When I travel, I tend to pack each day full of activities, hours and hours of museum visits and lots of walking! Well, seeing as I am not a particularly active person (ahem, at all) in my average daily life, such heightened levels of standing and walking come as quite a shock to my system when traveling. My feet always ache by midday and I end up having to push through a lot of pain the last few days of a trip. So before I leave for my second ever trip to Europe, I knew I needed to search out some better shoes to try and mediate some of the issues I always run into. Of course I couldn't just find the "most comfortable walking shoes ever created!!! #amazing #buynow" because, well, I just can't give up all notions of style ;) Of course by style, I mean our beloved vintage style! So I decided to share my findings with all of you in case anyone else out there is a facing similar challenge!
In an ideal pain free universe I could wear adorable vintage pumps to wander around the Louvre for several hours, but we all know that isn't a good plan. I'll also note that, as is well know, shoes specifically designed for comfort (think orthopedic clunky shoes) aren't always very cute, but look people--we aren't just looking for cute, we are looking for retro/vintage vibes! So sure, perhaps some of the best possible comfort shoes are often clunky, and often white, and certainly marketed towards the elderly...but guess what? They are also old fashioned in just the way we need to look out for! That isn't to say that there aren't cute comfortable retro shoe styles out there, I'm just wanting to note that the ultra comfortable nearly-medical grade shoes out there are often rather vintage appropriate, so no worries if you want to go that route. I wanted to aim somewhere between retro cute and designed for comfort, so I'll let you judge if I found that balance! So lets start out by looking into some vintage shoe styles to get an idea of what we are looking for...
Lets start out by looking at some flats and sandals! The above styles all look rather comfortable actually, and a good thing about oxford and mary jane styles is that you could even slip in a support or cushion insole with no one the wiser. Summery flats, with natural materials like espadrilles and canvas were also very popular in the 1940's, and are still popular enough today that they are easy to find!
If you are more interested in a classic ballet style flat, good news as so were the ladies of the mid twentieth century! Most comfort focused shoe brands make at least one style of "classic" black flat so it's certainly possible to find the right ones out there for you.
More flat and low heeled styles. Often completely flat shoes are not the answer when looking for all day comfort as they don't have a lot of built in arch support. Looking for low heels, platforms, or wedges on a sandal or oxford could make for both cuter and more comfortable travel shoes!
Heels? Well actually I was looking at the center shoes above, they look soooo grandma but perhaps with a 1940's dress and styling they could totally work? Change into your pumps for dinner, but for day time comfort, a clunky low wedge may be just the ticket!
For those more used to the sneaker route for travel shoes, the 1940s and 50s did have sneakers! They weren't the fancy sport mesh Reeboks of today certainly, but if you like a rubber sole there are classic styles that can work with vintage clothing.
Rotation? Oh yeah, that is part of my plan for this trip, changing up my shoes from day to day and day to afternoon. Why? Because sometimes even comfortable shoes become painful after several hours of standing and walking, switching to a different shoe can provide just enough change in pressure points to alleviate some stress, so it's a new trick I will definitely be trying this trip!
So what shoes have I bought for my upcoming travels?
First I picked up these white sandals from a brand called Soft Spots who are supposed to focus on comfort and have fancy technology in the footbed. Described as: "Rubber, Traditional huarache styling with relaxed appeal, Soft, supple leather upper, Antique brass adjustable buckle, Pillow Top Comfort footbed, Lightweight outsole, Heel Height: 1 3/4 inches" I bought these mostly because I thought they could look rather 40's and match a lot of my outfits I plan on packing! Hopefully the extra cushioning and bit of a heel will help with some much needed arch support during the long days walking over cobbled streets. I got mine for $70 bucks on Amazon.
Next up I invested in something even more comfort focused, but I thought they looked enough like 50s bowling shoes that I could perhaps sorta get away with them! These sneakers from brand ECCO and I landed on them after reading dozens of reviews highlighting them as haveing some of the best arch support around. They were expensive, or expensive for me as I'd much rather spend $100 on a vintage dress or more fabric, but hopefully these sneakers will save me from aching pain at the magnificent Louvre! I got mine here from Amazon.
And since I plan on switching things up to, I picked up some classic Keds in a cute check seersucker like cotton fabric. These are perhaps the most accurate of the shoes I bought for this trip, but have less arch support or comfort technology built in than the other options. Just 28$ on Amazon.
brand ECCO, these will set you back $130, which is why I had to pass on them for the time being,
Another classic option is the black and white saddle shoe, either alone or paired with a good insole. These are highly reviewed and the style is unbeatable in the authenticity department. Yours for around $70 on Amazon. I'll pick up a pair someday, but for now I'll be sticking with my leather sneakers from above.
Those were the styles I either bought or ended up on my short list for this trip, but do tell me, what are your favorite comfortable travel shoes? Do you care about comfort or style when it comes to globe trotting? I'll be sticking to a strict canvas tote bag with a change of shoes trick so I can slip on styling pumps if I need to (*cough* outfit photos *cough*) and then back into these more comfortable options for the hours of museum time :)