The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Do Comfy Dress Shoes Exist? Look Stylish Without Foot Pain

Posted by on Monday, October 28th, 2013

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The average American woman buys 17 pairs of shoes, but only wears three on a regular basis, according to a CBN News poll. Many women they spoke to in Washington D.C. and New York City kept a spare pair of heels at work, so they could commute in flats and look more “professional” at work. But are there comfy dress shoes that can be worn at all times to alleviate this problem? Here at our NYC podiatrist office, we see a lot of women who are on their feet all day — and it’s clear that poor shoe choices have really taken their toll. The question everyone wonders is: Do comfy dress shoes exist?

Types of Foot Pain Caused By Uncomfortable Shoes

The foot and ankle is a very complex structure, made up of over 26 bones and ligaments, so it’s no surprise that foot pain affects millions of men and women. Often, our patients have put up with pain spanning months or even years because they think it’s “normal.” We see lots of pain in the heel, arch and balls of the feet, the ankle tendons, and the toenails. We see bunions and hammer toes — problems which are exacerbated by wearing the wrong type of shoe. Many foot problems have a genetic component, but uncomfortable shoes can turn on the symptoms of pain and lead to surgery-caliber injuries.

“Dress shoes will never be as comfortable as sneakers or some other varieties of shoes, but there are definitely aspects that can make them as comfortable as possible depending on the materials used and the shapes chosen,” says Dr. Nadia from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York.

Choosing Comfy Dress Shoes

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine offers the following tips:

– Look for low-heeled shoes or flats if you walk a lot

– Add an orthotic to the sole of your shoe for added padding and arch support

– Be willing to spend a little more on a good pair of shoes

– Visit a podiatrist to determine which type of shoe features to shop for

Dr. Levy adds: “There are some women who are more ‘comfortable’ in dress shoes/heels than even sneakers. This is not a good thing and it usually it means that your achilles is so tight you need to rely on a high lift for comfort.” A visit with a podiatrist is a good way to find out how an individual’s structural anomalies affect shoe choice.

Designer Anyi Lu Develops Comfy, Stylish Dress Shoes

Fashion designer Anyi Lu had a problem: she wears a size 3.5 shoe. She was forced to wear children’s shoes for most of her life and saw that there was a dire need for stylish, comfy dress shoes for women. She started her company eight years ago when her sister called up the day before her wedding, begging for her to find a pair of shoes that were 2-3 inches high, because she could only wear the shoes she had bought for 15 minutes at a time due to the pain. Lu says weddings are a true testament to how uncomfortable dress shoes are — just look at the number of women wearing beautiful dresses without their shoes by the middle of the night.

Of course, no one wants to choose function over appearance. After all, “orthopedic shoes” can be hideous:

orthopedic shoes
Image Source: DrewShoe.com

Lu describes herself as an engineer who solves problems. “If we can send men walking on the moon, how can we not have a collection of shoes for women that we can look chic and walk in,” she says.

She says her shoes are different because they include:

– Healthy distribution of weight

– Balanced, stable heels with proper arch support and uppers that hold the foot in place

–  Heels that are less than 3″, as podiatrists recommend

– Try wedges, platforms and chunky heels for better comfort

– Expert craftsmanship by Italian shoemakers

– High-quality, supple Italian leather exteriors and high-performance nappa leather / poron insoles

– Fit testing on 10 different models up to 25 times

Other Comfy Shoe Brands To Consider

comfortable shoes
Image Source: Gogirlenergry.com

If you don’t want to drop $400 on a pair of shoes, there are other options. According to Oprah magazine, Elie Tahari’s ballerina flat sneakers are one of three “sleek, comfortable, sneakers we love.”  People say these shoes run a little small and can be a little pricey, but they quickly become a closet staple.

Stores like Kohl’s and Payless Shoes are beginning to specialize in comfortable shoe brands that don’t cost you an arm and a leg. They include features like padded foot beds, extra stretchy fabric, and shock-absorbing soles.

This Forbes article lists a number of brands known for professional style and comfort combined: Taryn Rose, Ferragamo, Stuart Weitzman,  Ecco, Birkenstock, Mephisto, Born, Clarks, Dansko, Naot, La Canadienne, Attilio Giusti Leombruni and Manolo Blahnik.

Do you have a favorite brand for comfortable, chic footwear? Let us know!

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.