Are Comfortable Stilettos No Longer a Myth?


For some women, wearing stilettos can feel like torture. Donning high heels too frequently can lead to a plethora of health problems, like nerve damage, early-onset arthritis, and chronic back pain. Stress fractures—a common yet extremely painful injury amongst professional athletes—can also arise. After seeing women come into her office with all of the above kinds of stiletto-induced health problems for years, podiatrist Dr. Joan Oloff has decided to start an eponymous shoe line with the goal of making contemporary, but comfortable shoes.

Oloff’s designs have been in beta testing for four years, selling at select boutiques around the country. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, her ergonomic shoe line will be released mass-market later this year. But ergonomic shoes do not necessarily mean they have to be dowdy. Surprisingly, the line includes towering stilettos. According to the podiatrist, it’s a misconception that wider heels make a shoe automatically more stable and comfortable than a tapering heel. Part of what makes most high heels so uncomfortable is that they are traditionally made with a structural metal rod called a shank running up the middle of the shoe. Oloff’s innovation is that she completely does away with the shank, and re-engineers the insole.

The design of her comfortable heel has three pillars: The mold her shoes are made on is specifically designed to make the wearer’s weight more evenly distributed and provide full arch support. The insole also has a false bottom to absorb shock, and the platform is filled with medical-grade foam that is used to cushion prosthetic limbs. To execute the non-dowdy, wearable element of the line, Oloff has smartly opted to have her footwear manufactured by a small team of artisans at the same Italian factories that produce shoes for Chanel and Manolo Blahnik. It’s too soon to say if the line will take off, but our interest to see if comfy-but-chic stilettos are no longer a myth is certainly piqued.


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