Shoes – we all have to wear them pretty much every day (very few of us can go barefoot out and about), and they impact greatly on your outfit as a whole, which is why when foot issues arise in your life (which they do for many of us as we age) your options for shoe styles diminishes greatly.
In this podcast episode (which was recorded before I decided to have bunion surgery) Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types and I discuss some aspects of how to choose shoes that don’t diminish your style quotient, whilst giving you the practical comfort required for foot issues.
What to do when you’ve got foot issues that allow you to wear the shoes that you want to wear as you need to wear a certain height heel or add an orthotic or for some other reason?
How to still look stylish when your shoe choices are limited?
Changing shoes can change whole aspects of your outfits, and for me, it has meant that I’ve had to rethink my style and how I put outfits together now that I need orthotics in my shoes as I’ve had to wear more closed high vamp shoes to fit my orthotics into.
Part of my personal style included feminine shoes (to me, this means more delicate and refined shoe), and now that I need on the whole a more practical shoe, that may not be as delicate, it’s changing the way I put my outfits together. I’ve noticed I wear lots more jeans and leggings over this winter than skirts and dresses, as it was easier to fit orthotics into a more casual shoe.
My style had almost always included a more feminine shoe (even though I barely wear heels over a few centimetres in height), they were more delicate in the sole, and construction, a ballet flat for example.
Knowing that I can no longer rely on such a shoe (and now after my recent bunion surgery and the expectation of having a swollen foot for the next 6 months or so too and more shoe restrictions during this time while my bones and feet are healing) means that I have to rethink how I add that feminine aspect of my style into each outfit, yet manage to blend the practical needs of my feet and still feel stylish.
Instead, I need to ensure other aspects of my outfit are feminine, even if my feet can’t be, to ensure I still feel like me!
If you do have to wear a lace-up shoe, consider proportions, do you adjust proportions of the rest of your outfit so that it balances you and doesn’t make your legs look really short?
When wearing ankle boots with skirts and dresses – match your tights (if you’re wearing them) so you don’t notice where one thing ends and the next thing starts or keep skirt to above the knee, or choose an ankle boot in a nude shade.
How to Find Comfort Shoes That Are Still Stylish
Avoid shoes that have a really wide sole that sticks out of the side of the shoes, instead look for brands that have a wider footbed. There is a list of possible brands on this post about finding shoes to fit your orthotics.
Alternatively, you may just need a supportive flatter shoe style that supports your foot.
Oxfords are an option for dressier occasions and work well with trousers. Check out my tips on what to wear with them here.
Sneakers are another possibility for casual outfits, and they are right in fashion at present so there are lots of different colours and styles to choose from.
There are lots and lots of ballet flat styles at Bared footwear (designed by a podiatrist) which have removable footbeds so that you can add in your own orthotics. Not cheap, but worth signing up to their newsletter so you can find out when their sales are if they are outside of your budget!
Consider the level of refinement of the finish – understanding of how a shoe can be upgraded by the finish, such as a patent leather, or a metallic, rather than if it’s in a plain matte leather or a canvas also helps to add a level of sophistication.
The thickness of the sole will also impact on the level of refinement and how dressy a shoe appears. A thick rubber sole that sticks out the side edges of a shoe will always look more casual, than a shoe that either has a finer sole or a sole that sits within the footprint of the shoe upper.
Look for shoes with some detail to make them more dressy and interesting. These ankle boots have an interesting detail on them.
I purchased these in a size larger than my normal size so I could comfortably fit my orthotics inside.
How to Add Style to Your Comfortable Shoes
So you’ve found some shoes that are comfortable and practical, but let’s face it, they are dull and unstylish (or even a terrible colour for you). Why not think about up-styling shoes like Jill does.
Sassy Feet is a book recommended by Jill on how to upstyle your shoes – this is a great option if you can’t find shoes in colours that work with your palette or are just plain boring.
A coloured shoe can add something interesting to your outfit too, even if it’s not hugely embellished. Alternatively, go for a nude shoe, something that blends to your skin, so that your shoes aren’t the focus of your outfit. They become much less obvious, so painting a black, tan, brown (or whatever colour) shoe to a colour that is your version of nude is another way to upstyle your shoes.