ISO women's dress sandals. Difficulty: Bunion, wide feet, HIGH arches
April 10, 2016 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I live in a climate with temperatures that can get up to 110* in the dead of summer. Without arch support, my arches/toes/calves get painful cramps, and the only brand so far that comes close is Vionic (formerly Orthaheel). Which other brands am I missing?

I work in an office, and while I don't need ultra-high end clothes, I do need dressy sandals. I've scoured the Zappos, Amazon, and

Price is no object at this point.... I'm desperate and I'm already spending $150 on shoes, which seems obscene to me, but it seems to be average so I'm willing to pay that. And I'm in pain, so there's that.

The biggest challenge is finding any arch support in the first place, second is that I need wide or extra-wide since I have a really bad bunion on my right foot, plus I have naturally wide feet to begin with.
posted by onecircleaday to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Keen sandals? They have arch support and are typically pretty wide.
posted by wintersweet at 12:49 PM on April 10, 2016

Birkenstocks? The Gizeh dress up nicely. (I assume that if you're mentioning sandals, you open-toe/open-heel is okay!)
posted by stillmoving at 12:49 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I adore Algeria shoes. They're the only brand I can wear with my feet issues. They have a cork insole that molds to your feet. I get great support from them. They're a wide fitting shoe too...I usually order at least a size smaller than I would in other shoes.
posted by CdnMathTeacher at 12:49 PM on April 10, 2016

I suggest you look at this brand called Rieker. I bought some just based on the pictures, and my wide, painful feet are very happy.
posted by feste at 1:09 PM on April 10, 2016

@wintersweet - I had no idea Keen made dress sandals... thank you!

@stillmoving - I looked at the Birkenstock website, but they don't look like the arches are that high. Maybe it's hard to tell in the pictures, but thank you for the suggestion - I won't rule them out.

@ CdnMathTeacher - I have a pair of Alegria boots, and the insole was amazing (LOVE the cork) but they were the hardest to fit... the 7's were too small, and the 7.5's were too big. I was past the point of returning the shoes so I ended up taking out the cork insoles, tracing the insoles around a yoga mat and putting in the right # of yoga mat layers (different for each foot), then putting in SuperFeet (Green), and also putting in heel snugs. And I still need an extra pair of socks! Do all Alegrias that big? Your comment makes me wonder if I can get away with a 7 extra wide instead of a 7.5 wide.

@ feste - on preview - They look pretty, but looks like they have zero to moderate arch support based on the reviews. Thanks though!
posted by onecircleaday at 1:19 PM on April 10, 2016

You really should try out Birkenstocks--they're so comfortable, and one of the only shoes besides Danskos that are mildly fashionable and have high arches.

Depending on the material of the footbed, have you thought of altering the arches of new shoes, or ones you already own, with something like InstaMorph? It's $15, worth experimenting with.
posted by tapir-whorf at 1:22 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

@tapir - Yes, but had really bad luck with the arch supports that you stick in, for two reasons: 1.) the arch supports don't stick well enough, and 2.) they are never even remotely high enough. I've never heard of InstaMorph, though, I'll have to try it.
posted by onecircleaday at 1:25 PM on April 10, 2016

Just popping back to endorse the great arch support on my Birks. I have freakishly high arches and they really do the trick! They do have the cork footbed that molds to your feet, so it might look less high in the photos, but they are fantastic. They also make Birk-insoles that you can add to other shoes if you find you're a fan of the footbed.
posted by stillmoving at 1:25 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have high arches and a lot of trouble finding sandals that work for me- I think it's hard to get the support without an enclosed shoe. I usually wear shoes I can remove the insole and put these insoles in (Rieker shoes are good for this- but I don't find them comfortable without the insoles). My favorite brand for dressy sandals so far has been aetrex (I have these). The arch support is ok (probably really great by most people's standards) but I think I do well with these because the footbeds have some cushiony give to them. I'm not sure if the pair I linked will be wide enough, but it's good brand to look at!
posted by Secretariat at 1:26 PM on April 10, 2016

Depends on how dressy you need! Skyline ankle wedge, Dauntless strappy, Dauntless posted, Rose City t-strap, Rose City sandal. Probably too casual for some people but fine for others.
posted by wintersweet at 1:44 PM on April 10, 2016

I have some dressier Keen sandals--they have arch support, but not what I would call great arch support. Have you looked at Chacos? They have too much arch support for me. Most of theirs are sporty styles, but they have a few dressier versions. Naot is another brand with arch support. Think! is another.

My sister swears by Algeria--she has them in more than one size depending on the style. She also likes Wolky sandals. Her foot issues aren't bunions or wide feet; she needs the rigid rocker sole. Take that into consideration along with the arch support.

Is there a 'comfort' shoe store near you? We have one and it is really worth it to go and talk to the experts there. Ours has 'pedorthists' who specialize in the use of footwear and over-the-counter orthotics to address foot & ankle conditions. They perform foot evaluations & will fill a doctor's recommendation and/or evaluate for over-the-counter orthotics. They really know their stuff and their shoes. Expensive shoes, but worth it if your feet don't hurt. Also more efficient than ordering/returning/ordering/returning.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 2:05 PM on April 10, 2016

I'm here to nth the awesomeness of Birkenstocks. I just bought my second pair of Gizeh sandals (I finally more or less wore out my first pair since they are the only sandal I can wear, and one of very few non-sneakers I can wear at all). The arch support is very solid, and they do mold to your feet so nicely! If you need arch solid support, I think they're a good bet. They're also pretty cute, and if you don't need something super dressy, they should fit your style needs.

I don't know if they come in wide, but they do have an adjustable strap and the style of the Gizeh's strap doesn't constrain the foot as some other types of sandals might.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:14 PM on April 10, 2016

OP here - I'd love to try birks, but one of the things the podiatrist told me I had to have was an ankle strap for support. I'll keep an eye out for birks that offer this. Do all of their styles have good arch support, or only select styles? Thanks again everyone. . . . this is really very helpful.
posted by onecircleaday at 2:18 PM on April 10, 2016

As far as I know, all their sandals have the same footbed, and there are a good few styles with ankle straps.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:38 PM on April 10, 2016

Another high archer and shoe snowflake here. Birkenstocks have excellent arch support. I own 4 pairs of actively used shoes right now* and all 4 are Birkenstocks or Birk-derived (grey market Footprints because there's no US distributor right now). I haven't been able to find anything else that I'm willing to risk my money and knees on for the last few years. One bit of advice, the synthetic Birkoflor straps are much easier on the feet than any of the leather ones, and last just as long.

*I just ordered a pair of Chacos yesterday because there were reviews that claimed too much arch support and a stiff footbed. Fingers crossed! I also can't wear anything with more than about 1/4" toe drop or any heel. Or lots of padding.
posted by monopas at 4:13 PM on April 10, 2016

I have high arches, bunion and wide feet. I wear custom orthotics in my closed shoes to really raise the arch. But I wear Birkenstocks in the summer with no additional inserts and my arches are happy. Birkenstocks don't come in "wide" - their regular size is very wide to begin with. I'm not even using the tightest buckle hole and they are plenty wide.

I wear Granada style, which is just like their famous original Arizona style, but the cross-piece has little decorative cutouts, so I consider it "dressier". I also have a pair of Bali - which is just the same, but also has an ankle strap. The thing I looked for in Birkenstocks was "soft footbed". I can't wear the ones with the normal footbed - it's too stiff.

One thing to look for in your sandals is the shape around the bunion area. A lot of the sandals in this thread have a straight piece of leather going over the top of the foot, right where the bunion is. I can't wear those. I need to look for the kind that have 2 strips that cross on top and have a little space for your bunion to breathe. Or look for the style that is more vertical from your toe to the ankle strap, like the Gizeh, so it doesn't have anything at all going across the top of the foot from side to side. I use this same rule when buying sneakers - if the decorative strip goes straight across the top, I can't wear them. Look for the ones that come down in a triangle shape right there.
posted by CathyG at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2016

CathyG and Monopas, I think we're foot triplets : 0 )

CathyG, great point about the strap - I didn't consider that.
posted by onecircleaday at 4:45 PM on April 10, 2016

I have similar feet and can speak well of both Aravon and (to a lesser extent) Cobb Hill, both owned by New Balance. I don't personally tend to notice arch support one way or the other, but reviews I've seen certainly comment positively on the Aravon arch support, and their wide/extra-wide sizes are delightfully roomy across the arch and in the toe box.
posted by Bardolph at 4:50 PM on April 10, 2016

I am you, minus the bunions, and I was in my local good shoe store this afternoon dealing with this just problem. They put me in Finn Comforts, which are absurdly expensive (I got lucky and they had samples half off), but are amazingly comfortable. I will nth finding a good shoe store if you can and trying on All of The Things - I am usually all about online ordering, but with my feet, I've found I just have to go try the mess on.
posted by joycehealy at 5:34 PM on April 10, 2016

You might want to check out FootSmart. They have a pretty broad selection of comfort-oriented shoes and sandals in a range of styles, and they will let you filter by width and various foot conditions (although the latter filter can be overly restrictive since it seems to be limited to shoes designed for specific conditions, rather than accommodating of them).
posted by EvaDestruction at 6:33 PM on April 10, 2016

I don't wear a lot of heels, I tend to be more of a ballerina flats kind of gal, but I recently got the Karoline wedge style sandal by Earth Origins and think they're amazingly comfortable. The shoe isn't tight, but my feet feel very stable and secure - no slipping or ankle twisting. The reinforced arch is higher than I'm used to, but didn't cause me any discomfort. According to the EO website, this particular style is out of stock, but I found it at both DSW and Famous Footwear just a few weeks ago.
posted by kbar1 at 7:25 PM on April 10, 2016

I have a pair of Wolkys that I wear every day in the summer. They're really comfortable. I don't know if they come in wide.
posted by leahwrenn at 7:29 PM on April 10, 2016

Birkenstock used to make a version of the Gizeh with an ankle strap, called Kairo. Sadly, they appear to have discontinued it, but some places may be selling the last of their stock, so if you can track something down in your size, it may be worth checking out.

Although I haven't tried these either, I was also going to recommend you check out the Bali style, which I see has already been recommended above. (I may have to get a pair myself!)
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:06 PM on April 10, 2016

The Rio and Yara styles by Birkenstock also seem worth checking out.

Also, this is kind of tangential to your question, but if you're interested in exploring ballet flats, there was a recent awesome MeTa thread that had good discussion and some promising recommendations for ballet flats.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:10 PM on April 10, 2016

Check out Barking Dog shoes. She reviews many shoes with these criteria.
posted by gryphonlover at 6:53 PM on April 11, 2016

I have extra wide feet and high arches and I almost exclusively wear Ziera these days. In my experience their sizing is very consistent so I've had a lot of luck finding them cheaper on Ebay.
posted by imaginary_mary at 11:22 PM on April 11, 2016

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