Tourist Shoes that don't Scream TOURIST
October 24, 2013 5:50 AM   Subscribe

Help me find shoes that a tourist can wear for long days of walking, but could also look nice with nicer outfits.

So, I recognize that this is totally my own hangup.... but I am taking a trip to Turkey soon and in my brain, wearing any kind of primarily-white tennis shoe or sneaker while you're strollin' around Europe (where people tend to dress a little nicer for everyday) marks you as HEY AMERICAN TOURIST HERE. I'm not afraid of being mugged because of it or anything... I just think it's nicer to not be completely obvious. And maybe it's just my own hangup.

So, MeFI, I am crusing Zappos and looking for your recommendations of lady- shoes that are :
- hopefully under $100,
- comfortable after a long day of tourist walking, maybe a little moderate hiking
- stylish enough to wear somewhere a little formal without feeling like a dork
- along the same vein, maybe versatile enough to wear with skirts or more formal pants?
- if it matters, I'm 28 so preferably something that's not a granny shoe (although I own and rock granny shoes with pride)
- HEEL SUPPORT. My heels hurt the most after a long day walking.
posted by nakedmolerats to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I am on the same search! Are you looking for shoes with laces or not? I've been pondering these.
posted by miss tea at 5:58 AM on October 24, 2013

What about Keen? As a fellow heel-walker, they've been great for me.
posted by casualinference at 6:00 AM on October 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

A few suggestions of brands:

I have some Easy Spirit short boots with rubber soles that are the most comfortable things ever. They're not these, but just to give an example. I got them at the outlet store, so if you're near one of those, they're much cheaper.

I also have some Clark's shoes (got them at DSW) sort of similar to these. They're more casual but depending on the rest of your outfit, they wouldn't stand out too much.

Look at Born shoes also. (Again, DSW will be cheaper.) I only have sandals by them but if their shoes/boots are as comfortable as their sandals, that would be perfect. They often have a fairly European-ish look to them, too. (And I now want all of these.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 6:02 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have been very happy with my B├śRN shoes. I bought two pairs to wear on a sightseeing trip to London and they were comfortable from the get-go and looked great! This is my go-to brand for comfort and they aren't as ugly as Clarks.

They sell them everywhere so try them on and walk with pride!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:02 AM on October 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Go for Merrell, especially if you want to hike. I think this type of shoe is still called a "hybrid" and Merrell makes some pretty cute shoes. And clothes!
posted by polly_dactyl at 6:10 AM on October 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

I own a pair of these El Naturalistas and love them to pieces. They are tough but adorable.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:16 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everyone's feet are different and of course, I don't know how you walk. I walk a lot and mostly on concrete and I can tolerate walking in heels. I have found that Ugg makes some very comfortable (and lovely) shoes. Yes, shoes. They don't just make ugly boots! Anyway, I bought a pair of wedge heels and walked around in them in Hong Kong and China for almost a month. I also like loafer-style shoes. Bass are less than $100, I have found them for about $50 so you can get a pair in black and a pair in cordova! You can also get a pair of Dr. Scholls gel inserts for added comfort. Enjoy your trip!
posted by Yellow at 6:24 AM on October 24, 2013

Are you open to clogs? I have these Sanitas and I LOVE THEM. Endlessly comfortable, and -- for me anyway -- aesthetically pleasing.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:27 AM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

If clogs and clog-like shoes are acceptable style-wise, then I've got to recommend Haflinger. I'm on my feet most of the day, and these suckers are so comfortable....
posted by easily confused at 6:33 AM on October 24, 2013

One way to not look like a tourist is to buy shoes from overseas. A friend brought me back some shoes (sold, apparently, only at Marks and Spencer) called 'Footglove' -- these are the ones I have although they do make other styles.

I have hardcore foot and ankle problems, and these shoes work great for me. M&S does ship to the US.
posted by anastasiav at 6:35 AM on October 24, 2013

Hush Puppies! I have plantar fasciitis but my Hush Puppies Myleene flats have never let me down. I also covet their Burlesque model, available on Zappos.

Just a datapoint re: the clog recommendations. I have a super cute pair of El Naturalistas but it is an abiding minor tragedy of my life that I fall over a lot in them, and apparently this is a thing with clogs for a lot of people.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:37 AM on October 24, 2013

I have some ECCO shoes that fit this description exactly-- one is a lace-up leather slim-fit sneaker kind of deal, and one pair is like a little pair of hiking boots. They're close to if not slightly over your budget, but I would look for sales. As an added bonus, they were relatively easy to waterproof. They do not have the clunky rubber soles that are the hallmark of other comfort brands like Aerosoles, though I also have a pair of Aerosoles that are both comfortable and pretty stylish.

Are there any walking shoe stores (one specializing in comfortable, support shoes) in your area? You might google around to see if there are-- sometimes they're just storefronts for one brand, like Clark's or Easysprint, but some of them stock multiple brands and it seems like that might be a better option for finding a shoe that is comfortable for your feet for a longer period of time.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:38 AM on October 24, 2013

If you don't need wide shoes, (I've got long narrow feet, so the opposite of most people's problems) I've found the Born Arletta to be very comfy, stylish (wearing them right now in a business formal office), and I'm able to walk many miles in them a day over NYC concrete (I walk home 3.5miles regularly in them) I've worn them in Toyko, Stockholm and London, and fit in fairly well.

HOWEVER, if you have wide feet, I don't think they'd be great for you. all the reviews mentioned that they run narrow. They are leather, so can be stretched a bit.

(I own 2 pairs. They are my every day shoes- I bought my first pari last year in grey/pewter, and I wandered the globe in those, and another pair on cognac that I bought this year that I'm wearing right now. I wear them with skirts, with slacks, with jeans. I find them very very comfy. I polish them every once in a while to keep them looking sharp, but that's just basic shoe care.)
posted by larthegreat at 6:42 AM on October 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Can you only take one pair of shoes? When I traveled last, I think I took only two pairs - a pair of Merrell boots that were waterproof (London in February) and a pair of wool hightop Chucks with insoles. If you can take a pair of shoes for "every day/hiking" and a pair of shoes that are "nicer" then you might have an easier time of it. It's also good to have a change of shoes (IMHO) to give your body a change/rest - there were days I was so happy to see my Chucks, as I was super sick of my boots. YMMV.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:44 AM on October 24, 2013

I recently had good luck with a Merrill walking shoe. But perhaps your biggest issue is the "soon", do try to break in what ever you do buy before you travel.
posted by sammyo at 6:45 AM on October 24, 2013

I am also constantly on this quest.

If the weather is going to be cold (or at least not hot) consider boots. Born and Clarks are standard options for comfortable boots and if you troll sales you might be able to find some for under $100. My Frye Veronica boots are my #1 best ever traveling shoe - I can walk all day in them in cities and they also work as a hiking shoe - but, sadly, they are very expensive.
posted by something something at 6:50 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wore my plain black Dansko clogs for my last trip to Europe (Italy and Greece, lots of archaeological sites plus cities). They're not the most stylish, but they are good for walking, waterproofish, and unremarkable with most outfits. My feet didn't hurt.
posted by lysimache at 6:57 AM on October 24, 2013

Black Docs.
posted by pompomtom at 7:04 AM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I haven't taken them overseas, or done any hiking with them, but I love my black leather Skechers Bikers for travel that includes long days of walking. I find them very comfortable, and you can adjust the fit of the straps. They can definitely be worn with a skirt, and I've even worn them to work a few times (business casual).

I also have a pair of black suede Clarks Privo skimmers that apparently aren't made anymore (these are similar) that required a little breaking in but are comfortable for lots of walking and standing. I recommend that brand in general, but be forewarned that some of the styles run a little large.
posted by LolaGeek at 7:37 AM on October 24, 2013

Rieker Anti-Stress. Swiss-made. I walked all over Germany, France, and Switzerland in mine for three weeks and my feet never hurt at all. I have loafers with side zips, which look great with slacks or jeans, but they have lots of different styles. Most are slightly over $100, but it's a fantastic investment--mine have lasted me eight years of frequent wear, and they won't wear out any time soon.
posted by tully_monster at 8:05 AM on October 24, 2013

I have two pairs of Alegria Palomas, one for every day wear and one to wear during concerts (I'm a classical singer). They are crazy comfortable. I've walked up to three and a half miles in them, or stood in concert stance for 90 minutes (i.e. not picking your feet up and shuffling them around, standing absolutely fixed), with no foot pain at all. They aren't Jimmy Choos, but I think they're cute; I have them in the etched blue patent and get compliments on them all the time.
posted by KathrynT at 8:13 AM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding Keen; I have a pair of shoes similar to these that I've been wearing all over the world since...2006?? So they're expensive but they hold up well. Also, the exact pair that I have (which it seems they don't make anymore) is straight-up indestructible - a roommate borrowed them once to go hiking in Ireland and got them completely coated in mud, which just magically washed off like nothing happened. Amazing. They have some other attractive styles too; these especially are nice.

In the summer I wear Birkenstocks for walking-around days. I figure they're German, right? Break them in first. Anyway, those are the only pairs of shoes I bring on my travels.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:31 AM on October 24, 2013

Turkey? How about open shoes or even sandals? I have Keen maryjanes that I like, and they are comfortable and supportive for walking, and look nice with a skirt. I walk and dance in sandals like these, and wear them with skirts as well. These Clarks look promising. I have an earlier version these shoes from LLBean; they're great for lots of city and/or trail walking, and look pretty good.
posted by theora55 at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2013

Other countries aren't nearly as fashionable you think they are. As long as you're not wearing blindingly white senior citizen sneakers and hiking clothes, you'll be fine.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 9:29 AM on October 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

posted by brujita at 10:31 AM on October 24, 2013

With plantar fasciitis, Powerstep insoles have served me well running and walking many, many miles. You can trim them down and swap them among shoes.

Doesn't help so much with sandals, though. I've trekked all over in my Born sandals and find them a great mix of casual/dress-up-able pkus cost effective.
posted by keasby at 11:25 AM on October 24, 2013

Seconding Merrills. I bought a black pair to use when I traveled in Japan that had athletic-shoe bottoms but smooth leather uppers. (And were clog-style, so I could take them off/put them on quickly when entering and exiting temples and such, but they've got lots of other styles.) Combined with two-layer walking socks, they looked fancy enough to pass for good shoes when they needed to, but worked for walking around multiple hours per day and I didn't get any blisters.
posted by telophase at 11:38 AM on October 24, 2013

When I spent 2 weeks in Turkey about 15 years ago, I was wearing a mix of dresses, pants, and skirts, with one pair of super-comfortable already-broken-in Birkenstock sandals, in one of their more feminine styles. Looked fine with a dress, comfortable enough for all-day touristing, and I found them fine for the two afternoons we spend hiking in Cappadocia. I'm sure I looked like a tourist, but I'd like to think I didn't look too much like an American tourist.
posted by aimedwander at 11:56 AM on October 24, 2013

You could try SoftWalk's Napa flat for the tourist walking part. You can get them on Zappos. They come in a bunch of different colors, and they're just under your budget. They are a lot cheaper at, but they have fewer colors (and fewer sizes, and a crappy return policy).

I walk a ton every day, and they are the only flats I've found that are comfortable and (maybe not relevant for you) are actually wide enough for my wide feet. They have a round toe and they're sort of boxy, so they're a tad granny-ish, but it's not that bad. I wear them with skirts all the time.
posted by topoisomerase at 12:09 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ugh, I can't believe I'm going to suggest this, but I have these Kadee flats by the Crocs people, and they're super comfortable. I know crocs are the ugliest shoes on earth, but the flats are pretty adorable, lightweight, and pretty cheap. They also put up with a surprising amount of abuse.
posted by itsamermaid at 1:52 PM on October 24, 2013

I live in J. Crew Cece ballet flats, which are on promo for 25% off now, bringing them to right around $100. The idea of paying that much for shoes that aren't even from a well-known shoe company would have been unfathomable to me until I ended up buying a chance pair on super-sale and becoming addicted. I have high arches and HATE standing on my feet (heels are where I ache too!) for more than 5 minutes at a time but these shoes keep me going all day. Classic style you can dress up or down, super-packable, surprisingly breathable, nice quality leather.
posted by alygator at 6:12 PM on October 24, 2013

I'm on my feet all day, so this is my eternal quest. I also have bad feet, so I've thought about this way too much. Here are a few ideas:

-Merrells - As many people have mentioned, they are comfy and have excellent arch support. The downside is that they're not particularly attractive (they used to be nicer looking)
-Earth Shoes - I've been wearing these ones specifically for a while now, and they have an incredible amount of structure and support for a flat. If you want one shoe that is a bit dressier, but still walkable, this would be an excellent choice
-Boots - for me, most boots are actually better for my feet than shoes. I think it's because they provide more structure. Keens, Born, Clarks, and Campers all have some nice, comfortable boots.

For more resources in finding comfortable shoes, check out the Barking Dogs shoe blog. Some of the shoes they pick are a bit fugly, but there are also some good ones and they do in-depth reviews of which situations/foot conditions they work best for.

Lastly - please bring at least two pairs of shoes, preferably more. The more you switch shoes, the better off your feet will be.
posted by leitmotif at 7:27 PM on October 24, 2013

I like Propet shoes for traveling and walking and have some similar to these. Softspots are also great for walking and are more attractive; I had some of these for years and LOVED them. But more importantly, that Footsmart website caters to people with all sorts of foot problems, so I would poke around there to see what they have for heel issues.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:15 PM on October 25, 2013

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