Falling down: help me not to
March 31, 2009 2:58 AM   Subscribe

What should I wear on my feet this spring/summer? ... Not so much a fashion question, as a let's-keep-my-feet-under-me-and-my-bones-unbroken question. But a little fashion would be nice.

All my life I've happily worn thong-type sandals from May-October, but where I live (and do most of my walking) now is like an obstacle course for walkers, even though it's urban: uneven terrain, lots of hills and inclines, many different surfaces with unexpected dips and projections... and twice last summer I had fairly serious falls that left scars, though thank goodness no broken bones or other, more serious injury.

One time I slipped on what could only be glass dust that had been put down over what looked like maybe some kind of oil spill on a steep pedestrian street by a renovation site (this was just colossal stupidity from some worker on the site, and honestly, no footwear would have saved me from that fall) and the other was from sliding on a large, slippery cobblestone, straight down onto a sharp curbstone. But there were also enough near-misses that I'm determined to do what I can to find footwear with good traction, and possibly other unknown features that might make them safer...

* not crazy about sneakers, or other closed shoes if I have a choice

* hate "clunky" but realize I may not have a ton of options

* very hot climate here

* will be wearing with skirts or longish shorts - very casual

* not in U.S. or U.K. so not all brands will be available

* not averse to ordering online from UK or anywhere in Europe

* willing to spend what it takes, because, hey - it's less than a hospital stay, right?
posted by taz to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Male perspective here, but I'd look into Keen, Born, and Chaco.. all three companies are pretty big around the granola crowd here, and they make less outdoorsy, more casual shoes as well.

If you're stubbing your toes in flops, you should look into the Keens, which generally have good toe protection (at the cost of looks).
posted by hobbes at 3:26 AM on March 31, 2009

I second Keen. I don't have any, but folks I know who do love 'em. If you don't love their regular closed-toe sandal (which seems very popular amongst folks I know), what do you think of this one? This Mary Jane is kinda cute too.

Chacos are great, but more appropriate if you'll be spending time on rivers. Though, this toe-loop sandal is cute and probably sturdier than regular flip flops (thongs).
posted by bluedaisy at 4:16 AM on March 31, 2009

Seconding the Chaco recommendation. I don't have a toe stubbing problem in mine; the foot is held in well.
posted by thewestinggame at 4:19 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: Traction is good, but I find that flip flops can go one way while my feet go another on uneven terrain. I like a sturdy sole and straps that keep my foot securely attached. Avoid heels.

I would recommend looking at Teva in addition to Chaco and Keen. Modista is great for finding just the style you want. Finding the actual shoe may be a bit harder. Zappo's will ship internationally, but it's expensive and sales are final. Good luck.
posted by zoel at 5:38 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: Thirding Chaco's. The only potential problem with them is that they have a really high arch, so they can take a little while to get used to. I've had mine for 4 years though, and I wear them almost daily in the summer.
posted by JannaK at 5:42 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: Thirding chacos - they're quite nice looking, durable, and comfortable, plus they fit unusually snugly to your foot, so you can even run in them. I'd say they have an average amount of traction.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:43 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: I have this kind of Teva (or something like that) and I love them. They took me a week or so to get used to wearing them after primarily wearing flip-flops. I do everything in them (except for state park hiking). For this summer I'm looking at buying some plain black Chacos for a change and to have a solid color (it'll match more with work clothes).
posted by collocation at 6:30 AM on March 31, 2009

A bit more stylish an option (which won't look ridiculous with a skirt) would be ballet flats - they'll stay on your feet properly if the fit right, and you can add those traction pads to the sole to give yourself good grip - any proper shoe repair store will sell them. I love these, personally, though they really (really!) require extra traction additions.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:32 AM on March 31, 2009

I wore these exclusively during a week-long romp thru Italy, and had no problems. They do need some breaking in but now they feel perfect.

For a closed-toe option, I saw lots of women wearing these in the EU without socks, and they looked really comfortable. They looked better in person, even though they look too clunky on the website.

Born & Chaco are also good.
posted by wowbobwow at 6:45 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: Just chiming in to agree on the Chacos. Everyone's got their favorite active sandal. This just happens to be mine.

They can be a bit heavy, yes. And they're not cheap, and frankly I walk enough that I break the sole and need to replace them every 18 months or so. But I'm happy to spend a few bucks to keep my feet active and happy: they're comfortable, my feet aren't ruined, and I find the high arch to be a plus, not a minus.
posted by teragram at 6:51 AM on March 31, 2009

Another vote for Born, but I'll also suggest Palladium, which I just discovered. Many of their styles are similar to ballet flats, but with more traction and straps to keep your feet from sliding out.
posted by Evangeline at 6:52 AM on March 31, 2009

The most expensive non-computer thing I own is a pair of Mephisto sandals. They're actually not that expensive for good shoes, and I've worn mine for years, dressy and casual, and with a lot of walking. Worth checking out.
posted by sarahkeebs at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2009

I wear SAS sandals all summer long. Not the most fashionable, but padded, comfy, great traction and wear.
posted by minervous at 8:37 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: Love chacos. I still have the same pair I bought 10 years ago which took me through monsoons in India. Well, my Birkenstocks fell apart in Calcutta and I had my Dad send a pair to me. You can also send them in to get resoled.
posted by scazza at 10:16 AM on March 31, 2009

Here's the SAS Shoes website.
posted by scazza at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2009

"Think" brand of sandals (made in Europe somewhere) are really comfortable and you can't stub your toe in them. I bought mine in Canada for around 225 , not sure where you are.
posted by Penelope at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2009

This kind of Birkenstocks are actually quite cool looking on, because of the T-strap, especially the black patent ones. There's a similar style with a strap that goes around the heel. I wasn't real keen on the prospect of wearing Birks myself because.. I went to a hippie school for a while so was tired of them.. but these are great. sturdy, comfortable. they come in different widths too (they run wide IMHO). I'm sure a big site like Zappos is going to have all the colors and sizes.
posted by citron at 12:00 PM on March 31, 2009

as someone who is crazy picky about footwear style - the Keen Madrid isn't bad looking
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:21 PM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! I think I've found what I want, based on your recommendations: the Chaco Hipthong, which still has that nice sort of minimal look/feel, not clunky, but seems to have enough support and traction, etc. Unfortunately the best I can find is $79 with $40 international shipping at Zappo's, which makes me groan. I've found lower (much lower) prices, and I've found lower shipping prices, but I haven't found the combo of that item + international shipping at a reasonable price + my size (8).

I almost got the Birkenstock Gizeh citron mentions from Sierra Trading Post where they have them for a very good price - but only in narrow... which could work if they do run wide as citron thinks, but then in the sizing it says that U.S. 8-8 1/2 is Eur. 39. But I wear a U.S. 8, and a European 38, so that confuses me, too, and I don't think I want to take sizing chances ordering online.

Anyway, I haven't ordered yet, and I'm still checking out this thread and online sources, but I do love those Chacos.

oh, and btw - there are some very reduced Mephistos at STP in a couple of sizes. Not good for me because that ankle strap is not my thing, but someone following this thread may be interested. :)
posted by taz at 3:56 PM on March 31, 2009

Birks suck on cobblestones, btw.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:04 PM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: I've marked best answers just based on what I ended up choosing - so, totally subjective. I went with a couple of Tevas from Sierra Trading Post (because the prices were good and the international shipping was less than most other places), and I'm ordering the Chaco Hipthong, but I'm going to have it delivered to my folks in the U.S. and either pick them up when we visit, or have them send them to me - I just couldn't hang with Zappo's $40 shipping fee.

Thanks, all!
posted by taz at 4:55 AM on April 1, 2009

Keens would be good. Alternatively, I once saw a woman change out of flip flops and into simple ballet flats to climb a pyramid, and she didn't fall ;)
posted by chiraena at 6:56 PM on April 2, 2009

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