Cold weather versatile women's shoes for problem feet
September 5, 2021 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I need quality, supportive, long lasting, not too feminine cold weather shoes. I don't have to go to the office frequently but when I do, there's a ton of walking. I need good support or else my vascular autoimmune condition goes crazy. Help me narrow down brands to try based on what I like and need and what you've experienced with these brands.

What Has Worked
* Abeo shoes with the extra arch support inserts - those were fine support-wise but the shoes themselves started breaking down fairly early.
* Birkenstock Mayari sandals in warmer weather - I cannot wear sandals at work.
* Keens - great support, but some styles are too wide for me.
* NEW balance slip-on sneakers - worked for one year but now the support is trash.

I tend to wear Mary Janes, loafers/slip-ons that have more masculine lines (Roxy style vs pointy styles), slip-on sneakers, and boots, all with little to no heel.

What Hasn't Worked
* Every pair of ballet flats I've tried doesn't have adequate support or is too stiff and hurts my feet, but I love the style.
* Clarks are ok but support doesn't last long. Same for Sketchers.
* I have some Michael Kors boots I bought on ThredUp that have lasted a long time but the support isn't great.

I am considering Naot, Vionic, Allegria, Dansko and Keens. I am considering Cole Haan oxford cut sneakers as well. I am wondering if Frye boots have amazing support or people buy them more for the longevity. As an aside, I don't really need shoes for snow.
posted by crunchy potato to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Shoe brands that provide good support are Mephisto, Ecco and New Balance (some models).

However you should adapt custom made inserts to your shores. They are made for your feet and provide a good support over time.
posted by oberon_1 at 2:09 PM on September 5, 2021

As a person with foot problems, I’ve successfully used the Barking Dogs Shoe Blog as a reference to guide my shoe purchases. She focuses on shoes that fit various types of “problem feet.”

This post might help you: 17 Amazing Comfortable Shoes for Teachers: Fall 2021. She gives info on each shoe regarding level of support and whether it’s good for particular issues like plantar fasciitis, bunions, can it fit orthotics. They aren’t all suitable, but there might be a couple in there for you to try.

There’s also a page on Shoes for Flat Feet that features shoes with lots of support.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:16 PM on September 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

I’ve done well with men’s Rockport wingtip shoes with EVA footbed and rubber soles. I have suede/Nubuck ones in blue and in grey, but there are also less suede-y ones. They definitely aren’t too feminine, but I think that they go well with dressier trousers. They are definitely comfortable and supportive. Of course they only work if you can find a suitable size; the sizing works well for me.
posted by sueinnyc at 2:28 PM on September 5, 2021

However you should adapt custom made inserts to your shores. They are made for your feet and provide a good support over time.

If you are lucky, one of the various insoles Superfeet Superfeet makes is a good fit for you. Depends on your feet and needs, but they're amazing.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:54 PM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

These are my winter shoes, they come in suede, too. Support is good, they are comfortable and look okay in an office.
disclaimer: sometimes I work for LLBean. Realistically, I live in Maine, they're a big retailer, I shop there. I don't shill for them.
posted by theora55 at 2:59 PM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Dansko is excellent for support, but I think (the clogs, at least) are made for standing and not for walking. They're meant to fit loosely, and I never wear mine if I know I'll have to walk more than a few blocks.
posted by scratch at 3:36 PM on September 5, 2021

Dansko clogs are amazing. As someone who walked all day long in them (running a barn) their support cannot be beat. Make sure they have a tiny bit of play in the heel, and realize they don't stretch out.
posted by mmf at 4:40 PM on September 5, 2021

Nothing besides Birkenstock ever works as well for me as Birkenstocks (sole exception: my Hoya One One walking shoes). I've done much better since I gave in to this fact and quit wasting money on cheaper shoes that never worked out for me. I like to watch the season-end sales for better prices and more unusual colors. My best winter shoes are sheepskin-lined Boston clogs, tall Birkenstock Farmington leather boots, and short Birkenstock boots like these Melrose boots.
posted by metonym at 5:21 PM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm a courtroom lawyer, so I'm on my feet all day, and I wear exclusively Hush Puppies. They have some really lovely styles, excellent arch support, and they all have removable insoles so if you don't like the feel, you can replace them with something more supportive/cushioned/whatever you need.
posted by decathecting at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

One solution for me has been the Aravon brand. The Francesca has swap out inserts that I trade for orthotics. Read the fine print on removable insert details on more designs-with-heels as it’s not universal. I also check the Barking Dog Shoe blog for ideas and updates.
posted by childofTethys at 7:20 PM on September 5, 2021

Naot mary janes tend to work well with different inserts, as their own inserts and removable and very thick (made of cork). Their inserts might work for you, depending on your needs.
posted by Comet Bug at 7:34 PM on September 5, 2021

Consider Kuru "Luna" or "Tempo" short boots. I have worn other styles from Kuru after beating up my feet with decades of high impact sports and have been eyeing these should I ever need to show up at an office again.

I used to swear by Camper chelsea-style boots with sporty inserts, but I'll admit they never really felt all that professional.
posted by Last_wave_by at 8:02 PM on September 5, 2021

Wonders Have good support, are approved by my podiatry dr, and are cute af
posted by waving at 8:06 PM on September 5, 2021

I need a lot of support and I love my boots from Taos and Munro. I can wear them all day at work without pain
posted by PSB34me at 8:39 PM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've been really happy with every pair of Cobb Hill I've purchased, they are made by Rockport. There's a couple boot options and mary janes, etc. in the link above. My only complaint about the boots I have is that they are a bit too warm for me w/the (very thin but too much for my climate) lining but that's b/c I never yet to wear them anyplace that was even remotely cool (i'm in southern CA). They aren't snow boots, they are just a little lined vs. my other boots that are unlined leather. I've had some Dansko's that have been great and others not so much, it really depends on the footbed. I'm loving my clogs and sandals atm. And I've yet to try on a pair of Frye's that felt the least bit supportive, but as a previous poster has mentioned insoles might make the difference there if you found a style you loved. You might add Born to your list, they are generally too wide for me but I had a pair of high heeled boots once that were amazing from tromping around town. My mother, a retired school teacher, swore by Allegria's. I love my Vivonic flip flops but haven't had as much success with other styles by them.
posted by snowymorninblues at 8:48 PM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Are Merrell Jungle Mocs too casual?
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:13 AM on September 6, 2021

I have custom orthotics which I wear in my Sorel ankle boots (the removable insole is key).
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:22 AM on September 6, 2021

I swear by Born clogs. They are what gets me through a day of retail, being up and down, on my feet. Bonus points: warm and very durable. Mine are 11 years old and with occasional polishing, look pretty good.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:44 PM on September 6, 2021

Love my Vionics. I just wore a brand new pair to my sister's outdoor wedding - three days of hard labor setup, hiking, plus a long night of dancing, and my feet feel great.
posted by jennypower at 5:55 AM on September 7, 2021

I’ve had many pairs of Doc Martens over the decades and they’re consistently supportive. I can’t stand shoes without arch support - my feet hurt almost immediately - but I’ve gone months wearing the same pair of DMs every day and have had no problems at all. The soles are thick which makes me walk taller and braver. There are many styles - you may find something that appeals. Mary Janes, loafers. My favorites are wingtips and 8-hole boots.

I’ve had Keens which are ridiculously wide, Clarks which are great, Naots have always seemed too expensive in relation to how much I liked them and I’ve never found clogs that are comfortable.

Docs may be worth trying on.
posted by bendy at 11:08 PM on September 7, 2021

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