The older I get the more I quarrel with my feet. For most of my life they have been undemanding – quiet little mobile shoe trees. Now, they are so darn needy. What with my creaking knees, aching joints, hammer toes, painful corns, incipient bunions, sensitive soles, plantar fasciti-doo-dah, my whole lower leg area is a pain in the arse – or would be, if it reached any higher.
My Gran used to bemoan the fact that she’d ruined her feet with high heels and dancing. She must have partied fast and furious from the look of them. They lodged at the end of her legs like fat, sleepy baby squid. And those were just her shoes. I made a mental note never to be in that situation. Once I got access to them, I would wear heels forever.
Time swipe to now and I yearn for comfortable shoes to quiet my barking dogs. So it’s move over Manolos (off to the designer resale shop with you, my beauties. I can’t handle your 5 inch stilettoes any longer). I want shoes to accommodate my troublesome tootsies: in other words, I want the comfiest shoes I can get that don’t look all that comfortable.
Fortunately style is on the side of shoes you can actually walk in right now. But the trick is to find those that make you look like you’re wearing them because you want to, not because you have to. Here’s what to look out for when you really need something forgiving. (Don’t worry, we won’t be bothering the M&S “Footglove” range just yet.) These aren’t going out “taxi” shoes. These are stomp around all day long shoes that will get you from A to B without you wanting to cry.
Karina sandal, Carvela, £89. Also in black. BUY ME HERE
I can’t get on with pancake flat shoes. I’ve tried ballet pumps, Converses, those pointy flat slippers – no good. I felt like I was permanently walking up hill. My toes seemed to be higher than my heels.
My dear friend G who is right about almost everything tells me her podiatrist recommends a slight heel. Music to my vain muttony ears. She is a connoisseur of the stylish comfy shoe. I spotted her wearing these Kurt Geiger sandals (above in nude but also available in black) last year and they were objects of envy to me – the right height, not full of straps to cut into your poor hot feet, perfect day sandals. They’re back this year and heading to a cupboard near me, if I have anything to do with it.
For something more radical, do check out the Camper sandal range again this year. I really like their take on so ugly they’re cool shoes – some of which (see below) seem to have been designed by a kindergarten on acid. Others owing less to the Telly Tubby school of design are also available
Camper Kobarah sandal. Available in all black, pink, blue/aqua, fuchsia/orange £95 – £115
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Trainers that feel like pillows of air
Not all trainers are comfortable. I have owned and given away a pair of oh-so-cool Adidas Stan Smith’s because we simply couldn’t get on. I have a pair of glorious silver Nike Air Max 90’s which feel like diving boots. Nor do all trainers work with with grown up clothes – you can look a little like an American banker in anything smart. And you can look like a soccer mom in anything casual. Nike Roshe runs – if you can get them in the all navy and all black versions – work pretty well with formal clothes, but if your feet are mishappen (mine are all shards and points, like a lamb chop that’s been in the blender), then that soft top isn’t very forgiving.
Nike Roshe Run Trainers, £70
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Liberty x Nike Roshe Runs in Tan camo (also in other colour ways) £90. BUY ME HERE
The Liberty/Nike collaboration is lovely this year. This coral and black colour way, in the Roshe runs, is, well, yummy. But the others in the range are equally pleasing.
I do like Nike Internationalists (an endorsement that will doubtless render them hopelessly passé immediately). They’re retro looking but also quite chic. Check out the black snake effect version for everyday.
Nike Internationalist special edition, Black anthracite safari, £74.99 at Office Shoes.
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Shoes your podiatrist will love
I’ve mentioned Tracey Neuls before. Not everything they do is to my taste, but if you scout around you can always find something interesting. I like the colours and fabrics she uses. And the heels really are walkable. These little aqua gems are flatter than I like but they are balanced so you don’t feel like you’re walking out of a hole. They are a classic shape so justify the price tag. And that colour is so pretty. Check out the Lor boot in Talc and Gail in Ketchup too.
Tracey Neuls, Ali in Jewel, £245. BUY ME HERE
Many swear by Chie Mihara – who incorporates an anatomical footbed into every shoe. They are not really my thing. I tend to fall between sizes in her shoes and I find the sandals cut too high in the toe, so they are unforgiving in revealing the full horror of mine. Some styles remind me of a posh version of Unfortunate…sorry Irregular Choice – quirky for the sake of quirkiness. ButI do like a clumpy platform sandal and these caught my eye.
Chie Mihara Chunky sandals, gold £240.04, Far Fetch BUY ME HERE
Boots to stomp around in
Blundstone 566, black thermal boot, currently on sale for £90. 25
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My favourite shoes are not exactly dressy. I just love my Blundstones, the Doc Martens of the Antipodes. I may be being fanciful, but whereas DMs are rather like the Brits – they’re rather standoffish until you’ve been around them for a while (boy, those blisters!), Blunnies are metaphorically dragging you out for a drink straight away. I love them so much I have insisted on the entire family owning a pair.
I have two pairs: for Winter, I have a basic model 566: black leather, waterproof , thinsulate lined, sheepskin insoles – they are my dog walking lovelies. My newest Blunnies are the chisel toed dress boot, 1302, in burgundy (although I’m happy to report, it is almost red). I bought the latter from Shoeland.co.uk who were so patient, friendly and helpful with my ditherings over size and style (as well as reasonably priced versus other stores) that I will buy my next pair (the ladies’ boot in navy) from them as soon as I can justify buying yet another pair.
Blundstone 1302 Burgundy dress boot, £119, from Shoeland.co.uk
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Finally, an honourable mention for the queens of keeping your feet sweet: Clarks. I’m a little bit of a style snob so I tend to prefer Clarks Originals. Try the Trigenic flex trainers (the white ones sell out very quickly but are in stock now); the Wallabees (adorable in baby blue) or the Jada sandal. NB. If you stray into the main Clarks range, be very picky about styling – they can’t resist going one detail too far.