Shoe Week: A Supportive Summer Shoe

May 14, 2024

Today’s shoe week post comes from the reader mail bag. None of us are as young as we used to be, and many of us need footwear that is more supportive as a result. But why can’t it also be chic?

Hi Abra,

Two years ago, I broke a bone in my foot while walking up some stairs.  Since, I’ve had to wear orthopedic shoes or shoes with more padding and support or else my hips and back hurt.  My daughter is very disparaging of my “grandma shoes,” especially in the summer.  Can you help me find some sandals that my teen doesn’t find deplorable?  

Thank you in advance. — CPL

As someone who also needs different shoes in 2024 than I would have worn a few years ago, I empathize.  Here are a few styles that offer more support than a traditional sandal but still look good.  Because comfort can be had in a pretty package.

These sandals from Sperry have a sleek, simple look.  The double strap keeps them secure, the padded sole keeps them supportive and comfortable.  They’re a hair on the chunky side, but just a hair.  They also cost <$60.  

Sperry also makes a version with a perforated lower band to add texture and visual interest.  And if you need a sandal guaranteed to stay on, they offer a “back strap” version as well.

Cole Haan is a good brand, if you’re looking for a sandal with more support.  Their shoes don’t offer quite as much support as an orthopedic shoe (in my experience), but they are more supportive, more padded and more comfortable than a standard sandal.  These three pairs caught my eye.

These knot sandals have a very airy style.  I also like the ankle strap for a bit of security.  They would dress up a t-shirt dress quite nicely.

Wedges are a great option if you want more support and more cushion.  These Cloudfeel wedges from Cole Haan offer a great vintage vibe mixed with a woven element that shouts summer.  Very cute.

Lastly, Cole Haan has a lot of great heeled sandals for summer weddings and parties.  These metallic heels are a favorite.  I also like these braided sandals in a mocha suede.

If you’re going to wear Birkenstocks, choose the most stylish pair available to you.  I started wearing them while pregnant, and I spent so much on them, that I have kept wearing them.  This pair with the big buckle is my number one choice.  It looks a more intentionally clunky than the other styles (IMO).  That is probably why they are an influencer favorite.

Need to wear orthotic insoles? Have no fear, espadrilles are back. A pair like this uber-chic choice from Tory Burch gives you the best of summer — the hot metallic shoe trend, the woven look — in an insole friendly package. For a <$75 pair, try this ankle tie pair from Boden.

{this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author; photo from unsplash}

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Fitflop (UK brand, but the ship all over and I’ve also seen them on Amazon) have lots of sandals designed for comfort but that still look nice. Highly recommend!

    • Hannah says:

      I love my FitFlops! They’re very supportive, and the high strap keeps them from flying all over when walking.

  2. Jill says:

    I see a lot of teens in Birkenstocks if that helps. 🙂 I love them and want to try the soft cushion bottom style.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I found Taos this spring and I wear them constantly (and walk/run after my kids in them). I went for the Taos Trulie – it has a small wedge, and adjustable velcro strap, and they are super comfortable with no break-in needed. Pricey, but google shopping found me a great deal on sale pair in my size.

  4. KL says:

    I went through an extensive search for sandals that I can walk a mile to downtown and back in, for summer events when the town is packed and it’s impossible to find parking. I landed on the Abeo Oasis T Strap sandal — although they have lots of styles, and all of them come with optional metatarsal support so you know they are serious about the orthopedics. (Don’t get metatarsal support unless you know you need it, though. I mainly need lots of arch support and didn’t love the metatarsal support feeling.)

  5. Shannon says:

    I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t live it…. the Dream Pairs Chunk Low Heel Pump Sandals are amazingly comfortable for their price point ($35)! Lots of colors (I ordered Gold Glitter) and slightly padded. The name “low heel” is relative (they are about 2.5-3″, which isn’t “low” in my playbook.) I took a chance and wore these without break in, to a wedding and was able to dance all night in them, no issues.

    https://a.co/d/4mj1T9c

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