Finding Shoes for Orthotics That Are Stylish


After my post on what to wear in the corporate world, which requires a more refined shoe, I was asked my advice on appropriate shoes for the business environment that are still a high enough level of refinement to suit.  Many of my clients have problems with their feet and wear orthotics. It can be very difficult to find a work appropriate shoe that isn’t too chunky that still fits the orthotic and looks good.  But it’s not impossible.  With a quick internet search I found quite a few options.

Finding orthotic friendly shoes


Bared Footwear is a brand that was designed and developed by a podiatrist.  Each shoe has a removable insole that can be replaced by your orthotic.

Frankie 4  is another brand designed by a podiatrist and a physiotherapist.  Each shoe has a removable orthotic – and the range includes sandals which can be super hard to come by!

Diana Ferrari make an orthotic friendly range of shoes – with removable insoles.

Ziera – made for a wider foot, make an orthotic friendly range – some are pretty unattractive, but there are some better options to wear with your work clothes.  These little oxfords are orthotic friendly and cute too!

Finding orthotic friendly shoes


Naot, Camper, Naturalizer and FitFlops also are wider shoes which may be workable for orthotics wearers.

Online retailer of shoes Paul Carroll also sells a range of shoes to fit orthotics.

Also, check out Zappos which has a range to fit orthotics.

If you wear orthotics and have round certain brands that work well please share your finds in the comments!


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  • Hi Imogen

    I can’t wear shoes without support, but don’t have “proper” orthotics. I wear the blue Birkenstock insoles to provide a bit of extra arch support. They cost around $50 (I purchase mine on eBay now, as none of my local stores have them anymore). I buy the narrow width, which then fit into almost any regular shoe, including ballet flats, boots, sneakers… They are also ok in shoes with a small heel (less than an inch). The insoles may not be the best orthotics you can get, but they are relatively cheap, and really versatile!

  • I love wearing the tall fitflop boots with my orthodics. Just add them in. Don’t take out the insole. They are like walking on clouds.

  • thankyou, thankyou. So hard to find a cute shoe to wear for work. I end up suffering often without my orthotics for fashion. You have posted a better assortment of places than I have found.

  • I’ve found most brands will fit orthotics. BUT. Always take the inserts with you when shopping. I’ve effectively gone up a shoe size. And there are a number of styles with a low back (the bit from the ball of the foot to the ankle) that can’t handle the build up my feet need. So ballet flats are a no-go zone. But I’ve a pair of Vivienne Westwood Melissa slingbacks which my high heel orthotics fit, because there is just enough ‘lip’ at the back!

    Depending on the amount of correction your feet need, you may be able to get away with having existing shoes professionally stretched, that may give the extra sizing needed. And the other thing I’ve found is that lace-ups are good, but anything that’s pieced and sewn over the top of the foot is less likely to stretch and more likely to be a problem

  • Thank you ever so much for taking up my question that led to this post, and my goodness, you were able to answer it in a flash! I do believe you are Wonder Woman in disguise.
    Many, many thanks for your terriffic research & write-up. I appreciate how you not only gave great background on the brand suggestions, but even broke it down into which shoes would go better with trousers v skirts. Thanks also to the fellow question-writers for their helpful advice.

  • Zappos, an on-line retailer, is an awesome resource in the US. Customers post their comments regarding the shoes that they have tried. These comments can help you sort out which shoes may be a good fit for you, before ordering.

  • I love the way business women dress even though Im a pre-college student who live in a rural area where we can dress almost how we want, but I like to take corporate outfits as an inspiration when I dress.

    But Ive always a dilemma when it comes to finding professional looking shoes.
    I was born with deformed feets (walking inwards and always scuffing the shoes) and for most occasions I need special care footwear because most shoes with thin soles like ballet flats give me backaches and calves issues that sometimes last for days. Personally, I love high vamp shoes with skirts (I love sporting the tomboy-but-more-girly look sometimes!), because Ive very skinny “chicken” legs (Im 24, but I wear jeans for kids!): Heels and blending shoes to buttom garment only eggarate my legs and Im average tall with lean V bodyshape but with more waist definition like the X shape (almost 4″ smaller waist than hips/bust) and don’t see any reason to look even taller/leaner. For some reason, high vamp shoes seems to balance out my shoulders a notch. 😛 For daytime wear, I tend to wear this type of shoes: mary-janes with athletic soles from Eccoshop (not sure if the links work on here…):×340/C/FFFFFF/url/vibration-ii.jpg
    Too casual/sloppy with suit seperates? I know thick soles are more casual, but with my feet injury, I’ve no other choice. :L

    What kind of shoes would your reccomend with skirts on somebody who need shoes with alot of comfort that are more proffesional? Would it be appropriate in more professional/formal ocassions to bend the footwear “guidelines” slightly?

  • I have been in orthotics for about 15 years. I own running, daily, and even a dress pair of orthotics. Yes, I take my feet very seriously. I have to say your articale is the first I have come across about orthotics and finding that perfect shoe for us to look “good” in as a professional. I have struggled with this for so long!

    I carry those orthotics with me for all shoe shopping trips and would never think of buying a pair of shoes online before trying them on first, but I love that some of you can. Having options is so important. When I took on the dress orthotics it allowed me to wear even more kinds of shoes as well. I can’t wear them everyday with my high arches, but I love I can wear a great pair of heels without them stretched or my foot all cramped.

    Also a tip, I wear flip flops in the summer with my orthotics. After more than 10 years of no flips flips I gave up! I velcro them into my shoes. I place it on the shoes & orthotic on the flat back piece as far back as you can go. I haven’t had an issue in about 5 years. My Podiatrists loves it. You need to wear quality shoes, no cheap pairs. More like sandles.

    • Thansk for your great orthotic wearing tips Tammy – I never realised you could wear them with flip flops (thongs in my language) or that you can them for heels too (I’m assuming that’s what dress orthotics are for).

      Which brands of shoes do you find best? Please share!

      • I actually ever shop for “orthotic shoes” they never were around when I first went into them back in the days I started in orthotics. Lol

        I wear everything out there, but favorites are Naturalizer & Clark’s, Born’s, Nine West, Aerosol’s, Rockport’s. running shoes are professionally fitted, I am between Nike, ne balance, and brooks.

        I am n my feet a lot as an education trainer and runner, so good shoes are really important.

  • Great article on shoes that take orthotics. Ziera have many styles that are orthotic friendly and this seasons range has improved quite a lot. Not so frumpy anymore. Also lovely colours for spring/summer. I’ve found the staff very helpful when fitting shoes. Also their normal shoes are very supportive.

  • Imogen:
    I use mostly the skirt shoes in the right, with blue birkenstock footbeds due to arthritis.
    I can’t wear heels,even kitten heels, or pretty thin soles, only granny look ones, and I am on my early 40’s, very petite,with a thin X type body.

    Please please suggest me a not so elegant but youthful wardrobe capsule for the right side of the picture’ shoes
    I will wait this with emotion!

  • I only wish I could wear those wonderful shoes you’ve found above. I once was able to wear the SAS Free Times and had built my wardrobe around the black and ‘bone’ ones, but was finally told by my orthotics person and doctor and physical therapist that if I wanted to stay mobile for the future, I’d need to stick with a very supportive running type shoe EVERY DAY. So I’m trying to figure out how to make them less obvious; the neon colors are horrid in formal situations. I’m considering shoe dyes or paints…. Surely someone else has feet this bad and needs help in this area.

  • Even before I got orthotics, it was very difficult for me to find shoes that fit my oddly shaped feet. I have super high arches/insteps so many boots and other non-adjustable shoes are too tight across the top of my foot. When I do find a boot that fits it’s nearly always way too wide for my skinny calves. My heels are insanely narrow and fall out of every single pump, ballet flat, etc I’ve tried, but my forefoot is a more normal width so I can’t wear narrow width shoes. With orthotics and my high instep, I need shoes with a lot of depth. So far I have only been able to wear orthotics with shoes with removable insoles — there’s never enough depth in “regular” shoes for me to just put the orthotic on top of a nonremovable insole. Sizing up always results in the shoe not fitting correctly somewhere else (usually with my heel slipping).

    Fortunately my office has a casual dress code so I can wear sneakers. I’ve got most of my shoes from zappos — I just do a few searches for “removable insoles,” “removable footbed,” orthotics” (the terminology zappos uses varies from shoe to shoe) and read reviews to further narrow down my choices. Unfortunately I still return many more shoes than I keep, but since I have even worse finding orthotic friendly shoes in stores, it’s worth it!

    One brand that surprised me was Propet — they have some very orthopedic looking shoes, but they also have some casual winter boots (mostly suede styles) which are very comfy, lots of depth with removable insoles, and IMO slightly more flattering than the Uggs I see so many people around here wearing 🙂

    A few other brands that I’ve tried that have at least some styles with removable insoles (they don’t all work for me but might work for others, and frumpiness level varies by style lol) — Ecco, Rieker, Romika, Aetrex, Merrell, Hush Puppies, Cobb Hill, Mephisto, David Tate, Arcopedica (lots of stretchy uppers to accomadate bunions and such). Puma and New Balance also make some low-profile sneakers that are a bit cuter than your typical bulky running shoe.

  • I have just recently discovered that I have two spurs on my right foot, one on my left and plantar fasciitis in both feet. Currently my podiatrist has me using Superfeet inserts and so far I bought my first pair of orthotic sandals by Vionic, Ali can say is heavenly! Now to find a nice heel that will work for me!

  • UK brand Hotters has a good range of attractive comfortable shoes. I believe they ship to Europe and North America also.

  • Thanks for this info! In the US, like Zappos offers free shipping both ways but Shoebuy has frequent sales! I buy several pairs, wear them around the house and ship back what I don’t want. I like Drew, New Balance, Ecco, SAS, and shoes that allow me to remove the insole. I am currently looking for boots and will try fitlops.
    Any other suggestions for boots?

  • Naot has a lot of shoe, boot and sandal styles with removable footbeds to accommodate your orthotics. I buy them through Zappos, so it is always possible to return them if they don’t work for me. They’re pricey, but they’re worth it!

  • Ziera! for sure. After 4 years of searching for the right shoe and sandal, they come up tops. Tried lots of brands. There latest designs are really very good looking!!!

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