also tried a few of their heels as well and I’ve gone up a half size. I shop for 37.5 with Prada.
*Keep in mind with leather, you will find the leather stretches over time as you break in your shoes.
Christian Louboutin comfort concerns: CL makes some of the most stunning shoes. Their sky high 120 mm heels look stunning and they make your legs look insanely long, but they are NOT easy to walk in. I honestly had to practice walking in the So Kates. Comfort was a huge problem. The vamp is cut shallow and so if you have wider feet, you might find several CL styles don’t work well.
I feel like for first-time Christian Louboutin wearers going with a 100mm heel is ideal, especially when a pair is going to cost around $695 retail. Also, Pigalle has a shorter toe box than the So Kate style, which you might find isn’t as comfortable.
Here’s a photo of how I get mine to not be so painful. I use designer insoles and add in an extra to help cushion more, and I can actually walk normally and for a longer period of time. Honestly, CL are the shoes I just wear when I know I’ll be sitting more. I bought these Dr. Scholl’s insoles and they’ve worked wonders.
Protecting Your Designer Shoes
Preventing Wear & Tear on the soles: This is always a concern for designer heels. You spend at least $400 on a pair of shoes and that first knick to the tip of the toe is killer! Rubber sole protectors and heel taps add longevity and also prevent you from slipping, especially with Gucci soles. A cobbler will be able to add these for you and prolong the life of your designer shoes, even flats!
Example below: I’ve been wearing these Gucci heels almost daily at times, and the rubber sole protector has kept them looking new. You can see in the photo with the toes it has helped with protecting the points. This is something worth spending money on to have done with all your designer pairs.
Best Heels For Every Day Wear
This is likely more subjective, because some people swear by their Louboutins, while others swear by their Manolos. For me it comes down to heel shape and height. As most know, block heels are extremely comfortable, and luckily almost all design houses have a block heel version.
I tend to go for classic pump styles because they are timeless and easy to pair with everything—casual and dressy. I do find Manolo Blahnik has a wider vamp that is easy on the feet and also their heel heights provide comfort too. I find myself wearing these lately because I can walk forever without limping at the end.
This specific pair is their Alba Pump. It was sold exclusively at Neiman Marcus at the time, but keep reading and I’ll share with you websites to find them still!
Another contender for me is Jimmy Choo. I’ve wore them for weddings and danced the night away, and they aways go to conventions and events with me when I have to be on my feet for hours. My toes never feel squished, and even the 4-inch heel height didn’t give me any problems. They make a quite comfortable insole.
I was in Las Vegas for a 2-day event and I wore the pair below for 8 hours straight. Wearing heels that long is never the best for our foot and ankle anatomy, but if you’re looking for something that you can survive long periods of time in—go for Jimmy Choo.
Yves Saint Laurent has proven to be decent as well, I do prefer Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik over comfort by YSL has been solid for office meetings. The vamp was a little more narrow for me at times, but it’s also because I always go for classic pump styles and don’t really deviate from this.
Because the vamp is a bit more narrow on my feet, I opted for a 3-inch heel and it’s been really good so far. I know most go for 4 inches and up for a sexier look, but I feel that even shorter heels and kitten heels look just as beautiful.
Designer On A Budget
Spending hundreds on a pair of shoes is frightening. It’s a lot of money to fork out for something that will get beat up on the pavement, but I’ve found resale sites make it much more bearable.
Most of the time you can find NWOT (New Without Tag) or some new pairs with the box (NIB = New In Box) around 50% to 80% if you keep hunting and checking consistently.
Favorite Resale sites:
- The Real Real – they authenticate everything, but even so it does help to research out brands and double check the shoes. I’ve found some really amazing steals, Manolos for $70, Jimmy Choo for $100 on here that were new condition. Also they have a larger inventory.
- Poshmark – do your homework, because even though Poshmark authenticates for $500 and up, the best deals and steals fall under this mark. There’s A LOT of shoes to sift through as well.
- Fashionphile – another solid website to shop, their prices aren’t as low as The Real Real, but they do authenticate and they get some hard to find classics.
- Yoogis Closet – a bit like Fashionphile, but the prices seem to be a bit better. Free shipping and easy returns have me looking here quite a bit.
- Vestiaire Collective – this site is solid for European based consumers. The caveat is shipping is expensive for stateside. You’re looking at $40 for shipping.
Some Current Steals!
- Christian Louboutin Python Rolando 120 Pumps – $495 and NEW!
- Christian Louboutin Degraspike 120 Pumps – $595 and Gently Used.
- Christian Louboutin Black So Kate 120 Pumps – $345!!
- Jimmy Choo Devire-Knee High Boots – $525 from $1995!
- Jimmy Choo Agnes Metallic Pumps – $195!
- Manolo Blahnik d’Orsay Pumps – $195 and Good Condition!
- Jimmy Choo Embellished Pumps – $200 and only worn 2x!
- Jimmy Choo Suede Pumps – $299 and NEW with Box!
I could add to this list forever, but it gives an idea of what’s out there! I wish you all happy hunting!
Fun Fact: The shoes in the feature image—the total price for those shoes (5 pairs pictured for this review) was only $655!