We Found the 17 Best Online Retailers of 2023 to Buy Shoes
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Find a pick that speaks to your sole.
In every soliloquy Carrie Bradshaw delivered about shoe shopping, she never mentioned the unglamorous sides of it, like cramming your feet into thin disposable foot socks and teetering around crowded areas trying to look in the mirror. Buying online alleviates anxiety from asking the sales assistant for yet another size and it allows you to see how the shoes will mesh with your clothes at home. Here’s the catch: To avoid scrolling fatigue, you need to know where and how to look.
Marina Chen, co-founder and director of operations at Vivaia, says she, says she partly relies on sites like InStyle (that is a direct quote, not a shameless plug) for online shopping recommendations, but she notes it’s important to understand your style ahead of any sole searching. “Trends exist to guide us and provide inspiration—they are not meant to completely change our style,” Chen says. Instead, she suggests considering versatility, comfort, and lifestyle before clicking “add to cart.”
Reviewing each brand’s fit and size guides, considering special features such as arch support, anti-slip outsoles, and material quality, and reading reviews can also help you find your Cinderella fit. With that in mind, you can carry on to the fun part — shopping for hundreds of shoes from our favorite retailers.
At this point, we’ll need to design a “Thanks, they’re from Nordstrom,” bumper sticker to efficiently answer where we get my most complimented shoes. Its sale section is the secret to finding deals on a spunky Jeffery Campbell platform or celebrity-approved pair of Hokas. The retailer also carries the same designers we see showing up at award shows and snapped in paparazzi photos, such as Vagabond, Totême, Sam Edelman, and Dolce Vita.
But the benefits of shopping online at Nordstrom go beyond getting mistaken for an off-duty supermodel. One of my favorite aspects of the site is how it curates several looks for how to style the shoes below each product — the only downside is you may end up with an overly stacked online cart.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping | Best for: All styles, free shipping, deals, size range | Size Range: 4-18 | Price Range: $-$$$$
DSW covers all your basics. We know it as an extremely reliable option when you need sensible work heels or a new pair of running shoes, but don’t dismiss it as a place only suitable for you to replace your beat-down white sneakers every year.
Call it the fairy godmother of shoes, because DSW carries hundreds of brands to present you with whatever style you wish to purchase — whether that means replicating a sought-after celeb look with some pink patent leather Mary Janes or finding the exact shoe worn all over the red carpet. We look to the retailer to jump on a new trend as it has choices for nearly every price point. Plus, it’s hard to find another retailer who offers savings on high-end brands, like Salvatore Ferragamo and Off-White. Between free shipping and a free VIP club that gains you access to bonus deals, we’re tempted to make it our one-stop shop for anything south of our ankles.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping | Best for: Deals on your favorite brands | Size Range: Women's 4-12 | Price Range: $-$$$
Known among shopping experts as the site to score a fabulous deal, we caution you to tread lightly on ShopBop’s site as you might end up not only with multiple shoes in your cart but also a stuffed schedule of social plans to wear them.
The retailer currently offers almost 3,000 shoes from over 50 designers which you can filter by size, brand, shoe type, and color to streamline your search. While you can shop from familiar brands like Madewell, Superga, and Veja, we recommend having fun discovering a one-of-a-kind style like these dreamy disco Cult Gaia kitten heels or spunky Schutz cowgirl boots that are begging to be worn out.
Shipping Policy: Free Ground Shipping | Best for: Variety, trendy | Size Range: 3-14 | Price Range: $$-$$$$
Like DSW, Zappos offers impressive discounts on brands like Doc Martens, Birkenstock, Free People, or any footwear TikTok deems is the “It Shoe” of the upcoming season. Leaning into the western aesthetic? There’s a pair of Steve Madden Lasso Boots waiting for you. Want your shoes to shine from outer space? We’d recommend slipping into these metallic wedges.
Its variety of styles and impressive size range ensures a shoe for everyone, including kids, says board-certified podiatrist Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, who adds that “it is so difficult to find brick-and-mortar stores for children’s footwear anymore.”
However, we think its generous 356-day return policy is most applaudable. Take the tension out of shoe shopping by ordering multiple sizes and widths to determine what works best for your feet, then easily return what doesn’t work for you.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping | Best for: Size and width variety | Size Range: 4-20 | Price Range: $-$$$
Related:These Are the 13 Best Places to Buy Dresses Online for Any Occasion
We’ve long flocked to Reformation for eco-conscious clothing that turns heads in the office and earn us best-dressed party guest, but the brand’s first foray into footwear was only a mere four years ago. However, if who is wearing the sustainable shoes (think: Katie Holmes and Gigi Hadid) is any indication as to whether we can expect to continue seeing styles, we feel the hits will keep coming.
In true Ref fashion, the footwear flawlessly merges trendy and timeless: Styles include metallic sandals with classic designs that will long outlast the trend, ageless strappy heels, and sexy knee-high boots. Can you blame us for refreshing the brand’s socials to see when the next collection will drop?
Be sure to partake in Reformation’s recently-launched recycling program, where you can receive store credit for dropping off or shipping back pre-loved items from the brand.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping | Best for: Sustainable options, heels | Size Range: 5-11 | Price Range: $$-$$$
Each love letter we write to Stuart Weitzman always includes a paragraph praising the luxury brand for its versatility, which is why we think there is no better pair of shoes to splurge on. Beverly Osemwenkhae, an NYC and London-based stylist, echoes this sentiment, sharing she’s particularly fond of its heels that she “can literally run in,” adding she adores the great support and cushioned feeling their soft soles offer.
This accolade only certifies our case that Stuart Weitzman’s sleek staple booties or platform loafers should be a recurring character in all your outfits. Even if you choose one of the brand’s more avant-garde designs, like a tall denim boot or this barely-there cutout sandal, we think the top-notch designs and durability will have you reaching for them often.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping | Best for: Comfortable heels, fun styles | Size Range: 3.5-13 | Price Range: $$-$$$
Between its fast shipping and a diverse stockpile of brands and shoe styles, ASOS is our desert island pick for shoe retailers. Scouring the site, you can uncover unique designs not offered in-store from popular brands, like a color-blocked Nike Air Force 1 and an ultra-chunky, futuristic pair of Converse. Although having so many options at your fingertips might feel overwhelming, the multi-brand retailer allows you to filter your search by style, material, color, and size to help narrow down your selection.
And if you’re a last-minute wedding guest or need to restock your sandal collection before an impulse trip, its speedy two-day shipping has you covered. Bonus: If you pay a flat fee of $19 per year you can receive unlimited 2-day shipping, so you’re never left unprepared.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping above $49.99 | Best for: Trendy, fast shipping and return, variety, size range | Size Range: 3-15 | Price Range: $-$$$
Flashy strappy sandals, bejeweled statement wedges, sexy stilettos — Chinese Laundry mixes fabrics and merges styles to create funky looks guaranteed to draw compliments. And, with a section dedicated to wedding wear on the site, it’s our starting point for an understated nude heel that won’t clash with a bridesmaid dress, or when we want a punchy-colored platform to spice up an outfit. There are also curated sections for vacation essentials, festival looks, and different aesthetics to eliminate scrolling fatigue to help us find what we want faster.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping on orders over $49 | Best for: Statement shoes | Size Range: 5-11 | Price Range: $-$$
If you ask us, one of the best fashion advances in recent years is that exercise shoes are now suitable to wear casually on and off the running track — even in the office. In addition to functional footwear for activities like hiking and weight lifting, Altra Running carries trendy picks, too, like chunky “Dad” shoes to complete your Princess Diana fit and sleek low-top sneakers that will look terrific with long trousers at work.
With aesthetics checked off the list, Dr. Parthasarathy is a staunch admirer of how supportive every sneaker is, and she says the website’s shoe finder function is a pivotal tool in helping you find the right shoe for your foot type.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping | Best for: Exercise shoes, sneakers | Size Range: 5.5-12 | Price Range: $$
You know those shoes that make you stop on the street to ask a passeryby what they’re wearing? The luxury brand Brother Vellies has those shoes. Aurora James, founder of the 15% Pledge and the designer behind the label, is no stranger to making statements with her designs from the Met Gala down to the shoes you wear at your feet. We wouldn’t be surprised to see its lavender feathered pumps clacking down the halls of a palace hall—and just try to put your wallet away when you see the one-of-a-kind design on these cowboy boots.
Shipping Policy: Varies by retailer | Best for: Unique styles, luxury shoes | Size Range: 5-14 | Price Range: $$$-$$$$
If all Dansko carried were clogs, the retailer would still earn a top spot on our list — hasn’t shoe maven SJP been wearing them since the early 90s after all? Yet, the brand offers much more than the celebrity-favored style.
Dr. Parthasarathy says she has yet “to find a brick-and-mortar store that does justice to all of the different styles of shoes that you can find on the Dansko website,” and she adds that many of the booties, wedges, flats, and mules also carry the APMA Seal of Acceptance. It’s hard to tear our eyes, and wallets, away from whimsical pairs (did you know purple translucent clogs existed?), but doing so rewards you with statement sandals and classic Mary Janes.
We know — we’re sweating trying to make a decision, too. However, free standard shipping and online exchanges make clicking “add to cart” less stressful, because returns are easy if something doesn’t fit or you (unlikely) experience buyer’s remorse.
Shipping Policy: Free Standard Shipping | Best for: Style variety, comfort | Size Range: 35-48 | Price Range: $$
Related:The 10 Best Clogs for All-Day Comfort
You don’t need a personal stylist on your payroll to wear the same shoes as celebrities. We’ve spotted Blake Lively, Mila Kunis, Hilary Duff, Jennifer Garner, and more in comfy pairs of sneakers from AllBirds for everything from running errands to coming back from workout classes. While the eco-friendly brand dedicates its mission to reducing carbon emissions, it definitely doesn’t skimp on foot support and style. The lightweight tennis shoes, slides, and flats feel like your favorite house slippers as you wear them all day, from farmers market runs to actual sprints.
Shipping Policy: $5 Standard Shipping | Best for: Comfort, sustainable options | Size Range: 5-11 | Price Range: $$
We’d never knock an Oprah-touted brand, especially once we realized it’s also podiatrist-approved. Dr. Parthasarathy adores that Vionic Shoes carry the APMA Seal of Acceptance, which certifies that they are beneficial in promoting foot health, and she appreciates that you can search the site by width.
But don’t think support equates to outdated orthopedics. Dr. Parthasarathy tells us she commends the brand for having “a variety of styles, widths, and sizes that all have a supportive footbed from a casual shoe to a dressier one.” No one will think you chose practicality over fashion when you’re strutting to dinner in a pair of animal print kitten heels or running a meeting in a sleek pair of loafers—even the house slippers will catch your neighbor’s eye as you’re checking the mail.
Shipping Policy: $5 Flat Rate Shipping | Best for: Style variety, comfort | Size Range: 4-13 | Price Range: $-$$
Have you ever wanted to wear the same boots as Bella Hadid? Well, you can find them at Ganni — at this point, we’re well aware of the frequent role the high-end brand plays in celebrity outfits, and with such a forward-thinking approach to design, we can see why.
The Scandinavian brand takes something expected, like a flat, and adds thick metal buckles and a block heel to create edgy footwear far from anything you’d see at the ballet bar. That’s not to say you can’t find everyday styles too, like Osemwenkhae’s favorite black Ganni boots, which she praises for the versatility that permits her to wear with everything from black, loose trousers to a mini dress.
And, even though Ganni isn’t a sustainable brand, we can appreciate that its transparent business practices and annual responsibility reports earn it a B-corp certification, so you can feel better shopping there.
Shipping Policy: Free ground shipping | Best for: Investment pieces | Size Range: 4-14 | Price Range: $$-$$$
From its elegant and playful designs to the use of sustainable materials, we have a lot of nice things to say about Vivaia (one InStyle editor loves its heels so much that she bought three pairs). Currently, we trained our eyes on the pointed-toe mules that nail balletcore down to the bow, and there’s no denying you’d wear these timeless round-toe chunky heels nonstop.
Yet, perhaps our favorite aspect is how each shoe provides all-day support so these adorable designs never have to leave your feet. The key behind the comfort is the soft and strictly knit upper materials, which allows your feet to breathe and accommodate swelling throughout the day. The brand made its beloved material to accommodate people who don’t fit into standard sizing, like those with wide feet, hammer toes, and bunions. All this to say, no matter what your feet qualms are, Vivaia will have a shoe that’s comfortable for you.
Shipping Policy: Free standard shipping on orders over $99 | Best for: Comfortable heels, unique styles | Size Range: 5-11 | Price Range: $$
My history with Hush Puppies harkens back to elementary school when I’d pick out a pair of Mary Janes for each upcoming school year (talk about a full-circle style moment). Decades later, I’m still wearing styles from the brand — currently, it’s these adorable jelly sandals whose bright color and super soft sole offer me an instant serotonin boost.
Carrying its ballet flats and slides in peppy hues and charming prints, the retailer is always right in step with style forecasters—just ask our editor, who says she can’t stop wearing its Chelsea boots. Should you need something less trendy and more practical, shop from the retailer’s equally stylish selection of sneakers and rain boots.
With so many potential choices, we know you’ll want one of everything, and luckily Hush Puppies makes ordering multiple products easy by offering free shipping over $49 and free in-store returns at DSW.
Shipping Policy: Free shipping on orders above $49 | Best for: Sandals, comfort | Size Range: 5.5-12 | Price Range: $-$$
We envision slipping into Sabah slides as we pad down the hallways of our coastal Italian villa — a café au lait in hand. Pushing our daydreaming aside, what sets the New York-based brand apart is its impeccably crafted unisex-style shoe. The designs toe the line between a slipper and a slide for an effortless look that rounds out your capsule wardrobe.
Speaking of which, the craftsmanship truly makes these shoes timeless. Where most footwear breaks down over time, Sabah leather ages beautifully for a shoe that only improves with each wear. With that in mind, know the brand makes every pair last using leather that stretches as you wear them, so while they may feel snug at first, you’ll find they mold to your feet with increased wear.
Shipping Policy: Free shipping on orders above $220 | Best for: Leather, unique styles | Size Range: 4-12.5 | Price Range: $$-$$$
What to Keep in Mind
It’s hard to turn away a trend, however, prioritizing support over the Best Sellers section can help you avoid a shoe graveyard. “Too often we purchase shoes because we like the aesthetic versus the functionality and comfortability — it just ends with one wear behind our closet,” says Osemwenkhae. Some brands, such as Vivaia and Dansko, do a wonderful job of marrying fashion and function, but the best place to start is at your podiatrist’s office.
“It is important to know your foot type, pronated, neutral, or supinated so you can pick the right shoe for you,” says Dr. Parthasarathy, who adds that even a “safe” choice like a slide or slipper can still hurt your feet in the long run. “If you have a supinated foot, but buy a stability shoe, you could be more prone to injury because it’s the wrong shoe for your foot type,” she explains.
“The great thing about trends is that you have the personal freedom to incorporate them into your style or not,” says Chen, adding that quality, comfort, and versatility are the main drivers behind purchasing her footwear.
She suggests choosing shoes that match your style and lifestyle, and that, “you should focus on wearing pieces that make you feel happy and confident” while also being open to options that push you out of your comfort zone.
Want to rock sky-high platforms but can barely take your hand off the balance bar in pilates? Try opting for wedges instead. “Wedges are a unique take on heels that never go out of style and are my go-to because they are much more practical and versatile,” says Chen. Do you work in an office every day? A loafer is a business casual that looks great with dresses, skirts, and trousers.
Your Questions, Answered
How do you know if a shoe will be comfortable?
Reading reviews, noting special features like arch support, and checking for certifications such as the APMA Seal of Acceptance can give you an indication as to whether the shoe will be comfortable, but you won’t truly know until you wear them.
“Shoes should feel comfortable right away—some people wait for the shoes to ‘give’ or ’work in’ to be more comfortable,” Dr. Parthasarathy says. She adds that it’s not likely the shoes will feel any better as you wear them—especially, as your feet swell throughout the day.
Before peeling the price tag off, she tells us there are a couple of things to look for: The shoe should not be able to fold completely in half, and it should have a removable insole and a firm, supportive heel counter.
And, maybe this point is intuitive, but it bears repeating that you should always consider the type of activity you’ll be doing while wearing the shoe. For example, if you are choosing footwear for a wedding, consider: Will it be outside? What type of ground are you standing on? How high are the heels?
How do you measure your shoe size?
“Brands may differ in sizing, so people must keep in mind their measurements and compare them to size guides when shopping,” Chen says, who adds that there are times when you may have to go up half a size or down, depending on the style and overall fit.
Thankfully, many websites have a size guide that provides customers with a tutorial on measuring their feet at home—all you need is a piece of paper, a pencil to trace your foot, and a ruler to measure the length and the width.
Why Shop With Us
Irene Richardson is a writer covering fashion and beauty trends for InStyle, Byrdie, Travel and Leisure, and more. For this story, she spoke with fashion experts Beverly Osemwenkhae and Marina Chen; and board-certified podiatrist Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, DPM, to get their recommendations and learn more about what it takes to find the right pair of shoes.
Related:The 19 Best Places to Shop for Clothes Online in 2023
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Read the original article on InStyle.