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The Best Heels For Bunions, According To A Podiatrist

Yes, you can still wear heels, but you’ll want to consider some specs first.

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Wearing high heels when you have a bunion can be a challenge. However, when you have a formal event to attend or the dress code at your workplace dictates a certain type of footwear, wearing them is sometimes necessary. Luckily, the best heels for bunions will cut down on pain thanks to low, thick heels, a rounded toe, and a pliable upper.

The Expert

Sophia Solomon is a New-York based podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Silverstone Podiatry. Dr. Solomon received a doctorate from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine and then completed an intensive residency in Reconstructive Foot and Ankle Surgery at Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.

What To Look For In The Best Dress Shoes For Bunions

According to Dr. Solomon, people with bunions should avoid pointy-toed heels and instead opt for ones with a rounded, more spacious toe box. Also, pay mind to the materials. In an interview with Bustle, Dr. Solomon wrote, "Leather is a much more accommodating material, whereas plastic usually doesn't stretch very much and may cause friction and skin irritation."

When shopping, you’ll want to heed the advice of doctors and say "no" to stilettos and other uncomfortable heels that put extra pressure on your toe and bunion area. Instead, look for a low-height shoe with a thicker heel shape. You may also want to consider ordering a wide-width shoe size in order to ensure the toe area isn’t too tight.

Heads up: If you're looking for footwear that's designed for bunion sufferers, you may also want a pair of the best ballet flats for bunions.

Shop The Best High Heels For Bunions

In a hurry? Here are the top pairs of comfortable dress shoes for bunions.

  1. The Best Pumps For Bunions: Clarks Emslie Lulin Pump
  2. The Best Option For Work: Franco Sarto Nolan Pump
  3. The Best Wedges For Bunions: Mona flying Leather Wedges
  4. The Best Open-Toe Shoe For Bunions: LifeStride Charlotte High Heel Sandals
  5. If You Must Wear A Skinny Heel: Naturalizer Michelle High Heel Pumps
  6. The Best Faux-Leather Dress Shoes: LAICIGO Ankle Strap D’Orsay Sandals

1

A Popular Pump That’s Suitable For Bunions

With its overall 4.5 stars and more than 6,000 reviews, the Clarks Emslie Lulin pump is the most well-rated shoe on this list. It’s also the best pick for bunions. Why? It meets every single one of Dr. Solomon’s criteria (low, chunky heel, rounded toe, leather upper, and wide options) while also offering a few bonuses — namely its affordable price tag and super-comfortable Ortholite footbed. While it’s only available in black, the single-strap design is professional enough for work, yet dressy enough for weddings.

One reviewer wrote: “I have to say I'm very impressed. The toe box is decently wide without feeling sloppy, the velcro foot strap keeps the shoes secure without sliding, and they are amazingly comfortable despite being heeled shoes. I usually try to stretch new shoes to account for my bunions and while I still may do so, I had very little discomfort wearing these out of the box. They are easy to put on, have a great grippy sole without seeming too industrial, and are all around great for casual and dress wear.”

Upper material: leather | Heel height: 2.16 inches | Available sizes: 5 — 12 (narrow, wide, and half sizes available) | Color options: 1

2

The Best Wedges For Bunions

Low, stable, comfortable, and dressy? It’s no wonder plenty of reviewers say these Mona flying leather wedges are “definitely worth the money.” Since the upper is made from 100% genuine leather (in your choice of over 20 colors, with or without a strap), it moves and stretches with your foot. There’s also a leather-covered latex insole that cushions your heel and supports your arch, while the sheepskin lining is soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking. Best of all, you can dress them down with jeans or up with a dress.

One reviewer wrote: “Love the shoes! Great quality. [...] As I have bunions, [these wide shoes] are comfortable without socks which is awesome.”

Upper material: leather | Heel height: 1.96 inches | Available sizes: 6 — 11 | Color options: 21

3

An Option That’s Great For Work

  • Also available at DSW, $60

The Franco Sarto Nolan pump is an investment, but this shoe also checks every bunion-friendly box: It has a chunky heel, a roomy toe, and a leather upper, plus it comes in wide sizes. Due to its loafer-inspired style, it’s a favorite among reviewers who need heels for work, but don’t want to comprimise on comfort when they’re on their feet all day. Other noteworthy features include tonal stitching, a smooth lining, a non-slip sole, and a cushioned footbed.

One reviewer wrote: “I love this shoe! I’m a Flight Attendant and I spend a lot of time on my feet. I have had both bunions removed and finding a [dressy] shoe that doesn’t squeeze my foot till the pain from the ball of my foot is killing me has been non-existent until NOW! The height, size, support, and width is everything I’ve been looking for!! I am in love with [this] shoe and will forever buy this brand! It’s worth every penny to be pain-free and not to carry another pair of shoes around the world!”

Upper material: leather | Heel height: 2.75 inches | Available sizes: 5 — 12 (narrow, wide, and half sizes available) | Color options: 4

4

The Best Open-Toe Shoe For Bunions

LifeStride is known for its well-designed, ultra-comfortable shoes, and the Charlotte high heel is no exception. In fact, all of the reviewers who mentioned bunions gave these shoes a perfect five stars, noting the “stretchy comfort” and saying they “danced all night” in them. The criss-cross upper is made from elastic fabric (which has even more give than real leather), while the cushioned footbed absorbs shock from your sole. The 3-inch heel also adds height without discomfort. The biggest downside? They only come in black right now.

One reviewer wrote: “Danced all night even with bunions! I needed a pair of formal shoes for a wedding. My bunions have made it impossible to fit into most shoes. These shoes have so much stretch with enough hold to keep my feet in place — fantastic purchase!”

Upper material: elastic fabric | Heel height: 3.35 inches | Available sizes: 5 — 11 (half and wide sizes available) | Color options: 1

5

The Best Faux-Leather Dress Shoes

For those who’d rather not wear animal leather, these LAICIGO D’Orsay sandals are a worthy alternative — even though they’re made from synthetic materials. For one, the heel is chunky and low, as per Dr. Solomon’s recommendations. For another, while the toe is slightly pointed and they’re not offered in wide sizes, they run large and wide anyway. The moisture-absorbing, padded sole makes them comfortable for any wearer, but those with bunions are especially vocal about their approval. Finally, the ankle strap is adjustable for security and adds some style. Get these ones in plenty of colors and finishes, including glitter, faux-suede, and animal print.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought these in navy blue to wear to a rehearsal dinner last weekend and they did not disappoint. I have a bunion on my left foot and I was concerned it would irritate me, but I managed to get through the evening very comfortably. I bought the red ones too because I didn't know which color would look best. They are both great!”

Upper material: faux leather/faux suede/synthetic | Heel height: 2 inches | Available sizes: 5 — 12 (half sizes available) | Color options: 22

6

The Best Option With If You Really Want A Skinny Heel

  • Also available at DSW, $115

Typically, wider, lower shoes will be more comfortable for those with bunions. However, if you must go with a skinnier heel, Naturalizer’s Michelle pumps are the way to do it. Since the upper is made from 100% leather and has a rounded almond toe, it’s plenty flexible and roomy for those with bunions. This pair also comes in half, wide, and extra-wide sizes, not to mention plenty of stylish color options. That about explains the average 4.3-star rating from almost 5,000 reviewers.

One reviewer wrote: “One foot had plantar fasciitis a couple years ago and the other has developed a bunion. Oh, and I have Morton’s toes. In spite of all that, the toe box on these heels are very comfortable and have plenty of room. I like that they come up high enough to not cut into the bunion. The platform is just right as is the heel height and the rubber sole helps to cushion the ball of the foot. I have them in black and taupe. My only regret is that I didn’t order more colors before they sold out.”

Upper material: leather | Heel height: 3 inches | Available sizes: 4 — 12 (narrow, wide, X-wide, and half sizes available) | Color options: 11

Expert:

Sophia Solomon, podiatrist/foot and ankle surgeon at Silverstone Podiatry

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