The Sneakers That Even This Sneaker Skeptic Loves

Classic and comfortable sneakers for women. My favorite styles and details at une femme d'un certain age.

Once reserved for the gym or only the most casual of occasions, sneakers have become the go-to, dress up/dress down footwear option. They add a certain insouciance whether paired with classic or tailored pieces, or in a Sporty Chic look with more casual clothing.

I’ll admit, for a long, long time I just couldn’t get on board with all the sneaker hoopla. I found most sneakers I tried to be clunky and uncomfortable. And don’t get me started about the laces: I hated that they never seemed to stay tied.

Learning a better way to tie the laces was a recent game-changer for me:

Sneakers for Sneaker-Skeptics

But even more important was finding sneakers that are a good fit for my feet. A lot of the popular styles I’ve tried felt like I was wearing the cardboard boxes the shoes came in. 😆 And the tongues tended to dig into the front of my ankles.

Cole Haan Grandpro tennis sneaker in white. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This was the first pair that started seriously chipping away at my sneaker aversion. I was first attracted by the sleek, classic look. I packed a pair in this style for my last two summer trips to Europe (here and here) and found them to be comfortable and chic. Several color combos available. And look, here’s a fun perforated style! If you need a Narrow or Wide with, go here. Although some guides suggest sizing down, I found my usual 7.5 was the best size.

My latest sneaker crush: the Cole Haan Grandpro Rally. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Above, my most recent sneaker crush. This style is available in several colors and wide widths here. These run true-to-size, and I take my usual 7.5.

Cole Haan Grandpro Rally sneaker in gold with leopard detail. More at une femme d'un certain age.

Though I must admit, these are still calling my name.

(I wear my sneakers either with these No-Show liners, or with these Sock-Free Inserts.)

Paul Green Zip sneakers. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I have a prior season version of these zip-entry sneakers, and find them both comfortable and supportive. That zip opening is a great convenience for travel days!

Naturalizer Macayla zip sneakers. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Here’s a similar style that’s more budget-friendly, and offered in Wide widths.

ECCO soft 7 sneakers in denim blue. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Many of you have recommended these ECCO sneakers, and they are well-reviewed. This style is offered in several colors. And here’s a similar style with a fun cap toe.

Taos Freedom sneaker in dark grey. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A few years ago, I had a pair of these and really liked them. But when it came time to replace them, I couldn’t find in my size anywhere. I’m glad to see they’re available again, and in multiple colors. Run TTS.

Are you a fan of sneakers, or have you not yet been won over?

Stay in touch.

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44 Comments

  1. Barb
    February 10, 2020 / 2:58 am

    Susan, I love your blog and look forward to reading every day! After having bunion surgery a few years ago, I have switched to wearing sneakers as much as possible. These are great picks. You might also want to check out MGemi, they have some great sneakers that while pricey, are comfortable and look amazing. Thank you!

    • February 10, 2020 / 10:43 am

      Same here. Before bunion surgery, I was in so much pain that sneakers were the only option. After, I stuck with them because, thanks to Phoebe Philo, they were fashionable, and I was over painful feet. Everybody’s feet are different, and it’s a real slog of trial and error to find the brand and model that works (so Cinderella). I wanted some Stan Smiths and Chuck Taylors so badly, but they are too narrow for me. Too bad; I found others that are similar enough.
      As for tying shoes, there is a TED Talk. It involves making the loop in the opposite direction. No more untied laces.

  2. Diana P
    February 10, 2020 / 4:12 am

    I own multiple pairs of the Ecco sneaker pictured. That is the Soft 7 platform, and I have found every Ecco which is a Soft 7 fits me beautifully and is super supportive. I also own two pair of slip ons that are Soft 7s. I’ve had surgery on each foot and usually wear custom inserts but these Ecco are so comfortable and supportive that my inserts aren’t needed. I will absolutely continue to buy more of these shoes.

  3. Lori
    February 10, 2020 / 5:14 am

    I have three pairs of the Ecco Soft 7. Love the arch support. I’ve walked New York City and Florence, Italy for hours on end in these. I now want a patterned version to add a pop to my neutrals. Thanks for all these other suggestions as well!

  4. February 10, 2020 / 5:20 am

    I have laces for my workout sneakers that don’t tie…they have a little slider thingie that you loosen and then slide tight for wearing. (Hard to describe!) I bought them at Fleet Feet when I had hand surgery and wasn’t able to tie. They sell tons of them to runners, apparently, as they never come undone.

  5. Rose
    February 10, 2020 / 6:12 am

    Hi Susan— I also was tying my shoes incorrectly until a few years ago. Another way to accomplish the same final result, which is a bow that lays horizontal, start off the same as you used to by making one loop. Then take the other side and wrap around the first loop the opposite way from what you used to do. I find it easier than making two bunny ears. The bow should lay flat and horizontal. I could never figure out why my bow would be cock-eyed and lay more vertically. Who knew . . . Let me know if you try this method. I find it flows a little easier. I also noticed I had to be consciously thinking about what I was doing when tying my shoes so I wouldn’t go back to my old ways. It took a few months to adapt as second nature.

    • Cola
      February 10, 2020 / 7:41 am

      Chiming in here to piggy back on Rose’s comment. The reason your shoes aren’t staying tied in the first example is because you have inadvertently tied them in a granny knot. In the second example (with bunny ears) they are tied in a square knot. . As we all learned in Girl Scouts or sailing lessons or climbing lessons, granny knots are inherently unstable and will easily come undone.

      By wrapping the tie around the other way (as Rose suggests) you will make a square knot. A way to check this is if the bow stays flat and horizontal (square knot) or skews diagonal (granny knot).

      Because we don’t all tie the first part of the bow the same, ie, crossing the first lace over the second to make the “base” of the bow, a way to check that you are looping the second part around correctly is this: The free end wraps around the bunny ear loop in the direction that it does not cross back over the twisted base on its way around the bunny eat.

      I hope this makes sense!

      • Susan Blakey
        Author
        February 10, 2020 / 7:50 am

        I think it’s about finding what works best with the least amount of effort. For me, that’s bunny ears. 😉

    • Linda Green
      February 10, 2020 / 10:36 am

      Wow, I’m confused but intrigued!

  6. C.G.
    February 10, 2020 / 6:37 am

    I would love it if one day you would write about keeping the soles clean. Thank you for this great article.

    • Jeanne J
      February 10, 2020 / 8:08 am

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to specifically, but I use a Magic Eraser to clean white sneaker soles.

    • February 12, 2020 / 10:45 am

      Toothpaste works!

      • Susan Blakey
        Author
        February 12, 2020 / 12:40 pm

        Makes sense, will have to try that! Clorox wipes are also effective in a pinch.

  7. Eileen
    February 10, 2020 / 6:50 am

    I’ve used my ECCO sneakers though Europe, they’re great.

  8. Allene
    February 10, 2020 / 7:02 am

    Nobody has mentioned Allbirds yet. I am a big fan. I love their sporty look and their eco credentials. The colors are amazing and I have walked for miles in them….and I have bad feet.

  9. Lee Rosenthall
    February 10, 2020 / 7:17 am

    I was not a fan of the “fashion sneaker” look for a long time, but I bought a pair of Ecco sneakers after falling in love with my older brother’s black & white “bowling” style shoes when we were together in SF a few years ago. They fit so well, I’ve bought several pairs since then. I have thin feet with a long big toe, so the Gillian style fits me best, but I also love the Soft 8 Summer Tie. I’m up to six pairs of Ecco sneakers now, that I rotate. My attitude is that if you find a sneaker that fits, you buy several pair because you never know when they will stop making them!) If I buy another pair of sneakers, it will be a platform style – I just love that look. Although … those red & white Cole Haans are calling my name. 🙂

  10. Catherine
    February 10, 2020 / 7:21 am

    The Ecco sneakers changed my life. I wore them in Paris and my “fashionista” 16 year old grand daughter said I was looking very stylish. In today’s world you wear them with dresses as well as pants. I am a convert.
    Catherine
    PS I remember one blog post you did and received very negative comments about the white sneakers, they are now a fashion staple and so on trend.

  11. Joan
    February 10, 2020 / 7:21 am

    What a fun post! Well, I see a trip to Nordstrom for a try-on session is in order. Nice comments on the Ecco sneaker. Sorry Susan, I love my sneakers! My Saucony sneaks fit my short toes and high instep. They are not waterproof and hey, sneakers slip on some surfaces. I’ve got everything set for my 3 week trip to France in May……all but the shoes! Thank you for another great post.

  12. Lauren
    February 10, 2020 / 7:25 am

    It really does not matter what version you use to tie your laces as long as you are making a “reef knot” where the first part is “right over left” and the second part is “left over right” . The knot of bow then lies balanced. I could fill up this whole post with pictures but I trust that you can go back to your Girl Scout/Guide days and figure this out or Google a reef knot and see how it is balanced

  13. Susan M
    February 10, 2020 / 7:50 am

    More videos! Love the demo.

  14. February 10, 2020 / 7:56 am

    Still a flats-wearer, only wear sneakers for our morning walks around the lake. Just can’t see them with my style of dressing, although many others that wear city style make it work.

  15. Rondi
    February 10, 2020 / 8:13 am

    I do wear sneakers but I feel I have to be careful what I wear them with. I prefer them with athleisure pants or long shorts. Otherwise I feel like they look huge. I do not care for the trend of wearing them with dresses although I understand that look is very popular. You have presented some very cute sneakers today. You always find sneakers with a little something extra! Thank you for including some that come in narrow widths. It’s vital that sneakers fit properly.

  16. Cindylou
    February 10, 2020 / 8:17 am

    I love sneakers. I have a bad ankle and I have to wear padded flat shoes with a quarter to half inch heel. Most of mine are Cole Haan or Ecco. I first bought them on a trip to New York to walk around in about 9 years ago. They were cobalt blue Cole Haans and I chose blue to go with a scarf I was wearing. I have a beautiful pair of dark red perforated oxford sneakers that I change the laces to subtle b/w laces. I have grey, silver, platinum , navy, 2 pairs of black and 2 pair of New Balance black ones. I’ve almost worn out my NB sneakers, since I wear them so much b/w. Last summer I broke down and bought some white perforated white Cole Haans, very pretty. I don’t usually like white shoes but I wear them with dresses in the summer. The look I’m going for now is Sporty Luxe.

  17. Wendelah
    February 10, 2020 / 9:51 am

    Your taste in shoes is great, but boy, do we have different footwear needs. I wear an 11 or 11.5 in a woman’s running shoe. Because I have plantar fasciitis, a wide forefoot, a high arch, a high instep, and an AAA narrow heel, there are no fashion sneakers in my closet. I wear Brooks running shoes pretty exclusively for walking. I can’t wear those cute little socks either (or anything like them) because they slip off my heel within five minutes and cause blisters. I wear the quarter sock by Wrightsock. They’re both thin and double-layered so they prevent rubbing, even in the summer heat. The closest thing to a fashion sneaker that I can wear is the retro New Balance 620, which came in many colors and looks surprisingly cute with dresses and skirts. The insoles are garbage but they can be removed and replaced with orthotics. I tried a pair of the fashion sneakers by Finn Comfort because I love their supportive sandals, but unfortunately, they run short and narrow.

  18. February 10, 2020 / 9:58 am

    I LOVE these new “tennis shoes” as I call them — comfortable, they don’t look like I’m planning to head off for a run, and there are SO MANY cute styles and colors to choose from there’s one for everybody! And since I’m past the stage where I can wear heels for walking they make getting around so much more comfortable!

  19. February 10, 2020 / 10:18 am

    So many wonderful sneakers to choose from! I like all your choices! I haven’t tried the zip-entry style, but they look very convenient. Might have to try a pair!

  20. Karmen
    February 10, 2020 / 10:36 am

    Great round up Susan. I’m happy to see the aTaos are back. I wore mine out! They have an aggressive arch support, but I could walk forever in them and the pewter went with everything.

  21. T.
    February 10, 2020 / 12:00 pm

    Alas, most fashion sneakers are too narrow for my toes, including the Ecco 7. I wish I could find a pair that work for me.

    Susan, have you ever talked about how you pack your jewelry? I searched your blog a bit but didn’t find anything. Also, what are some of your favorite resources for travel planning? Any particular series of guidebooks you find better than others, or websites? Thank you!

    • February 10, 2020 / 12:12 pm

      I have fairly wide feet and can’t tolerate most sneakers, I’ve had really good luck with Veja sneaks – I have three pairs now! The insoles are removable so I can use my orthotics, and they are ethically made. I saw lots of women in Paris wearing them, and the styling is nice a clean.

  22. February 10, 2020 / 12:20 pm

    The styles you highlight are ones that I always admire yet never buy. I guess it’s because they are fashion sneakers. They are not very useful. If I’m planning to walk a lot, I need a real walking shoe. If I’m planning to do something athletic, I need a proper athletic shoe. Fashion sneakers tend to be too flat, they have too many things that can bother me and often make my feet hot. I wore fashion sneakers to the office on Casual Fridays. But they were not the shoes I reached for when my feet were going to get a workout.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      February 10, 2020 / 12:41 pm

      It’s true, everyone’s feet are different. I’ve worn those Cole Haan Grandpro sneakers while walking for hours per day on prior trips to Europe and found them comfortable and supportive enough.

    • Lee Rosenthall
      February 10, 2020 / 1:46 pm

      I agree about fashion sneakers like Superga, but I find Ecco leather sneakers much more comfortable to walk long distances in than any running shoe I’ve ever worn (including those made by Ecco). I think it really depends on one’s feet!

  23. February 10, 2020 / 1:51 pm

    Love the Ecco Soft 7 series. I purchased both the tied sneaker (pewter) and a slip-on (black) which I took to Paris this past September. Walked everywhere and my feet felt great. Excellent support. And, I have large feet (10.5/11.0) and they fit comfortably. Highly recommend.

  24. Debbie
    February 10, 2020 / 4:31 pm

    I have several pair of FitFlop sneakers that I really like. They are the most comfortable sneaker that I’ve found, other than my athletic Asics. They have a good arch, padded footbed, and enough lift. A must if I’m going to do much walking. Flats just don’t work for me at all.
    Thanks for your fun blog!

  25. Suz
    February 10, 2020 / 5:48 pm

    As Allene says, Allbirds. I was an early adopter, one of the most comfortable of sneakers, particularly good for colder weather (they’re made of merino wool!). However, recently I bought some Rollie City sneakers (an Australian brand) and they are a dream (I’ve bought a 2nd pair they’re so great). AND, for those who are short like me, they have a 1 3/4 inch ‘platform’ throughout the shoe. They are like walking on air, look trendy and give me a little bit of height too!

    • Susan
      February 11, 2020 / 4:47 am

      I love Rollies (and have 10 pairs) and apart from sandals, don’t wear any other shoe. I am looking at buying the City Sneakers in lieu of white sandshoes. Is the leather soft? I have been eyeing off a pair on the web. I bought some Frankie4, but the are heavy and I got a shocking heel blister from them. (Sorry Susan for hogging your website for a personal question from another poster)

  26. Jude
    February 10, 2020 / 6:43 pm

    I use sneakers for working out and think they are pretty ugly as a fashion statement. I have Vince snake slip ons etc…just dont reach for them.
    I am short and need a heel to feel dressed up. However, Superga changed me. These little classic sneaks are adorable and comfortable. I have Ecco to take on trips and never seem to wear. I have New Balance workout sneakers but would not dream of wearing with jeans. I’ve been wearing my new Superga to see if they can hold up to my 8 hours a day walking on overseas trips and they are great. I love them.

  27. Anne
    February 10, 2020 / 7:37 pm

    Superga had no support for me. For ww wide feet and bunions, I wear Munro Gabby plus a Superfeet insert. I walked all over Italy and was so grateful for such a sturdy shoe. They are the only shoe I can wear if I want fashion plus comfort. I have given up finding other shoes. Brooks Ariel are amazingly comfy ( the best!) but frumpy.

  28. Cathy D.
    February 10, 2020 / 9:18 pm

    After tearing a tendon in my left foot a few years ago, I wear sneakers nearly all the time. My favorite style is New Balance 990v5. These shoes were designed for runners who pronate, and the inside edge of the sole is slightly higher than the outside edge. This makes a huge difference, both in comfort and in appearance. They also come in multiple widths (I wear a narrow), and can easily accommodate orthotics. Even though they look very athletic, I get frequent compliments.

  29. SuD
    February 11, 2020 / 4:51 am

    I love “fancy” sneakers. The problem is, I have a reluctance to spend a lot of money on them because they wear down quickly and are expensive to re-sole. I’ll only purchase them on sale.

  30. February 11, 2020 / 11:39 am

    Love those. I wear leather Converse but you’ve provided some great other options.

  31. February 12, 2020 / 6:39 am

    So much helpful info about sneakers. Thanks, Sue. I will try to tie my laces that way. When spring is here and I can get out of my winter boots that is.
    My Adidas Stan Smiths, purchased in 2015 are still going strong. And I wear them all the time. They are my only pair of non-athletic sneakers. I wear them with jeans and skirts and dresses and suits. I’ve worn them on an extended (month long or more) trip every year since I bought them and they look almost new. And still feel great.
    I will say that some of the fashion sneakers are very flat. My sister bought a pair of leather Eccos, and she has had to ditch them because they irritated her troubled Achilles tendon. I don’t like the very flat ones with the thick, heavy sole… way too much weight to heft. But everyone has their personal issues and preferences.. Trying on and trying on and more trying on is the only answer, I think.

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