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Shoe Recommendations

Melissa Lewis

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After rushing around setting up the room and presenting for two or more hours, my feet absolutely ache. Does anyone have recommendations for comfortable women's shoes (flats or heels) that provide good support while also being attractive enough to wear on the platform?

-- Maria Marsala

I make sure that I wear 100% leather shoes. I purchase them from catalogs. Massey I think is one of them.

And when I give the group a break, I change into another shoe. Yes, I often buy two pairs of low-heeled shoes ;)

-- Rita Risser

I love Aerosoles, with Naturalizer a close second.

-- Resli Costabell

I have incredibly wide feet, and thus find it nearly impossible to buy shoes that fit 'off the shelf'. I can't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Here's some of how I cope:

  1. Go shoe shopping in the afternoon or late afternoon. Your feet swell during the day. If a pair fits in the morning, it may not fit in the afternoon or evening. I like to do a day's shopping on my feet, then hit the shoe stores when my feet are nicely swollen!
  2. No matter how fantastic a shoe looks, don't buy it unless it fits beautifully. Not just 'fits OK except for where it scrapes my achilles tendon on the left side,' but fits *beautifully*.
  3. To be sure that a pair fits, try on both shoes and keep them on as you trot around the shoe shop. I know that many people don't even try on both shoes, or they just walk a few feet in them in order to determine whether they fit. Keep them on, and don't worry about what the salespeople or other customers think. (They're not your audience.) After 20 minutes of wandering the shoe shop, you'll know whether they fit properly or not. Be honest with yourself - avoid the trap of talking yourself into buying gorgeous shoes that that you know in your heart (and in your feet) aren't truly comfortable. I'd rather spend 20 minutes walking around a shoe shop than 20 minutes cursing the day that I bought a pair of ill-fitting shoes.
  4. Wear the shoes around the house to break them in. I sometimes wear them over a pair of socks, to stretch them out and ensure they'll still feel comfortable at the end of the day when my feet are swollen! Make sure you can easily wear the shoes for an entire day in comfort before you try wearing them for work. If you've kept your receipt, you may find after a morning's wearing them on carpets that they need to go back to the shop.
  5. Wear sneakers on the way to and from the venue. Change shoes before you go in and greet the client. Explain that you need to set up the room, and that the first equipment you need is a pair of comfortable shoes. Change shoes (preferably not right there in front of the client. I head off to where my stuff is, change shoes, then reappear.) Set an alarm for 5 minutes before you can reasonably expect the first delegates to arrive. When the alarm goes off, change back into your nice shoes. As soon as the last delegate has left, change back into your comfy shoes immediately.
  6. If you can't stand the idea of wearing sneaker in front of the client, have a pair of acceptable shoes that is comfortable. They might be older shoes or shoes that don't clash with your outfit but that don't look fantastic either. (But do avoid anything that looks inappropriately "cocktail party"!). If you don't have or can't bring yourself to wear such shoes, then at least have two different pairs of uncomfortable but snazzy-looking shoes: one to wear on the platform and one for the rest of the time. As they say here in the United Kingdom, a change is as good as a rest.

-- M. Bergdahl


-- Dianne Daniels

I have found Cloudwalkers to be quite comfortable -- they come in sizes up to a 12 and they are pretty stylish. They can be found on the Avenue.com website.

-- John Cooper

SAS Shoes! On my feet the entire day sometimes. These are great! Make women's and men's shoes. A little pricey but worth it! Stores nationwide.

SAS Shoemakers
1717 SAS Drive
San Antonio, TX 78224
Phone: 210/921-7455

-- Kathy Fediw

I swear by Aerosoles, they are the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned and I wear them until they wear out. They've gotten more stylish within the last few years and are carried by a number of department stores and on line.

-- Al McCree

My wife is a college prof who lectures standing up for 6 hours a day. She swears by the Easy Spirit or Naturalizer brands and also suggest Sheer Energy hose.

-- Margie Seyfer

Z-coil shoes

You can look at these shoes on the Web. They have a spring in the heel with a built in orthotic. You will not fall off them. They are absolutely fantastic and have nearly healed my plantar fasciatis.

They look weird but do I ever have a lot of people with hurting feet ask me about them. I consider them as making me memorable. I don't use them for a keynote just for training. Mine is a leather black boot (not high) that is dressy. I also have their sandal for vacations and sightseeing.

It is important that you try them on before you buy. They run from $150-$200. You'll step into them and absolutely swoon ... guaranteed.

-- Julie Jansen

Women speakers all have that challenge of looking good on the platform don't we?? I bought two pairs of Prevata shoes recently and they are much more comfortable than other fashionable shoes. They are an Italian brand and are quite expensive ($165) but worth it! Probably they have a Web site or can be found at high end department store and boutique shoe stores.

-- Jean Palmer Heck

I posted a similar item regarding women's shoes several years ago on SNN. The responses I got back included Nichols (Nortstrom carries them) and Aerosoles. I have found that I wear Clark's clogs and change into other shoes before the program starts. (I wore my Clark's clogs for 3 weeks traveling around Europe on vacation and never once had any problems. They were better than sneakers!)

I also take Advil before a presentation.

I also have custom inserts that I put in dressier looking shoes. I often have to buy a size larger to accommodate them. They work better with sling backs, because most shoes don't have the backs high enough to accommodate inserts. Nichols used to be the one exception.

I recently bought a pair of dressy sandals called Italian shoes (?) at Designer Shoe Warehouse. Even though they have the toe divider, they have an elastic wrap around the arch that makes them comfortable for me and offer extra support. I wore them the other night for 3 hours and had no problem.

I have also found the Land's End sandals have great arch support, but aren't for work, obviously.

I found a great White Mountain high heel shoe that is well padded but wasn't the right color.

-- Leslie Charles

If your feet are hurting after two hours you either are wearing horrendously designed shoes or you are a candidate for prescription orthotics. I have always had trouble with my feet and I found Ferragamos to work for me (expen$ive but better than any other designer shoe) and I have been an orthotic wearer for 20 years. If you're wearing a heel over two inches, stop!

When I do a long program (4-6 hours) I change my shoes mid-day. Otherwise, with my comfy shoes and orthotics, two hours is a breeze.

-- Gayle Martin

I have had good luck with Dr. Scholl's shoes that I buy at Wal Mart. My husband buys them too. He has serious foot problems and was wearing very expensive custom made insoles that were not helping him. He bought a pair of Dr. Scholl's at Wal Mart and they support his bad foot so well that he does not need to wear those expensive insoles. The styles vary. You will have to find the right ones for you.

Easy Spirit used to advertise that their pumps were as comfortable as their athletic shoes. Have had good luck with them in the past.

I discovered a dance shoe company called Tic Tac Toes that made some classic Mary Janes that are very comfortable. You may want to look them up on the Web. They make many different styles.

-- Lissa Coffey

The best shoes are Dansko! They are the only shoes recommended by the american Podiatric Association. Nurses and teachers wear them, they are so comfortable. They used to be just basic clogs, but now they have some very stylish pumps and work style shoes. They're the only kind of shoes I wear now -- I love them! Lots of colors and styles and they're always adding more. The sizes are European. Everyone I have referred to them has thanked me - they're the BEST! :-) I walk conventions in them, and prefer them to any silly running shoe.

-- Margie Thomas

I have started wearing only Dansko shoes. They may not be as fancy as most but I can be on my feet for over 12 hours without major pain. Dansko shoes are used by nurses and they have developed some nicer shoes for business wear. I've just decided that my comfort was more important.

--Lisa Duncan

After over 25 years in the fashion industry I can irrefutably suggest Ferragamo shoes. I learned this the hard way after hours of standing on marble floors in couture salons. Yes, they are expensive --- expect to pay over $200. They do, however, last well over ten years, are of the highest quality workmanship, never go out of style, and feel like a dream on my feet. Also, I had a shoe salesman tell me that the best heel height for supporting the back and looking svelte on a woman's leg is no more than 2 inches.

-- Susan RoAne

Carry your own stage shoes and put them on when you need to do so. We women are asking for longterm foot problems by wearing our fancy schmancy shoes way too long and too often.

I wear Clarks/Merrills/Cole Haan or a nicer very low heel slip in to do the 'work' before the speech.

-- Lorraine Shallenberger

Aerosole makes the most comfortable cushy shoe that you can literally bend in half and stand in all day, they make all styles from simple pumps to bedroom slipper comfort flats. It's all I wear except for the Mervyn's knock-off brand 'Partners' which are at a good price and very similar to Aerosole.

-- Francoise Tourniaire

Have you tried the Mephisto brand? They are expensive but extremely comfortable -- and they last forever, and they can even be resoled several times, so in the long run I think they're worth it.

Not as stylish as designer shoes, but not clunky-looking either.

-- Lola Gillebaard

High top shoes (or short boots with a flat heel) give me the most support on stage for long periods, but a close second is SAS shoes. They have their own stores all over the country... only one style, a loafer which holds up very well and comes in lots of colors. They cost $100 a pair, but worth every penny!

-- Ami Simms

Wear tennis shoes to set up. I've even worn them while I'm introduced. Then, ala Mr. Rogers, I kick them off and slip into my toe-pinchers while everyone is watching with a quip like "My Mom told me to do this right!" Or "Gee that feels better! (With a HUGE grimace on my face.) It can be a great ice breaker. There won't be a woman in the room who doesn't understand, and most of the men will too.

-- Roberta Guise

I've been as happy as I can be in Munroe heels and Clarks loafer flat. The Munroes give me the most time on my feet of any dress shoe.

The Munroe seems to be a classic style that they reissue year after year: black (of course, although they have brown), the top is a thick stretch lycra (quite elegant), leather heel base, stack heel, squarish/roundish toe. Another benefit: Made in America (what a notion!)

The Clarks loafer is a plain loafer that looks cool even with pants.

I bought both at Nordstrom. Nice thing about Nordstrom: even if you wear the shoes and then they kill your feet, they'll take 'em back. I don't know of any other retailer that still does that. They were originally a shoe store, as I'm sure you know, and I've found great comfort in their selection and return policy.

-- Steve Kaye

You may want to look at Masai Barefoot Technology(R) -- MBT Shoes. They may not be very attractive, but they are comfortable. Also, SAS makes super comfortable shoes, which are even less attractive.

Otherwise, find a special comfort shoe store. In Southern CA, there is Foot Solutions.

-- Diane Bolton

I just have one word for you: Stonefly. Yep, Stonefly is a brand of shoes I bought about 3 years ago, and am happy to say I'm still wearing the same pair! In fact, I've been thinking I should invest in another pair; I mean, how long should one pair of shoes last, anyhow? I'm not sure how many different styles there are. Mine are black leather with a formed sole/heel combination. They have a vent of some sort built in to keep the feet cool. I think I paid around $125 three years ago, but these shoes were well worth it.

I'm on my feet constantly. There have been times (now in the past, thankfully) when I thought my feet would fall right off my body. I have never felt this with my Stonefly shoes, which (can you tell?) I dearly love. I wear these shoes with pants, and even casual clothes, as they are sort of a dressier casual shoe. I don't know how else to describe them. They're plain but smart, and don't detract from your clothes. I no longer wear skirts or dresses, so I can wear a little less dressy shoe and it still looks nice and professional. They slip on (no strings attached) like loafers. Very comfy!

Try Googling "Stonefly shoes"; you'll get just under 33,000 hits! Good luck and happy feet to you.

-- Jeri Greenberg

I wear Cole Haan shoes, almost exclusively. Their shoes are comfortable, in style, yet classic enough to wear on the platform. If you are in NYC, there's a Cole Haan store in Columbus Circle.

Another thing: they guarantee their shoes. For some reason, the toe started to wear on my loafers, and it was one month beyond the refund point at Harry's shoes, where I had bought them. I called Cole Haan directly, and they are sending me a brand-new pair, postage paid. Now that's service!

-- Beth Melton

You might try Munro -- I love them. They are dressy with a rubber sole and can be worn "out of the box" without needing to be broken in. Another brand is Tara Rose -- she makes some interesting styles. I also have E.G. Geller brand (a bit pricey) and love them. The pair I have are definitely flats and I wear them with slacks as they almost look like a casual sport shoe. But, they have a lot of other styles from pumps to sandals. As I said -- pricey!!

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