The best designer heels are practically works of art. While heels can be tricky to walk in, the best designer heels are architecturally designed to be as comfortable as any heel can be. Synonymous with power and glamor, these heels are made to stand the test of time.
When it comes to building a capsule wardrobe, the best designer shoes can be worth investing in, much like the best designer bags. While they can be expensive, they're expertly crafted from high-end materials, and when looked after properly, they can last a lifetime.
If you've wanted to learn how to dress like Carrie Bradshaw and curate a wardrobe full of shoes (who doesn't), then starting off with the basics is key. If you're only going to invest in one designer heel, opt for a black pair as these will always be a wardrobe essential, working with everything from flattering jumpsuits to up-styling any outfit in a flash. They're also a great, reliable choice if you're unsure what to wear to an interview.
Of course, if you don't want to pay full price, then checking out the best designer outlets is a smart way to invest in designer heels for less. While you might not find the latest shoes trends 2022 has to offer, you will still get a good selection of heels to start building your collection.
Where to shop for the best designer heels
When it comes to choosing the best designer heels there are a few key brands that will always stand the test of time. Favored by celebrities and the fashion crowd these are the brands that make some of the best designer heels.
- Christian Louboutin—best for iconic and classic pumps, the basics of your designer heel wardrobe.
- Guiseppe Zanotti—rock and roll flare teamed with red carpet style.
- Jimmy Choo—beautiful designs, a must for those who want a little Sex and the City style in their closet.
- Manolo Blahnik—timeless pieces, with favorite designs reinterpreted in new colors and patterns each season.
- Roger Vivier—works of art, these sculptural and intricate designs will make you want to mount your shoes for all to see.
- Saint Laurent—statement designer footwear, real show-stopping designs, mixed with classic silhouettes.
- Stuart Weitzman—more accessible price points and a leaning towards more versatile, comfortable and lower heel heights.
The best designer heels—as chosen by our experts
1. Christian Louboutin
Immediately identifiable by their red soles, Christian Louboutin's are probably the most recognizable designer heels in the world. The trademarked color of the sole is always a tell-tale sign to a true pair of Louboutin shoes and their classic shape is universally loved by designer heel wearers. In two size heel heights 85mm and 100mm, these aren't for the faint-hearted or uninitiated to heels, but they are shoes you will certainly keep forever.
Christian Louboutin The Kate 85mm
RRP: $745 / £545 | A classic pointy pump with a stiletto heel, this shoe focuses on sleek lines and has a timeless appeal. In a glossy patent leather, this is a wardrobe staple that will never date and will always make you feel like an A-lister.
Christian Louboutin Hot Chick 100mm
RRP: $745 / £545 | Another patent leather iteration, this time with on-trend scallop detailing, this is the iconic classic pump with added wow factor. In three classic colorways, this 100mm stiletto is for those who can really handle their heights.
2. Manolo Blahnik
A favorite designer for Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw, Manolo Blahnik's shoes are referenced continuously throughout the many series of Sex and City, making them even more iconic for those who grew up watching the show. Loved for their sculptural simplicity, alongside their party-ready embellishments, Manolo Blahnik has a long history of making some of the best designer heels. First opening in Chelsea in 1970, now a globally recognized brand, it's still essentially family-run, with Manolo at the creative helm and his niece as CEO.
Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Blue Satin Jewel Buckle Pumps
Manolo Blahnik BB Black Suede Pointed Toe Pump
RRP: $665 / £515 | The BB is one of the most recognized pointed-toe pumps in the world of designer heels. Inspired by Bridget Bardot, it was first created in 2008 in suede. It is now replicated each season in new colors and patterns in a mid-heel pump. A great investment shoe it will never go out of style.
Manolo Blahnik Maysale 50 Yellow Suede Buckle Mules
RRP: $745 / £545 | First designed for American clothing brand Izaac Mizrahi's 1991 runway, the brief was for a kitten heel mule with pilgrim buckle. Following its success, the shoe has since been recreated as a high heel pump and bridal shoe, remaining one of Manolo's most iconic designs.
3. Jimmy Choo
For many, Jimmy Choo will be the first name that springs to mind when thinking of iconic designer heels. With a strong mix of classics and on-trend styles, Jimmy Choo has maintained a young and fresh approach to shoe design, complementing their shoes with luxe handbags, sunglasses, trainers and most recently a swim collection. Loved by celebrities and royalty, Jimmy Choo started in the East End of London back in 1996 and is now a global leader in the designer footwear market.
Jimmy Choo AURELIE 65 Pointed Pumps with Pearl Embellishment
Jimmy Choo Bing 100 Ballet Pink Mules with Crystal Strap
RRP: $975 / £750 | Mules aren't the easiest to walk in and are definitely more appropriate for indoor events—car-to-bar-to-table style evenings. These bejeweled beauties in ballet pink would work well for wedding parties and evening wear looks for their simplicity and shine.
Jimmy Choo JC Monogram Leather Ankle Boots
RRP: $975 / £750 | A small heeled boot is a good training ground for those not used to wearing heels. This metallic toe adds a touch of flare to these ankle boots and the monochrome embossing ensures everyone knows that you're stepping out in designer style.
4. Roger Vivier
Roger Vivier designer heels really are tiny works of art. Incredibly playful and packed full of statement features, Roger Vivier is the brand for those that want to make their shoes the leading part of any outfit.
The statement styles will instantly lift any tuxedo outfit or take your little black dress to new heights, while turning jeans and your best blazer combo into a fashion statement. While you can opt for classic hues, this is the one place where we would happily recommend going for a bold bright color or plenty of added jewel details.
For this fashion editor, there's something utterly enchanting about Roger Vivier shoes—they're sculpturally beautiful and playful and I want to wear them as much as I simply want them to have them on display for others to enjoy.
Roger Vivier Marlène Strass Sandals in Suede
RRP: £725 (UK only) | Inspired by a 1953 design for Marlène Dietrich, these classic black suede heeled sandals are handcrafted. The crystal-covered boule turns this iconic silhouette into art. With a stitched heart on the insole and the most delicate rhinestone buckle on the ankle strap, this shoe is all about the details.
Roger Vivier Belle Vivier Metal Buckle Pumps in Fabrics
RRP: $775 / £520 | One of the brand's most iconic styles, first launching in 1965 it has been reinterpreted over and over again. The angled 'skyscraper' heel—a signature for the brand is joined by their equally classic buckle details. The delicate cream tweed makes this extremely versatile for work or play.
Roger Vivier Cube Strass Heel Mules in Satin
RRP: $1,750 / £1,150 | Featuring a geometric version of the boule strass heel, this incredible shoe is handcrafted in elegant and vibrant satin for one of the most statement and glamorous designer heels on the market. With nods to Vivier's iconic Marlène heel, this sumptuous shoe will transform any outfit into one that turns heads.
5. Stuart Weitzman
Stuart Weitzman offers a bit more of an entry price point to the designer heels market. The American footwear brand was run by Weitzman until he retired in 2018 after five decades in the footwear industry, however, the brand carries on and is synonymous with beautiful timeless styles, ideal for everyday classics or special occasion pieces such as event and wedding heels.
With shoes starting from around the $400 / £300 mark, they're a more accessible way to invest in designer heels.
Stuart Weitzman Anny 70 Pumps
RRP: £325 (US shipping available) | The brand's signature pumps are defined by subtle curves that make them unmistakably Weitzman shoes. Known for their comfort, these leg-lengthening heels feature a 70mm heel for more versatility and wearability, whatever the occasion.
Stuart Weitzman NuNaked Straight
RRP: £375 (US shipping available) | While many of the best designer heels are stilettos, Stuart Weitzman also champions the mid-heel for a more comfortable, yet still chic and elegant wear. These barely-there sandals are ideal for teaming with summer looks.
6. Guiseppe Zanotti
In the shoe game for nearly a quarter of a century, Guiseppe Zanotti is well-loved in the worlds of fashion, music and entertainment for his contemporary and glamorous approach. Championing modern femininity, his shoes are coveted everywhere—from the red carpet to the runway, to the street. Beautifully crafted, utterly creative and iconic, Zanotti heels combine the delicate with rock and roll for must-have styles that will never date.
Guiseppe Zanotti Gold Leather Sandals
RRP: $850 / £488 | The subtle sculpting turns this sandal into a masterpiece. In reflective gold leather with a sleek ankle strap and side buckle, the unusual T-shape front elevates this unembellished shoe to new heights. The gold adds a sense of Zanotti drama.
Guiseppe Zanotti Magentha Sandal
RRP: $995 / £563 | Not quite the stiletto we've become accustomed to when looking for the best designer heels, but nonetheless very welcome. The crafted chunky gold heel is ideal for those not comfortable in stilettos but still wanting beautiful, statement shoes.
Guiseppe Zanotti Venere Sandal
RRP: $1,795 / £1,196 | First created in 2012, this iconic stiletto is back, now in black suede with its metal 'snake' accessory. Transcending trends and seasons, this 120mm heeled sandal will work with everything from evening wear dresses for a luxe look to dressing up your favorite jeans.
7. Saint Laurent
Powerful and iconic Saint Laurent is known for its sleek and sensual aesthetic and this very much follows through to its show-stopping shoes. While like most big French clothing brands, its offering changes with the seasons, the brand's timeless designs will take pride of place in any collector's wardrobe. When it comes to the best designer heels at Saint Laurent, look for the sculptured YSL heels and squared-off boot designs as these are some of the brand's most iconic and enduring looks.
Saint Laurent Leather Monogram Heels
RRP: $825 / £710 | With an on-trend square toe, these sandals feature a toehold loop and stacked block heel offering style, comfort, and a secure fit. The YSL initials on the front give them some serious statement style, teaming well with pretty much anything.
Saint Laurent Kidd Boots
RRP: $1,695 / £1455 | With a pointed toe and slim stiletto heel, these knee-high boots are made from 100% leather. A classic design, there are so many different answers to how to style knee-high boots, but one thing is for certain, you'll never not feel like a mega star in these.
Are designer shoes worth investing in?
The best designer heels can cost a small fortune, but are they really worth the hype? Sometimes.
Beauty PR, Iman Leila says, "Designer heels can be overpriced but if you opt for a classic pair, like a strappy black style that won't date, they can be a great investment. You can of course, also find some great designer dupes on the high street. My advice would be to pick up heels in the sale for a great investment bargain".
Designer heels do have a high price tag, but unlike your run-of-the-mill, straight-to-market shoes, the best designer heels are often handcrafted from the finest materials and are extremely high quality.
"Designer shoes are almost always worth the money because they are well made and many have survived many years walking in the city without needing much more than scuff repair. One thing to watch out for however is sizing. Many designers run wildly small. I have to go up 2 sizes in some brands"—Renee Cafaro, creative director of plus size luxury brand RCA Public Label.
Aside from quality fabrics and beautiful craftsmanship they often have decades of experience in crafting high-heeled shoes that not only look good but are as comfortable as a stiletto heel can possibly be.
Of course, as we've shown in this feature, not all designer heels have to be stilettos, many designers do lower iterations of their most loved designs so whether you like your heels kitten, block or sky-high, there is a pair for you.
What to look for when buying designer heels
While the best designer heels take lead from the latest shoe trends, if you're new to purchasing designer shoes, we always suggest opting for classic pairs that won't date. If you're spending a lot on a pair of heels, you're going to want to get maximum wear out of them, so a sleek black pair or a neutral color will never be a bad investment.
Of course, the bright colors are enticing and if that's where your heart leads you, or you want a really loud statement pair of pumps, go for it, but if this is going to be a big and special purchase, make sure you've run through what you can wear your new heel with and when.
Embellished styles are also a good option as they will always be useful for evening occasions and for adding instant glam to any look.
If you have wider feet, buying designer heels might be a little trickier as many tend to be quite narrow or pointed. Look for more rounded toes or square toe styles as a good starting point. And remember, feet can swell in the heat or throughout the day as we get tired—if you've walked a lot, so take this into fit consideration too.
Rivkie is a fashion editor, writer and stylist with over fifteen years' experience in the industry. Having studied design and pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion, Rivkie fell in love with styling and journalism, covering fashion weeks in London, Paris and New York.
Specialising in plus size fashion, Rivkie has long championed that style is for everyBODY and has been a regular talking head on a host of radio stations and television shows, pushing for greater representation for plus size women and fashion throughout her career.
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