These Are The Most Comfortable Heels I Have Ever Owned


Paycheck pick: M.Gemi

TGIF! Friday is here, along with our paychecks, so you know what that means: It’s time to go shopping. Every week, we write a love letter to the one must-have item that we would happily blow our full paychecks on, because life is meant for treating yourself. Cheers!

I remember the exact moment when wearing heels no longer hurt my feet. I was 22, recently out of college, working in the fashion closet of a glossy magazine, and I was making a "run"—meaning, I was lugging a 10 lb. garment bag with a one-of-a-kind couture dress from a photo shoot; it needed to be back in the designer's showroom faster than a messenger service was trusted to deliver it, so the task fell to me. I was wearing heels, it was raining, and I was holding my arms straight up in an attempt to avoid the dreaded "dress drag." My feet were throbbing, as they had been for the duration of this entire internship because, for reasons that may have had to do with my multiple viewings of The Devil Wears Prada, I had been wearing heels almost every day. And then suddenly, they went numb. The throbbing stopped. I was a new woman.

It was a great thing. Suddenly I could wear heels for hours with no-to-minimal pain. Sure, it was due to the fact that my soles had developed such thick calluses that whenever I went for a pedicure I got asked if I was a runner. So what? (I get asked some variation of that question to this day, despite many a Baby Foot and Baby Foot-adjacent products and callus-removal treatments.) Still, though: I could now wear heels all day and night. Not to say that certain heels aren't still more uncomfortable than others. Some pinch or numb my toes, while others give me heel blisters that color the inside of my shoes with blood. I may be able to withstand the pain, but the consequences of a shoe that needs to be broken in are still evident on my feet. So, yes, I can wear—and wear-in—most heels, but a comfortable heel is still highly prized.

Enter M.Gemi. Several years after my internship, I found myself in the M.Gemi store in Manhattan's SoHo. I'd previously heard about the direct-to-consumer brand whose shoes are made by craftsmen in Italy and that follows a model with a new style drop every Monday (which, if you're signed up for the newsletter, is super-fun to open at the start of the work week), as opposed to collection releases, but I'd never actually tried its shoes on until entering the boutique, located near my office, in search of the moccasins for which I knew the brand was famous. While there, I found myself admiring another customer who was wearing The Stasera sandals. They looked unassuming on the shelf and yet like the most perfect summer shoe on her feet. With a chunky heel that looked like it could withstand the cobblestone streets of New York, they were high enough to eliminate any traces of my Napoleon complex and versatile enough to take me from day to night, from weekday to weekend, from city to beach town. I requested my size, put them on, and immediately ordered them.

Almost two years later, I have yet to find a more comfortable pair of shoes (or one that I wear more). Even though I bought them purely for the aesthetic, I've kept reaching for them because they are the most pain-free heels I have ever owned. I can wear them from morning to day to night to morning again, walking around a city and dancing into the morning. They are so comfortable that the product description on the website even claims that "one wear tester wore it easily for two days straight." (Was it me?!) In addition to going with just about anything—which has earned them a spot in my suitcase for every trip I've taken, as the only heels I bring—they're also resilient. I have stepped into unsavory alcoholic drink puddles in them, got spray paint on them, squished them in my carry-on, and even accidentally stepped into a pool in these (that's a story for another day), and they have handled it all in stride. Plus, this is suede we're talking about (I am dumbfounded, too).

But, after two years and numerous beatings, I've come to the realization that I must retire them (even though, after reading this article published on this very site, I may reconsider). I was dreading this moment as I have been looking at M.Gemi's website (as well as other stores) to find a similar style for the entirety of this year with little success. 

Then, last Monday's drop came. "Sun-kissed summer: In rich, Italian leather, these styles are the closest you'll get to that toes-in-the-sand feeling," the email read. Intrigued, I clicked (the newsletter doesn't show a photo of the shoe) and was taken to this beauty. Featuring a similarly chunky high heel and made from soft burnished leather, these shoes serve as the perfect replacement for my soon-to-be-deceased favorites. This time, though, I am getting both colors. And not stepping in any pools.

M.Gemi, The Scultura, $298, available at M.Gemi.


Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds



Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.