When I was in my early 20’s, I realized that I would not be able to sit at a desk for the next 40 plus years and went back to school to get a degree in occupational therapy. I specialize in pediatrics and work in a sensory integration gym with mats on most of the surfaces, so we take off our shoes when we treat. I wear Crocs at work! I play with children all day long and I don’t have to wear women’s shoes, ever, which I find impossible to walk in, anyway. When I go out I wear Frye boots in the winter or Mephisto sandals in the summer. I refuse to hobble myself.
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I absolutely LOVE Pikolinos! They are definitely the most comfortable and longest lasting/wearing shoes I’ve owned. I have 2 pairs of sandals that are going on 4 and 5 years of daily use from May – September for work, city walks, and travel. Last fall I purchased a pair of Pikolino brogues and loafers that were comfortable right out of the box, and are perfect for work or a dressing up a casual outfit. Unfortunately, I find the shoes to be extremely expensive in Toronto, but I’ve been fortunate to come across the brand during visits to Portugal, France, and Spain where they are much more reasonably priced.
Being a petite lady, I’m a size five in women’s, which proves difficult sometimes. Some shoes don’t even go down to a five! Always a six, never a five. So I’ve started resorting to buying kid’s shoes! A women’s five is around a kid’s 3-3.5, depending on the shoe. I’ve found lots of cute slip on shoes this way, for example! I always get a small internal swell of resourceful pride when I get complimented on them, knowing, little do they know, I got them for cheap from the children’s section!
For those of us not in an office setting that requires heels and the like…Hoka One One Bondi 5 and Hoka One One Clifton 4 running shoes are amazing. Working in a research lab on my feet all day I’ve found there’s no point in wearing anything other than sneakers (and absolutely no open toed shoes – you’ll lose a foot!). I have gigantic and WIDE hoofs with a supination issue and high arches. Hoka One One makes the best shoes for my feet (the Bondi is the cushiest). Insoles that support your unique foot shape are a must (I’ve found that Superfeet Green insoles do it for me, plus a custom pair of orthotics for long runs). But seriously, go see a podiatrist and get your feet and your gait analyzed (multiple times throughout your life – it changes!). Well worth the co-pay.
I’ve been wearing Sam Edelman Felicia flats to work almost everyday for over a decade (not the same pair…I have a couple pairs at a time that get replaced every two years or so). They are cute and have a padded sole so they’re comfortable to walk distances in. A few years ago the manufacturer changed the design a bit, so now they have an embroidered logo on the heel (yuck) and are slightly less comfortable for my foot. I haven’t found anything as good yet to replace them though, so I am soldiering on with them.
For you Australian Cup of Jo readers out there – check out Bared Footwear. Their footwear is stylish, comfortable and the company was started by a podiatrist. I wear the “Parrot” style at work, where I’m on my feet for up to 9 hours sometimes. I LOVE THEM, they are supportive and my legs don’t feel nearly as tired at the end of the day, compared to when I don’t wear them.
I commute in Cole Haan ballet flats (unless boots are needed) and then change into heels at my desk. My most comfortable are the Sam Edelman Hazel pumps, which are honestly the most comfortable heels I’ve ever worn. Pro tip – Zappos sells the black and nude (in various materials) in a narrow width, which has been a life saver for my feet! I’ve also found Ann Taylor and Tory Burch heels to be pretty comfortable and narrow feet friendly.