Combining refined and casual

In Ingunn's recent "Should I go nude?" post she raised a dilemma that I also share. Living in a small northern city and traversing largely on foot, I sometimes find that more refined footwear -- especially footwear with narrow heels -- just doesn't get worn very often. 

I like how it looks. It can "make" an outfit. But it feels quite impractical for my life. 

Janet then responded: "Oh, and I don't think that a "refined" style and a "casual" lifestyle need be mutually exclusive. My life is very casual but I'm usually looking for a hint of the refined somewhere in my outfits -- a nod to modern classic, perhaps."

Now, I agree absolutely with Janet. And many of Angie's ensembles give us clues about how to do this -- it doesn't always have to be with footwear. And yet....footwear can update a look like nothing else!! 

I think my own struggles would be less acute if I could wear low vamp pointy toed FLATS, which would look refined but be excellent for walking. Unfortunately, those will never stay on my feet. 

So what kind of footwear would be refined, yet stay on my feet -- and be practical?

And, more generally, if you are trying to combine a casual lifestyle with refinement, how do you do it? 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • torontogirl replied 6 years ago

    Suz, this is my constant dilemma so I have no solution but thank you for raising the question! I have a ton of cute flats, etc., but I've literally been wearing my same black boots and gray puffer for 5 MONTHS. Over dressy outfits. Over casual outfits. With gym clothes. EVERYTHING. It is truly annoying! Also, I was such a high-heels girl before my kids came along, and now I never wear them, although I still love how the elevate a simple outfit. But they make no sense for my life, so I don't bother. *sigh*

    Ok, rant over, will be watching the thread with interest!

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Oh, I know. This year is the worst. I have been wearing my grey puffer and my snow boots since mid-December, with maybe four days' break to change coat or boots -- just those days when I was commuting by car or the weather eased up a touch. Granted, this has been a tougher year than usual, but....

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    I wish I knew the answer! The only thing I can think of is pointy boots and booties. Of course in practice, for me at least, this turns out to be a big headache as well because of FPE, etc. Getting a SLEEK fit in a bootie is really difficult for me. There's always extra room somewhere, which is RATE at best and just looks ill fitting at worst.

  • gryffin replied 6 years ago

    Suz - I so get what you are saying.  The whole polar vortex has us all in a practical rut.  I've also been alternating two pairs of snow boots and a puffer for the last 5 months.  So sick of them.  But this can't last forever.  In answer to your question I have two personal ways that I add refinement.  Booties/boots and blazers.  Last year was a bonanza of pointy toe low heeled booties.  They are comfortable, practical but wow, can really pack a style wallop.  I've been in an anti-shoe phase for the last 10 yr.  Not sure why but I'm feeling boots.  Also blazers.  Sharp tailoring, you can't beat them for adding drama, refinement and polish to any outfit.  Of course they are great for work, but I put blazers over casual pants, tunic, you name it.  OTOH, I'm waiting for another pr of snow boots to arrive.  Anything to break the monotony!!

  • Sarah A replied 6 years ago

    So... I cant exactly relate but for summer i have seen some cute ankle strap dorsays that were either flat or with a baby wedge. Seems like that could work maybe?

  • Mo replied 6 years ago

    Shiny, sleek metal detailing gets me there.  My silver choker necklace, silver plated blush sandals, silver heeled red patent peeptoe flats.  
    For instance, the shorts and tank sweater below are very casual, but the silver touches help elevate it.  

  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    This winter has definitely tested my dedication to heeled boots and shoes! My Aquitalias have gotten more than a fair share of wear, and I'm so glad I made that impulse Nordstrom Rack purchase back at the beginning of the winter.

    I'm glad my remark resonated with you, and I struggle with this a little bit too. It's just so easy to pull on the most comfortable shoes for a long day, you know? And very often, comfort comes in the form of lower heels, wider footbeds, etc.

    What this "refinement" quest has meant for me, in terms of footwear, is moving away from the stompier, more RATE styles I experimented with over the past few years. It was fun, but I'm finding a new balance in my aesthetic that combines something distinctive (color, texture, pattern, detail, heel shape, etc) with a slightly more streamlined look. I've always loved pointier toes more than very rounded shapes, and the trending of pointy toes seems to be my impetus to follow that preference.

    I wonder if a higher vamp, slightly pointier toe flat such as a loafer would stay on your feet better. I have troubles with pumps and low-vamped shoes slipping off my narrow feet as well, so any search for shoes like this is a hit-or-miss effort. I do like ankle straps for this reason, but they can be tricky as well. The Okalas are a wonderful example of a well-designed ankle strap shoe. But again, they are "dressier" than my life generally calls for.

    What I find is that I kind of have to make myself wear those shoes. Pick them out in the morning and build the outfit up from there. They will probably never be everyday kinds of shoes for me or you, the way they would be for someone who works in a different environment. I accept that these kinds of shoes will never reach the kind of ridiculously low CPW that my more practical, casual boots will.

    Some of my shoes that, I think, bridge the casual/refined line pretty well are my oxfords. I'm thinking of the Clergerie oxfords that Mochi has too, and my blue Cole Haans. They have relatively low-profile soles, so they don't look chunky or stompy, but they have presence, IYKWIM. They also have a relatively narrow profile and appearance on the foot, which I think helps preserve a long leg line. In my mind, I connect a slimmer profile of footwear with a more refined look. So as popular as Birks and the like may get, I can't really connect them with "refined." :-)

    I'm rambling, so forgive me. I've been considering the qualifiers of "refined" and "sophisticated" as they act as a counterpoint to my rock'n'roll leanings, especially as I near 50 and want to keep my style interesting but still reflect a certain kind of maturity. Does any of this make sense? Or should I have not had that third cup of coffee? ;-)

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Janet, it all makes terrific sense. I got a pair of Okalas, but I fear they won't be everyday shoes for me, for exactly the reasons you mention. I will do my best to build outfits around them, but the reality is, they just won't fit my lifestyle all that well, and with only about 4 months a year when they are weather appropriate here, it limits their use. 

    I should probably investigate oxfords and spend a full day trying loafers. So far, I haven't had any luck with those or with slipper flats. They just flip off of me. So weird. I don't know what it is about my foot. I guess the forefoot is regular width (meaning I can't wear a narrow shoe) and the heel is narrow. 

    Mo, I actually thought of your silver touches when I wrote this post and I think you've found an excellent solution to the dilemma. I'm going to have to look into this a bit more as well. They do add a touch of sophistication, for sure. 

    Sarah, I think that's a good idea -- maybe a ankle strap D'Orsay with a wedge. A flat one would be uncomfortable on me and too leg-shortening. 

    gryffin -- I definitely need to add to my toppers. I don't have a lot of them at the moment, even though jackets are one of my very favourite wardrobe items. But when I work at home, I take them off -- and summers where I live it is too hot to wear them. I do not have air conditioning. I have the same issue with booties in summer. I do wear those during the non snowy cooler months, though, and agree absolutely they're a big help. 

    Diana, I feel your pain!! It's really tough to find footwear that works. 

  • adorkable replied 6 years ago

    Oh, gosh, also following along with interest -  I've got a similar problem! My heel is much narrower than the front of my foot, so things just kind of ... fall off. I can fake it with some flats, but in most pumps I ... clomp. In a way that people make fun of me for making it to this age without knowing how to walk in heels.

    How do you feel about slingbacks? Sometimes that adjustable back can help.

    If your feet are like mine I'd be skeptical about the ankle strap d'orsays - the straps have to do too much work on me, and it's miserably uncomfortable. 

    I don't have your weather, and so my solution is to wear dressy sandals year-round instead of pumps. People who don't live here find it dreadfully seasonally confused, but here it's pretty normal!

    ETA: Clarks makes a few pairs of low-vamp flats with cushy bottoms and quite narrow heels - some of them are ugly as sin, but others are decent-looking!

  • Joyce B replied 6 years ago

    I am not much help here but if I am well dressed and I need to walk a lot, my flats come out.
    I am following your thread with interest.

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    Duh!  Can't believe I forgot my beloved oxfords!  My Borns have a nice almond toe that adds a bit of refinement (although they are distressed leather) and I have these blue patent ones I picked up on Yoox (pictured below) that are really refined looking because of their shape and high shine.

    For oxfords I prefer something that is not so literally like menswear (with the long straight fronts) but something with a bit of brogue detailing or similar (like the seam across the front of the foot), which makes it look more feminine.

  • carter replied 6 years ago

    Suz, it pains me to see you in heels all the time! You must find some flats that work. Have you tried the heel grips? I have two pair of flats that wouldn't stay on my heels until I added the grips. Now they work great. Because my left foot is smaller than my right, I also sometimes use them in the left shoe only, or I put in a petal under the ball of the foot to make the overall fit more secure.

  • Catnip replied 6 years ago

    The solution to your problem is a shoe built on a combination last.  In other words, a shoe with a heel that is about two sizes narrower than the front part of the shoe.   Unfortunately these shoes are usually very expensive.  One good example is Salvatore Ferragamo, who makes gorgeous shoes.  I wear size 8 1/2 AA, and a Ferragamo shoe in this size has a AAAA width heel.  Another more reasonably priced brand that is sometimes built on a combination last is Munro.  Unfortunately Munro sizing is not always consistent, which you will discover is you read reviews of Munro shoes.  I have returned many pairs of Munro shoes that I've ordered from Nordstrom or Zappos, but I've also found many pairs that fit perfectly.  Their oxfords tend to be quite reliably sized, comfortable and attractive.  I just bought the Tori oxford, which is cute and so comfortable it makes me feel like dancing. 

  • Glory replied 6 years ago

    No solution here either. I have given up heels of any sort because they just don't work with my life style. I love how they look and find they really dress things up. I find summer easier because there are so many sandals that are fabulous. What about loafers? I haven't tried them but perhaps they might work.

  • SarahTheWhite replied 6 years ago

    What about something that is a compromise. Just a simple idea, but these little ballet flats from Payless (of all places!) are incredibly comfortable and have a slightly pointy shape with a patent patch on the toe, and kind of grab your feet. They are easy to walk in in good weather, or could be tucked in your purse to slip on indoors in bad weather.

    I also think that if a person needs basic, practical footwear due to weather conditions, fit issues, comfort issues, or any other reason, there are plenty of other ways to refine the look - simple clean lines in clothing choices, quality fabrics, jewelry (love Mo's silver) and of course handbags!

    Link to shoes:

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I couldn't agree more with Janet. Casual shoes can absolutely be refined. And remember that Refined is on a continuum. A moto boot can be refined or chunky. Pumps can be refined or chunky. Oxfords can be refined and chunky. 

    You're after a refined loafer with a one and half inch heel, Suz. 

    (I do a lot of walking - and wear refined shoes. Granted. There is no snow). 

  • Freckles replied 6 years ago

    Suz I suggest you get your foot measured and fitted at Harry Young Shoes in Toronto.  They are excellent at fitting "different" feet.  If you find a last that fits you then you are able to shop more and browse looking at the brands with that last.  
    Foot Solutions probably won't work for you but the sales associates are excellent describing what your foot needs and what to look for.  You never know either, you may find the perfect shoe.  While they carry boring orthodic shoes they also carry Wolky and other interesting brands.

  • Gaylene replied 6 years ago

    Oh, yes, I can relate to this issue, Suz, because I am so past the point where I will suffer just because a shoe looks good, even when I'm out for the evening. I walk everywhere, at a fairly good clip, and refuse to compromise on comfort and practicality. I know too many women my age whose feet are in horrible shape and who have trouble getting around now that they are in their late sixties. I don't plan to join their group.

    My solution has been to search out some of the higher end European comfort brands that seem to do a better job of marrying fashion and walkability than most of their North American counterparts. Chie Mihara, Karston, Thierry Rabotin, Fidji, and Arche. I've also had success with some NA brands from Taryn Rose, Joy Chen, and Beautifeel. More common brands like Joseph Seibel, Naot, London Fly, Ecco, and Clark's can also have some interesting styles if you hunt around in their collections. I might pay a bit more but the CPW makes these shoes much less expensive than the ones that sit in my closet.

    As for getting sick of wearing that puffer, this year I followed your advice and decided I needed a coat wardrobe. Three(!) puffers, a couple of jackets, and a refined cloth coat let me vary my outfits because, let's face it, we live in a northern climate and, for five months of the year, the majority of people only see us in our coats and boots.

  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 6 years ago

    What about all the ankle strap flats that are trending? I see a lot out there including some really cute colorblock styles. They might stay on your foot better than a regular flat.

    There are levels of refinement, but any Oxford is never going to have the same vibe as a pair of pumps, so I totally know what you mean.

  • deb replied 6 years ago

    Suz, what about something like this that comes in narrow.

  • shiny replied 6 years ago

    My survival tactic this winter has been as shown below...  

    1. Puffer in a sleek fit and metallic color - which is about as refined as a puffer coat can get!
    2. Refined Coach bag with gold hardware

    The booties shown in this particular pic aren't all that refined, but they are stable, fit like a cowboy boot (heeled but distribute weight back, not forward, and offer a lot of arch support) and I can walk all day in them.

    Otherwise my M.O., if I'm going to be walking a lot, is to wear practical footwear to get to wherever I am going, and change out into impractical yet stylish footwear once I arrive. I am not the only one who does this - coat check will take your shoes/boots, not just your coat. 

    Also, I have the Jcrew cobalt coat, which has thinsulate, so is quite toasty, as toasty as any puffer, though puffer's of course are better for wet weather and muck and salt/sand conditions. 

    And there is always the option of wearing a sweater dress, with warm fleece tights, and tall boots. Okay my tall wedge boots may be totally outdated but they get me wherever I am going, I can walk all over in them for hours on end, no problem, and they are more attractive than a practical pair of clompy snow boots. 

    Combining refined + casual in warmer months is a tad easier, I think, because one can easily find comfortable wedge sandals, or refined strappy sandals with a bit of a heel or flat. 

    If you are looking for more cushioning and support akin to a running sneaker: sometimes I wonder if such footwear does our feet more harm than good in the long run. Because we were meant to walk barefoot and barefoot is actually the healthiest for our bodies. Pamper your feet too much and your feet muscles may forget how to work. What I'm suggesting is that wearing sneakers all the time, may actually be just as bad as wearing pumps all the time. Best strategy is to rotate -- and walk barefoot as much as possible, such as around the home. I kind of like ballet flats for this reason, they are close to walking barefoot. 

  • Day Vies replied 6 years ago

    I'm thinking along the line of a refined bootie or a lovely loafer. I think there is a way to do it. Oddly enough I'm remembering high school. I spent a lot of time walking to and from school in winter too. I preferred more refined looks even then. My feet are wide so I don't have issues with shoes falling off for the most part. These two styles served me well in cold weather when I wasn't wearing stylish tall boots.

  • rabbit replied 6 years ago

    I think the refined oxfords/booties is going to be my main fallback. I also like 'granny bootie' styles with a heel that lace up because they are one of the most stable and comfortable ways to wear a heel (besides platforms and wedges) for me.   It takes a little searching to find ones that look more contemporary though.

    Other refined shoes  like pumps or more delicate flats pretty much get worn out to an event, or once I arrive there.  I'm not trying to make them an all day shoe with my current life, although when I worked in an office I sometimes did.

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    I don't know. I have the same issue. I do leave shoes at work but to come up with the rest of the outfit at home is a struggle sometimes. I have given up on refined shoes - not sure which came first, my style or my climate!

  • replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I could totally see you in a taupe, high vamped loafer (white vamp, please) with a shiny metal horse-bit detail. Angie says and inch and a half heel, so there it is. I'm not sure what time of year you could wear them though! :(

    To answer your more general question of how to combine a casual lifestyle with refinement, that is THE question of the S/S season for me. As you know, every summer (for extreme weather reasons) I default to a more casual, rustic, boho style than I am comfortable with, and this spring, I've been asking myself WHY? Why do I continue to do this? If refinement is on a continuum, like Angie said, why can't I find more refined versions of my summer uniform or formula?

     In Denise's thread on the fashion-forward comfort sandals the term "hippie brown" came up, which got me thinking about my unreasonable love for brown aniline dyed leather. I realized that it is the polar opposite of what I want my style to be, yet I'm drawn to it for some unknown reason. Maybe I just never thought about it before. I didn't equate it with being earthy, natural or bohemian. I just liked it, perhaps because, in my price range anyway, it represented "real" leather, and more comfort than the vegan alternatives.

    Then I got to thinking about hardware on belts, bags and footwear. Some of my things have heavy, chunky hardware in a tarnished brass or dull silver color, which now looks very rustic to my eye, and less refined than I'd like. I really like it, but it suddenly looks like the one piece that doesn't really belong in the outfit. But then I wonder, if I phase out these items and replace them with more refined equivalents, am I kissing good-bye any hope of ever accomplishing irregular outfit juxtaposition? 
    Maybe not, since my clothing choices themselves are already pretty casual, and they might need dressing up (rather than dressing down) if I'm to achieve the summer look I want. 

  • Vicki replied 6 years ago

    I'm at a drag race in Bakersfield right now and I could use that extra cup of coffee Janet mentioned! I just had to jump in, because I love the idea if refined casual as well as shoes, which, as you say, can quickly refine an outfit in a hot second.

    I like the idea of a low vamp pointy-toed flat and there must be one out there that would work. I also love these types of flats with the ankle strap and saw this young 20-something with a Madewell animal print pair which gave off a great French flair to her outfit (slacks and skirt on two occasions).

    A cute pointy loafer, as Angie said, would be outstanding.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Thank you all for your replies! Very helpful, and very interesting. 

    Carter -- please don't feel pain for my feet!  A 2 inch heel is my ultimate comfort!! You have to understand -- flats (i.e. true flats, like the ones that SarahtheWhite linked to) are terribly, terribly uncomfortable for me. A small heel is much, much, MUCH better. I never, ever go higher than 3 inches -- and 3 inches is not an all-day shoe. More of a half day shoe. 

    But 2  inches is my ideal incline. 2.5 is also good, and I can comfortably go as low as .75 (like the Sam Edelman Petty). But .75 is on the low side of comfort for me. I do have one pair of .5 inch baby wedges that are okay...I think in that case, the wedge helps. 

    In fact, my feet actually flip out of true flats more than pumps (although, adorkable, I TOTALLY hear you on people staring because your shoes are clomping -- that has happened to me SO. MANY. TIMES!!!) 

    But it's also to do with the incline. Vildy once posted a link to an article that explained how you could determine the ideal heel for your foot based on the foot's shape. I had no idea that this would differ from person to person. But apparently it does. I did the test, and sure enough, 2 inches is what came up. 

    I think Catnip hit on it. I need a double last shoe. This is why those Munro slipper flats worked for Diana when no others would, I suspect. (She has the same problem as me with shoes flipping off). I am going to check Munro's spring styles. Thank you!! And I am absolutely willing to pay more if I find some that are fairly classic and will work. 

    Gaylene, those are great recommendations as well. My only heeled pump that works is by Ecco. But not all their styles work on me. Clark's and Naot tend to run too wide for me overall. Fly London do not fit me, period. (Just a really bad last for my foot - and always too long or too short). Fidgi tends a bit too embellished for my taste; ditto Joseph Siebel, though the fit can be good and I light the lightweight flexibility of the shoes. 

    Freckles, that is a good idea to try Harry Young. My husband (with narrow feet) goes there. 

    Thanks again, all. I'm going to continue a hunt for loafers that do stay on....maybe I will have to spring for Ferragamos or maybe those Munros would work for me. Hmmmm. Thinking of having a delivery sent to Boston.....  :)

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Claire, that is a really, really interesting question. 

    I'll bet in your area there must be a very strong environmental aspect to this as well. I expect those "hippie brown" elements must be very popular, somehow, where you live. And I agree -- the authenticity of them would speak to me, as well, especially if my choices seemed to be plastic and too bright. 

    And yes...I wonder if "dressing up" the summer outfits is key for us. I tend to dress very, very casually in summer (even more so than in winter) and this is exactly why I asked about refinement, I think. I would like to add that refinement to the casual. 

    I really like Mo's suggestion for some hints of silver. It looks cool, it feels relatively cool, and it does add something. 

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    So I have to admit that the Munros are not the world's most comfortable shoes for me. I don't wear them for super heavy walking days. The problem is that the toe box is a little tight. My Bruno maglis also have this problem, they are fine for an evening out but I wouldn't wear them to walk outside all day because my toes do start feeling pinched after a while.

    Eta: I expect the Bruno's will stretch after a while as they are that super supple Italian leather. The Munros oddly have not stretched at all despite being suede. Perhaps they are treated with something to prevent stretching. Still, the smooth leather ones might stretch more in the toe box.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Very interesting, Diana. Well, I guess I'm just going to have to continue to try on in person until I find the magic pair that works. Grrrrr....

  • Mellllls replied 6 years ago

    I wear flat walkable shoes in my business wardrobe. I've found that flat but not chunky heels make a difference. Does that make sense?

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Makes sense, Melllls -- just not for me, since they don't stay on, unless they are tie-ons like oxfords. is a never ending quest! This is why I tend to wear sandals and booties almost exclusively. 

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Reading with interest, because I empathize somewhat, with a wider forefoot and narrower heel (although I do have ballet flats that work great for me--AGLs are my favorites). I don't have anything new to add, but I will second some ideas offered above:
    1) higher-vamped Gucci-look loafers (I love my new Munro Kimi, and for me, Munros are hands-down my most comfortable all-day shoes),
    2) Fidji shoes for arty-refined-casual comfort (they always have some really cute summer styles, too, for refining your summer look), and
    3) oxfords. I have a pair of Josef Seibel oxfords that are called "pumps," with a low heel. I like them much better on and in person than online.
    Okay, I'll also add: How about an open bootie for summer? I often like Paul Green for comfort and style, and here's a cool refined version of a summer bootie that I have admired. It's even in the perfect taupe color for you:)

  • Mellllls replied 6 years ago

    Even booties can be flat without a chunky heel. Or are you looking for another type of shoe for variety?

  • replied 6 years ago

    I was thinking that an ankle strapped pump with a block heel might be more stable, but a covered heel of any sort is going to be susceptible to nicks and scrapes in a way that stacked leather heels wouldn't be. 

    How are you set for hand-bags? Maybe you could find a bag with a really refined shape and texture that could do the lion's share of the work (instead of your footwear). As least you wouldn't have to walk in that!

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Well, if they're completely flat, they won't be comfortable for me, to begin with. And yes, I'm set for booties, but want something that is more shoe-like for transitional weather -- not cold, not hot. Although more and more I am beginning to think that maybe a cut out bootie or bootie-sandal is a better bet for me! Maybe a cage sandal, even. Hmmm. More pondering. 

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Claire, that's a good point. I do need a handbag or two. You know I'm not much of a bag lady and tend to wear just one or two per season. But I have noticed that they really ramp up a look and I would like to make use of that. 

    And ankle strap pump with a small wedge would be perfect, actually. If the ankle strap were nude so it wasn't too leg-shortening for short-legged moi. I am going to hunt for that. 

    Firecracker, thanks! I like those Paul Greens although I would want to find some way to tuck in the laces or otherwise hide the ends. I have an incredibly strong aversion to detailing, I've realized. I mean for my own style, not for others. But this is why the Fidji's and Siebel shoes aren't like to work. They're too arty-eclectic for my personal style. However -- truthfully, I could compromise a little bit there for true practicality and comfort. 

  • Tanya replied 6 years ago

    Suz, what you do think about options such as this cutout bootie-sandal with low wedge or Okala-esque pump with low wedge as well?  I have ordered both pairs this morning and will report on the comfort levels when they arrive.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Tanya, I really like them both. If they were lighter colours, I would spring for them. I think that's the type of thing I have in mind -- I just need to hunt for colours that work. Thank you! 

  • Vicki replied 6 years ago

    I don't have any experience with these shoes, but reviews are positive. The London Sole Knightsbridge flat looks nice, has a bit of a heel and it comes in navy and even pink.

    I agree with Diana and find my Born flats to be super comfortable (not so my J. Crew). I really learned a lot from catnip's comments and I'd love to find vildy's article, which sounds great.

  • replied 6 years ago

    I was thinking a cut out bootie with very angular or triangular cut-outs with shiny buckles instead of laces, but instead, I found these. Do you like this style of bootie? (warning: very pricey)

  • Tanya replied 6 years ago

    I here you on the need for a light color Suz.  I will keep my eye peeled on what I find as I love such type of shoes myself.  So far in my own searches this week, I have found the following in lighter colors:
    1. a bootie with only a small cutout ( I keep considering it)
    2. a gorgeous pointy wedge I am stalking myself
    3. multicolor pump with shades of berry!
    4. dainty low wedge
    5. my personal favorite T-strap wedge . Look at the rose gold!
    6. stunning light grey wedge

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Claire, you are asking me if I like those gorgeous St. Laurent booties??? 

    I should award you a comedy button as well! 

    Of course I like them. Well. My finances do not extend quite that far, alas....

    This doesn't really answer  the problem I came with, but what about this caged sandal? The heels seems very high, but more than 150 reviews say the thing is magical. I was thinking of the light grey. 

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Tanya, that's it exactly!!! I adore the second pair you linked to -- I've been watching those ever since you pointed them out to me a few months ago. But I also think the styles of some of these others could potentially work as well. LOVE the last ones (of course -- they are pricey!) But I also agree that the T-strap has real potential. 

    Thank you so much for these leads. This will help me sharpen my eyes. 

  • replied 6 years ago

    *ducking* Sorry! I should have said they were for inspiration purposes only. ;)

    I love the second ones Tanya linked to for you as well. The materials are a little casual (suede, stacked wedge heel) but the shape is pure refinement: the best of both worlds, IMO. 

  • Gaylene replied 6 years ago

    Suz, have you tried some of the French brands like Arche and Thierry Rabotin? The shoes are designed for serious walking but many of the styles are quite a bit more refined than the traditional comfort shoe styles. The French lasts are also more likely to fit a narrower heel. I know that Ron White in TO used to carry both lines, but I tend to have more success in some of the independent shoe shops on the Danforth, West Bloor, and Queen shops. Montreal is also a good place to check out these lines.

  • Beth Ann replied 6 years ago

    I've had such a busy day, I've been missing good stuff!

    Well, you know I'm all over the idea of casual with a steady flow of refinement, and my "real life" gets in the way of my Diva aspirations daily!  Unfortunately, what fits my, um, generous foot is likely to fall off of yours.

    I saw the Vince Camuto you linked to in Nordies last week and my eye was drawn to it immediately.  The leather is soft.  It might be a bit high volume of course.  I so wished I had tried it on in the store.  I could have told you had wide and full it runs.

    Like you, I've sworn off the pancake flat shoe.  Technically, I can still wear them -- particularly in stores that cater to peasant feet, such as Target and Payless.  I'm just trying to be a grown up about it, realizing that my feet need to last me another few decades, God willing, and I must treat them better!

    I have seem a bunch of pointy flats with ankle straps and slight wedges.  Too delicate for my leg, I think, but they might work well for you.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I'm sticking with my suggestion of a refined loafer with a 1.5 to 2 inch heel. And perhaps an almond toe wedge with a strap. 

    Diana, maybe you needed a wide size in the Munros. 

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    I have the same problem with slippage but flats are okay for me. I have caged sandals, cut-out booties & this year I found a pair of pointy toe summer shoes that have a black back, a white toe & a silver ankle strap - they seem to work with everything :)

  • Sarah A replied 6 years ago

    There is a frye loafer with the heel height Angie is recommending (that I ruled out of course for that very reason, i need the pancake flat myself...) but it may be too rugged looking for you with the chunky heel?

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    Wow I am dizzy from the wonderful shoe ideas on this thread. I wear pointy shoes with ankle straps but I don't have the same foot issues. I will vouch for Arche, which have served me very well in the past. I love Angie's suggestion of a pointy toe higher vamp loafer but have no specifics to suggest - am looking forward to seeing what you find though!

  • Gigi replied 6 years ago

    This is a fascinating thread, Suz. I'm in the same boat. When I was a kid, I remember my mom cursing my narrow heel! Shoe shopping was a nightmare. I too have problems with flats slipping off. I did find a pair of Borns last summer that stay on, but they cause me the most muscle tension of almost any shoe in my wardrobe. When I put them on, I feel my whole body tipping backward, and I need to use the muscles on the front of my legs A LOT to keep myself upright. I'm exhausted after walking just half an hour. 

    Suz, you talked about finding your ideal heel height. That inspired me to look online, and I found an article about it, in case anyone is interested. It was actually written by a podiatrist: According to this, my ideal height is roughly 2.5". So I'm similar to you. And in fact, my most comfortable heels are those that are 2.5"-3.0".

    I am with Shiny in wondering if wearing excessively cushioned shoes does more harm than good (if you wear them all the time). I never used to have foot problems. Then I switched to "comfort shoes," because they felt great! Well, after several years of wearing such shoes, I find I have a problem with anything that is NOT a comfort shoe! Of course, it could just be aging, but I can't help but wonder if my feet and leg muscles have gotten lazy. I do find that now that I have started wearing heels, I think I am building up some strength.

    As to offering you helpful advice, I'm afraid I have none other than to commiserate. I think maybe the only option is boots or booties with a chunky heel at your ideal heel height for winter wear (at least in my case, being able to wear socks helps the heel slippage enormously), and strappy footwear with as chunky a heel as you can get away with in your ideal height for warmer weather. Also, as the above article references, try to make sure that the shoe heel is right under the center of your foot's heel. I have noticed that a lot of designers are making shoes with the heel almost straight up and down way at the back of the foot, and that does not support the foot very well. I think that shoes are easier to walk in when the high heel curves back under the foot so that the body weight is directed down through the center of the heel of your foot.

    If you can handle a bit of a platform (I sometimes can do .5" without looking like a clown), I have found that that helps my comfort level, because the extra rubber in the platform absorbs some of the shock from pounding the pavement. I have a pair of heels from the Clarks Indigo line that are heavenly. I think they have a .5" platform and are the equivalent of a 2.5"-3.0" heel. Plus, they have straps to hold your foot in. I had absolutely no pain other than a blister when I wore them for the first time.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Gigi - that's it! That's the article that Vildy linked to a while ago, or at least the little test is the same. Thank you! I hope it helps somebody else. And interesting that it proved valid for you as well! 

    And you're right -- boots and booties are great (the socks, and I think also the high vamp help); and sandals (straps keep them on). 

    I can manage a small platform quite happily and agree with you that it can be a good shock absorber if made in the right materials. 

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Well, knock me over with a feather! I took the heel test (with DH's help), and came up with 4 3/4". I don't have any heels THAT high.

  • shiny replied 6 years ago

    Hmm. I'm suspicious of that test. If you wear heels all the time, it shortens your calf muscles, in other words, your relaxed position would naturally be at such an angle. 

    I still stand by what I said earlier about always wearing flats and/or comfort shoes, and yeah I have always been more comfortable with a bit of heel. But I don't know which came first, and suspect I've shortened my calf muscles from years of mostly wearing a heel of some sort, rather than flats. 

    Suz, the more you describe your shoe troubles, the more I suspect my feet are shaped very similarly. I never thought my heel was too narrow, but maybe it is. I always just assumed my toe box was on the wider side of average. But maybe it is simply normal, but my heel is more narrow than average? If I size up to a 6.5 it often helps tremendously in the toe box, but the shoe does not stay on - my heel pops out. (whether flat shoe or heeled). If I stick with my usual size 6, my heel stays put but now it's too snug at the toe. If I size up to a wide width size 6, that can work but I have to have an ankle or t-strap to hold my foot in.

    My other frustration is the latest ankle-strap trend, shoes like this:

    ... in any heel height... are just not working for me. I really want something like this. The ankle strap is very flattering on my small ankle; theoretically, it should work to hold my foot into the shoe. But the straps are positioned slightly too high - in an awkward place. It's that petite thing again, I think. And that piece on the back of the heel? Hits too high on the back of my ankle and rubs annoyingly! 

    Likewise, I really really wanted these to work, and Via Spiga shoes often do work for me (the last is perfect shape) but they were a fail because the piece in the front hits too high, in an awkward spot that rubs annoyingly and I can barely walk in them because I can't flex my ankle at all!;context

    ... I tried every Via Spiga in the store last week... to no avail. :-(

    Booties tend to be a similar challenge for me, not just because the FPE, but also the height of the bootie needs to be just right, and the material must have a lot of stretch and give -- or I cannot flex my ankle. The Fidji's work because they are more like a shootie height and also have gores. The Impo's work because they are very very stretchy and not too high on the ankle. 

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Jennifer, it does sound as if our feet might be a similar shape. Did you try the Okalas yet (for the ankle strap look)? I hesitated (for the reason you mention) but they do work for me and are very comfortable/ flexible. Unfortunately, they're really a summer shoe in my climate, but I know I'll enjoy them. 

    Also, the back of the shoe is not closed so there is none of that painful above-the-heel rubbing. (I have that problem with shoes shaped like that as well). 

    Just looking at those Via Spigas I can see how they would be an issue for me, too -- they probably didn't scale down the vamp enough to match the last and/ or with the angle that a shorter foot needs to be on to work with that heel, the arch on a medium volume foot is too high for it. 

  • shiny replied 6 years ago

    I have not tried the Okala's. The description says it's 3-1/4 inch heel, which is too high for me. But then some of the reviews are saying it's more like 2-1/2 or 3 inches? What is the reality? Which color did you get? I may give them a whirl, if they are working for you.... 

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    The heel is in no way as high as they say. It's more like 2.5 (if that). Angie has them and finds them super comfortable, which should tell you something. 

    I got the pony (black and white) with the tan ankle strap. Reason being, I wanted a light coloured ankle strap, since a dark one would be super leg shortening on me. (Even though I'm about 5'4" my calves are proportionately short, so ankle straps are "iffy" on me.) 

    I'm also considering the nude colour of those if I can't find something else I like. 

  • shiny replied 6 years ago

    Hmmm. Tough choice (I'm looking on Zappo's). I have been looking for black sandals, these could definitely fit the bill, but the leopard is totally cute... however I already have leopard booties so maybe not... the saddle/black is another option as I have nothing like that right now.... (I have nude heels so I would try something different for this.)

    Go with the black or go with the saddle/black? 

    I also have these sitting in my Zappo's cart right now:

    I tried them on in the store, in a 5.5 which was too small but all they had left. They are a bit heavy for my tastes, as all Frye's are, but I loved the fit and the light color. What do you think of them? I am on the fence. I want a light colored bootie for spring, but not a suede, because for some odd reason I can never wrap my head around suede + spring.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    I like them. I have also been looking for a lighter bootie to replace my Reports. They aren't worn out -- and I will probably just keep them this season -- but the toe is round so I'm looking at pointy ones. 

    I find Fryes a bit heavy as well as a rule. 

    These look great for casual wear (jeans, etc.) Not sure how they would work with skirts/ dresses. 

  • Isabel replied 6 years ago

    I like Claire's thinking. If the shoe issue is hard, move up. ; ). Handbag or a scarf or a hat. I also thing that fabrics are really important in these situations ( says the woman in the woods who only sees wild turkeys on a daily basis ).

  • Linda replied 6 years ago

    This discussion has made me realize how grateful I ought to be to have easy fitting feet.  I don't think I can ever remember having problems with a shoe, unless it was just trying to squeeze into a size that was too small, or wishing I fit a larger size because it was in the right color, or on a good sale, or some such!  Shoe shopping is actually one of my favorite diversions.

    I've usually chosen more slim-lined shoes, but this season I discovered boots and booties.  I am having to be very careful not to go mad snapping up styles that I like.  It's the first season I've had a small wardrobe of boot looks.

  • shiny replied 6 years ago

    Looks like my DD#2, home from college this weekend, and finally awake, is itching to do some mall shopping today, so I will go there first, before committing to another Zappo's order. She wants to hit H&M, which is near the Club Monaco, so I'm going to check that out in person as well. And maybe I can even talk her into taking some photos of some of my recent purchases later tonight!

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Fun, Jennifer. And as Suz said, the Okalas heels are below 2.75 inches (site info is wrong), and VERY lightweight. I have two pairs - and with Body Glide - they are a 10 hour walking shoe. UNBELIEVABLE. You know my feet are fussy and I don't wear high heels. 

    Suz, is your head spinning? Keep an eye on Zara too. xo

  • Vicki replied 6 years ago

    Thanks to Tanya's links, I'm beginning to shop here, Suz; she picked out some excellent ones.

    I love this one, but it's got a three-inch wedge. I want my toes covered and that why I like this one.

    ETA: Oh, these are more grey than I realized. The Okalas are terrific, but my size is gone.

  • Mellllls replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I like the Vince's you posted and I find the inverted triangle heel (that's how I describe it) to be a much more walkable heel.  I hope they work for you!!

    I admit that I don't have terribly picky feet and I don't entirely understand your foot issues but I strongly recommend bass flats.  They have some elastic which might help with the heel issue and are SOOOOO comfortable.;langId=-1

  • pastrygirl replied 6 years ago

    I have similar issues, and even 2 inch heels are too high for me. I've found that ever since I started refining my shoe style, I haven't found a comfortable all-day shoe. Yesterday I wore what I thought were my comfiest flats for an evening trip to the mall for required (that is, not fun) power shopping, and came home two hours later with unbearably aching feet. I'm starting to panic about shoes for Boston! I don't often power-walk for a couple of hours, and certainly not half a day in a city.

    OTOH, my summer shoes are awesome and I walked 17K steps in Montreal last summer...

  • sarah replied 6 years ago

    Coming late to this, but I've had my eye on these D'Orsays. But I'm thinking they are probably too flat for you? I'm waiting for someone to review them and let me know how comfortable they are.

  • cjh replied 6 years ago

    Just one more specimen to add to the collection, black patent wing tip oxfords:

    I've just received these and they are wonderful. Of course they are flat, so probably not the ticket for you, Suz.  However, it was fun looking at some of the links and ideas on this thread, and I plan to come back and check out the rest of the post responses when I have more time.

    I've been hunting for affordable (to me) black patent oxfords for months.  They are the shoes that call to me from any photo, fashion shot or ad they appear in.  To me they are dressed-up casual, feminine due to the patent finish and match just about everything I wear from October through April.  I'm so happy.

  • Lisa replied 6 years ago

    I have nothing to add, but what a great thread, I am marking for later so I can digest all the tips in this one, thanks for starting it Suz.

You need to be logged in to comment