Spring Shopping Guide: Block Heel Sandals

Between last week's post on overalls and what I'm about to talk about, it's clear I'm not dressing to get laid this spring. So on that note, please join me on my long, slow walk toward 40. The good news is that this season, we'll be wearing comfortable shoes. Stop laughing. Really. I mean it. Now, if you are the type of person who regularly wears true Comfort Shoes (the Danskos and Eccos of this world)--and if you are, really, you read this blog?--these may not seem so comfortable to you, but for the rest of us who've been teetering around on 110 millimeters for the last few years, these will seem like pure ergonomic bliss. The key is a chunky block heel, preferably 2 inches or less; even more important is choosing a pair that doesn't look like it came from the pages of the Walking Company catalog.

Normally when one thinks of Jimmy Choo, one thinks of big-haired, glossy-lipped glamazons stepping precariously out of limousines in shoes clearly not meant for walking. So it must be a pretty important trend if they're forsaking all that for this Merit snakeskin sandal. With a true snakeskin strappy upper resting on a lacquered heel, they're undeniably luxe, but considering the heel is a totally manageable 1-1/4 inches, quite practically so.

Alexander McQueen is another brand I wouldn't peg for selling practical shoes, but thanks to a pretty bare design and strategically placed hardware, this studded-heel sandal comes across as sexy first. There are a lot of ankle-wrap styles out there, but the key to a flattering cut is a strap that's not too thick and not too skinny but rather, like this one, just right.

While no one would likely accuse Marni of being sexy, I find their fringe sandals whimsical and demented and thus, in a roundabout way, kind of hot. With a metallic fringed front, they look like something Carrie Bradshaw would wear to a golf course because she heard it's a good place to pick up men. And you know if I break out a SATC reference for shoes, that's the ultimate compliment.

Out of loyalty to founders Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison, I haven't shopped at Sigerson Morrison since they were ousted from their company. (Adding fuel to the fire, I've found the new designs incredibly painful.) But perhaps proving that time heals all wounds, I am reconsidering, thanks to these Abra block-heel sandals from their lower-priced Belle line. I like all of the buckles and the neutral olive-green suede; I really like the chunky heel and padded footbed.

When I first moved to NYC a very, very long time ago, I treated myself to a pair of Donald J. Pliner mules at Bloomingdale's, and I literally wore them into the ground--after having them resoled at least four times, they are now resting peacefully in my shoe graveyard. It's not a shoe line I've given much thought to since, but I already have these Macha beaded sandals in my shopping cart and it's like everything has come full circle. The beaded front panel is enough to dress up pretty much anything you're wearing, and yet I'm almost certain they're comfortable enough to wear all day and all night.

Madewell is one of those places where I wonder if I'm too old to shop there, but everything is cute, so YOLO. I am particularly enamored with their Warren sandals, a nice neutral blend of silver and tan with a design that looks breezy but is deceptively supportive.

At 75 centimeters, these Zara block-heel sandals are pushing it in terms of comfort, but I saw them in person last week in the store, and they look so minimal and cool, I think I can overlook it (coupled with the fact that in spite of their affordability, Zara's shoes tend to be constructed pretty well). That and they're $80.

You probably don't want to get these polyurethane block-heel sandals from Wallis near an open flame, but that said, I like the unexpected bit of texture that the patterned heel brings to the mix. And of all styles featured here, these look the most work-appropriate to me, which is fairly important.

God Bless Sam Edelman for bringing back their Trina sandals year after year--I have a tan-and-gold pair that people routinely stop me on the street to ask about. The key to their staying power is a cork insole that feels like walking on clouds, but a polished metal heel gives them a little bit of edge; I'd totally buy this pair for outdoor summer wedding season. Or, you know, just summer. Consider them a very wise investment.

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