There comes a time in a woman’s life when standing up for what she believes in can be painful. To her feet, that is. A stiletto-wearing style slave myself, I reached that point as I approached age 50. Footpads decrease in fatty tissue and collagen as you age. That, combined with the pressure high-rise heels put on the ball of your less-padded foot, makes dressy fashion shoes instruments of torture for many.
A plethora of sophisticated comfort-shoe choices awaits you, my Cinderella.
The idea of comfortable shoes used to bring to mind foam-cushioned, rubberized white nurses’ wedgies, gripper-soled black restaurant clogs, or the kind of Velcro-closure walking shoes prescribed by an orthopedic surgeon. Today, a plethora of sophisticated comfort-shoe choices awaits you, my Cinderella. And as long as the shoe fits, you’ll walk tall, stand strong, and feel great, all while looking amazing!
Cute Comfy Shoes: The Rise of the Sneakerheads
Stylish comfortable shoes have become so trendy thanks to today’s technological advances and the sneakerhead revolution (sneakerheads being collectors of all ages obsessed with purchasing expensive sneakers). Many athletic brands you grew up with have stepped up their game, creating kick-ass kicks through collaborations with fashion designers. As the late, great Bill Cunningham, renowned fashion photographer for The New York Times, told Forbes.com once, “young men’s sneakers are what elaborate handbags were to women this century.” In 2015, sport shoes generated over $17 billion in sales in the U.S., say analysts, with global shoe sales anticipated to reach $220.2 billion in value by 2020.
Sneakers have become walks of art….uh, I mean, works of art, but you don’t want them priced accordingly. Modern manufacturing and technologic advances have allowed comfortable footwear to fill a fashion need at a price. Take Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars gone fancy, made of a the classic canvas upper and a cushioned footbed that provides hours of comfort, priced under $71. That external rubber sole makes running for the bus a breeze. For summer, the Puma Metallic Fashion Sneaker is chic and sleek with rose gold leather trim.
Stylish Shoes Are Now Comfy and Cool
Sneakers aren’t the sole solution. High-fashion designers today work with advanced technology, adding more padding for better comfort and, ultimately, more style. And while good posture, health, and well-being start at the bottom, with feet, there’s no need to go from bunions straight to nursing shoes. Even water shoes have gone glam; Viakix, vibrantly hued or in black, walk into and out of the water in style.
The fashion gods call it the “Dad sneaker”—that chunky sneaker that looks outdated, but has been updated by high-end designers. Find yours from Alexander McQueen.
Birkenstock, yes Birkenstock—has come out with its own twist on the classic lace-up Greek sandals.
Mules are getting their so-chic moment; you can slip into satin, lace, metallic or leather from the likes of Frye, TOMS and Free People. Stuart Weitzman, another go-to god of high-end high heels, now makes satin slip-ons, as well as sneakers (the latter made with easy-to-totter-in padding). Throw in Aerosoles, Naturalizers, and walking-shoe makers like Merrell and Mephisto—they’ve all put their good foot forward with comfy cool-girl offerings.
There’s no right or wrong way to wear comfort shoes in today’s current climate. Prefer a hipster’s sundress with sneakers? Jeans with Vibram-soled wedges? Leggings with Chuck Taylors in metallic glitter? Skinny released-hem jeans with over-the-top platform Mary Janes? Yes, please. These looks walk the fine line between fashion and feel-good from Paris to Portland, Bushwick to Barcelona, Milan to the Midwest. Today, comfort is completely in step with style.
Need some more cute, comfy footwear inspiration? We’ve got plenty.
A version of this article was originally published in April 2017.