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My Stylish Comfortable Shoes Guide

I'm Mary Sue Papale, co-founder of BENDY by Ashbury Skies. The BENDY is a stylish comfortable shoes with a lower carbon footprint. 

 

comfort shoe quote by founder of a footwear brand

 

I've been in the shoe business my whole career (more than 30 years!). If there's one thing I've learned, it's that tired, throbbing feet are often the result of improper shoes, affecting people even more than being on their feet all day long. Over time, I've figured out what it takes for a shoe to be just as comfortable as it is cute.

 

It's the age-old dilemma. Comfortable shoes that complement your style? Yeah, that's a tricky one. This is especially true for fashionable women who pride themselves on looking as good as they feel.

 

Whether in the office, making a grocery run, or heading to book club, we should be able to shine while living out our everyday duties. This means saying goodbye to painful shoes (and the second pair of flats in your bag). Fortunately, the modern world allows style and comfort to coexist in perfect harmony. As long as you know where to look, you can have it all.

 

Here are some helpful tips on how to strike a balance between style and comfort. Trust me when I say that stylish, comfortable shoe shopping is no longer an ultimatum.

 

Six things stylish comfortable shoes have in common

 

info graphic of stylish, comfortable shoes

 

A fun shoe isn't always the most comfortable (there's a good chance you know this from experience). But when you're after comfort, there are six main characteristics to look out for:

 

1. Flexible soles

 

When comfort is your priority, supple soles are a must. A flexible sole allows pressure to transfer naturally from heel to toe, cutting down on stress during everyday activities like walking. To check your shoe's movement, try flexing the bottom of it. Walk in the shoes a bit, seeing how your foot feels after. A good sole lets your feet move in a natural motion.

 

2. Breathable

 

Proper ventilation in footwear is essential. Breathable materials keep your feet cool, dry and comfortable. When moisture builds up through sweat, it causes discomfort and that no-fun smell. When choosing cute and comfortable shoes, make sure the upper and the footbed (also called the insole) are made of breathable materials.

 

Leather and suede are great choices for an upper. Besides being breathable, they naturally form to your unique foot shape as you wear them. Since every foot shape is different — even your own two feet — shoes rarely come in a perfect fit for your feet, giving form-fitting materials the upper hand.

 

Natural fibers like canvas and wool are also excellent choices for regulating foot temperature. They keep your feet from getting too hot while helping you fight off odors, too.

 

For maximum comfort, the proper materials for an upper need to be combined with a breathable footbed. Your footbed aids in cushioning and support, so choosing one that is made of a break-through, open-cell material lets air circulate and keeps the foot cool. This all-around air flow leads to odor-free comfort for you!

 

infographic showing a breathable footbed in a stylish womens shoe

 

 

3. Moisture management

 

Nowadays, many footbeds have moisture management functions. This advanced open cell material helps to wick moisture away from the foot, ultimately providing a cooler, drier, and healthier shoe environment. Think of this as cooling technology. A footbed with moisture management is often the secret sauce in long day shoes.

 

4. Cushioned footbeds

 

Being on your feet for long periods of time can hurt — maybe for you, that's an understatement. But a cushioned footbed can help you manage the discomfort or even eliminate it altogether. Much like the sole, this component minimizes pressure and serves as another layer of protection for your feet.

We recommend choosing a pair of inner soles that are soft, contoured and cushioned. Trust me when I say you won't be quite so achy by day's end. It also helps if the cushioned footbeds are removable for faster cleaning and maintenance.

 

5. Shock-absorbing bottoms

 

While we walk, stand, or sit, the entire weight of our body lands on the feet. Having shoes with a reliable rubber shock-absorbing bottom is key. These types of soles provide excellent traction and superior shock-absorption to reduce slippage and provide comfort.

 

6. Arch support

 

image of a womens foot with an arch support footbed

 

Shoes with arch support help evenly distribute pressure across your feet and align your body. This hump is small but mighty; when placed right, it provides perfect stability and balance while helping improve your posture.

 

You can also choose shoes with footbeds made from a high-quality, slow recovery foam. While it may not have a raised bump, slow recovery foam still supports your arch. It's designed so the ball and heel of your foot compress when you step down, thus creating a natural arch to support your unique foot shape.

 

Avoid these factors in your shoes

 

list of what to avoid when looking for comfortable sylish shoes

 

We already know what makes up cute and comfortable shoes. Here are some things to steer clear of on your quest for the perfect pair.

 

Synthetic materials

 

Synthetic shoes tend to be cheaper, but they come at a cost. Faux leather shoes come from sheets of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or Polyurethane (PU) that are heat-stamped to mimic a leather surface.  Companies can produce large quantities at a low cost, which explains the low prices.

 

Over time, synthetic shoes don’t wear well. The surface can become brittle with age. Without breathable materials, you don't get that ventilation quality. Since synthetic shoes are made from solvents, they mimic mini steam chambers for your feet. No perspiration can escape, leaving you with stinky feet that are anything but cute or comfy.

 

Heavy footwear

 

The weight of your shoes matters just as much as the material they're made from. Shoes with heavy bottoms don’t bend easily. Plus, they require more energy to move, leaving you fatigued from simple tasks. Fortunately, the modern world offers many lightweight options that are sturdy and flexible to boot.

 

High heels

 

Sometimes, we make sacrifices for the sake of fashion (pain is beauty, as they say). But while there's a time and place for high heels, they're not an everyday comfort. When you need stylish, comfortable shoes, heels may not be your go-to. Most high heels will leave your feet aching after only a couple of hours of walking. It can even lead to serious foot problems down the line.

 

Any kind of elevated shoe shifts your weight to the ball of your foot. The higher the heel, the more pressure is pushed forward. In turn, your knees, hips, and back have to counteract this force, leading to pain throughout the body.

 

diagram of a foot bones in a high heel

 

 

Pointy-toed shoes

 

Much like heels, pointy-toed shoes are a cool look that can make you sore by day's end. They're not ideal for traveling or walking all day. Because they squeeze the entire front of your foot into a v-shape, they can lead to serious discomfort. Since this doesn’t follow your foot's natural shape, it can cause pain, blisters, and even nerve damage. Some women report getting bruises under their toenails from constant pressure.

 

Stylish, comfortable shoes look like this

 

Stylish comfortable shoe silhouettes

 

 

What really makes a shoe stylish is the look of the upper and the material that makes it. There are a ton of comfortable shoes that are just plain ugly. But in my quest to find stylish shoes for long days, I've found some specific styles to look out for.

 

 

Mary janes

 

Mary janes are a great choice for a stylish walking shoe. The strap across the top of the foot gives a secure fit while the adjustable band allows it to fit either a high or low instep. With a Mary Jane style, there's less of a chance that your foot slips out or you accidentally fall or twist your ankle.

 

Ballet flats

 

The ballerina flat is chic, comfy, and lightweight. Its minimalist style is easy to pair with just about anything. In your search for cute and comfortable shoes, find a pair of ballet flats with a flexible bottom and cushioned footbed.

Slip-ons

 

A slip-on is a shoe with a strapless design. Loafers or skate sneakers are the most common example. When shopping for slip-ons, look for those with flexible bottoms and a cushioned footbed. They're an excellent cute and comfortable shoe that lets you forget all about laces. You'll never have a problem sliding them on and off when going through airport security.

 

The BENDY is a slip-on shoe that's stylish, too. Try it on in your own home!

 

Lace-ups

 

Lace-up shoes, like sneakers, are very stable on the feet. They're adjustable and can fit all instep heights. If you're after something that’s as comfortable as it is cute, make sure it’s made from breathable materials, comes with adequate arch support, and has lots of cushioning. Check all these boxes and you will instantly have a stylish, comfortable shoe for women.

 

 

Ask yourself these questions when trying on stylish comfortable shoes

 

Stylish women trying on comfortable shoes

 

 

Buying a new pair of shoes is always exciting. If you want to make the most of your investment, don't lean too heavily on price. Since stylish walking shoes are engineered differently, it only makes sense they'll cost a little more.

 

One thing that is crucial is fit. If the shoe doesn’t feel right, then it’s not worth spending money on. Remember to try on and review all aspects of the shoe so you know exactly what you (and your feet) are getting into.

 

Whether you’re trying on your first or fifteenth pair, here’s a quick checklist of questions to keep in mind.

 

 

How does the size feel?

 

When shopping, choosing a size or style that fits right just makes sense. Bear in mind that sizing is only a guide, and how you feel in the shoe matters most. You may be wary to ask for a different size just because it seems weird, but sizing varies between brands. Resist buying shoes that aren't comfortable, especially with advancements and innovations that make finding stylish, comfortable shoes so much easier.

 

When did you try them on?

 

Those stylish, walking shoes may not be so comfy after all.

 

Did you know that the time of day you try on shoes makes a significant difference? Your feet naturally swell up post-work or after walking long distances. They'll almost always be too tight at this time, so keep in mind they'll feel different in the morning. With online shoe purchases, try them on at different times to double-check the comfort level. Return or exchange the shoes within the return window if need be.

 

Are you wearing socks?

 

Each time you try on new shoes, we recommend bringing a pair of your usual socks. This is especially true for sneakers and boots, but can be important for any pair. Not only does it feel more natural, but you'll also find a more accurate fit.

 

 

Did you walk in them?

 

Once you find a pair of stylish walking shoes that strike your fancy, take a stroll around the store. For online purchases, wear them around the house. This will give you a better idea of how tight (or loose) they are, whether there's enough room in the toes, and if it feels natural.

 

How's the sole?

 

The type of sole will significantly affect your comfort level. After all, its chief purpose is to be a cushion against unhealthy impact and unnecessary pressure.

 

One way to check if the sole is shock absorbent and durable is by jumping a bit while wearing the shoes. Then, check how your heels, ankles, and legs feel afterward. A comfortable sole should absorb most of the stress and prevent pain. Try walking on different surfaces like carpets, tiles, and cement as well. All this might seem tedious, but at least you have a clear idea of whether those stylish walking shoes are worth the investment.

 

Finding your way around foot problems

 

a shoe guide for people with foot probems

 

 

Women experience all kinds of foot problems throughout their lives. This can make shopping for stylish, comfortable shoes so much more difficult. As a way to simplify things for you, I've laid out some of the most common ailments and the footwear that best suits them.

 

High instep

 

Feet come in all shapes. Having a high instep means the part between the ball and ankle is arched a little more than usual. Don't worry; this is perfectly normal, but it can just result in pain when not wearing the appropriate footwear.

 

An oxford design is excellent for individuals with this condition. The laces can be adjusted to fit any instep height. Other options to consider are ballet flats, mary janes, and sandals with adjustable straps. These types of stylish walking shoes for women can reduce tension while matching any outfit.

 

Bunions

 

Bunions develop when a portion of the metatarsal bone flows away from a person's toe. This creates a large bump that can be extremely painful, much more so when not wearing the proper footwear.

 

Look for shoes with flexible uppers that contour to the shape of the foot. These help minimize stress on the sensitive bone. Soft padded interiors are an excellent choice for bunions and provide comfort from heel to toe. I recommend wide styles, too.

 

Plantar fasciitis

 

Although widely known as a sports injury, this condition can affect non-athletes as well. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a ligament that connects your heel to the toe, gets swollen, weak, or irritated. Standing in a single position can magnify the aching.

 

Look for shoes designed with a wide shape, extra depth, and generous toe box. In this case you don’t want a flexible sole. Find a sole that's stiff in the middle instead. The rigid sole will add more protection to the swollen ligament.

 

Those with plantar fasciitis can also find major relief in custom support insoles. These insoles are made of harder materials and will reinforce stability and structure of the sole.

 

Flat feet

 

According to studies, about 20% of the population suffers from pes planus, otherwise known as flat feet. It's often referred to as fallen arches. The lack of arch can lead to considerable pain when standing or exercising for extended periods of time.

 

As you might expect, arch support is key when it comes to finding shoes for flat-footed women. Look for shoes with a padded insole with arch support. Ready-made or custom orthotic devices can also help to absorb impact and reduce stress.

 

Neuropathy

 

People suffering from neuropathy feel random tingling around the feet, almost like pins and needles. It can be quite troublesome and painful, so wearing footwear with extra room for toe movement, correct arch support, and a soft cushion footbed are all important.

 

Knowing what to look for in stylish, comfortable shoes is the first step

 

Beauty doesn't have to equal pain. After all this, I hope you realize that balancing comfort and style is always possible. Even with more nuanced requirements, it’s a small price to pay for what you really need. So long as you identify your needs and spend time looking for the right pair, then stylish, comfortable shoes are in your future.

 

The BENDY is a slip-on that takes many of these comfort pieces into consideration, all while holding its place as a stylish walking shoe. Learn more about the BENDY here.

 

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