Whoever coined the phrase "beauty is pain" clearly never wore a pair of stilettos to an outdoor wedding. Or brand-new (aka not-broken-in) sneakers on a five-mile walk. OR blister-inducing boots on a commute day. Honestly, the list of footwear horror stories every shoe-wearer has to offer is likely endless, which is why we're always making a mental note of the pairs that perform well above the rest, especially on occasions that truly put them to the test.
When asked about their favorites, our editors had plenty to say about the shoes that got them through hours of dancing, hours of standing in line and even fashion emergencies. From surprisingly comfortable platforms to heels that won't assist in forming a single blister, scroll down to see what the Shop TODAY team highly recommends for your feet.
Pain-free shoes for any occasion
"My Target platform sandals are the GOAT," says deputy editorial director Alexandra Deabler about these platform sandals. Despite their 3.5-inch heel, Deabler swears they gave her no problems during a full night of dancing (which might have something to do with the shoe's memory foam cushioning). Besides magically keeping our editor's feet comfortable, they also boast a chic look with a crisscross strap, faux leather detailing and an open-toe fit.
SEO editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger bought a pair of these sandals when she was 16 years old, and they're still a go-to for her. "I've kayaked, hiked, paddle boarded, walked, and camped in my Chacos, and they haven't given up yet! You can adjust the straps, so they can grow with you, and the footbed provides arch support and alignment," she says.
SEO commerce writer Jannely Espinal was sure that no heel could possibly support her feet for eight (or more) hours unless they were closed-toe or included ankle support — but then she discovered this Dolce Vita pair.
"I have to say, they support my feet for like five hours. This pair in particular has a very soft upper and an espadrille-like jute on the heel. This is my go-to pair for summer and spring because it's versatile and can be worn with casual or semi-formal attire. The upper is not constricting and it expands the more you wear it."
When my go-to (which I mean literally, as I wore them to every fancy function over the past five years) heels suddenly snapped 20 minutes before my sister's baby shower was set to begin, I was in full panic mode. Luckily, the woman of the hour was able to grab a spare pair of heels off her shelf before driving to the venue, but I had zero hope — I'm two sizes larger than her, and had no doubt that I would end up breaking her heels that day, too.
To my sincere shock and awe, the straps on these square-toe sandals easily conformed to my (much) wider foot and they ended up fitting like a glove. Not only that, as the party's host, I had plenty of running around to do for several hours, and these shoes didn't cause a single issue. No pain or discomfort. I plan on purchasing a few in several colors for the summer since I know they will be worth every penny.
For city dwellers who seemingly walk for a living, finding a non-sneaker shoe to pair with your outfits that can handle a hefty stroll isn't easy, but associate editor Shannon Garlin claims to have found the one. "I've been obsessed with these because they're SOOO comfy!" she says about these Teva Flatforms. "I've walked from the Upper East Side, across the park to Lincoln Square AND back, and my feet didn't hurt once."
The sporty wedge sandal comes in a variety of colors and bold prints and features a cushioned footbed for maximum comfort.
A Steven Madden super fan, social media editorial assistant Annie Shigo, sings her praises about these patent pumps. Not only did they support her through a night of dancing (an activity multiple Shop TODAY editors seems to share), but they also proved easy to clean after having multiple beverages spilled on them. With a subtle 1.5-inch heel and retro-inspired design, it's easy to see why Shigo gravitated to the pair in the first place. Although, we can't help but notice the other colors and patterns available to match any look or style preference.
When asked about the shoe she relies on the most, assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky was quick to point out her favorite summer sandal from Jack Rogers. She scooped up a pair in an effort to find an elevated option that would look and feel good during work and through to after-work drinks. "I think these strike the perfect balance. The low heel and cushioned footbed lets me wear them for long 12-hour days, and the pretty detailing and platinum color goes with any outfit!" she says.
And if you need a true testament to their comfort, I'll leave you with this final statement from Witonsky. "They're one of the only pairs of sandals I own that I don't need to bring a Band-Aid with me for backup."
A pair of shoes that keep you pain-free on the most important day of your life, never mind the key events leading up to it, is a clutch catch — and one branded commerce editor Francesca Cocchi was lucky enough to find.
"I wore these heels to a bunch of events leading up to my wedding last year, including my bridal shower, rehearsal dinner and nights out in Charleston for my bachelorette party. Now I wear them to work, date nights, weddings and more. They're definitely one of the most comfortable pairs of heels I've owned! The straps across the toes are soft and pliable, and the ankle strap keeps me feeling secure," she says.
Senior SEO editor Jess Bender is also no stranger to long walks around the city, but her shoe of choice for such occasions might surprise you. "It's actually remarkable how many miles I've logged in my Madewell loafers. They're elevated enough to wear to work on the regular, but I've also trekked around large stretches of the five boroughs in them and stood around in them for hours at a time. (Flashback to the four hours I spent standing in line for limited-edition vinyls. My patience was wrecked by the time I got to the front, but my soles and arches certainly weren't!)"
Bender almost mentioned her '90s-inspired lug sole loafers also kept her going during a five-mile journey from "the depths of South Slope all the way to Bushwick." Not bad for such a classy looking shoe.