Ladies, you’ve all done it at least once, and you all know the pain it causes. The throbbing, burning, unfathomable pain. Get your minds out of the gutters, of course I am talking about shoving our tootsies into too tight shoes, often with sky high heels. The age-old saying “beauty is pain” definitely correlates to fashion too. And for most of my life, I have agreed. Or, I should say, for most of my life, I didn’t even have think about it. I wore heels daily in high-school (why yes, I was voted best dressed – my feet and I earned it!), I strolled from one end of my college campus to the other to get to parties in the pointiest pumps with the skinniest heels (with only one shoe breaking in 5 years) and I traversed the big city of Chicago in the cutest, tallest boots, walking without a care in the world, or a throb in my foot. No pain whatsoever. Until one day, there it was – the pain! Excruciating heel pain in both feet. It came on suddenly, and has persisted since. Every doctor, podiatrist and surgeon I’ve seen says I owe a big thank you to my shoes of years past.
There I was, mid-twenties having to bench my favorite fashion accessories, my shoes. They no longer were going to get me from one end of the field to the other, they could only sit on the sidelines. And what was I left to work with, granny’s orthotics? I don’t think so! So, I went on a mission, a feel-good one for me feet. I had to find shoes that were comfortable, but also stylish and could seamlessly blend into my fashionable wardrobe. I needed shoes that looked cute, looked my age and could get me from point A to point B with little to no pain. Thankfully, in recent years, it is obvious my pain has clearly been many shoe companies’ gains. More and more brands are catering to stylish, comfortable footwear. People are wising up and realizing we only get one pair of feet, we have to treat them right!
Since so many of you fashionistas are probably in the same boat, let me help you out! Below are my top 5 fashionable, but oh-so-comfortable shoe companies. Each brand fits true to size, and in addition to info on each, for those that need it, like this flat-footed gal, I have also rated them on a low, moderate and high arch support scale – low being the least arch support, moderate being good arch support, and high being incredible arch support (aka, shoes your feet will literally not get tired in). You, and your feet, can thank me later.
Vionic: What I love about this brand is you would NEVER know that each shoe has the perfect arch to give you all day-support and the cushiest soles to make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud. What you will know, right away, is how fashionable ALL of their shoes are. From sandals, to tennis shoes and even dress shoes, they make it all. They also are reasonably priced for such a supportive shoe. They have really expanded their lines over the last several years to target shoe lovers of all ages, and I am so excited to see how they will continue to progress. They are a top pick for fashionionable footwear seekers. I give them a STRONG moderate rating.
Sperry: When you think of Sperry, your mind might go right to a boat shoe. And yes, of course Sperry is know for their classic boat shoe, but what they should really be known for is their wide range of classic comfortable shoes. Sperry makes classic shoes you can wear in your everyday life. Sometimes they put a little twist on the classic and throw in a funky fabric or cool trim. They have incorporated arch support into some of their shoes, and they all have a comfy foot bed – many of which leave room to insert an actual arch support, should you need it. I give them a low level rating on the arch support scale – but they are still comfy!
Birkenstock: A tried and true staple in the world of hippies and arch support seekers for decades, this brand thankfully made a comeback right as I needed them! I remember wearing Birkenstocks as a kid, then as a teen thinking there was nothing more ugly. Sure, they still don’t have a lot of shape to them, but the styles have come SO far! There is now a pair to match literally anything you own, from funky fabrics to bold metallics (my faves). Birkies are also so much more than the sandals we all think of, they have tennis shoes, dress shoes and even boots. If I know I am going to be on my feet all day, or doing a lot of walking, this is always the brand of shoe I grab first. They rate high on the arch support scale.
Gabor: This is a brand I happened upon while taking a long stroll through NYC (likely wearing one of my other faves listed here). I thought their shoes were so unique and so chic. They had style written all over them and comfort hidden just below the surface. Their shoes are an investment, but I have learned, when you are going to wear a shoe a lot because it’s comfortable, and it looks great with your wardrobe, and will for many years to come, it’s worth investing in! This brand has really proven that your typical “Grandma’s orthotics stores” (that’s where I found my first pair) are no longer what we once thought of them as. Some shoes have more arch support than others so I would rate these as low on the scale.
Mephisto: This is the brand that usually takes the cake in ultimate comfort and durability. They are truly built to last (I have some that were my mom’s from 20 years ago) and they look good, and keep your feet feeling good doing it! Each shoes is given a name, and the different names equal different foot beds. For example, Helen is my bestie at Mephisto and the name of the shoe (foot bed) I seek, as it gives me the most support and fits me the most comfortably. Like the founders of Birkenstocks, Mephisto’s are made my Europeans, who know all about good craftsmanship. Another shoe that some may consider an investment, but I promise you, they are worth every penny! Their shoes used to give the typical orthotics vibe, but they too have stepped up their game, making their styles more sleek, feminine and fashionable. Another brand rating high on the scale.
My many sky-high babies still sit in my shoe closet! Some days I pull them out and risk the pain for special events. Some days I just wear them around the house. I loved those shoes! I don’t know that I will ever think there is anything more sleek and stylish than classic stiletto pumps, so I have to keep them on reserve – you know, in hopes that one day my feet decide they won’t be in pain wearing them – but I am so thankful for my roster of comfy options! I am glad I can still look as stylish as always, and that my tootsies don’t have to suffer!
Signed with Style,
Save this post for future shoe shopping inspiration: