Whilst we were in Denmark talking to a number of brands about all things Scandinavian Design, we made a visit to the headquarters of ECCO shoes. There, we happened upon a magic number: the optimum heel height for comfortable yet stylish shoes.

A number like that catches a girl’s ear. So we dug a little deeper and put together 5 tips for how to find heels you can spend the day in, walk, run and dance in without ending up with them in your hand instead of on your feet.

Read more after the break.

comfortable high heels
From ECCO’s A/W 2011 collection.

Heel height: the optimum number. When it comes to footwear, there’s an inevitable payoff between comfort and sexiness. So what we’re talking about here is that perfect point where the two meet in the middle.

If you want a shoe that wraps the foot in unrepentant sexuality, that could take a man down with it’s deadly spike of a heel, then odds are it’s not the kind of shoe you can comfortably wear all day, every day. Plus, if you wore your sex-on-legs shoes all day every day, what would you do to up the ante come nights out and special occasions?

The mistake we often make is having a wardrobe of shoes that are either completely flat or climbing towards 6 inches. But don’t forget the middle space. The design team at ECCO shoes tells us the maximum heel height for comfort is 7 centimetres (about 3 inches). It’s a heel height that beats the look of flats, gives you that bit of extra heigh and engages the leg muscles just enough to slim and add tone, yet you can still get around in them with ease.

Go for a sturdy heel. Even the 7 centimetre rule starts to wobble along a little unsteadily on a super-thin stiletto. If you’re going to be on your feet for hours or rushing from one meeting to the next you’re best off opting for a thick, sturdy heel. Of course, a thick wedge also offers a sturdy base and plenty of support.
For extra height, add a platform. If 7 centimetres of extra height doesn’t quite give you the lift you want, an inbuilt platform can. A platform of a few extra centimetres adds height without changing the angle and arch of the foot (and therefore, without impacting the comfort factor).
Shop at brands who specialise. To some stores, shoes are an afterthought thrown in to compliment their clothing offerings. They focus on aesthetics and trends but not on quality craftsmanship. Brands who specialise in footwear dedicate their resources only to improving the shoe-making process. For example, ECCO’s lasts (the moulds used to create each pair of shoes) are designed, after much research and field testing, to follow the shape of the foot. No hard, flat inner soles. “First comfort and then the styling”, ECCO’s CEO Dieter Kasprzak tells us: “never the other way around.”

When trying on shoes, walk on hard ground. If you’re trying shoes on in-store, aim to give them a test run on hard ground. Having carpet underfoot will always make the shoe feel softer, so a better test is to see how they feel on concrete or tiles. Naturally, more padding in the shoe is also better: do look for a pair that has some soft padding at the ball of the foot. It will up the comfort factor considerably.

Thanks to ECCO for sharing their tips.

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