I need shoes for my feet
May 23, 2011 5:26 PM   Subscribe

How do I find professional shoes that don't give me big bleeding friction wounds or crush my toes so they can't function AND are cute?

I seem to have this problem no matter what shoes I get, heels or no heels, no matter what inserts I try, no matter what balm or moleskin or anything in the foot care aisle I try. Always with the big gaping holes and the crunching. The problems never present themselves when I'm trying them on the store but they usually kick in just after the shoes are just slightly obviously worn.

I work in professional offices in Chicago. It's starting to get warm so I will be starting to wear skirts. I need suggestions of all kinds. I have big feet and big shoes make my feet look bigger. I like shoes that make my feet look dainty.

I've been getting away with sneakers and insanely comfortable flip-flops for the last two years but I think that that time is coming to an end soon.
posted by bleep to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you might need shoes with a bigger toe box, such as Dansko (utilitarian and oh so comfy for hours of standing and walking), Born (currently designing for a hybrid of dainty and hippie styles), or Miz Mooz (comfy and super cute if you like their aesthetic).
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2011

Check out various comforting cushiony items at Foot Petals. And shoes by Clarks and Rockport (the latter majorly updated from its granny-shoe days), which offer lots of aesthetically as well as podiatrically considerate options.
posted by taramosalata at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2011

1. Buy shoes at Nordstrom. Their sales people actually know a lot about the shoes they sell so you can tell them exactly what problems you have and what you need. Also, Nordstrom will let you return shoes even if you've worn them a few times.

2. #1 will mostly rule this out but it's worth saying anyway: don't buy cheap shoes. That's not to say that pricier shoes are always better (I have a hard time believing Jimmy Choos cost multiple hundreds of American dollars because of any quality or comfort factors) but cheaper shoes will almost always tear up your feet. If you're on a budget, buy nice brands from the clearance rack or online.

3. You don't mention any brands you have tried. Have you ever tried any that brand themselves as comfort footwear? I'm thinking brands like Naturalizer or Born (or maybe Aerosoles, though personally I think their stuff is better suited to the older crowd). They are good quality and, in my experience, tend to be built thoughtfully. I have a pair of Born sandals and some flats that get tons of compliments. That's saying a lot for me given that I have size 11 feet and work with some fashion-conscious people.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2011

My daughters like Sofft for pumps or high heels, I like Born mentioned by ImproviseOrDie.
posted by francesca too at 5:49 PM on May 23, 2011

So, where are you willing to compromise first? Cute and comfortable is a tough combination. There are lots of different ways to go. Comfort shoes like Sofft and Ecco and Clarks and Born try to be dressy-ish in a classical way, but with some extra comfort.

You can also go the more expensive and funky but comfortable route with Fluevogs. (My Fluevogs are more comfortable than my so-called comfort shoes.)

I love Danskos but plenty of folks think they are ugly as sin. If you might be willing to consider some (very non-clog looking) wooden-bottomed shoes, check out their new series of shoes like the Rowena for summer. They also have other styles that are more like dress shoes, but I suspect you won't like them because they are big.

The blog Barking Dog Shoes is great for this.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:18 PM on May 23, 2011

Blisters in heat are caused by friction + sweat. Try to minimize the sweat. Baby powder and/or deodorant (yeah I know that sounds weird but it works!).
posted by radioamy at 7:15 PM on May 23, 2011

bleep, where are you getting the blisters? Also on the toes or elsewhere?

I order almost all my shoes from FootSmart. They carry lots of brands of quality shoes; I especially like SoftSpots, Propet, and Klogs, and I always choose the style carefully so that I have a roomy toe box.

I have a pair of these and they're cute and roomy (I got them in wide width and that might be something to consider if you need more room for your toes). I wear them with pants and capris, though they'd also look good with casual skirts. I also have a pair of these and they go with everything.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 7:16 PM on May 23, 2011

I've had good look with Born, Propet, and SAS.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:19 PM on May 23, 2011

Luck, even, although my feet also look a lot better in those shoes...
posted by thomas j wise at 7:20 PM on May 23, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for these great responses. I'm heading out on an expedition tomorrow and I need informations.

I get the blisters in all different places depending on the shoe. Sometimes on the surface of the toes, sometimes on the sides of the feet, sometimes on the heels.

Personally I'm not willing to compromise because I have this tenacious hope that the perfect Platonic Ideal Shoe exists and I just have to seek it out.
posted by bleep at 7:23 PM on May 23, 2011

I've had great luck with Soft Spots, though I don't know that I've seen them irl. You can find them on zappos and with free shipping and returns I'd say it's worth a shot.
posted by brilliantine at 7:27 PM on May 23, 2011

Sounds like you and I have similar problems with shoes, bleep. One simple thing that helped me a lot is that I've learned to never wear the same shoes two days in a row. All shoes irritate my feet somewhere, so switching from day to day helps keep the irritation from getting bad enough to become a blister. I also choose softer leather; hard leather always makes me blister like crazy. Propet and SoftSpots are good for this. And since my heels are lumpy and tend to blister more than anyplace else, I often wear clogs or mules.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 7:43 PM on May 23, 2011

One more, bleep, and I promise I'll shut up: I got these SoftWalk shoes a few months ago and they are super comfy and very cute! I've worn them with stockings and without and haven't had any sore spots (though the sole isn't as comfy as some of my other shoes, so I wouldn't wear them for a tourist-walking-everywhere day).
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:10 PM on May 23, 2011

I like these ballet flats, they're not rigid but soft-sided so they have a lot of give. They feel like wearing slippers to me.
posted by cali at 8:58 PM on May 23, 2011

Danskos are now made in China. The "old" Danskos are now (as in the past) made by Sanita, though now officially under the Sanita name. The newer Danskos have clearly gone down in quality. The newer styles are reasonably cute, but I've noticed a huge variance in sizing (I've gone down to a 39 in some styles, whereas I used to wear a 41), and many styles are much narrower by design. Furthermore, the newer styles with cloth insoles/liners get stinky. (I was told this by the clerk at my favorite store.)

I face many of the same problems. If you want to wear sandals, get some BodyGlide and rub it all over the top of your feet and anywhere else you think you might get a blister.

Having properly fitted shoes will also make a huge difference. Some sandals are built to flip a little against your feet; others will drive you insane with every rub. I think a close-to-the-foot fit that still has a little give (e.g. not super tight) is best.

I reeeeeally miss the old Tatami styles with the Birkenstock footbeds. They may still be available on eBay if you're willing to take the risk.
posted by Madamina at 10:12 PM on May 23, 2011

keens are another comfortable option. i like the way they look but they don't make your feet look petite.

posted by alcahofa at 11:17 PM on May 23, 2011

Best answer: I have a very similar problem. There are several reasons for this. The first is that I have ankle equinus, which means my ankle isn't as flexible as it's meant to be and this has a knock-on effect which somehow causes shoes to tear up my feet. The second is that I have wide toes and narrow heels, the hardest shape of foot to fit.

What I think you need is to have your feet properly measured. The UK brand Clarks will do this for children's feet, they would probably do the same for adult feet. It might also be worth going to a bespoke shoemaker to get advice. If you had a pair made by them, it would be very expensive, but would possibly start you off for off-the-shelf shoe shopping the next time around.

Another essential is to always wear some form of sock with the shoe. In winter, and at any time of year when the maximum temperature for the day is 15 degrees or less, I wear opaque tights of 80 denier or more. Any less than that and they just rip. Or if the shoe is suitable, I wear socks - ankle socks folded over to the right height. Those sneaker socks are just another way of tearing up my foot by adding an extra sharp edge in the form of the elastic.

In the summer, I wear fine-gauge skin-toned fishnets. These provide just enough of a layer between the shoe and my foot to ward off the worst of the friction. They have a number of advantages: they aren't frumpy, you can wear them with open toes, and they last longer because when they get a hole in them, you can repair it with needle and thread.

If you are large-boned, which you can tell by looking at your wrists (large-boned is not a euphemism for "fat", I'm talking about the size of your bones) then a chunkier shoe will look better on you, and so will a higher vamp, unless you have short legs. If you are small-boned, a daintier shoe will look better, and so will a lower vamp, so if you have short legs you'll need an instep strap rather than an ankle strap to keep the shoes on. Open-backed shoes are for bigger bones, not for smaller ones. Pointier toes make flats look better on small bones, but you need to choose carefully and make sure you're picking a toebox that only looks pointed but in reality has plenty of room to fit your toes into, if that makes sense.
posted by tel3path at 6:34 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I said it's hard to find cute and comfortable... I guess I meant conventionally cute. I think my comfy shoes are adorable, but others don't. So what's cute to you? If you tell us what you like generally in heels, it might be easier for folks to suggest alternatives.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:40 AM on May 24, 2011

The blogs at Barking Dogs Shoes feature lots and lots of shoes for fussy feet. I've got arthritis in the balls of my feet, limiting the range of motion, and wide blister-prone feet, and they've opened my horizons.
posted by telophase at 11:38 AM on May 24, 2011

Response by poster: Tel3path do you have a link for "fine-gauge skin-toned fishnets"? I think the lack of sock is part of the problem, although wearing tights doesn't always prevent it.

Sorry for misunderstanding, bluedaisy. I think the cutest shoes are either power pumps or ballet flats with tiny little toe boxes, unfortunately.
posted by bleep at 4:26 PM on May 24, 2011

posted by tel3path at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2011

Bleep, that is actually really helpful information!

So, there's this blog called Already Pretty written by this lovely woman, Sal, who really likes heels. Maybe not quite what you like, but heels all the same. You might want to check out her blog for the Tsubo Elath flats and other flats she's worn (she blogs all her clothes and the brands, with photos). They don't have bows, but maybe they won't seem super awful?

I also think you might like Miz Mooz shoes, as someone mentioned above. I have a pair of their heels, and I rarely wear real heels, and they are pretty good. I can't imagine other three-inch heels ever being as comfortable (I have a pair of their boots).

Do check out Fluevogs, which are a bit funkier than you have in mind, I think, but they are amazingly comfy.

Do you know the Zappos outlet, 6pm.com? It's a great way to try out some new brands because all of their shoes are discounted, and they have daily sales. So just about every brand goes on sale pretty regularly. Here are Clarks sandals. My friend who likes pumps really likes these Sofft shoes.

If any of this is helpful or on the right track, let me know and I can dig up some more suggestions.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:27 PM on May 24, 2011

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