Best designer heels—from classic collectables to of the minute styles

The best designer heels—from evening glamour styles to everyday

best designer heels composition image of some of the best pairs from feature
(Image credit: Future / Christian Louboutin / Roger Vivier / Jimmy Choo / Guiseppe Zanotti / Manolo Blahnik / Guiseppe Zanotti)

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.

The best designer heels—as chosen by our experts

1. Christian Louboutin

Best designer heels from Christian Louboutin include these black patenet peep toes with red soles

(Image credit: 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.

2. Manolo Blahnik

Best designer heels include the hangisi blue satin pump with jeweled buckle on the front from Manolo Blahnik

(Image credit: 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.

3. Jimmy Choo

beige ankle boots with JC Jimmy Choo monogram logo embossed on the leather and metallic pointed toe

(Image credit: 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. 

4. Roger Vivier

best designer heels from Roger Vivier include these purple satin mules with statement buckle and embellished jeweled cube on the heel

(Image credit: 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.

5. Stuart Weitzman

best designer heels from stuart weitzman include these black slingbacks with jeweled front detailing

(Image credit: 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. 

6. Guiseppe Zanotti

black cage heel with silver snake embellishment on the front

(Image credit: 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. 

7. Saint Laurent

best designer heels Saint laurent black block heel sandal with gold YSL emblem on the front

(Image credit: 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. 

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 Baum

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.