Traveling in Style: les chaussures

When planning a travel wardrobe, there probably is no more important component than shoes. Shoes can make or break a vacation, as anyone who’s ever hobbled around with blisters all day can attest. Some of the best packing advice I’ve ever read was “start with the shoes” and that’s how I approach travel wardrobe planning these days. For our upcoming trip, I fully intend to limit myself to what I can fit into a carry on bag, which means that my shoe limit will be three pair (two packed, one worn on the plane). In this series of posts, I’m limiting myself to items that would be worn/used for a relatively urban travel destination. If your next vacation/travel plans involve backpacking through the Alps or sprawling on an uninhabited stretch of beach somewhere in the South Pacific, my recommendations probably won’t apply. Likewise, I’m leaving out any coverage of footwear for extreme winter weather, as it’s not an area of expertise for me.

Comfort and joy
It goes without saying that unless you plan to take taxis or limousines door-to-door everywhere you go, or plan to only walk between your hotel room and a poolside cabana, your shoes must be comfortable enough to accommodate hours on your feet each day. But there’s “comfort” and there’s comfort. On our first trip to Paris, I made the mistake the first day of wearing thin-soled ballet flats and was absolutely miserable within an hour. Sure, they were soft and felt like slippers, were broken in and fine for casual work days, running errands and the like, but the soles were far too thin for walking on cobblestones and gravel, and there was no arch support. The rest of that trip, I wore my somewhat clunky but very supportive plain black loafers and my feet thanked me for it, though I probably didn’t win myself a spot in the Stylish Traveler Hall of Fame. However, ignore those who chatter on about les Parisiennes tottering about in their stilletto heels. I saw very few women out and about in Paris wearing any heel much over an inch and a half in height. If you look at the on-the-street pictures over at A Femme d’un Certain Age, almost to a woman they are wearing very low-heeled, sometimes sturdy, but walkable shoes.

Supportive comfort doesn’t have to mean big plodding trainers or frumpy lace-ups. Unless you exclusively wear high heels and/or the latest trends, you probably already have shoes that will work for your next vacation, or at worst, won’t have to sacrifice too much style to find some.

Here are some of une femme’s recommendations for relatively stylish walking shoes for urban destinations.

Mary Janes

Mine are a few years old, made by ECCO. These are very versatile, can be worn with pants or skirts, and have a wedge heel and a sole that’s sturdy enough to handle gravel, cobblestones and hours on concrete. What I like about a mary jane style is that they stay securely on the foot without heel slippage, and the strap can be adjusted for comfort if feet swell over the course of the day. These also can be dressed as much as is usually required. (Though people in Europe tend to dress up more than in the US, a more casual standard of dress has taken hold there too in recent years. Very few venues still require jacket-and-tie/cocktail dress levels of formality.)  I wish ECCO would bring back this style, but here are some similar options.

Ecco Kent Mary Jane, $96

Pikolinos Dinamarca mary jane, $93.50
Pikolinos Ginebra mary jane, $109.90


ECCO Groove Gladiator, $130

In the past, I haven’t packed sandals for our European travels as our previous visits have occurred during cooler months. But by late May it’s probably not unreasonable to anticipate some hot days in Italy, so I’m planning to pack one pair. Again, versatility is key. These are sturdy enough for a day of walking but could also be worn with slacks or a skirt out to dinner. Here are some other options for walking sandals that don’t sacrifice all style for comfort.

Dansko Sigrid sandal, $115


It’s hard to go wrong with a good pair of simple loafers if they’re well constructed, supportive, and soft enough for comfort. They’re appropriate for daytime strolling, sightseeing, and museum-hopping but will also work for most evening activities worn with a pair of slacks, or even a skirt/tights. Loafers beat sneakers hands down when going through airport security too!

A note about the vamp: while a lower/smaller vamp may win on looks, it’s my own experience that a vamp high enough to cover the instep will give shoes more stability and support for walking. If the heel slips at all and you have to grip with your toes to keep the shoes on as you walk, your feet and legs might tire more quickly.

(I’ve done well with Cole Haan loafers; they are comfortable, durable and stylish with almost any outfit. Great choices for men too.)

Cole Haan Air Penny Tantivy, $148.50
Clarks Timeless loafer, $90

Lace ups/sneakers:

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, $45

I started wearing Converse All-Stars with more casual ensembles a couple of years ago once I discovered they accommodated my orthotics (couldn’t wear them otherwise, too flat!). I don’t know about other European cities, but if you wear these in Paris you’ll fit right in. I’m considering taking these instead of my loafers this trip as they may be more suitable for warmer weather. TBD.  “Trainers” or big athletic shoes will peg you as an American tourist, but so will consulting a map, taking pictures of everything in sight, etc. If you really prefer athletic shoes for walking but want to up the style quotient, look for a sleeker version like one of these below. (And leave the Skechers Shape-Ups at home!!!)

Puma Drift Cat III, $68
Puma Future Cat Remix, $80

You’ll notice that all of my travel shoes are black, except the Converse which are grey. I’m utilizing the packing light strategy of picking a single neutral color to organize around. Some people choose brown or navy.

Do you have a favorite pair or style of shoes for travel?  Any styles you’ve learned to avoid?

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  1. April 13, 2011 / 11:48 am

    Oh I love a sensible shoe! I wear orthotics and have been meaning to blog about the footwear issues for a while now, so watch this space…

    After reading Parisian Chic I am desperate for a pair of loafers – and I like your patent pair. Trés chic!

  2. April 13, 2011 / 12:43 pm

    For sightseeing on foot while on vacation, I swear by Mephisto’s fisherman sandals. I own them in both brown and a slightly more stylish black. I’ve worn them all through China, Europe, Greece and Turkey and everywhere in between. They are pricey, but worth every single penny for true foot comfort. I have pairs that are over a decade old and going strong. I take them into a very good shoe shop when they need attention and rebuy when I have to.

    I always take a dressier pair of shoes/heels for evening events.

  3. April 13, 2011 / 1:22 pm

    You are definitely correct about the ‘sole thickness’ issue — the last visit we did to London, I brought what I thought were the most sensible shoes I had, a pair of oxfords, but the soles were quite thin, actually and within a half a day, I was hobbling around. So, we went to Clarks and I got this wonderful pair of slip ons that got me through the entire rest of the trip (and that included cobblestones in York and Edinburgh, numerous churches, stairs and cathedrals and so on. Unfortunately, Clarks in the UK basically sells an entirely different range than they do here in the US but I plan on finding a nice pair of Clarks to wear for my trip to the UK (July) for walking around.

  4. April 13, 2011 / 1:48 pm

    I so agree with your shoe suggestions. I always take a pair of rubber soled black patant loafers which don’t get ruined in the rain. I also take another black lug-soled loafer that is actually a water proof rain shoe from Galo. I love ballet flats but can’t handle the thin soles when doing serious sightseeing. Now I get a rubber sole attached to a pair of them them or take Mephisto ballet flats which provide great cushioning. And they are actually about 30% cheaper in France. I always wanted to take sneakers, but they felt they would look out of place. Your suggestions for lighter, sleeker sneakers sound like a perfect answer.

  5. Murphy
    April 13, 2011 / 1:54 pm

    I actually bought my first pair of Converse sneakers in Paris – because my feet hurt so much from the shoes I had packed. Pseu is right – wearing Converse you fit right in there! Naot is another good brand: good arch support and cushioning and some cute styles.

  6. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 / 2:03 pm

    I’ve had good luck with some styles of Merrell and Born. These mary janes make it into my luggage often:

    They are very comfortable and versatile–certainly not high fashion, but at least they blend in many settings.


  7. April 13, 2011 / 2:06 pm

    I applaud all the brands mentioned but above all: Arche! Arche nubuck has the advantage of being washable, either in the sink with soap flakes or by spot cleaning. Comes in handy when splashed by a cab. Only shoe I can wear out of the store, no break in.

    Pack a soft slipper for hotel or apt. wear- gives shoes a chance to air and rest.

    Always bring one extra pair, so if it rains five days straight you always have dry shoes.

    When in Paris check out Paraboot, French cult brand, nerdy-cool, solid and very well made shoes. I have their black patent loafer.

  8. April 13, 2011 / 2:25 pm

    Orthotics? did you say, “Orthotics”? Please, please say more.

    I’ve got the stupidest feed, losing fat pads on the bottom, wide at front, super narrow at heel – and so hard to fit. Why not have a big weigh in…Does no one else have these difficulties?

    LI read a couple of years ago that a women’s heel height s correlated with the amount of education she has: the less the more.

  9. April 13, 2011 / 4:18 pm

    With the spike in temps this past week, I’ve been really wishing I’d brought my Birks — they’re ubiquitous here and I’ve been debating picking up a pair of black patent. We’re usually in Paris in either May or June and I know many think Birkenstocks are too unfashionable, but seriously, the single-thonged version fits in well and my feet are never sore. Nor are my hips or knees.
    We’ve also found Duchesse’s advice to be pretty important — every May/June holiday we’ve had here has involved a few days of serious rain — resulting in one pair of shoes being out of service for a day or two in order to dry out.

    btw, lots and lots of brogues on the street and in the shop windows here — and many in lovely light neutrals, even creams, in very pretty spring/summer weight.

    I’m envious of your Mary Janes — they’re perfect and already well broken in!

  10. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 / 4:23 pm

    I like my Clark’s Wave shoes for sightseeing days. Not the most attractive, but my feet thank me. I wore them on our trip last year, and spotted a Clark’s store (I think it was in Berlin), which sold the same shoe.
    I think what is important is to make sure the shoes are in good shape. A few years back, I wore a pair of very comfy Naturalizers that we slightly roughed up. I thought they were okay for running errands here, and they would be okay there. (I ran out of shopping time here) Wrong! I had so many people staring at me feet, and didn’t know why. DH and I learned the answer while we were on the s-Bahn (subway) in Munich, Germany. There were two women seating across from us. Speaking in German, of course, they ripped me apart. They wondered if my hair was highlighted (nope, all natural), my clothes looked foreign (cashmere v-neck and Dockers – they were critical because they thought I dressed out of season. It was October), my scarf looked like silk, but they weren’t sure (damn straight – it was Hermes), and my shoes looked like something a tramp would wear. A what?? Unbeknownst to them, DH is fluent in German. Once we exited the subway, he repeated their critique. “I look like a prostitute?”, I said. “No, dear. You look like a homeless person.” Lesson: don’t wear scuffed shoes.

  11. Eva
    April 13, 2011 / 4:35 pm

    Privo shoes from Clarks. I used to wear the regular Clarks (and still do) but for comfort with more European flair, Privos are the way to go. Definitely take sandals to Italy – I bought Birki sandals during a 10 minute break in a tour because I was so hot.

  12. April 13, 2011 / 4:46 pm

    Oh I love the idea of Mary Janes. I am a huge loafer fan, and yes, I have my Pumas, but Mary Janes I had not considered. I will have to take a look at those Eccos. You know, for the nights when you go out to eat in Paris, and walk back through the crowded streets to your hotel. Crowded at midnight:).

  13. April 13, 2011 / 5:36 pm

    Pam – and the good news is there are so many cute and comfortable shoes available now!

    That’s Not My Age – me too re: sensible shoes. Funny, I’m on the hunt now for some regular matte leather loafers.

    LuxeBytes – I love the look of the Repettos, but for me they just aren’t supportive enough for hours on my feet. Cute though, dang it.

    Couture Allure – I’ll have a look at those. I’ve heard good things about Born shoes.

    coffeeaddict – thanks! These ECCO’s are one of my very favorite pair of shoes. I just had them re-soled in preparation for the trip. They do seem to be pretty durable!

    Susan – Mephisto’s are great too. Those sandals are cute.

    Jane and Lance Hattatt – your comment cracked me up. Do you wear the lace-up Repettos or the ballerinas?

    Toby Wollin – interesting that the Clark’s are different in the UK. I had a pair of Clark’s loafers a few years ago that I was mighty pleased with.

    Marguerite – I’m so excited for you for your upcoming trip! Hope you find your perfect pair of Repettos! Yes, Geox are another good brand.

  14. April 13, 2011 / 5:41 pm

    Love the look of the Mary Janes. I will be keeping this post for future reference. I agree that shoes do make or break a trip! A great hat is easier to find!

  15. April 13, 2011 / 5:45 pm

    My dear, dear Pseu,

    More on this later. However, do not, repeat: do not bring your sneakers. Converse is, of course, the exception.

    I’ll be talking to you. The pictures on your post help me understand. I had a hard time imagining wedged Mary Janes.

  16. Katriona
    April 13, 2011 / 5:46 pm

    Eccos and Clark’s are great, so are Ronsons,which have vast assortment of pretty styles; my all- time favorites, however, are Naots…made in Israel, they are a little harder to find than some other brands, but worth the search…I have worn them for tweve hours at a time walking the cobblestones of Prague with nary an ache.The cork sole absorbs the shock and the arch support is brilliant. They come in a variety of styles, some have a moderate heel, and if the insole starts to get tired after a year or two, you can take your pair in and get it replaced with new one.

  17. April 13, 2011 / 5:48 pm

    Deb – good to know about Mephisto’s being cheaper in France, will check those out. Rubber soles are a must!

    Murphy – yes Naot makes some cute shoes too. They have some nice mary jane flats with cutout/inlay designs on the vamp that I also considered.

    Velma – I’ve seen a lot of recommendations on travel discussion boards for Merrell shoes but haven’t tried them yet. Will definitely keep an eye out.

    Marguerite – will be curious to know whether the compression socks help!

    Duchesse – I love Arche shoes too, but have found that the flatter styles have almost no arch support. (The heeled boots on the other hand are divine.) Some of their styles accommodate orthotics, but then I need to wear socks/hosiery. But I’ll probably visit one of their stores when in Paris, just to look mind you…and the Paraboots too.

    Linda – mine are “dress” orthotics that mostly provide arch support and correct pronation. I did a short post on mine a while back, but will update. And good point about losing fat pads on the bottom of the feet; this is apparently common as we age, which is why shoes we used to be able to wear are no longer comfortable.

    Susan Tiner – if you haven’t discovered you should have a look! They have a multitude of shoes in wide sizes.

  18. April 13, 2011 / 6:07 pm

    Veuve – oh yes, I still wear those Operetta’s frequently during the cooler months. They are SO comfortable, though the heel is a bit too high for me for all-day walking. My driving foot heel is starting to wear down, so may see if the Fluevog store can send them in to replace/repair.

    materfamilias – I think your Birks are cute, I just can’t wear thong-type sandals any more. I’ve had a pair of brogues on my wish list for a while now…

    CS – so sorry about the snotty German ladies! Not very nice. I do try to keep my shoes polished, but after a few days of roaming around I’m sure they’re a bit worse for wear.

    Eva – I haven’t tried Privo’s in a while, but they do have some cute styles. Thanks for the confirmation on the sandals.

    LPC – I love my mary janes and on our last trip to Paris spotted them frequently on the locals, especially the types with the wider straps. If you can find them, a brand called “Think!” also makes some killer mj’s. Bet they have them somewhere in your neck of the woods.

  19. April 13, 2011 / 6:11 pm

    Style Crone – thank you! Hats are harder for than shoes me due to my pea-sized head!

    Tish Jett – no worries, I don’t even own sneakers other than the Converse. But thanks for the warning! Talk to you soon.

    Katriona – Naots are really nice too. The Walking Company carries several styles, as do for those interested. They seem to be very well made.

  20. Jill Ann
    April 13, 2011 / 6:12 pm

    The question of which shoes to bring on a trip is, as you say, critically important. I find it’s really hard to get comfy shoes which are not frumpy. I agree with Eva on the Privo shoes from Clarks; I have two pairs (one is a black ballet flat with white polka dots, adorable!), but they seem to be harder to find lately.

    I did wear black suede Pumas on a recent trip, thought they looked pretty good. The key with trainers is to find some without a white sole, IMO.

    I have to admit I can’t stand Mary Janes; maybe that’s because they are really unflattering on me (high arch, thickish ankles.) I do like the loafers pictured, though.

  21. April 13, 2011 / 6:29 pm

    Oh, the right shoes are so important!

    Funny you mention ballet flats – when we went to Paris, I purchased and broke in a pair of skechers flats, but running to change planes in Atlanta put a huge blister on my heel and I could not wear them – hobbled through deGaulle and I actually took a pair of flipflops out of my suitcase when we got our bags, for the ride to the hotel.

    Once in Paris, I ended up buying a cheap pair of Chinese cotton-and-rubber flats, and wore them the entire trip.

    I bought a pair of Merrills to New Orleans. they were comfortable – no blisters – but aggravated my plantar fascieitis.

    I am still not sure that I’ve got the best shoes.thinking of getting some OTC orthotics for our London trip.

    Rockport no longer makes the sandals that were my go-to summer wear.

    It’s tough, getting old!

  22. Pam @ over50feeling40
    April 13, 2011 / 11:35 am

    I can remember so many trips that I attempted to be cutting edge/fashionable with heels and paid dearly for it!! After my BUNION surgery, I now seek cute, comfortable shoes and sometimes throw fashion out the window and just go for the athletic shoe if a lot of walking is needed!! These Mary Janes are adorable! I might have to locate a pair….

  23. LuxeBytes
    April 13, 2011 / 12:01 pm

    I always bring black Cons and a pair of Repetto ballet flats, which’ll take me just about anywhere I need to go.

  24. Couture Allure Vintage Fashion
    April 13, 2011 / 12:35 pm

    I prefer a lace-up shoe for the same reasons you stated for wearing a loafer with a higher vamp. My Born black oxfords worked very well for my trip to Paris. I wore them every day with jeans or black pants and was able to walk miles in comfort.

  25. coffeeaddict
    April 13, 2011 / 12:36 pm

    Great post! And I love Ecco shoes, they are practically indestructible.

  26. Jane and Lance Hattatt
    April 13, 2011 / 12:48 pm

    How very wise of you, if we might say, to not make any suggestions for backpackers. In our view, anyone considering this type of activity should take a deep breath, lie down, pour a long drink or indeed do anything distracting until the urge to embark upon such a treacherous event goes away!
    Your suggestions for those savvy travellers wise enough to take a city break look to be perfect. I swear by Repetto shoes for their ability to caress the feet in all situations and my husband is never to be parted from his Russell and Bromley loafers.

  27. Marguerite
    April 13, 2011 / 1:26 pm

    Femme, I concur with your shoe choices! Ecco are wonderful as are Mephisto. This trip I am packing a new pair of Geox loafers, plain black leather with a high vamp and a sleek toe box. These will be my primary day shoe. I also have a pair of Anne Klein sport zip front shoe in black and black ballet flats. I’m hoping to buy some Repetto flats. Having the high arch situation plus a knee replacement a few years ago have made me a comfort shoe devotee. We leave Monday for Amsterdam, then on to Paris for Easter weekend. Hoping we have the weather Mater and Pater have been enjoying!

  28. Marguerite
    April 13, 2011 / 2:05 pm

    I forgot to mention that I bought a pair of black compression trouser socks. Hoping they will relieve the leg fatigue from walking and standing. Also, Mephisto has a resole and refurbish plan for a small fee. I sent sandals back that were losing their metallic finish. Got a new pair in return.

  29. April 13, 2011 / 9:08 pm

    Since I usually travel during the cooler months I almost always take boots, which I wear on travel days so as not to consume valuable luggage space. IMO boots are far more versatile than any other type of shoe. My go-to travel boots are by Bata and have a nice thick lug sole, but are a rich chocolate brown that can be worn with dressier stuff.

    Two brands I’d highly recommend for travel are Rieker and Romika. I used to have a pair of Dansko professional clogs, but they hurt the top of my foot; I replaced them with Romika clogs and have worn those to death. Rieker makes a lot of waterproof styles, which makes them great options for rainy season travel.

    Reiker even makes a cherry red slingback Mary Jane — how fun is that?

  30. April 13, 2011 / 9:14 pm

    Hello, I totally agree with the “start with the shoes” advice.

    I just got back from a small vacaton and wanted to recommend these shoes:
    I know, Aerosoles! I never thought I’d be wearing this brand.
    But, I have fussy feet now and I had to make some accomodations.

    Here’s my story about these shoes. My husband and kids and I had walked from our rental house to the beach, and then we decided that rather than walk back to the house and get the car, we’d just walk into town for lunch.

    I had my doubts about whether my feet could handle this wearing a heeled wedge sandal, but went along.

    No feet problems at all. And I did a google map when we got back. It was 3 miles round trip!

    Also, I have those Ecco gladiator sandals in a nude tone. I wore them almost every day last summer. They are great.I had to put a bit of superglue at the criss-cross point of the front straps, because I’m OCD and needed them to be perfectly lined up at all times. 🙂

  31. Susan Tiner
    April 13, 2011 / 3:58 pm

    Sandals and loafers work best for me. I like the look of those flat sandals and the black patent leather loafers.

    The biggest issue I have finding shoes is that my size is 8.5 Wide and there are very few stylish shoes sold in Wide.

  32. Veuve
    April 13, 2011 / 4:06 pm

    I have a pair of Delman Mona ballet flats that are padded and supportive but look great. I also found (to my surprise) that Matt Bernson’s sandals were very comfortable for period of long walking. (I don’t need orthotics or extra support, though.)

    Pseu, are you still loving your Fluevog Operetta ankle boots, or have you moved on? I’m still thinking about those. 🙂

  33. April 14, 2011 / 12:20 am

    Jill Ann – I think you have a point about the non-white sole. The important thing is to find the balance of comfort to style that works for you. Sounds like you have!

    Aunt Snow – tell me about it! I used to be able to throw on any old cheap shoes and run around all day. No more! If you’re going to spring for orthotics, I really recommend seeing a podiatrist and having them analyze your needs and do a custom pair, if you insurance covers enough of it.

    Couture Allure – sure thing! I’m the same way, have only a couple pair of shoes I can bear to wear without socks, and then not for all-day walking. Will include in the clothing post.

    Sisty – I think they’d work if your overall look is a bit on the bohemian side. Wouldn’t wear them with more tailored looks, but that’s me.

    Audi – wow, Reiker makes some cute shoes, sort of like Think! but more reasonably priced. If we were going during cooler months I’d definitely include a pair of boots, but think they’d be too heavy/warm for late spring ensembles.

    All – if you’re looking for Mary Janes, check out some of the Reiker styles at zappos.

    rb – there’s nothing wrong with Aerosoles if they’re comfortable and fit your style (sounds like both!). I love the Ecco sandals, not the least for the velcro fastening!

  34. April 14, 2011 / 12:44 am

    So funny you should post this today. My husband and I are leaving on a two week cruise in a couple of weeks. I agree: Start with the shoes. But here’s the thing: I am always cold. Always. The only thing that makes me comfortable is shoes and socks. Warm socks, and although I KNOW that it will be warm enough in Mexico for sandals, I just can’t PICTURE being that warm.

    I am a nurse, so I know about sensible shoes, but when I’m not at work, especially on vacation, I want to look sexy, sophisticated, elegant (after 33 years of marriage, I like to keep the husband guessing) Try pairing that with warm socks! Oh well, I guess the black Naot mary janes will make another appearance.

  35. Effie May
    April 14, 2011 / 12:54 am

    Thick soled Mary Janes are perfect for Paris! I’ve also worn black clogs (flat with thick soles, albeit a bit clunky)with great success, but only with long pants. I love wearing sandals, but when I wore them in European cities I felt awful and very unchic because my feet got so dirty.

  36. April 14, 2011 / 2:50 am

    The hard thing about traveling to Europe is that not only do one’s shoes need to be comfortable, the style one chooses can make it hard to “blend.” I’ve had the “German-style subway shoe critique” happen to me in both France and Spain!

    My Geox ballerinas and Mephisto patent loafers fit the bill on both counts above. And since it was on the cool side in Madrid, I often ended up wearing them with my cottony mini-Peds. Kept my feet a bit warmer and blister-free. Ironically, I got blisters wearing my old standby Chelsea boots — I think the error was a new pair of leather insoles and much thinner socks than usual, so my feet were sliding around inside. Ow!

  37. April 14, 2011 / 2:55 am

    P.S. I meant to say for Sisty that I took a pair of Dansko’s on a trip to England once, and my British then-Mister was mortified at how ugly they were. And this from a man who once bought a pair of shoes so hideous we dubbed them “the Cornish Pasties”! I ended up leaving the clogs in the hotel and buying a cute pair of Clarks — seemingly available only outside the US.

  38. Couture Allure Vintage Fashion
    April 13, 2011 / 8:02 pm

    Oh, oh, oh. Can you do a follow up post about what socks to wear with your shoe choices? I must wear socks unless I’m wearing sandals. No socks and I get blisters every time. And I just fine bare feet in shoes uncomfortable. Another reason my Born lace-up oxfords were perfect is that I could wear black wool socks with them and may feet stayed comfortable and dry all day. What socks or hosiery do you wear with the shoes you’re taking?

  39. sisty
    April 13, 2011 / 8:07 pm

    Speaking of arch support, how would Dansko professional clogs go over? I think the plain black ones, or black patent, would not offend French sensibilities, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to Paris.

    Any opinions?

  40. April 14, 2011 / 3:31 am

    Such an informative post and interesting comments! I adore the driving mocs pictured here. However, I heard they’re not the best for lots of walking, simply because the streets are hard on the rubber tipped sole. I can’t speak from experience. Still, I’d love a pair.
    I have two great pairs of walking shoes: Ecco black sneaker style shoes. They’re great! Not at all clunky. They’re actually flattering, edgy.
    Also my Cole Haan black suede loafers are terrific; I’m wearing them now, in fact. 🙂
    Neither of these looks good with a skirt or dress. I’d like to find a cute pair of ballet flats (black of course) but with adequate arch support.

  41. April 14, 2011 / 3:47 am

    Carol – you’re going to Mexico? I *promise* you will not be cold! But seriously, I can relate. Can’t stand for my feet to be cold!!

    Effie May – yes, I’m a bit worried about dirty feet too, but if I had to choose I’d rather have dusty than sweltering toes.

    LPC – MWAHAHAHA! My work here is done. I have one pair of Think! shoes, purchased a couple of years ago and they are amazing. On our last trip to Paris, we stayed near a shoe store that carried a good selection of this brand and I’m still kicking myself for not picking up another pair. However the think-online website ships expeditiously, and has a great selection.

    Rubiatonta – yes, it’s hard to blend in some shoes. But glad your new Geox shoes worked out for you! The socks can be a make-or-break item too.

    Style Odyssey – ballet flats with arch support are like the holy grail. I’m still searching. Driving loafers with those little nubs on the bottom aren’t so comfortable to walk in, but the ones I have are more walking loafers than driving, with smooth rubber soles.

    Marguerite – this is close to a record, for sure!

  42. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 / 9:14 am

    I love ecco and merrils for comfort and they still have some style. But beware wearing the sandals in the city if you are going to be on subways and around tourist areas. I have had my foot stood on many times, by accident of course!

  43. Marguerite
    April 14, 2011 / 3:34 am

    41 comments Femme. Is this a record? Sure has been interesting reading. Thanks for a great post. Can travel handbags be far behind?

  44. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 / 11:27 am

    Couture Allure, I may have bought the same Born brogues for our upcoming Italy trip. I’d prefer Pseu’s mary janes’s but I find Ecco’s soles too thin. Our last trip, I wore a pair of Ecco lace-ups that were a cross between an oxford and an athletic shoe (even won kudos from my fashion conscious nephew), but ended up wearing my acceptable old black Rockport sandals and bought some Mephisto’s. For dressier wear, I have a pair of slim, high vamp, Sesto Meucci slip ons. Although leather lined, I find that my feet stick in them if it gets too warm, so I cut off the toes of pantyhose and wear them as socklets.

    Pseu, now I want to know how many and what style of black slacks/pants you’re bringing.

  45. April 14, 2011 / 1:16 pm

    Can’t help it. COULDNT do this. Addicted to my heels! (And at a not quite 5′ stature, is it any wonder why?)

    Besides, les chaussures are art.


  46. April 14, 2011 / 2:07 pm

    Oh yes loafers, sneakers – although I wear a French version called Spring court as I find converse uncomfortable and gladiator sandals plus espadrilles and a pair of heels for evening.

  47. April 14, 2011 / 2:51 pm

    My favorite travel shoe is the Cole Haan ‘Air Luna’ Shoe in RED patent leather!

    My husband can spot me in a crowd.

    The selling points for me: waterproof, nike air, zip up (great for security lines)solid heel that is great on any surface, especially wet ones.

    These are my go to shoes for travel in 9 months of the year. In the summer, I would also take sandals too. My feet are usually cold, especially on flights. So I tend to wear close toed shoes instead of sandals.

  48. April 14, 2011 / 2:53 pm

    Oh, I forgot. I too like to take “converse” type sneakers. But am I the only one who finds them heavy? I found an off brand, grey fabric, light as a feather, for a much lower price. They have held up well traveling for the last three years.

  49. April 14, 2011 / 4:09 pm

    Anonymous – that’s a good point about the sandals. From what I hear, Rome is *very* crowded this time of year.

    Marie – I’ll be working on travel clothing post next, will talk about those and other items.

    Big Little Wolf – if you can walk around all day in heels I’m quite impressed, and want to know which brands/styles you’re wearing!

    auntkitten – my feet *always* freeze on the plane no matter what time of year, so yes, closed shoes for the plane. I don’t find Converse particularly heavy, but if I decide to take them I’ll wear, not pack.

  50. April 14, 2011 / 4:10 pm

    Make Do Style – espadrilles…hmmm. I wonder if my orthotics would fit in some?

  51. Marie
    April 14, 2011 / 7:49 pm

    Auntkitten — How I wish I’d known about the Cole Haan “Air Luna” when they were widely available! The current waterproof Cole Haan loafer, “Air Reena,” does not come in the narrow size I need. For those who wear narrow widths in US size 7, 8, 8.5, or 9, Neiman Marcus has “Air Luna” on sale for $47. That is not a typo.

  52. Anonymous
    April 17, 2011 / 7:40 pm

    I second (third? fourth?) the Naots and Clarks accolades, and – if you ever do find yourself traveling in the depths of winter someplace very cold — Sorel boots. Some even look somewhat fashionable, but wow, do they ever keep your feet warm and dry in severe winter weather. But don’t wear Sorels where it’s too warm for a serious parka; they truly are for 25 degrees F and below.

    I’m just sayin.’ And of course, as a New Englander, for rainy weather, you can’t beat LL Bean boots. They have increased the style quotient since my first pair, for which I am truly thankful.

    — Anna, formerly from Alaska and New England

  53. April 18, 2011 / 4:29 pm

    Your packing philosophy is exactly what I’ve figured out while planning my “carry-on only” wardrobe for our September Italy trip. I wanted to add that J41 or Jambo is another brand for cute, comfy sandals (as well as other types of shoes for more adventurous travel).

    A commenter asked about Dansko and I have a sweet, clunky pair of wine colored maryjanes that I LOVE but I get such weird looks when wearing them, here and in Germany, that they’ve been relegated to my closet. Boo.

    I just ordered some Kork-Ease platform sandals (Bette Vachetta- yes- 3″ platform wedges!) that will go with dresses/capris/jeans perfectly and one of the reveiwers said she spent days walking in them in Rome so I’m hoping that they come soon and will work. I am used to 3″ heels so as long as they feel stable, should be no problem. I am SO GLAD PLATFORMS ARE BACK IN STYLE! I still have pairs from the early 90s…

    As always, eagerly awaiting your next packing post!

  54. April 18, 2011 / 6:06 pm

    Marie – Cole Haan shoes I think are quite good for the price, but fit can be hit-and-miss. Many styles are too narrow for me. But they’re always worth a try!

    Anna – I’ve had my eye on some Clarks loafers, may have to try. Thanks for the recommendations for winter footgear too!

    Denise – you’re right, the shoes one generally sees worn by the French are, shall we say, a bit *sleeker* than Danskos. I’ve heard many recommendations for Kork-Ease shoes, but rarely see them in stores here. Your sandals sound perfect!

  55. April 22, 2011 / 12:09 am

    Another vote for Think! shoes, which are indeed comfortable (especially for wider feet), although most of the styles are too quirky/elfin for me.

    Last year I discovered Naya shoes, which work well for my difficult, high-arched feet and are filled with eco-chunky goodness. Reasonably priced, too.

    Everybody by BZ Moda has been a reliable choice for distance walking, too. (Check Amazon.)

    But my favorite brand? You’re not going to believe it: Doc Martens. Yes, I’ve finally gone bad-ass, and I’m loving it. I got the Aletta boots last fall and continue to live in them. Just got the Mona sandal. Fantastically comfortable, and under $100.

    A footnote (ha!): I can’t wear shoes with heels lower than 1.5″. Converse, Birkenstock, Merrill, ballet flats, all those so-called comfort brands? Agony. Obviously, your mileage may vary–literally.

  56. April 22, 2011 / 12:46 am

    Fritinancy – I’m finding the same with regard to heels. A 1-2″ heel somehow feels more comfortable these days than a flat shoe. Will have a look at those brands you’ve recommended, including Doc Martens (which my one-time Morris Dance group wears as part of their kit).

  57. Fifi B
    April 27, 2011 / 9:38 pm

    I love most of the shoes you listed for travel, however I do like a few of the Arche shoes too, especially the flats or boots.

  58. Anonymous
    February 8, 2012 / 11:59 pm

    I love your black maryjanes. I bought a pair and now wear them barefooted year around even when it is cold out.

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