I’m vain, but not stupid.

I like cute shoes. This doesn’t mean high heels. I like a bit of heel, but I can live without it, and I may have to, going forward. I’ve had a bum ankle for years (sprained multiple times since the age of 20), and it seems like for the last most-of-a-decade I’ve been repeatedly rehabbing it from minor strains. I’ve noticed that the ankle feels better in my gym shoes, which start with some built-in arch support and then have added the arch-support inserts I’ve used in all my shoes for the last 30 years. So I can see that I need to spend more time in properly supportive shoes (not stupid). But the gym shoes are hideously neon and I refuse to be seen in them anywhere but the gym. For the moment, I’m wearing them around the house and changing when I go out (vain).

I have very high arches, as you might guess from needing to add arch supports to shoes that already have some support. All I want is a pair of black oxfords, ideally something menswear-like (wingtips?); at least not hopelessly old-lady-ish; preferably not gym shoes; with good arch support and a fairly well-cushioned sole. In other words, something that feels like gym shoes, but looks dressier. It is astonishingly difficult to find such a shoe.

So, gentle readers, any recommendations? Brands, at least?

10 thoughts on “Shoe bleg

  1. Ecco has served me well, but I do have wierd shaped flipper-feet (my heel is two width fittings narrower than the ball of my foot, and even at the ball of the foot and despite my weight the width fitting at the front is at the narrow end of UK normal) and my arch is “loose”, so room at the front and fit and support from the mid-arch back are my key criteria…) also Gabor used to be good for me, I have some simple black-with-stitching Mary-Jane type shoes which are flat, fit well and give me enough stability.

    There is also a company called James Inglis who do mail order – you trace around your feet, describe your issues, and they send you shoes that they think might suit. My Mum (who is starting to have arthritic problems in her feet but LOATHES old lady shoes) swears by them.

    Mind you, I’ve kind of given up – I wear what is essentially an outdoors gym shoe most days (a “trail shoe” in Ecco-speak) rather than a town shoe. I choose shoes with ‘natural motion’ footbeds and it’s made a huge difference to my foot and lower limb joint happiness (they still grumble but it’s quiet and ignorable most of the time).

    1. Thanks! I looked at the James Inglis site and they show a shoe by Munro that looks like the sort of low-heeled, garçonne-ish style that I have in mind. It’s in stock at Munro, but not at Zappo’s or any store in my area, and I don’t like Munro’s return policy. I’ll see if I can get to a store where I can try on some other Munro styles to see if it’s worth taking a risk on ordering it.

      I suppose being an academic gives me some leeway—I could be that eccentric prof who wears hiking boots with dresses—but I can’t quite bring myself to it (vain!).

  2. I wear Clarks all the time, and find that some of them are right up there with tennis shoes in terms of comfort. I try to convince myself that at least some of them are stylish in a practical European way, but you might find them too frumpy.

  3. I have tried all kinds of shoes over the decades, having broken and sprained ankles. I’ve been eyeing Crockett and Jones, but want to get fitted in person, so I have no personal experience to draw upon.

    1. Those are the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen. And far more expensive than any I have ever owned. But I am most awfully tempted. If I took all the money I put into not-quite-right shoes and got one truly right pair, I might manage to justify it to myself. I see why you like them and why a personal fitting would be a good idea.

      1. Yes, and yes. The price is breathtaking, but as you say, I’ve spent that much on several not – right pairs of shoes that disappointed me. I have to wear hiking boots outside to stabilize my ankles, so these would be indoor shoes only. I’m planning to go with my custom orthotics in hand next time I’m in New York. Whether I come home with a pair remains to be seen!

  4. I have Keens, which are able to serve as both good walking shoes and pass as working shoes. But if you have foot issues, getting custom insoles is LIFE CHANGING. I suffered with mild to intense foot pain for years, and getting custom insoles immediately solved it. It was like magic.

    Anyway – Keens get the job done.

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