Comfortable Dress Shoes for Women

Published on July 17th, 2010 | by Kirsten Borrink


Comfortable Shoes for Narrow Heels, Wider Forefoot

Sue wrote to me last week requesting assistance in finding a non-frumpy shoe that would fit her medium-wide forefoot and narrow heels. Surgery to correct a bunion and hammertoes has left her right fore and mid-foot “thicker” or wider, yet she still has narrow heels. Yes, this is a comfortable shoe conundrum for the Barking Dog. I’m going to make a few brand recommendations based on personal experience and internet research, but I’m calling on all you with “combination feet” to pipe in with your shoe suggestions in a comment below.

1. Aravon by New Balance: These dress-casual shoes have all the comfort technologies you’d expect from New Balance, and they even come in widths. I own the Aravon Mia (similar to the Aravon Maya pictured below) and find the toe box to be very accommodating of bunions and hammertoes. And those with narrow heels will be happy – the heel stays put as it runs narrower than the forefoot. Available at Zappos with free shipping and returns.

Shoes with narrow heels : Aravon Maya

Aravon Maya

2. Beautifeel: This lesser known dress comfort brand hails from Israel and gets high marks from the Barking Dog for supreme comfort and style yet a slightly lower mark for affordability. Although customer reviews are scant on the internet, the ones I did locate mentioned Beautifeel’s wider toebox and narrow heels. I can attest to this as I owned a pair ten years ago when my rheumatoid arthritis started to take off big time in my feet causing bunions, painful hammertoes and metatarsalgia. As a middle school teacher, I needed one dressy pair of comfortable shoes for open house and conferences. Beautifeel fit the bill with their super soft leathers, comfortable lasts, flexible outsoles and well-positioned manageable heels. Available at Amazon. 

shoes with narrow heels : Beautifeel Estella

Beautifeel Estella

3. Cobb Hill: Owned by New Balance, Cobb Hill shoes feature multiple widths, roomier toe boxes and narrower heels. 

4. Naot: This brand from Israel is quickly gaining fans in the US as women discover how truly wonderful these supportive, comfortable shoes can be. Ten years ago Naot looked like Birkenstock, but not so anymore. Their styles are innovative, young and unique. Check out the Sea, Coast and the Arataki (pictured below) for a shoe featuring a wider toebox and narrow heels.

Shoes with narrow heels : Naot Arataki

Naot Arataki (photo courtesy

5. Munro: Made here in the good ol’ USA, Hot Springs to be exact. Munro makes quality “good fit” footwear in extended sizes and widths. They use a combination last when building the shoe (meaning the heel is narrower than the toe by two widths). We love the fashionable ghillie laces of the Munro Jillie, pictured below.

shoes with narrow heels : Munro Jillie

Munro Jillie

 Other brand to consider: Softspots, Bella-Vita, Ecco, Arcopedico and Ryka.

This isn’t the first time we’ve recommended or reviewed shoes with narrow heels (or for overall narrow feet.)  Check out the archive of all our narrow heel posts here.


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21 Responses to Comfortable Shoes for Narrow Heels, Wider Forefoot

  1. mem says:

    I can attest to Beautifeel’s wonderfully comfortable work shoes as well as their fantastic sandals. I’ve got very narrow heels and need a wider toe box, and these work. I also have serious lower back/hip/SI joint problems and these are among the only heels I can wear. However, I would be careful about buying discounted older-stock shoes, as some of them a few years ago had a problem with the foot bed where they made ridiculous noises as you walk. You will know right away if the shoes have this problem.

  2. Elaien says:

    Everybody Shoes by BZ Moda — fabulous, hard to find. They were carried by when Amazon bought them; and Amazon still carries some. Although, I have found that many European lasts fit me better than most American lasts.

  3. sb says:

    Can’t agree with article. Tried Aravon (not Mia) and was disappointed, not roomy in toe box (loafer style)and stiff. Same with Beautifeel and Munroe. Couldn’t imagine why the price/fuss. At least Beautifeel’s look like normal shoes. I’m surprised Keen’s are never mentioned in this nor other similar articles. While they are inconsistant in construction (some have lower arches, some rub the ankle and yes, some fit snug) they have awesome toe box room. My foot isn’t even a true wide, just ave. size bunions that need more room and no seams or stiffness rubbing against them. I also read an article on here for comfortable shoes for people with bunions and some style were Mary janes. They are awful for people w/bunions as they rub against the bunion area because of the cut. Website seemed like it should be good, but so far, I’m not sure I’ve seen any really reliable info. in the articles I’ve looked at.

  4. Kirsten@BarkingDogShoes says:

    Feet are like snowflakes, no two alike. I do my best to provide readers with suggestions, recommendations but can’t guarantee they’ll work for each and every foot. Mary Janes. How about the Naot Matai? There’s a Mary Jane with a vamp that crosses BELOW the bunions with super soft leathers.

  5. Karen says:

    So grateful for this article! My feet were hard to fit before they were broken in a car accident … so with narrow heels and wide forefoot, I now also need room for custom orthotics. My feet are not truly wide, but I do have small bunions, so I can spot stretch a generous leather medium. Most of the brands you list don’t accommodate orthotics, or don’t meet my podiatrist’s requirements for a supportive sole, so they are out of the question. Aravon are extremely uncomfortable on my soles and I’ve never been able to get them to fit properly. Naot has worked occasionally, but they’re expensive. New Balance is good for sports and walking shoes, though they don’t publish their lasts anymore so it is more difficult to find the narrow heel styles. Saucony advertises their narrow heel and they fit terrifically for sports shoes. Merrell often runs wide and doesn’t slip on my heel. One Merrell solution is their mules, which are the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn and they completely sidestep the whole heel issue! 🙂 I have Keen on my feet now, a style that runs wide and looks terrific for a casual lace-up. I haunt the online shoe stores, looking for styles that run wide, which is much easier to do now that we have online reviews. Planet Shoes has the best search engine for finding wide, removable foot-bed shoes, though their selection is limited. Cheers! and thanks!

    • Donna Small says:

      Thanks Karen, I have similar foot issues. I have a D toe and AA heels. I also wear orthotics for pronation, and have a torn streteched ACL. Saucony were phenomenal for me for 15 years, but they recently widened the heels on all their shoes so now they slip. Lowa were amazing, but they recently narrowed their toe boxes so my new Lowa boots are not working out. I just ordered some Lowa hiking boots Wide to try out. Lowa have a women’s last and my last pair were phenomenal. Merrel’s used to work for me for many years, but I have a stretched out somewhat torn ACL in my knee, so now I can’t do the rocker heels because it causes my knee to buckle backwards sometimes. Naot has one shoe I can wear now. I am trying out some new shoes from online research. If anyone has ideas for me, please post. Thanks. Glad to find this website of like-minded feet. Donna.

  6. Deborah Toll says:

    I’d like to get information on Beautifier’s shoe lasts, particularly which shoes that have a long
    toe box, which I think is the distance between the end of the big toes and the beginning of the arch.
    Do they number the lasts? I know they call some shoes Victoria, for example, some Karen….

  7. Doris Marsh says:

    Which atheletic show does not rub the back of the heels?? I have a terrible problem and used to wear princess by rebok but they are discontinued.

  8. NE says:

    Beautiful do run “wider” than average but they are really not wide enough for someone with a truly wide forefoot. Munro, on the other hand, is not nearly narrow enough around the heel and instep for someone with narrow heels and a wide forefoot. Nordstrom had a WW plain black pump with a low heel that worked for me but I don’t see it any more. Naturalizer and Easy Spirit sometimes work for me though some of their shoes look a little frumpy or cheap. Aravon sandals are comfortable since they have several adjustments – still not perfect, but good enough. Has anyone tried their Propet Taxi plain pump? It’s also just ok-looking. Ferragamo was a good option when my forefeet were just a little wide but I could never wear them now that I have a smallish bunion. They are expensive but very nice and well-made. Josef Seibel has some styles that have very wide toe boxes. They hold the feet well and are high quality.

  9. Pingback: Shoes That Fit: Narrower Heels, Wider Toes – Reasonably Presentable

  10. Joan says:

    I wear an 8.5 size shoe with a 4E width. I’m currently wearing New Balance (black) men’s sneakers, but I’d love to find something more professional looking since I work on a college campus. You can’t exactly wear sneakers with skirts. My feet are flat and look like duck feet – extremely wide in front and extremely narrow in back. I simply can’t find shoes to fit. If anyone knows of any shoes to fit feet like mine – please let me know!

    • Sally says:

      I’m in the same situation and have resorted to XeroShoes DIY sandals – I ordered the biggest size sole, left the front wide and cut down the back to make them fit my feet. I haven’t managed to find closed shoes that fit.

  11. Renee' Branch says:

    Love your shoes. They look comfortable and beautiful. Where can you buy them and the cost?

  12. Jayne says:

    I ordered Naot Matai (size 41) hoping for a miracle (wide toe, narrow heel). The toe box was fine, but my AA heels slipped out as usual. I’m not buying heel inserts for $180 shoes. I’ve tried Beautifeels in the past and they’re too narrow in the toe box too. Merrels, tennis shoes and hiking boots are all that seem to really fit. I need to dress day to day and I like feminine shoes if I ever find them. Being tall and having a past broken bone in my foot I can’t tolerate anything over 1″. High heels are out of the question for my active lifestyle anyway. Would anyone on this website like to go into business with me or would a shoe designer like to hire me? My designs would be feminine colors (dark too) and pretty designs, built on a solid 1″ sole with arch support, wide toes and slim heels. Also, why do all “comfort shoes” have soles like Doc Maertens? Like most here I want a pretty comfortable shoe, any takers?

  13. Cw says:

    So I also have combo feet, really deep orthotics (needed bc really flat feet) so I found many specialty shoes don’t even fit my custom orthotics in them (and then add my weird feet!). I am also in the office so need something professional. The only shoes that fit me so far (been buying same one for 15+years now) is the Finn Comfort -Monaco. They’re not the prettiest but not the ugliest, but pass for black leather work shoes! I pad under the tongue and get an extra eyelet hole done to hold my heel down (as it’s not really meant for narrow heels), n sometimes get them stretched (or just my feet eventually stretch the leather). So far only shoe that works!
    I also got its “sister” sandals to wear in house with same foot bed and can fit same orthotics. Korfu model with 3 straps slide on (for ease of on/off st home)
    There is a similar silt model that I think is exact same but with extra heel strap but I found it just slipped off my narrow heel so was useless and made it less convenient to put on/off all day.

    Finns are not cheap $250-350? Canadian typically but I think are well made. I wear mine everyday all year so basically my bunion will usually eventually split it on the front side usually after a year…

    In winter I have only been wearing fake uggs which fit my orthotics but are really bad (poor made) and uncomfortable and my heel comes out so I clomp around but just wear when I really have to.

    I use new balance running shoes on rare occasion i work out. But haven’t found the perfect one. I had the 763 which were awesome like 15 years ago! For combo feet discontinued long ago. Then got 883 but weren’t the same. I have to say if this year any new models last time I looked for running shoes was 2 years ago…

    I really want to in my next career design shoes that may not be the prettiest but are actually comfortable and fit general public and specialty. One day! I had to start working orthopedic shoes in high school and university so u can imagine how hard it was to look decent!!! I never succeeded but everybody knew about my “magic” shoes haha

  14. Meritt says:

    Mephisto is a great brand for skinny heels/wide foot, but tend to be incredibly expensive.

  15. Meritt says:

    Whoever said Keens was correct in that they are an excellent choice, however, they do not make heels.

  16. Martha Davis says:

    I have size 9 foot but very narrow heel, please tell me where I can find them at a reasonable price ?

  17. Melody Haller says:

    My most comfortable shoe successes recently have been:
    1) a Naturalizer sandal called Juniper, with an ankle strap that makes it look feminine and a diamond crossing of straps that avoid my bunion.
    2) a Nike brand of running shoe from Nike Free (I find New Balance is a disaster in the heel area for me) which is designed with a narrow heel and wide toe box, distinctly different from other Nike shoes. Serial # 833424-002. I was so surprised when I found it that I bought three pairs and have already worn out the first.

    For several years now, I’ve had some M Sharipova python flats from Cole Hahn with little bows on the back and an elastic all-around inner edge. They are amazing. They look classy and I’ve worn them while being a tourist in some elegant places, which is very hard on the feet, as well as in many business meetings. They still are holding up fairly well.

    Also used to make some round-toe high heels with small curved heels that were very feminine and vintage looking. I haven’t seen them in recent years.

  18. Julie says:

    I have medium to narrow (B or AA) and Very Narrow heels (4A) plus some numbness in left foot which gives me a bit of a hammertoe;
    Athletic shoes– try RYKA; cut for women. For dress shoes I like Softspots–Angel II pump. However, sometimes I have to tie them on but they are still the only ones I have found to be close to fitting.

    More recently I have purchased one of the newer lace-up style sandals with a chunky heel that have a closed heel but have top laces all the way down to the toe–Ultimate adjustability.

  19. Nancy says:

    So grateful for this website! Any suggestions on narrow-heeled ankle boots for women who have bunions? I wear a size 10.

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