Your search for the most comfortable high heeled work pumps of 2017 is over!
I’ve combed through hundreds of pairs of the latest work pumps, carefully read wearer reviews, analysed fashion editor ratings and sifted through the internet’s pool of knowledge to bring you the absolute latest and most comfortable work high heels.
I totally get it. Nobody wants to walk around all day in heels that are difficult or uncomfortable to wear.
Work pumps are special heels and choosing them is an important decision. The ultimate work pump must be durable, comfortable, professional, pretty and versatile – high demands for a shoe that will see a lot of use.
High heeled work pumps should be able to be comfortable *and* fashionable, pain-free and fashion forward at the same time.
My picks will help you to look corporate slick without sacrificing comfort.
I update my recommendations regularly, based on availability, ratings and comments and new products to market. Everything I recommend has been recommended by real women who have trialled and rated their pumps in the workplace.
There’s no place for anything but the best on my site.
My recommendations for work pumps for this site were last updated on 12 November 2017. You can find them below.
My top picks
If you want to see all my top picks for 2017’s work pumps, then read on! Or just use the links here to go directly to your preferred type of shoe.
Most comfortable work pumps
WINNER: Fifth9x9 by Nine West
Nine West pumps are always comfort, comfort, comfort! Their new 2017 offering is called Fifth9x9 and, according to early reviews, it is no exception.
Although Fifth9x9 may appear new-to-market, this is not completely true: Fifth9x9 is really an updated version of Nine West’s classic Flax pump. Flax was tried and tested by nearly 500 Zappos reviewers who loved it for its comfort and durability.
Generally, Nine West updates the front of its signature pumps every year or so but the same heel height, materials and fit remain. Flax was itself a replacement for Nine West’s Barbe pump, so you can be assured that Fifth9x9 has a long history of approval to back its modern styling.
In terms of comfort, the famous Nine West “lightly padded footbed” is the key to Fifth9x9‘s status as an all day work pump. Early adopters are saying things like:
- it’s great for work
- my feet were smiling, it’s that comfortable
- I never have pain in these shoes, and I can run from the office, to the streets of Manhattan seamlessly
- Perfect fit and super comfortable
Because of Nine West’s track record of making comfortable, beautiful, office-appropriate pumps, you can be sure that there will be many more favorable comments about Fifth9x9 published soon.
Best 2 inch work pumps
WINNER: Margot by Nine West
I’m sorry to do this as I know it’s really easy and not very imaginative to recommend two Nine West heels in a row but the tribe has spoken: Margot by Nine West *really* is the best two inch work heel available right now.
Margot gets the judges’ vote because nearly 300 people have rated this pump on the Zappos review boards and over 60% of them have given it the coveted 5 stars. In fact well over 80% of the reviews are 4 or 5 stars, which is higher than that for any other 2 inch work pump.
Other websites and women I have spoken with agree: this shoe is the shizz.
(If you’re just not a Nine West fan – or are looking for something different – then scroll down for the excellent – and also very comfortable – MICHAEL Michael Kors alternative.)
I could go on, but there’s one word that comes up time and time again when purchasers are asked what they think of Margot as a work shoe. And that word is simply this one: they say that it is “perfect”.
Nine West’s Margot: the perfect work shoe. That has a certain ring about it.
This shoe is also available in a light nude leather color as well, which is worth checking out in the pictures.
|$||2014||2.5 inches, measured on a size 10||yes|
RUNNER UP: MK Flex Kitten Pump
If you’re smitten by the kitten but want a work shoe that isn’t from Nine West, then I can totally recommend the MK Flex Kitten Pump from the MICHAEL Michael Kors range.
The Flex Kittens are not only highly rated as great for work, but they’re also hot on comfort too. Designer Michael Kors made his fortune in sportswear and his work heels reflect his focus on a pain-free ride.
The key to comfort with this pump is in the name: the Flex Kittens are created with a flexible, foot-friendly shoe design that is focussed on comfort. A lightly cushioned leather footbed plus soft leather upper are both wearer-friendly too.
I’ve checked out some of the cool things that people are saying online about the Flex Kittens, and they include comments like this:
- I wear them to work all the time, even at my standing desk
- True to size and easy height for every day wear to work
- Very comfortable and the heel is just the right height for a long day of work
- They are amazing for work and look fantastic with skirts and pants. You will not be disappointed and they will be a staple for any closet!
- Good work shoe for a professional look
However my favorite review comes from Los Angeles reviewer Stefanie E who said:
I walk a LOT between meetings in a large corporate office, and need comfortable but stylish business shoes. These were comfortable straight out of the box! No breaking in needed! The heels aren’t too high, but also are not too low that they look like granny heels…
Stefanie also said:
I’m picky about any pinching, tight fits, wobbly heels, unbalanced feeling, etc., because who has time for pain during a workday? No pinching or pain points with these. These pumps have consistently performed on both comfort and conservative style.
One final thing to note with these pumps is that they’re from the MICHAEL range by Michael Kors. MICHAEL is Michael Kors’ affordable label, meaning you’ll get a famous designer and quality materials but without the absolute high end price.
|$||2013||2.25 inches, measured on a size 8M||yes|
Best 3 inch work pumps
WINNER: Juliana by Cole Haan
The field of 3 inch work pumps is highly competitive, but one heel is clearly out in front: Juliana by Cole Haan.
The classic silhouette of this shoe is pretty and professional, but it’s not just looks that have this pump at the top of reviewers’ lists of favorites. The real bargaining point is that Juliana is as comfortable as it is stylish.
Reviewers rave about Juliana‘s leather being soft to the touch and about the shoe’s flexible outsole. Leather uppers, leather lining and a padded leather footbed are also reasons that make Juliana a great choice for the office.
Cole Hann is a brand with a proud history of comfort. It used to be owned by Nike and even used Nike Air technology in some of its most popular heels.
However Nike sold off Cole Haan back in 2012, meaning that the Nike Air soles are no longer used. This caused some concern for comfort-lovers at the time. But reviewers today are clear that Cole Haan has lost none of its reputation for comfort as well as style.
Some of those reviewers have gushed that Juliana is the “perfect pump” and the “best heel ever” and that they “wear them almost everyday to work”. However my favorite comment comes from Julie R who in January 2017 summed everything up by saying:
They are just the right height so that you look classy, but they are work appropriate AND comfy enough to wear all day! Hallelujah, this is a miracle! My search for the perfect pump is over!
I also love this comment from a reviewer back when this pump was first introduced in 2015:
Absolutely the most comfortable pumps I have ever worn. The first time I wore them I walked about a half a mile on cobble stone streets and unstable pavement. They were very easy to walk in and never pinched my feet. The leather is very soft and they are true to size.
|$$||2015||3 inches, measured on a size 8.5C||Yes|
Juliana by Cole Haan was available in November 2017 for under $150.
RUNNER UP: Natalie by Naturalizer
No sooner had I declared that Juliana by Cole Haan was the best 3 inch work pump of 2017 than a new entrant came into the category and its already threatening to knock the Cole Hann contender from first place.
Natalie by Naturalizer is a completely different pump to Juliana, but it is definitely one to watch. The shoe is rapidly positioning itself as an equally comfortable but more budget-friendly 3 inch work pump alternative.
Already Natalie has over 40 reviews on Zappos with a high number of 5 star ratings. Customers are saying things like “very attractive” and (my favorite!) “shockingly comfortable” about this heel.
Like all the work pumps I’ve reviewed so far, comfort is the key to high ratings. Natalie has uses a 5 point system to focus on this, which it calls “N5 Contour technology”.
I have done some research on N5 Contour technology and it is basically a 5 point plan for making comfortable heels. The short-version of those 5 points can be summed up like this:
- CUSHIONING – Natalie has double-density cushioning in the whole sockliner, plus added cushioning in the heel, arch and ball of foot.
- BREATHABILITY – the heel has microfiber linings with Agion, which inhibits the growth of bacteria (ew!) and stops odors and other yuckies. The aim is to be soft and breathable.
- BALANCE – the insole and molded arch support are crafted to allow for maximum contact with you foot. This helps with balance and stability.
- FLEXIBILITY – Naturalizer uses flexible materials inside and out which bend and move with the wearer’s foot.
- LIGHTWEIGHT – all materials are streamlined to be as light as possible without compromising comfort.
Natalie is still the runner up for 2017, but this pump is definitely a great alternative in the 3 inch category.
Some of the other things to like about Natalie is that it comes in over 10 different colors and it is cheaper than the Cole Haan pump, costing under $100 for a pair.
|$||2016||3 inches, measured on a size 7.5B||yes|
Best 4 inch work pumps
WINNER: Hazel by Sam Edelman
Hazel by Sam Edelman is an arse-kickingly good, reasonably-priced 4 inch work pump. There I said it.
But don’t take my word for it: believe the over 200 reviewers who have seen Hazel keep a 5 star rating at Zappos since first arriving in August 2016. The reviewers are all saying that Hazel is an incredibly soft, super comfy work heel.
With a 3.5 inch heel on a size 6 (slightly higher in other sizes), Hazel is about as high a heel as most wearers would want for a daily work pump. Together with its classical styling and on-fashion pointed toe, this shoe has the typical features you would expect of a work pump such as a padded footbed and leather lining.
Here are some of the things that reviewers are saying about the suitability of Hazel as a work pump:
- No need to break these in and you can definitely wear these for an entire work day
- The most comfortable work heels!
- Was a bit wary of the heel size… but these are incredibly comfortable, even when I wear them all day at work and then walk around NYC for happy hour.
- These are my go-to work shoes. Great height – tall enough to flatter without being unmanageable.
- I wore these shoes right of the box two days straight to work. They are extremely comfortable!
- I received many compliments when I wore them to work.
- These have become my favorite work pumps!!!! I absolutely love these! So comfortable even for a day full of meetings.
- It is my standard work, everyday shoe but also looks good with jeans.
Convinced? Who wouldn’t be? In the very competitive area of 4 inch pumps, Hazel is the one for me.
Please note that Hazel comes in over 40 colors besides the black dress calf leather pictured here.
|$$||2016||3.5 inches, measured on a size 6M||yes|
RUNNER UP: Karolina by Kate Spade
For my runner up selction in the 4 inch work pump category, I’ve gone for a luxury alternative: Karolina by Kate Spade.
This heel really belongs in the designer class, but I’ve included it here because it has great reviews and a dedicated online following. Plus Karolina is a completely different work pump to Hazel as it has a rounded toe and a micro (0.25 inch) platform.
Karolina genuinely is a classic as it entered the market 10 years ago. Since then it has consistently been rated highly by a legion of dedicated shoe fans.
If you’re looking for an alternative, luxury 4 inch work pump then I suggest that you consider checking out Karolina.
|$$$||2007||3.5 inches, measured on a size 6M||yes|
Best designer work pumps
WINNER: Fern by LK Bennett
Designer work pumps are becoming more popular as fashion-forward women increasingly decide that life is too short not to wear beautifully crafted shoes. The superior worksmanship and quality of materials used in designer shoes are also a winner because they look after the feet better – an important factor when choosing a shoe that you’ll be wearing for full days on end.
In this category I’ve focussed on the mid-level designer range, leaving out the $800+ plus Louboutins and the like. That leaves a clear winner for best designer work pump: Fern by LK Bennett of London.
Fern is a beautiful 4 inch pump in soft leather, a wardrobe staple from LK Bennett which has recently been refreshed in its design.
If you think you recognise it then you’re not imagining things: Fern is now the “go to” pump for Kate Middleton who wore this shoe in nude on a visit to India in 2016. Kate has been seen in Fern several times since, with fashionistas speculating that she may have ditched her Sledge pumps (also by LK Bennett) for good.
If you’d like to look and feel like a celebrity in your work pumps then I recommend Fern from LK Bennett.
|$$$||2016||3.5 inches, measured on a size 8.5||yes|
RUNNER UP: Fawn 100mm from SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker
How could I leave out a heel by the shoe queen herself, Sarah Jessica Parker? SJP’s shoe range – imaginatively called SJP – has been a little hit and miss but reviewers have very good things to say about her 4 inch work pump called Fawn.
It’s hard not to love everything about Fawn, even its name. When she designed it, SJP explained that it was simply a name that she loved: “It creates an image of legs. And there is a sort of innocence one thinks of.”
The pump itself is of course made of quality leather. And unlike the other work pumps we’ve featured, Fawn has a slight twist – it has a grosgrain trim running down the back of the heel.
The trim or stripe runs down the centre of the back of the heel, covering the seam. It has become SJP’s signature accent on her pumps, rendering them instantly recognisable to those in the know.
The use of grosgrain is itself a nod to Sarah Jessica’s childhood memories of wearing grosgrain ribbons in her hair.
With a price point similar to that of Fern, Fawn is a viable designer alternative work pump.
|$$$||2014||4 inches, measured on a size 38.5||yes|
I hope that my selections help you with your choice of work pump. Please come back again to see all my updates.
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