Fabulous footwear for flat female feet?
March 17, 2010 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find cute, comfortable shoes for flat female feet that stand for 10 hours a day?

The details:

I wear a US Women's Size 8 in shoes, and my feet are seriously flat. When I'm standing, I have no arch at all, and it's so bad that the muscles on the sides bulge where they shouldn't. I've seen a podiatrist, who was honestly less than helpful.

Also, I work in a fashion retail company as a store manager, and they want us to be "on-trend" and "fashion-forward" in our apparel choices, so the shoes need to have some kind of cute-factor.

I have never, in all my long retail career, found a pair of shoes that was comfortable for even four hours without being orthopedic, and I'm not quite old enough yet to pull off the granny-shoes with any sort of flair. Help me, HiveMind!
posted by mornie_alantie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I wear SAS shoes. Some of their sandals might qualify as cute. (I don't have to be cute, and so I don't, but these are hands down the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned; I'm a very-flat-footed women's size 9 1/2 WW. Did I mention they come in widths, too? yay for odd shaped feet!).

Even if you don't think so, stores which sell SAS shoes seem to have knowledgeable staff who might be able to help you pick out some other brand of shoe that is more stylish but still ok on the feet.
posted by nat at 10:56 PM on March 17, 2010

Have you tried custom made orthotics? They're just shoe inserts so they should work in almost any flat. They help me and my flat feet but I'm not on my feet all day.
posted by chairface at 10:57 PM on March 17, 2010

I love Ecco, Privo, Born, and Keen shoes. Don't know how "fashion forward" they are (ie: very in the Pacific Northwest, probably no very in the East) but they are ultra comfy.
posted by MsKim at 11:20 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's worth it to see a new podiatrist. When I was growing up, I had slightly flat feet and weak ligaments in my ankles, and I had custom orthotics as my feet grew, which really helped. I'm sure that they would be a horrible mess if they'd grown without the support they needed. My mother, who as far as we can tell is basically me, 30 years into the future with no childhood podiatry, has orthotics as an adult, and she loves them. She has two pairs, one for sneakers, boots and flats, and a pair that's slimmer and more flexible for heels. She says that she had no idea that walking didn't have to hurt, before she got her orthotics, and they even help her wonky knee problems and lower back pain. As for me, I get by on regular dr schol's gel inserts in all of my shoes, but my feet aren't flat anymore. Anyway, my point is, if you have definite problems with your feet, see a doctor about it, and if that doctor's no help, see a different one. The solution is out there, and you shouldn't have to suffer because your first foot doctor was useless.
posted by Mizu at 12:15 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Camper shoes are sublimely comfortable, but very expensive. I also have a surprisingly comfortable and good-looking pair of Hush Puppies. Outside of summer, consider boots instead of shoes.
posted by embrangled at 12:33 AM on March 18, 2010

Also, if you really want to push the envelope, it seems the combat boots with dresses look has risen from its early '90s fashion grave. I've been seeing it around a lot lately, always on pretty girls who presumably know what they were doing fashion-wise. Scour some women's magazines for examples and build your case: man boots are fashion-forward.
posted by embrangled at 1:09 AM on March 18, 2010

Privo is a line produced by Clarks, and I love love love Clarks. I'm on my feet almost all day as well, and to aid in my fashion fixations while staying completely comfortable, Clarks are the way to go. I can't entirely speak to the flat foot thing, but they're sized comfortable and are built for being good to your feet.
posted by redsparkler at 1:29 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding Clarks. I have two pairs of their flats and they are very comfortable. 6pm.com is a discount site that usually has a good selection on sale.
posted by something something at 3:50 AM on March 18, 2010

I don't think they are fashion forward, but if you want a good pair of basic flats you should look at Propet. Zappos has a good selection. They range from basic to very matronly. However, my wife is also a retail manager and is on her feet for 40-50 hours per week and her foot pain has stopped since she started wearing Propet (about two years now). While they don't meet the fashion forward part of the equation, they have several pairs of basic flats and mary janes that could be fashionable enough to pass while being comfortable for long periods of time.
posted by tommccabe at 4:02 AM on March 18, 2010

I find Aerosoles to be the most comfortable. They've got lots of padding built in to the shoe. You may have a different type of discomfort than I do; my feet have very high arches and will hurt at the ball of the foot from too much pressure over time.
posted by WowLookStars at 4:18 AM on March 18, 2010

Aerosoles are a great brand of shoes.

I have the same problem as you; my left foot is so flat my footprint actually curves out instead of in. I had orthotics as a kid but never wore them because they hurt so much. I've found that the most comfortable shoes are the ones that have absolutely no arch at all because my arches will ache after a day in shoes with strong arch-support. That may not be the "best" option for my feet, but it's how I get through the day. In addition, this semester I'm student teaching so I've gone from sitting around to on my feet and moving around for hours on end. As such, I tend to wear a lot of flats:

-In an AskMe a few weeks ago I recommended these shoes, and I absolutely love them. They have a lot of cushioning in in them (for flats) and, if they're not fashion-forward at least they're not hideous.
-I also bought the Merona Madalena Suede shoes from Target the other day (they're in like 8 different colors) and loved them so much I went back and bought another pair (would have bought more but there weren't any in my size).
-Aerosoles are a great brand. I love them. Generic Keds tennis shoes are also insanely comfortable, but not the most fashion-forward.
posted by lilac girl at 5:08 AM on March 18, 2010

You might look at danskos - I can wear these shoes for hours and they come in a lot of different sizes, colors, and styles. It took a little bit at first to get used to the height/style, but after that I didn't want to wear other shoes. You generally order a half size up so your heel isn't tight against the back. They are also a bit expensive, but mine have lasted 10+ years with a lot of use so it's a great value in my opinion.
posted by belau at 6:03 AM on March 18, 2010

Try getting some of those heel cushion shoe inserts. They support your arches and heels, and IMO make any shoes more comfortable. You will have to be more selective about what shoes to wear, because some styles won't hide them. If you avoid things like slingbacks and mules you should be fine.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:13 AM on March 18, 2010

SAS shoes are the bomb for comfort, but stylewise they are....challenged.

You can try Dr. Scholl's foot inserts-or if you have something near you called the Good Feet store you can get foot inserts there that will work for you. I'd also try another foot doctor.

(I feel your pain, I have equally flat feet and am also on my feet all the time at work. But in my case I just wear Saucony running shoes all day, and I doubt that's the fashion statement you are looking for.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:14 AM on March 18, 2010

I nth the recommendation to see another podiatrist and get custom orthotics. My feet are also so flat that my footprint bows out rather than in, just like lilac girl. I get awful plantar fasciitis if I walk around barefoot for more than a few minutes, so orthotics make a huge difference in my quality of life.

There are several shoe companies that specifically make "orthotic-friendly" shoes, i.e., the shoes are built with extra depth. They come packaged with an insert in the footbed that is removable so that an orthotic will fit. (With the insert sole they're just like any other shoe, so they're marketable to non-orthotic-wearing people too.)

Propet, Drew, and Aravon are some of the names...Aravon and Propet's shoe lines are generally cuter, but Drew has some perfectly OK looking shoes too, as well as a wide variety of super-clunky orthopedic models for when you want to rock the frumpy old lady look. Woo.

Zappos has many styles from these makers but you can also look them up directly online and see the whole line. I know you can order shoes directly from Drew, not sure about the others.

Hope this helps. Life is TOO SHORT to be in foot pain all the time.
posted by Sublimity at 6:25 AM on March 18, 2010

Doc Marten mary janes. I have these and they are comfortable as hell and adorable, too. They look cute with that combat-boot-dress kinda look (I do slim black yoga pants with a dress over them -- no fussing with nylons or tights is great), but not toooo combat boot-y. And in looking that up I just saw these...oh damn. Shoe lust!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:04 AM on March 18, 2010

I have similarly flat feet, and similar problems. Fortunately, the "old lady" shoe brands are getting better looking all the time (or maybe I'm just getting older?!). I like the Hush Puppies, Fitzwell, and Naturalizer brands, all of which come in wide sizes and usually with no irritating built in arch things.
posted by Wavelet at 8:03 AM on March 18, 2010

Hmmm.... apparently Dansko is no longer made by the same company. Sanita is the original company and their shoe is made in Europe and differs a bit in quality and sizing. Dansko lost the patent (I think) and now are making their own shoe in China. I've heard the quality and fit is not as good. I think this change happened in 2008 based on some internet postings here and there. Here's some info I found. Anyway, was going to recommend Dansko but remembered that they differed now.
posted by amanda at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2010

Fluevogs? www.fluevog.com

cute and comfortable - they do heels as well but I have a pair of their flats and they are the most comfortable shoes I own.
posted by nunoidia at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2010

Footsmart.com have an excellent range of pretty shoes for "problem" feet. (They also stock some clunky styles, so don't be put off if these are the first that you see!) You can buy supportive orthotics for flat feet there, PLUS shoes that take orthotic inserts. Great place - with competitive prices, so you can't lose.
posted by Susurration at 2:16 PM on March 18, 2010

Thanks so much, everyone! At my next paycheck, I'm going to drop a little cash on some decent-looking shoes, and when I get health insurance at this job (yay, waiting period) I'm getting my flat feet to a podiatrist for some orthotics. You all are right... life's too short to be in this kind of pain... which travels up to the calves, into the hips and lower back. That can't be good.
posted by mornie_alantie at 11:00 PM on March 19, 2010

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