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19 Best Designer Shoes Worth the Investment

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Shoes are a necessity, but designer shoes are a luxury item that holds a special place in the fashion world. Imagined by the world’s most creative minds and made by artisans, the best designer shoes are either functional works of art or highly durable, timeless classics that will serve you for years.

If you’re interested in adding a new pair of shoes to your wardrobe, we’ve selected some really exciting footwear from the world’s best designers. Whether it’s sandals, loafers, or boots you’re looking for, Glowsly’s got you covered! Our selection is varied, featuring some truly iconic pieces as well as recent trend-makers in designer shoes worth your investment.

In this article:

Our Picks for the Best Designer Shoes

Have a look at the best designer shoes for every kind of woman, whether you need something elegant to wear at the office or something trendy and unusual to generate more likes on social media.

Best Overall
Gianvito Rossi Ribbon Sling Pumps
Gianvito Rossi

These slingback pumps are a fantastic designer heel option that’ll fit many occasions. The simple and chic pointed-toe design will never go out of style. Their beige shade isn’t entirely nude, so it’ll suit most skin tones while offering some wearers a leg-elongating effect without the need for a super high-heel. We think they’d be fantastic at the office, during cocktail hour, or at a daytime wedding.

These are a great starting point if you’re just getting into wearing heels more often. They’re not too high, and like all shoes from Gianvito Rossi, they’re surprisingly comfortable. Buy them from My Theresa!

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 2 inches 

Best Loafers
Gucci Leather Loafers

We’re not done with loafers yet. They’re the best designer shoes for a sophisticated, mature style with just a touch of androgyny, although they’ll also complement an ultra-femme look with ease.

In 2022, we’re enamored with the small, chunky heel on these gorgeous loafers from Gucci. The slight heel adds structure and elevation, making them more substantial and also more in line with current trends. That said, we don’t think the classy leather and double-G hardware would ever go out of style. Get them directly from Gucci!

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 1 inch

Best Pumps
Manolo Blahnik Hangisi 115 Pump
Manolo Blahnik

On the other hand, if you want drama, a pair of Carrie Bradshaw-approved Manolo Blahniks are pretty much a must. In the show, she wears the Hangisi heels in blue, but we’re all about neons this year, so we thought this loud fuchsia would be a little more fun.

These dramatic stilettos still feature the crystal-studded buckle and have a 4.5-inch heel that’ll bring you sky-high. They’re party shoes through and through.

If you’re looking for very high pumps, you really can’t go wrong with Manolo Blahnik. The designer is famously focused on ensuring that his heels don’t just look amazing but are also comfortable. You can order them from Forward.

Key Features:

  • Material: Satin & Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 4.5 inches

Best Party Heels
Mach & Mach Double Bow Pumps
Mach & Mach

Bring the bling to your next party with these opulent pink-tone shoes. These heels are quite dramatic, with a transparent upper studded with crystals and a fierce pointed toe. The star of the show is the glistening bow decoration over the vamp. Make sure to wear them with a leg-baring outfit to let the shiny, crossed-over ankle strap stand out.

Note – while we’re dubbing them ‘party shoes’ because of the intense level of glamor they add to every outfit, we don’t think they’ll be particularly comfortable if you like to dance. They’re available through Farfetch.

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather & Rubber
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 4 inches

Best Platform Heels
Versace Medusa Aevitas Platform Pumps

The Y2K vibes are strong with these Versace platform heels! Bright fuchsia, intense height, and just a hint of bling make them the perfect party shoes, especially paired with a short dress. We love the contrast of the chunky platform with the delicate satin.

These pumps make a big impact with their ‘more is more’ design, but they might actually be kinder to your feet than a dainty pair of stiletto pumps. Think about it: the platform under the toes means that the slope of your foot in the shoe isn’t too dramatic, while the chunkier platform heel offers more stability. Finally, that pretty strap with Versace’s iconic medusa hardware actually serves to protect your ankle. Find them at Forward!

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather & Satin
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 6.25 inches with 2.5-inch platform

Best Kitten Heels
Gucci GG Slingback

Glamorous things come in small packages. These slingback heels from Gucci may not have the highest heel, but they’re still stunning with their risqué crystal-studded black mesh upper.

Inspired by Tom Ford’s era at Gucci, these shoes are reminiscent of the darker, more elegant side of the ‘90s. The slightly pointed toe-box helps elongate the foot while still remaining comfortable even if you’re not much of a heel wearer.

Even though they’re quite unique, we’d also expect these shoes to be pretty versatile – you could get away with them at the office as well as at parties and special events. Pick them up from Gucci

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather & Mesh
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 1.4 inches

Best Slingbacks
Chanel Mesh & Suede Kidskin Slingbacks

We could have recommended Chanel’s classic two-tone slingbacks, which will always and forever be some of the best designer shoes for women. However, we’re focused on the here and now, and these unique slingbacks are very representative of today’s fashion vibe.

The baby pink shade, the soft suede, and the low heel – these shoes emanate softness and comfort. They’re unique enough to make a statement without being loud or garish, and we think they’d be perfect for spring and summertime outdoor events. They’re sold directly by Chanel.

Key Features:

  • Material: Mesh, Suede & Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 0.8 inches

Best Sneakers
Balenciaga Triple S Chunky Trainers

We think a pair of ultra-large, chunky trainers are the perfect designer shoes for women who want a dramatic lift even when dressed casually. Balenciaga has made big waves with their unique sneaker releases, especially the Triple S range of multi-tiered platforms.

The shade fits with today’s white sneakers trend, but the small logos printed all over the shoe add some color. The print also reinforces the branding in a way that isn’t too garish and actually fits quite well with Balenciaga’s ironic approach under Demna Gvasalia. They’re sold on Farfetch.

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather
  • Origin: China
  • Platform Height: 2.5 inches

Best Mules
The Attico Devon 115 Mule
The Attico

Are we obsessed with hot pink? Maybe a little bit, but it’s undeniably one of the most exciting colors in vogue right now. Case in point: these geometric open-toed mules from The Attico. The triangular platform heel is a fascinating touch that adds sophistication to the loud color. They’re statement-makers through and through and a worthy addition to any fashionista’s shoe closet. Shop for them at Forward!

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 4.5 inches

Best Ballet Flats
Valentino Garavani Rockstud Ballet Flats
Valentino Garavani

A pair of Valentino Rockstud pumps have a place in every shoe collection, but for 2022, we’re really feeling this spiky design in flats. These feminine pink ballet flats are nicely offset by the pyramid studs along the trim. It’s a fun, quirky design, but it’s also quite adult, thanks to the pointed toe box.

While these are technically ballet flats, they’re not 100% flat. The sole has a slightly elevated heel that gives the foot more support, making them a great choice for everyday wear even if you spend a lot of time on your feet. Sizes can run a little small, and you may need to spend a bit of time breaking them in, but the soft leather will adjust to your feet, making them some of your most comfortable shoes. Order them from My Theresa!

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 0.25 inches 

Best Boots
Bottega Veneta The Lug Boots
Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta’s chunky boots are a memorable winter footwear option. They feature an oversized, chunky sole that’s very much in line with current trends. The upper is slimmer leather with pull-tubs, which is a little more classic. They add an edgy feel to any look, so they’re perfect if you’d like to add a tougher vibe to your autumn or winter look.

They do require quite a bit of wearing-in before they feel comfortable, so if you do pick them up, do so well in advance of any long outings. You can get them at Forward.

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather & Rubber
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 2.5 inches with 2.5-inch platform

Best Ankle Boots
Gucci Leather Ankle Boots

For a more classic look with some slight rocker vibes, these Gucci ankle boots do the trick. The thick soles look pretty tough, but a bit of a heel adds femininity. The gorgeous gold-colored hook eyelets add that luxury, designer touch that separates these from your average heeled combat boots. The iconic Sylvie belt around the ankle reinforces the Gucci branding, but you can always remove it when you’re in the mood to go incognito. Buy them from Gucci

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather & Rubber
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 2.2 inches 

Best Bridal Shoes
Jimmy Choo Aveline 100 Sandal
Jimmy Choo

If you’re in the process of planning a wedding, these dreamy and slightly unusual bridal shoes could definitely tie your look together (pun absolutely intended). These simple white sandals are elevated (figuratively) with a large, white mesh bow over the vamp of one shoe and behind the ankle of the other. Literally, they’re quite elevated thanks to a thin stiletto heel – you could wear them all the way to the altar, but you may want to switch to something else come dance time. They’re available at Forward.

Key Features:

  • Material: Grosgrain, Mesh & Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 4 inches

Best Gladiators
Aquazzura Esvedra Lace-up Leather Sandals

With gladiator sandals, we think simple is better. These delicate tan sandals are lightweight and understated to fit any summer outfit. If you’re not into the chunky sandal look, you’ll probably like the ultra-thin soles.

They don’t offer a ton of support, but there’s also enough material around the toes and the ankle that they should be comfortable during most outings. The design is just sleek enough to help you fit in at most daytime events, but they’re also going to be perfect in more casual settings. You can find them on Net-a-Porter.

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 0.4 inches 

Best Wedges
Valentino Garavani Rockstud Braided Wedge Sandals
Valentino Garavani

Add some color to your wardrobe with this unique, playful twist on Valentino Rockstuds! These wedges are excellent summer shoes that are guaranteed to spread a lot of joy. The color story here is rainbow-adjacent, even if it isn’t exactly ROYGBIV, with pink as the standout shade for most of the upper. Since these are still Rockstuds, the ankle strap is decorated with the iconic pyramid-shaped hardware. 

These shoes are quite beginner-friendly, even if you’re not a regular high-heel wearer. Wedges, famously, offer a lot of balance, while the ankle strap will keep your feet quite secure. Order them at My Theresa!

Key Features:

  • Material: Fabric & Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 5 inches with 1.5-inch platform

Best Slides
Birkenstock Essentials Arizona Waterproof Slide Sandal

Is Birkenstock a designer brand? That’s certainly debatable, but the level of brand recognition rivals the big fashion houses, while the level of comfort they offer is unsurpassed. These simple slides can fit nicely into the ‘ugly sandal’ trend while also being quite useful. They’re waterproof, so they’re excellent for wearing poolside or on vacation, and the cushioned sole hugs the feet just right. They run a little big, so order a size down if you decide to buy a pair. Pick them up from Nordstrom!  

Key Features:

  • Material: Synthetic Polymer
  • Origin: Germany
  • Heel Height: N/A

Best Comfy Sandals
Gianvito Rossi Cruz Sandals
Gianvito Rossi

Gianvito Rossi combines elegance and comfort perfectly. These gorgeous, strappy sandals aren’t too complex, which is where their beauty lies. They have a slightly rustic vibe, thanks to the combination of suede and leather in this warm ochre shade. Even so, they’re still quite sophisticated, thanks to the soft, cushiony braid at the front and the sturdy ankle strap. These sandals do have a bit of a heel, but it’s just enough to keep your foot on a comfortable, flattering slope. Find them at My Theresa!  

Key Features:

  • Material: Suede & Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 1 inch 

Best Mary Janes
Chanel Open Shoes

A little dark, a little vampy – there’s a lot to love about these Chanel Mary Janes! They’re interesting and feminine, and depending on how you style them, they can easily go from elegant to witchy. They’re exactly on point if you’re in the dark academia aesthetic!

These shoes are made of shiny goatskin rather than leather, which adds some unique texture and guarantees durability. These shoes will last you for years and years, which is useful since this is the kind of style that’ll rarely go out of fashion. Order them directly from Chanel!  

Key Features:

  • Material: Goatskin
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: 3.7 inches

Best Flat Sandals
Gia Borghini X Pernille Teisbaek Leather Platform Sandals
Gia Borghini X Pernille Teisbaek

We’re finishing on a soft note with these cozy designer shoes for women. These cushioned slide sandals are the even more trend-forward cousins to the Birkenstock slides we included earlier in this list. They’re made of plush, smooth leather in a pale olive shade. They’re a really nice choice for streetwear style since they’re casual, unique, and very trendy. They’re available at Forward.

Key Features:

  • Material: Leather
  • Origin: Italy
  • Heel Height: N/A

What to Look for in the Best Designer Shoes for You?

Shopping for designer shoes isn’t quite the same as regular shoe shopping. You don’t need to worry too much about things like materials or construction because you know you’ll be getting a top-of-the-line, meticulously crafted creation.

However, unless you’re a member of the 1%, designer shoes are not something you buy on a whim. They’re a serious purchase that merits a little extra thought – here are the main things to consider.

Trendy vs. Timeless

Do you want to be at the forefront of trends, or would you rather look classically timeless? The best designer shoes are usually responsible for originating most shoe trends, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a prudent choice.

If you’re on a budget, it’s better to invest in high-end shoes with a more classic style, like Gucci’s leather loafers. Designer shoes are crafted to last for years and even decades, so you may not want to invest in a pair that’ll go out of fashion in just a few years or even months.

At the same time, some designer shoes are unique and off-beat enough that they’re neither classy nor on-trend. They’re art pieces that transcend fashion conventions and will therefore always stand out – those can be a great investment, as well, especially if you have a very strong sense of your own personal aesthetic.

Finally, if you’re totally enamored with a specific trend, and you know you can afford the shoes, don’t let us stop you from buying them! Pick them up and wear the heck out of them. If they do go out of style, pack them away somewhere safe so you can pull them out again when they come back in fashion… or just keep wearing them anyway! 

Purpose Matters

When it comes to designer shoes, there is often some limited versatility. You might be able to find a pair of shoes you can wear both at work and to go out. You might be able to find cute sneakers that work for school, exercise, and fun outings.

However, your best bet when shopping is to first consider the occasion during which you’ll be wearing your shoes and go from there. Take into account factors like formality level, whether having open toes is appropriate, as well as the level of wear and tear your shoes will experience when worn. For instance, we wouldn’t recommend buying hiking boots from a designer brand, but a pair of casual walking shoes would be fine.

What to Look for in the Best Designer Shoes for You?

Comfort Considerations

A lot of women’s designer shoes are surprisingly comfortable, despite immensely high heels and interesting silhouettes. Even so, you should consider how you plan to wear the shoes you buy and how comfortable you need them to be for that environment.

If you want a pair of functional shoes that you can stand and walk around in for hours without problems, you’ll want to look at supportive, low heels. On the other hand, if you just want shoes to wear for the occasional dinner out and that will photograph beautifully, the level of comfort might not matter as much.

Where it gets complicated is with shoes that you plan to wear when going out clubbing since they’ll need to be sexy but comfortable enough to dance in. Most shoe designers (especially Manolo Blahnik and Gianvito Rossi) consider comfort when creating their designs, so their shoes are well worth the investment. Others, like Christian Louboutin, couldn’t care less, and their shoes should only be purchased for non-active events. 

Photos via @tamara, @rocky_barnes, Farfetch, Forward, Net-a-Porter