Since my recent hip surgery, I’m loving my old lady shoes. These shoes are flat-soled lace-up styles or flat-soled shoes with a MaryJane-type strap across the arch. They give stability rather than style.
I’ve traded style for comfort and it hasn’t been easy. However, if I want to walk through the rest of my days, I’ll wear old lady shoes that allow me to walk without discomfort or wobbling.
I always loved shoes and, over the years, acquired many more shoes than I will ever wear. My shoe wardrobe is carefully stored in a seasonal closet in the basement; occasionally I take out a pair and try them with an outfit. Unfortunately, I can hardly walk more than 20 steps in many of these shoes. Most of these will get donated so someone else can enjoy them.
Reluctantly, I search for a pair with flat soles or a pair with just a bit of a heel.
My Ruined Feet
During my career, I wore pumps every day. As the years passed and the decades advanced, the heels changed from stiletto height when I was young to the standard 2-inch heels I wore during my last few years in the office.
My closet always held several pairs in black leather, black patent leather, navy leather, and red leather. I hated wearing the same pair on two consecutive days. The shoes provided choices for my mood and also the day’s schedule. Most were standard closed pumps for business wear; a few were sling-back styles.
Since I live in Canada, my shoe wardrobe included several kinds of boots — some fashionable and made of beautifully soft leather; some practical for walking in deep snow; and some ankle booties to wear for fun. Various kinds of sandals to keep my feet cool on hot summer days completed the array of shoes.
Unfortunately. cramming my feet into pumps every day and walking for hours on hard floors ruined my feet. Bunions, corns, and hammer toes started to bother me.
My New Best Friends
Podiatrists became my new best friends.
After consultations, gait assessments, and a few plaster casts, I was prescribed custom orthotics. Most of these could only fit into my running shoes. Interestingly, I found that I could walk without pain when I wore the orthotics.
I bought several pairs of custom orthotics over the years — some made of foam and plastic, some all-plastic, and some made of carbon fibre and designed to fit into low-heeled dress shoes.
I also consulted an orthopedic specialist about bunion surgery — ouch!
When I asked what she would recommend for her mother, she said “I would tell her to buy bigger shoes!” What a strange comment from a surgeon who breaks and re-sets toes and knuckles for a living.
After having watched a couple of my friends limp for months after bunion surgery, I decided against it. Too chicken!
Buying Old Lady Shoes
I took the surgeon’s advice to buy bigger shoes not only to accommodate my bunion but also because my feet gradually flattened as I aged. I learned to assess the size of the toe box as a deeper toe box doesn’t pinch.
Good old lady shoe options are made of durable materials that provide foot support. I avoid the squishy soft slipper types of shoes as they provide comfort but offer no support. I also look for sturdy soles, usually made from some type of rubber to provide grip and avoid slipping.
My old lady shoes need to accommodate my orthotics. They include brands like Finn Comfort, Clarks, Rockport, and Mephisto. Some of these companies make shoes that look ‘dressy’ usually featuring a MaryJane type of strap that fits across the arch and holds the foot in place. When buying sandals, I look for built-in orthotics that suffice for casual summer days when I don’t do much walking.
When I found a couple of low-heeled styles that included a Mary Jane type of strap across the arch that looked moderately dressy, I bought them immediately. They work when I have to dress up — but, I pay the price of sore feet for a few days after wearing them for an evening out.
Taking my favourite stylish shoes out of rotation has been a tough decision as I always notice shoes people wear. When I worked, I amused myself during boring meetings by peeking under conference room tables and assessing the shoes worn by colleagues. I confess to giving poor grades to the men who didn’t wear leather-soled shoes with their business suits.
If I were still going to meetings, I’m sure I would get the same poor grades for my rubber-soled flat shoes. Or, would I? Perhaps people are waking up to the need for comfort and good balance over style. Here’s to more people proudly strutting their old lady shoes!