5 Ways to Choose the Best Shoes for Your Feet #HeelFree

“She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.” — Naomi Wolf

Most articles on choosing the right shoes for your feet aim at managing problems caused or worsened by high heels, or athletes, who tend to care more about their extremities than the average Joanne. One thing my #HeelFree campaign has taught me is that foot care is an invaluable form of self-care. We should all prioritize it.

1. Know your foot type and needs.

Back in my acting and modeling days, I was a leg double for a film actress in a photo shoot. I spent hours walking up and down a runway in shoes that were too small and narrow for my feet—which haven’t been the same since. Shoes that don’t fit aren’t worth it (even if you’re being paid to wear them).

Size is only one important consideration while shoe shopping. Stop by an athletic store or see a podiatrist for a proper fitting. If you have high arches, you need a flexible shoe with good cushioning, says sports physician Dr. Low Wye Mu. If you have flatter feet, you need greater arch support and stability. If you have bunions you’ll need a roomier toe box, and all shoes should fit comfortably—while you’re sitting, standing and walking.

Women are encouraged to have fittings for bras, dresses and even jeans—yet our shoes, apparel that play a significant role in our safety and well-being, get little attention…until something bad happens.

2. Avoid heels.

If you really want to prevent or manage foot and body pain, keep your body in proper alignment and guard against heel-related injuries, such as sprains and fractures, and chronic conditions, such as bunions and osteo-arthritis, you’ve got to stick to supportive shoes. If you simply can’t let go of taller, angular shoes yet, shift to lower heels. While you’re at it, limit time wearing them. (To learn more about high-heel risks, click here.)

3. Avoid non-supportive flats, too.

While they don’t offset your alignment or bring as much pain as heels, flip flops aren’t the safest or most supportive bet either. Don’t make flip flops, ballet slippers and anything that strips of material tied on with string your regulars. Wear them around the house, if you’d like. Take your flip flops to the beach. For other daily activity, stick to more supportive options such as quality flats, walking clogs or sandals, athletic shoes and heel-free boots.

4. Invest in quality.

Very often, we get what we pay for in the shoe department. In some cases, lower prices brings the greater risk. A recent study showed that women have an average of 20 pairs of shoes. I’d rather have five or six pairs of sturdy, comfy shoes that cost a bit more than loads of cheap, potentially hurtful ones. Find deals by shopping the clearance section of athletic and quality shoe stores. (These shoes are often simply last season’s model, and still great quality.) As a bonus, quality shoes last far longer. The investment will pay for itself over time.

The turquoise number are Pasadena Drea sandals by Dansko—love them!

The turquoise number are Pasadena Drea sandals by Dansko—love them!

5. Choose styles you dig.

No matter what your shape, size or height, you can look and feel sexy in ultra-supportive shoes. (Shut up, society. You’re wrong.) To do so, you’ve got to shop for shoes that bring you joy, says motivational stylist Rayne Parvis of Style by Rayne. “If you’re going to go out and buy cheap flip flops, they’re not going to bring you joy,” she said on Girl Boner® Radio last week. Choose styles and prints you love, she suggests. Dress in color and start seeing your own beauty precisely as you are.

To learn more about #HeelFree fashion and ways to feel sexy no matter what your height or size, listen our chat here or watch the video below. The episode also features Shannon Hammer, a healthy living advocate who overcame decades of disordered eating.

What’s your favorite pair of comfy shoes? How much time and consideration do you invest in foot care? What’s your favorite way to nurture your feet? I love hearing from you! ♥

Leave a comment


  1. I used to wear VERY high heels in my so-called “real job” but even before that, in college I was a heel fanatic. Once I began freelancing full time, I stopped wearing heels anywhere but in public appearances. And even that stopped when my then-pup Magical-Dawg landed wrong during play on one of my feet OUCH! Mostly, when at home, I worked barefoot or in sock feet–(off white carpets) but last March that stopped, too. Just before a major client trip where I’d be on my feet all day walking, my left food developed a neuroma–I at first thought I’d somehow broken the foot doing….nothing. Weird. Anyway, after the diagnosis, I took advice of a friend and invested in a pair of NAOT shoes. Amazing, the difference! After 3-4 months (yes, it took that long!) of wearing them, the neuroma went away altogether, but I’m very careful now and continue to wear shoes in the house as well as outside. I love the NAOT shoes because they don’t look like “orthopedic” shoes, and are very stylish. I now have several pairs: tennis shoes, plain everyday Oxford types, a patent leather fancier version, and more recently got a pair of turquoise flat sandals, and brilliant blue wedge sandals. Oh, and I got ’em via amazon. *s*

  2. Karen

     /  September 9, 2015

    I dance west coast swing several times weekly. Knee and foot pain was a problem. I have gone to a flat shoe. Specifically Bare Traps. Great support, soft squishy yet supportive soles. I had boot leather put on the bottom of their gladiator style sandal and it is amazing for dancing.

  3. Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    Heal your feet with heel free shoes!

  4. Great post, I’m so much more tender with my feet since you started this! Sometimes I still wear heels, but only shorter ones and only when I know I’ll be off my feet.

    Now, on to the show…This was soooo synchronistic! I just came from a conversation with my mom about “dressing who you are,” my mom was in fashion for years as a model in the 40s and a fashion coordinator (a mythical profession) in the 70s. My love of style comes honestly and so does my desire for women to find their joy. So we were talking about me adding a style portion to the blog…I am not even kidding,

    But back to the show, you and Rayne and Shannon had me glued to the screen! I could have continued listening for far longer than the show was. We need to hear this! Over and over–so thank you for this. Awesome!

  5. karenmcfarland

     /  September 10, 2015

    Both my father and my husband’s mother sold shoes back in the day. So it was drilled into both of us to take good care of our feet and also the proper fit when buying a shoe. Buying good shoes meant spending a little more money, which was not always in the family budget. So that meant that we didn’t necessarily have a lot of shoes, but what we had fit well, made by a reputable shoe manufacturer. You are rockin’ the #HeelFree challenge girl. Right on! P.S. I am loving the gladiator sandals! 🙂

  6. I’m a Florida girl, born and raised, so flip flops are a must in my repertoire. As an avid runner, I’ve implemented #heelfree to be kinder to my poor feet. 😉 You are absolutely right. As much emphasis as women put on a stylish pair of heels; so should we rock out the comfy shoes. I have a fave pair of moccasins that I’ve worn into perfection. I literally wait all spring and summer for fall and winter to come around just so I can lovingly parade those bad boys in the cooler months.

  7. Having neuropathy makes my foot care fairly important to me. I don’t spend a lot on shoes, but I do try hard to take care of my feet. I can’t always feel when things are bad, so I have to check visually and with my hands to see what’s going on in my feet. Do that, always check, every day, and I think that is an inexpensive way to help your feet.


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