Best High Heels Reviewed & Rated for Appearance

Whether you’re starting a new job in a professional office, going out to a party or eating out at a romantic restaurant, dressing for the occasion can sometimes feel like the most important part. You want to stand out in a positive way, show you have style and class no matter what the setting is. High heel shoes can be an elegant yet edgy way to freshen up an outfit, helping to make a lasting first impression.

Last Updated:
By Carmen Landrum:

The latest update includes the removal of five products (11, 12, 13, 14, and 15) that no longer fitted our criteria and to reduce the list to ten products. Reducing the list to ten products makes the choosing and purchasing process easier and less overwhelming for you, the reader. Also, bulletpoints were added to the evaluation criteria section for better understanding.

The outfit can range from a vintage t-shirt and skinny jeans to a pencil skirt with a button-up blouse. Either way, high heel shoes can drastically help spice up or complete the look. In an office or work setting, high heels can make one seem more classy, professional and well-kept, while as at a party or event, high heels can make can make more of a bold and sexy statement.

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Clarks Brier Dolly
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With so many styles and brands to choose from, it’s easy to find high heel shoes for any aesthetic or occasion, but high heels can be uncomfortable. If you’re planning to wear them for a long period of time or move around frequently in them, it’s important to find shoes that are comfortable. There’s no need to sacrifice function for fashion!

We’ve done all the hard work for you, sifting through many styles and brands to help you find high heel shoes that not only look good but feel good too. The following list combines functionality, comfort, and fashion to provide the best high heel shoes you’ll definitely want to have in your closet.

 

10 Best High Heels

 

1. Clarks Brier Dolly

These classic styled pumps provide ultimate comfort with their cushioned ortholite insoles. Combining support and reliability, these shoes enable the ability to move around for long periods of time without discomfort. These 3 ½” round-toe heels are classy and casual, making them a great pair for the work setting. Created with leather and coming in a variety of neutral colors, these heels nail it when it comes to fashion and function.
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Ortholite Insoles
The cushioning inside the shoe is made from a material that provides 95% breathability. This helps to manage moisture and keep the foot cooler. Unlike most other insoles, these will not compress and change shape.

Comfort
The material of these pumps are relatively bendable so that the shoe will form to your foot with any movement. Slightly angled front platforms also help the ease of movement during walking.

Cost and Value
These heels can be a little costly depending on size and color, but the quality value makes it worth the price. The ortholite insoles in these heels provide comfort and long-term reliability that also validate the accuracy of the price.
Pros
  • Ultimate comfort
  • Long-term reliability
  • Bendable
  • Classic yet current
  • Breathability
Cons
  • Sizes may run larger than normal
  • May be stiff with first use

2. Nine West Flax

A classy, elegant dress pump for any occasion. Known for its ease of movement, these heels are durable and are reliable for those who spend a lot of time on their feet. Smooth pointed toe and classic silhouette style combine together to make a bold, sexy statement. This is a style that is versatile; great for a special occasion, or everyday work attire.
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Comfort
The 3 ½” heels provide average height while still allowing ease in ankles. Synthetic soles form to your feet as you wear them and the bottom soles don’t have platforms which allow for better balance while standing.

Pointed-toe Style
A classic, professional style that also has a sexy edge to it. The style is versatile, but works especially well in the work setting. The pointed toe look almost provides a sense of power; when you put them on you mean business.

Cost and Value
The quality value of the shoes isn’t worth as much as the price value. The Clarks Brier Dolly, which is in the same price range, offers more reliability features than these heels. Still a higher-average priced shoe, these are just a little more for fashion than function.
Pros
  • Average height
  • Comfortable fit
  • Pointed toe
  • Made with genuine leather
  • Comes in a variety of colors
Cons
  • Shoe lining may deteriorate over time
  • Colors may appear different online than in person

3. Jessica Simpson Cirrus

Your fun, festive and go-to party shoe! This two-piece dress heel features a pointed toe and an adjustable thin ankle strap for a fashion-forward look. A little taller than the others, this 4” heel has memory insoles so your feet will form into the shoe for comfort. The fabric material these heels are made with is sleek with a slight shine and comes in many different colors.
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Ankle Strap
The stylish ankle strap helps to lock in your foot providing security and stability. Adjustable to your ankle size so you won’t have to worry about it rubbing against your ankle.

Fabric Material
These fabric heels create more of a light, enjoyable vibe versus leather heels that come off looking more classic and professional. The lightweight material also provides comfort to the barefoot.

Cost and Value
Low pricing makes it a good choice for those on a budget who still want to look in style. More fun than functional, these work better as short-term heels and the pricing is reflective of that.
Pros
  • Open side, two piece design
  • Pointed toe
  • Low pricing
  • Ankle strap
  • Memory insoles
Cons
  • Narrow toe space
  • Can be uncomfortable if standing or moving for long periods of time

4. J. Adams Daisy

4. J. Adams Daisy
Versatile and fashion-friendly, these heels are great for those just beginning to wear high heeled shoes. They feature a lower, 2 ½” block heel which makes it super easy to balance and walk in. Stylish ankle straps help to secure your foot in the shoes while moving around. This simple and sassy style can complete all types of outfits whether you’re wearing jeans, shorts or dresses.
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Block Heel
Much less narrow than stilettos or pumps, the block heel makes walking much easier. The shorter heel length makes them a step up from sandals, so they’re great for beginners or those looking to add just a little height, nothing drastic.

Versatile
Coming in a variety of colors and being a simple design, these heels can work for a large range of ages compared to other heels. Kids, teens or adults can pair endless combinations of outfits with these shoes.

Cost and Value
Another great, low-costing shoe. These can be worn for longer periods of time as they are more comfortable than the Jessica Simpson Cirrus. Great cost and value overall, recommended for beginners.
Pros
  • Ankle strap
  • Low heel
  • Open toe
  • Comfortable
  • Modern design
Cons
  • May not offer enough cushion for bare feet
  • Band might slip around toe area

5. Calvin Klein Gayle

5. Calvin Klein Gayle
Another classy, modern pointed toe pump, featuring a sculpted heel with a metallic brand logo plate in the back. Depending on the color chosen, each shoe is made of a different type of fabric and unique comfort insoles; customization that allows for maximum comfort and usage. These 3” heels master minimalism and are perfect everyday heels for the work setting.
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Metallic Logo Plate
Most other heels don’t come with this unless they’re top-quality brands. Calvin Klein is a well-known American fashion brand with a very reliable reputation. Having their metallic logo on your heels shows others you have a standard of quality.

Comfortable Gel Insoles
These pumps come with gel pod insoles for maximum comfort, making them great for a long days work or an exciting night out. The insoles provide a cushioned arch that fits to form your foot for extra support.

Cost and Value
A higher priced shoe, mostly because of its brand name reputation. The quality value is slightly under the price value; these heels may not last through heavy wear but instead might make better special occasion dress shoes.
Pros
  • Pointed toe
  • Variety of colors and fabric materials
  • Metallic logo
  • Gel pod insoles
  • Average heel size
Cons
  • Narrow toe space
  • Heel can’t take too much pressure

6. Ivanka Trump Kayden 4

6. Ivanka Trump Kayden 4
Timeless and classic, this executive style pump creates a powerful yet feminine fashion statement. A little taller than the rest, these 4 ¼” heels are made from leather and have a small square metallic logo on the top back of the shoe. This pointed toe heel comes in a variety of colors, also featuring shiny and matte textures. These elegant heels work best in a formal setting and are perfect for special occasions.
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Classic Style
The classic pointed toe pump has been modernly recreated to meet all of today's fashion needs. This classy design works well in a variety of formal events and can also be worn in professional work settings. These heels are made to be a companion to your clothing, creating unity in an outfit.

Suede Material
The material on these heels is comfortable and drastically adds to the elegance and beauty of the shoe. Soft, suede material comes in a variety of colors and adds a chic finish to your look. This suede is aesthetic perfection.

Cost and Value
Relevant and cost-effective; these heels are on the lower-price scale. The material is cheaper than others however the outer appearance is highly formal. More fashion than function, you get what you spend on these pumps.
Pros
  • Taller heel (4 ¼”)
  • Pointed toe
  • Beautiful leather material
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Metallic logo
Cons
  • Made with cheap materials
  • Not made for long-term wear

7. Rockport Total Motion

7. Rockport Total Motion
These 3” pointed toe heels by Rockport provide total comfort, made for long-term reliability and moving around for long periods of time. Foam insoles and back lining work together to deliver ultimate comfort and stability, forming to your foot. The flexible leather material comes in many different colors, reflecting a casual, classy style that is perfect for the office or dress occasions.
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Foam Insoles
The retention foam footbed in these pumps allows your foot to come in full contact with the shoe. This helps to provide extra support in the arch area, as well as the heels and balls of your feet.

Complete Comfort
Rubber soles, leather material, foam insoles and TPU midsoles make a real winning combination. All-around, these pumps were made for nothing but comfort. Able to keep your feet at ease, you can get some real work done with this pair.

Cost and Value
Higher priced heels depending on size and color variation. Similar to the Clarks Brier Dolly, the comfort and support provided in these heels make them worth every penny. Fashionable and extremely functional, this is a of pair pumps you can definitely rely on.
Pros
  • 3” heel
  • Retention foam insoles
  • Long-term reliability
  • Foam back lining
  • Pointed toe
Cons
  • Narrow toe space
  • Color in material may fade over time

8. Steve Madden Carrson

8. Steve Madden Carrson
Fun, funky and chic, the customization of colors, patterns and materials make this block heel an outstanding choice for a variety of occasions. Featuring an ankle strap, 4” heels, and a single toe strap, the design is simple yet stylish and still provides comfort. These versatile heels are similar to the J. Adams Daisy, just a 1 ½” taller and made of higher quality materials.
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Versatile
The simple, chic design allows these heels to match with an endless variety of clothing styles. More choices for the outer appearance grant the ability for these heels to be worn on a variety of occasions, ranging from parties, casual, business or formal.

Unique Styles
Color options are very different from others! Ranging from glitter, suede, leather, denim, pink fur and floral designs, it’s almost impossible to not find one you like. Each shoe design provides a different vibe and style that is exclusively unique.

Cost and Value
Steve Madden is a well-known designer brand so you can expect shoes to be on the pricier side. Similar to others, your size and color will reflect different prices. These shoes are made of higher quality materials and therefore, fits well in its range for value.
Pros
  • Adjustable ankle strap
  • Single toe strap
  • Block heel
  • More color choices
  • Works in a variety of settings
Cons
  • May be uncomfortable if wearing for long periods of time
  • Toe strap may run slightly small

9. Sam Edelman Patti

9. Sam Edelman Patti
A little sexier than the block heels, these two-piece dress heels will add elegance and appeal to any outfit. 3 ¼” heels and adjustable ankle straps make for a sassy shoe that is still stable enough to dance around in. Sleek design and a variety of colors make it a great choice for work and formal occasions. It is a sophisticated, chic and a luxurious style that is also affordable.
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Youthful Appearance
The shoe design is simple and sexy, a style that can be worn by a variety of ages. Its thin, narrow appearance provides more focus and shine to your skin. A style like this helps bring energetic and playful vibes

Variety of Colors and Fabrics
Glossy, bold colors, matte leather, sparkles and shine can all be found here. Some color options provide more of a professional appeal while others are bright and sexy. These heels leave a lot of room for clothing compatibility.

Cost and Value
Fun and fashionable, but maybe not fully comfortable. These shoes are more for looks than support but are still a good pair of heels in general. An average cost created with good materials puts its value in the middle-range.
Pros
  • Adjustable ankle strap
  • Stiletto heel
  • Single toe strap
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Elegant, sexy style
Cons
  • Little to no insole padding
  • Not made for long-term use

10. Kate Spade Licorice

10. Kate Spade Licorice
Gloss and shine or velvet-like suede, these pointed toe pumps all embody class and style. A little taller of a pump, these 4” heels have perfect rounded edges with clean thin lines. Its thin lining allows for better air-flow and movement. If you’re feeling professional or looking to add a little edge to your look, these are the heels you’ve been looking for.
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Soft Suede
This suede is so soft and thin it almost mimics a velvet type of material. Neutral color options provide a light, attractive appeal that looks highly professional and well-kept. The material really adds a classic, almost vintage aesthetic.

Simple Curves
Other pointed toe pumps can look sharp depending on their figures. These delicately rounded curves around the edge of the shoes highlight the curves on your feet. Looking less edgy and more tender these heels appeal to be friendlier and classic.

Cost and Value
These heels are on the high side for pricing due to their brand name reputation and high-quality materials. If you’re not on a budget and are looking to make a fashion statement, this is the way to go. However, more for show than comfort, these don’t offer too much insole support so this makes them of average-value.
Pros
  • Thin lines
  • Lightly rounded curves
  • Pointed toe
  • Classic style
  • Quality material
Cons
  • Little to no insole support
  • Sizes may run smaller

The heels you wear can really be the statement piece for your whole outfit. Colors, textures, and designs all carry the ability to change the appeal or style of your clothing. Classic or current, sexy or simple, we know it’s important to find the perfect companion shoes. When you choose a pair of high heels you also want to make sure they’re comfortable, not just super cute (because they all are)! Now that we’ve narrowed down the selection to the best heels in the market, you’ll be sure to find a pair that works for your aesthetic or occasion. We’ve equipped you with all the knowledge you need so you’ll never have to decide between fashion and function ever again.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best High Heels

Fit

Whether this is your first or twentieth pair of high heels, fit needs to be your main focus when deciding which pair to get. Even if you are a high heel pro, unless you consistently buy the same style from the same brand, chances are they are not always going to fit the same way, and you probably will not be the same size in every brand.

The first step to buying your new pair of heels is knowing your exact size. Take the time to measure your feet, and then based on the brand know whether or not you will need to size up, down or stay true to size. Brands are all different, some offer different width sizes for wider feet, which is great for those with larger feet that have a hard time finding their size. If you have wide feet and the brand you’re looking at does not offer different width options, always size up ½ to a full size.

The amount you will need to either size up or down not only depends on the brand but shoe style as well. You want to find a shoe that has enough space to properly accommodate your feet and toes. Even though you may love the look of a certain style, if it just doesn’t work for your foot shape and size, it is not worth buying and then suffering through pain while wearing. The three most popular toe shapes in high heels are:

  • Pointed Toe – Get the appearance of longer legs while looking sleek, and sophisticated. Not a good option for wide feet, as they may cause toes to feel cramped. Perfect heel for work or business events.
  • Round Toe – Great for making feet look smaller, as no length is added on to the toe area. These also have much more room in the toe box which is very accommodating for wide feet. Depending on the style, these are a better style for going out and not the workplace.
  • Open Toe – The perfect choice for warmer months, but can cramp toes if the fit is not right. Keep in mind your toes are exposed so a pedicure may be needed prior to wearing. These are the best option in the summer.

Unlike running shoes or most sneakers, high heels will need to be broken in, and that is not always the most fun or comfortable process. Breaking in your new heels may happen quickly, or could take quite a bit of time, and this all depends on the style, heel height, and material.

Leather or suede is always the best option when not only looking for long-lasting quality shoes but ones that will fit best the quickest. These materials are much more flexible than say a synthetic fabric and therefore will mold to your feet much faster. Depending on the type of leather and its stiffness, after a few wears, you should notice the leather sort to almost soften and the shoe feels much fitted to your foot without any sort of irritations occurring.

  • The fit is very important when buying high heels and fit plus size varies from brand to brand. Therefore, it’s important to know your shoe size and how each brand constructs the fit of their shoes. For wider feet, you might have to go ½ or one-size up.

 

  • Shoe style plays an important role in shoe fitting. Some styles are more accommodating than others and if a certain style brings pain to your feet, they are not worth it. Pointed, rounded and open-toe are the most common styles.

 

  • High heels have to be broken in and that can be short or long depending on various factors such as heel height, material, and style. The material is usually the best determining factor in fit. Leather and suede will break-in and mold to your feet the quickest and synthetics can take longer. Natural materials can be more durable too.

Quality

When it comes to high heels, quality can be quite important and be the difference between owning a pair of shoes that not only feel great but look great as well. There are many details and features that come into play when picking out the perfect pair of heels and although they may not all seem important, they will make a difference long term.

A trendy or seasonal item can be fun however they are not shoes you should invest in because they generally are not something you will reach for very often. As the seasons change you will start reaching for other shoes, and slowly your heeled sandals will be pushed further and further back into your closet. Always think about the amount of use you will get from the shoes, and if by next season, or year they will be something you will want to wear.

The first thing you will notice when looking at and trying on high heels is the material of which they are made. They will either be leather, suede or a man-made, synthetic material, and it is important to pick the right one for you. If you are looking to splurge, and invest in a pair of heels opt for higher-end brands and fabrics that you know will never go out of style, and not fall apart after a few wears.

Leather is the most classic material and is timeless, so you can be certain that regardless of the season, or place you are going, a pair of leather pumps will add to any outfit and look sophisticated. It is also a relatively easy material to care for and keep clean. If you wish to not wear animal byproducts there are plenty of designers creating beautiful vegan leather shoes that are of the same high quality.

Price is an easy way to determine whether or not a shoe is a genuine leather or suede, however, if you are still uncertain, the inside of the heel will either state “man-made upper” or “leather or suede upper”. If you wish to wear this long-term, or as an everyday type of work shoe do not purchase a synthetic material, however for short-term wear, or to simply wear once to a special event, this is fine.

The sole is also very important, especially the way it is put into the shoe. If it is glued in it has a higher chance of lifting sooner and is a sign that they are not expensive quality. Sewn insoles last much longer and look more seamless. The insole lining should be made of leather and be all throughout the shoe, not just on the insole. This not only is great for comfort, and preventing irritation but leather is a very breathable material and will allow your feet to breathe throughout the day not feel clammy and hot.

  • Quality determines how high heels look and feel and many details can determine quality. Focus on the material (leather, suede, synthetic), it’s construction and style. Trendy shoes only last a season and synthetic shoes sometimes last only a few years.

 

  • Take a look at the soles. Glued on soles can be a sign of cheap quality but sewn-in is usually a sign of top quality. The insole should be looked at too. If the insole is leather, you have a quality heel and it’s even better when the leather is throughout the heel.

Comfort

Your high heels will not instantly feel comfortable the second you slip them on, there will be a break in period, however, look past needing to break them in and think about the long-term comfort. The height of the heel, if any part of it rubs against your ankle or foot in a bothersome way, and where you plan on potentially wearing them.

You will know fairly quickly the comfort level of your new heels and whether or not they will be best suited for your workplace, events, or one-time wear. If you are looking for a heel to wear for hours on end and plan on being on your feet you need to choose a style that will ensure stability. Stability and comfort go hand in hand and you may look past small features, but these can make all the difference.

  • Straps – Ankle straps, gladiator style, slingbacks and any other style that is adjustable and can be secured will add support. Your foot should not be sliding around in your shoe as this will make it harder for you to walk and can cause your ankle to roll which may lead to injury.
  • Thick Heels – The thicker the heel, think wedges, for instance, the more stable you will be on your feet, and the higher you can go without being wobbly.
  • Platform – This added bit of height to the front of the shoe can make a large difference when it comes to high heels being comfortable and easy to walk in. The higher the heel, the more platform it should have, otherwise your foot will sit at a very uncomfortable angle.

 

When deciding which heel height is best for different events and day to day wear there are a few general rules of thumb, however, it’s good to always trust your own personal style and go off what feels best for you. The most simple, and easiest to wear is the kitten heel, this is usually under 2” and should be comfortable for long hours at a time. The most common heel for work and any other business or everyday event is 3 inches, and this is usually the average height on a pair of pumps. When you start getting in 4” and up you will notice most of these shoes have platforms as well and are best suited for evening events, dinners, and will not be the easiest to walk around in.

The first time you slip on your shoes you should notice how much cushioning they either have or lack, and this will determine whether or not they are worth getting. High heels are not known for their immense cushioning and plush insoles because unlike running shoes they are not meant to be walked in for long periods of time. However, they should have at least a small amount of padding in the front of the shoe, where the ball of your foot sits because this is where the most pressure is applied due to the angle your foot is on.

If you plan on wearing them for longer than you feel they’ll be comfortable for, insoles can usually always be added in to help with cushioning, however, ensure that with these added in there is still plenty of room for your feet, and the shoes do not fit too tightly now. If your heels are too tight, the first place you will notice it is in your toes. Depending on the material it may potentially loosen and stretch slightly, so if they are ever so slightly too tight that may be ok. Squeezing your toes and causing immense discomfort though will not get better with wear and time.

On first wear, high heels can be uncomfortable, especially during the break-in period, but do not give up on them too quickly; give it time. However, if the discomfort comes from rubbing or too much pressure from the heel, you might want to pass the particular heels on.

 

  • Take note of how and where you are planning to wear your heels. Longer hours or lots of activity require a heel that offers stability and cushioning. Certain heels fit best in certain environments so those party heels might not hold up in the office.

 

  • Don’t forget style and height too. Thin and lightweight heels might not provide much in comfort but heels that have ankle straps, platforms, and thick heels can. The heel height will determine the comfort.

 

  • Remember, the higher the heel, the more pressure on your feet. 2’’ and lower is best for longer wear, 3” is best for work, and 4” or more is best for occasional and special wear.

 

  • Lastly, there should be cushion padding in the ball and heel of the shoes as most foot pressure accumulates there. For additional comfort, you can add insoles but make sure they aren’t so thick that your heels become too tight to wear.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What type of high heel is best for work?
A: Any pump or heeled sandal under 3 inches is office appropriate, depending on where you work however you may be able to wear more or less. The type of heel you should wear to work completely depends on your job and how comfortable you will be in them, but generally if you will be on your feet for at least part of the day, exceeding 3” will not be comfortable.

Q: Do high heels need to be broken-in?
A: Heels almost always require a break-in period, and depending on the shoe some last longer than others. There is a difference between a shoe being too tight, and needing to be worn in, and they can be easily confused especially when it comes to high heels. If it is overall a little snug and the fabric feels stiff, these just need to be worn in, and the leather or whichever fabric needs a few wears to loosen and mold to your feet. You know if a shoe is too tight if your toes feel cramped and pinched, and parts of the heel, like the sides are digging in and causing actual pain. If this is the case, you need to size up immediately.

Q: Are high heels hard to walk in?
A: The higher the heel the more challenging they can be, so it is important to know your skill level before you attempt going out for the night in a pair of 5” heels. Details like ankle straps, or platforms can really change how much better a shoe feels and can add much-needed support. If you can’t take more than a couple steps without your foot sliding out of the shoe or feeling discomfort, you need to look at a smaller heel or a different style of shoe.

Q: Are heels bad for your feet?
A: They are definitely not the best footwear choice, however, if worn properly and with caution they can be very safe to wear. Depending on the heel height, your weight is generally shifted to the ball of your foot which can cause misalignment throughout your entire body. This can lead to ankle and foot pain, and even knee and back pain if you are not cautious. High heels should not be an everyday shoe, and if you are forced to wear them to work try to keep the heel low, and add in any extra support you may need with insoles.

Q: Are stilettos safe to wear often?
A: Stilettos are not necessarily an “unsafe” shoe, however, they can be dangerous if not worn properly. With thicker heels, your body weight is distributed more evenly and therefore you have more stability. Thinner heels give you much less balance and can be an accident waiting to happen. If you do wish to wear thin high heels, wear them to a dinner where you are going from the car to the restaurant, rather than an event where you will be walking around for a long period of time.

Sources

  1. Wiki How, How To Choose High Heels, How To,
  2. Zephyr, A Girls Guide to High Heels, Guide, Nov 20, 2008
  3. Jana Nguyenova, How to Pick Comfortable High Heels, Webpage, Aug 08, 2017


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