Thursday, August 22, 2013

On flats and finding comfortable shoes

I went back to school shopping this week. It was fun, but I stuck to a pretty strict list of things to get so it wouldn't turn into a random shopping spree. I mentally hate shopping for teacher clothes because I used to not wear them anywhere but work. This is because for the first couple of years I wanted to look older so my work clothes were my old mission clothes or were somewhat matronly.  Missionaries get to wear much cuter clothes these days! For example, one of the sisters in our ward was recently spotted in a classy lace Shabby Apple dress! I've tried to ameliorate the school marm wardrobe by getting things that can do double duty in my work and normal life. Still, the hardest thing to shop for are the shoes! After 6 years of teaching here are a few things I've learned:

Your shoes have to have a good padded foot bed and roomy toe-box to do the job. Being on your feet for 8 hours can kill your feet.That basically nixes all heels and anything too pointy.

Don't go too cheap. I wore an inexpensive pair of Gap flats all over Portugal that ruined my heel. Usually a higher price tag means better materials (i.e. real leather) which translates to durability and padded insoles which mean more comfort. A good removable insole can be a solution, but you usually have go up a size in your shoes so it fits the extra layer of padding.

Cheap flats = bad idea

 You can't really get away with not wearing socks, peds, tights, or something to absorb sweat. I have learned that wearing shoes all day sans socks will permanently stink up things fast and shortens their lifespan by a year or more. I have a strong opinion on this as I have a super sensitive nose.  I went to talk to a substitute once and immediately smelled a sharp cheese odor. I looked down to see that she was moving her feet (without nylons or peds on) and the stench was issuing from that direction. The exception to this is if your shoes are d'orsay, perforated, or are a sandal. These styles obviously will give your feet airflow and prevent sweat build up.

The best peds for flats are HUE.  They have a good silicon pad on the back of the heel so they don't fall off in your shoe and also are small so they don't stick out if you have a high enough vamp.

With these lessons in mind, I now submit to you my list of teacher approved shoes! "Oh yay." sarcastically you may be thinking, but I've found that good teaching shoes also translate to good travel shoes, good city shoes, and maybe good mom running errands shoes.

  1. Danskos - I call these the necessary teacher evil. They're expensive. They're pretty ugly. But they'll last forever, not ruin your feet, etc. One pair almost lasted my whole 1.5 years of walking all over the Philippines. My sister uses Danskos for work as a nurse. Also, they're mostly hidden under long pants which is good news if you're not a big fan of how they look.
  2. Banana Republic Abby and Ashley flats - They both have a memory foam insole that molds to your foot. The Abby has an elastic band around that makes it so they don't slip off and hide the ped if you chose to wear one. 
  3. J.Crew Darby loafer and Cece ballet flats - I was excited that these were both nicely padded on the heel! The Darby has a high vamp since it's a loafer. The Cece's don't quite cover the whole ped (just a tiny bit may stick out) but are comfy. I just got the Darby but John thinks smoking slippers are ugly. 
  4. Born - sold at Nordstrom. Not all the styles are cute, but for a comfort brand they've stepped up their game over the years (my Born patent oxfords are very similar to a Miu Miu and Prada style) . The last pair I had felt as comfortable as my Converse. Just don't wear them without peds! Their comfy lining will stink up fast!
  5. Ones that I want to try - Gentle Souls. I'm not especially digging the styles, but there are a few that could work I think. Bass oxfords. Classic and I'm a oxford type of girl. 
A lot of these can be found on sale/discount.  Banana Republic has a 40% off sale once a month and an outlet store. J.Crew has outlet stores, their factory store online, and a 25-30% off sale once a month.  There's Nordstrom Rack and Marshall's as well.
There are also probably a lot of other options out there! If you've tried any, please let me know!


Emily said...

Comfortable shoes are the best! Have you tried Sofft? A lot of their heels have a nice cushy insole (but not all lately, which is unfortunate) and a small sturdy heel which isn't a pain to walk in and isn't super chunky looking either. I also have some crocs wedge sandals (not the ugly original crocs!!) that are super comfortable- more comfortable than a lot of my flats. I have a pair of sketcher flats that look "too sporty" for Tyrone's taste but they're okay to dress up (not formal dress obviously) or dress down.

Amanda said...

you are my hero. this is awesome!

molly said...

you just used ameliorate in a sentence! i love it!