Let’s talk about shoes

My new shoes
These are shoes I *used* to wear.

I could write about a million other, more intellectual, things, but we need to have a conversation about shoes. And we should just hashtag this #firstworldproblems right now, because in the grand scheme of things, on the heels of two major hurricanes and ongoing problems in the world, I realize this is petty.

For those of you who don’t know, I was run over by a car almost two years ago, which broke 5 bones in my foot in a way that was particularly bad. They were displaced, meaning they shifted when they broke, so realigning them required plates and screws and pins.  It was a lisfranc injury, which is bad. A year ago, I had surgery again to have those plates and screws and stuff removed. I spent a year in physical therapy. I can walk normally, which is a big deal, but my foot still hurts when I walk. It’s not as flexible as it once was. And well, shoes don’t fit quite the way they used to.

I’ll spare you the details, but basically, I was restricted to flats in the beginning and I needed a half-size larger to accommodate my foot, post-surgery.  I was gradually able to wear some low heels and have a couple of pair that are working for me. The flats, though, have either worn out, or are flat-out too big now.  I find myself having clothes that I can wear that I have no shoes that match.

Easy problem to solve one might think, but not so much.  I’m limited in the kind of shoes I can wear.  Heels over about 1.5 inches are out. Some flats are out if they have zero support or a narrow toe bed.  Not so bad, you’re thinking. Plenty of options.  Not so much.  I’ve been to many a shoe store over the last couple of weeks, looking for one or two pairs of shoes that I can make my go-to pairs.  I’m not trying to be Imelda Marcos here.  I just want some professional, reliable, comfortable shoes that will go with a wide range of things I have in my closet. I did find a great pair of higher-heeled black shoes.  They’re slightly nicer than a low-heel pair I have, and they’re comfortable.

As I’ve tried to find another pair in other colors, blue or brown or taupe, I’ve struck out.  I’ve found some possibilities, but they’re available in . . . only black.  Flat, comfortable shoes tend to be a) ugly; and b) available in black and, if you’re lucky, blue.  Very few low-heeled shoes exist in the world. Most are 2 inches or higher, which would not just hurt, but potentially damage my foot.

I’ve pored through online stores, too.  Same thing. I’ll find something that looks cute and the heel will be too high or they’ll only have it in black. Also common to find that it’s available in black and some random color like purple or floral pink or something.  It’s weird.

So, I’m frustrated.  There’s a paradox of choice in so many things, for sure. But I’m finding shoes particularly paradoxical.  It looks like there are tons of options, but that’s only if you want one color or only high heels.  I’m going to give it one more try this weekend.  The hardest thing is that sometimes I find myself wandering through a shoe store and feeling a pang of sadness/anger mixed together at my fate, that I can’t just buy any old shoe anymore.  And yeah, that kind of sucks.

9 Replies to “Let’s talk about shoes”

  1. Had a foot injury earlier this year and am dealing with similar issues. (All my beautiful unworn Fluevogs! ) I’d recommend Merrell, which makes some comfortable professional-looking flats. A brand called The Flexx has a “Sun Tropez” model sandal (discontinued, but you can find pairs online – I’ve stocked up), and it is my go-to shoe in warmer weather – comes in a lovely black-and-cream snakeskin pattern, dressy enough to look good with skirts as well as pants, insanely comfortable, and gets regular admiration from total strangers.

  2. I feel your pain! (Um, pun not intended, sorry.) I’m dealing with really stubborn plantar fasciitis and even shoes that used to be comfortable and supportive aren’t any longer. I’ve had luck with Aerosoles in the past. I’ve also had good luck with Taos, although those aren’t super dressy. And I have a pair of “fancy” Sketchers that I’ve been wearing with dresses. 🙂

  3. Searching for quality shoes is so frustrating. I also have foot issues and it really is difficult to find a good shoe. Have you tried Foot Solutions on Rittenhouse Place in Ardmore? I have been able to purchase a few pairs there. I’ve looked at the manufacture website while in the store and have asked them to order a shoe I tried on in a different color (sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t). I’ve also had some success with the Walking Depot in Broomall. I purchased a pair of Ziera dress shoes with about an inch heel there last year (I like Ziera a lot but its sold in few places in the US). I’ve also purchased from Benjamin Lovell in the city in the past. I would say Rittenhouse has the best selection of their stores but the Old City store is nice too. They will also order different sizes/colors if they can. A few weeks ago I purchased a pair of shoes online from Hotter. They are a British company but the shipping was surprisingly fast and free and they have a good return policy. And I know a lot of people who swear by SAS, which is now sold on Zappos. Good luck!

  4. Yes. Seriously. I have wide feet AND high arches AND can’t wear heels AND have to have basically closed shoes for work (lab, so much lab). I now have shoes in black (Sanita clogs, not super attractive, though Dansko makes some cute sandal-y ones), brown (Clarks) and bright orange penny loafers (also Clarks). I used to have some adequate Lands End flats, but they died of old age and the newer ones aren’t cutting it. Rockport has some super cute ones that also tend to be comfy (the cobb hill ones) but their wide size is only a C (curses!!).

  5. So much great advice here! Who knew there were so many shoe suffering people out there?

    For the record, I’ve had success with Clarks, Rockports, and Taos, though for all, it very much depends on the specific shoe. I’ve had versions of all of those that haven’t worked. MB, thanks for the local recommendations. Made a trip to Benjamin Lovell last week with great success!

  6. I swear by Abeo (I buy them from The Walking Company). I got my flats when I was 5 months pregnant and dealing with back pain, and it went away almost immediately. I’ve worn them every day since, and all other shoes pale in comparison. They’re not the trendiest, but they don’t look orthopedic or ugly.

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