I’m taking a stand here. Nothing in a mature chick’s wardrobe is more important than comfortable shoes. If my feet hurt, I’m miserable. So stilettos are out, but I’m not going to wear orthopedic clunkers either. I want my footwear to get me through my day in style. Yet shoes that both feel and look great seem impossible to find.
I asked my girlfriends for help and they came through with recommendations galore. Combined with my own faves, here’s a round up of shoes that will make your feet happy and look great to boot.
Tips to Find Comfortable Shoes
Remember, your feet are unique so don’t take it from me. You must try on every pair of shoes and see how they feel for yourself. Also, consider the investment. A pair of well-constructed, supportive, good looking shoes or boots is something you will wear many times, hopefully for years. Spending a little more on the right shoe could be worth it in the long run.
For comfort, look for these features:
- Sturdy heels (block, wedge or stacked) or slender heels that aren’t too high
- A wide toe box that doesn’t pinch your toes
- A platform or lug sole to add height without discomfort
- Inner support on heel and pad of foot (or use inserts)
- Soft, pliable leather or material
- Open backs, adjustable straps
- Colors and details that add flair but not pain
- Good online reviews
Once you bring your new shoes home, make sure you break them in before wearing them. Put on a pair of socks and wear them around your house before ever venturing outdoors in them. And never bring new shoes on vacation.They always hurt.
Now, let’s bring on the shoes!
These brands got the most shout outs from my friends, and I can vouch for two of them myself.
Vionic. I got turned onto this brand in Florida (Dillards has a huge selection) and as my friend Julie G. says, their arch support really is outstanding. The company claims superior stability and cushioning as well. I have a pair of sneakers and flip flops and they really are great. But now that it’s fall, I’m interested in these highly rated Sellah loafers.
Ecco is another brand my friends rave about. My Aunt Mary wears their booties, Laura T. loves their Soft 7 sneakers, and Susan H. loves of their leather oxfords, she says they’re perfect for work. Look how stylish they are.
Hoka. These cushy running shoes with a rounded sole look both cool and geriatric, which I guess is an appealing combo because women of all ages are fans. My 25 year-old daughter Emma wears them, as do pals Sally and Doreen. Hoka means “fly over the earth” in the Māori language. These are the Hoka Rincon 3 which come in a bunch of hot colors.
On. I highly recommend these Swiss running shoes. The slip-on style is so comfortable and convenient. I own two pairs and I bought my 90 year-old dad a pair as well. They are my shoe of choice to walk the dog, run errands, bike or… basically do anything. They look great, come in oodles of colors and you can throw them in the washer to keep them fresh and clean. These are the Cloud 5 Combos I just bought at Lori’s in Chicago, but I wear white in Florida.
These shoes are expensive, but if you’re willing to make the investment you’ll enjoy them for years to come.
Chloé. This is the designer brand that my friends mentioned most for comfort, and although I have very few designer shoes, I agree. My beloved Chloé Susannah studded booties (pictured up top) are the most comfortable non-sneaker shoes I own. I’ve had them for ten years and they just keep getting more buttery. Cheryl loves their flats, and Kim likes the square heeled pumps for work. I think the scalloped edge of the Lauren pumps is so pretty.
Jimmy Choo. When I think of Jimmy Choo I think of six-inch, Sex & the City stilettos, but my friends Emily and Jen recommend two more down to earth styles that feel good and are still high fashion. Emily lives in her Diamond Lights sneakers and Jen loves her biker boots.
Gucci. When Berit and I were in New York City for fashion week we spent a day shopping in Nolita and Soho. I wore sneakers, but Berit was equally as happy in the well-worn Gucci loafers she’s had a decade—a ringing endorsement of their durable style and comfort. Her style is no longer available but I think the classic Lovelight Lizard loafers, below, would certainly stand the test of time.
Pump it Up
No one puts their footwear to the test more than my friend Tricia, who spends hours on her feet teaching courses in corporate leadership and executive presence. Professional attire is a requirement of her very visible job, so she can’t get away with sneakers or flip flops like the rest of us. Here are her favorite go-to heels. Pro tip: sling backs have more stretch and are less constraining than fully enclosed pumps.
Naturalizer. Last year, Tricia’s favorite heels were pricey AGL slingbacks, but this year she discovered the 27 Edit Felicia Pointed Toe Pump and fell in love. For her commutes or when wearing pants, she turns to the lower heeled Lesley dress flats.
Alfani. For a lower priced comfy pump, Tricia recommends the $70 Alfani Step n’ flex Babbsy slingbacks, created for Macy’s. She owns them in several colors. “I taught in them for over 8 hours one day last week,” she said. I’m sold!
These hip brands offer all the comfort you could ask for with a big dose of style. Lug soles, waterproofing, and bright colors allow you to stride into cold weather like a rock star.
Dr. Martens. Lisa W. and Tracey love their “Docs”, which were originally designed as humble English work boots but now are a symbol of edgy, non-conforming cool. I saw them everywhere during New York Fashion Week. Platform soles are in (and I’m short) so I’m a fan of this Jadon boot style.
Sorrel. These boots are high on Jen’s list for winter-wear. They are waterproof, grippy and flattering, thanks to a hidden 2.5 inch wedge heel, shown here in this pull on Evie style bootie.
Fly London. My friend Julie C. introduced me to this British brand, carried at Nordstroms. “My cutest boots are all Fly London,” she says. How fun are these Jacy combat boots with the green sole?
If you want to explore some unique brands to express your originality, my friends recommend these European designers (but I chose the styles pictured here).
Aquatalia. Doreen, Tracy and Kelly find these Italian shoes comfy for commuting or running around. They’re waterproof, come in wide widths, well reviewed and definitely worth a try! “I can run laps in Aquatalia and you can dress them up or down,” says Kelly. The flats and boots are great in all weather and I like this Paislee style with the chain buckle detail for a dressier look.
Arche. This French brand is a favorite of my Paris Cafe Writing professeur Patricia Tennison, who logs miles and miles walking the cobblestone streets of her adopted city. The Lomiss ballerina flats come in a wide variety of colors and look so chic, don’t you think?
Pedro Garcia. My Florida friend Cheryl loves this designer’s sandals, crafted in Spain. I’m drooling over this Celena slingback style with soft, pliable leather, great support and adjustable velcro straps.
You probably already know about these brands, but I didn’t want to leave them out! Sketchers, Clarks, Birkenstock, Converse, Aerosoles, Sperry and Vans all have stylish options at reasonable prices. If you want to see all the great recommendations from my pals, check out the conversation on my Facebook page because I couldn’t include everything here. The good news is, comfortable, cute shoes really do exist—in abundance!