Les Chaussures Sans Douleur

Une femme has come to accept that she will probably never be a Manolo/Choo/Louboutin kind of girl. It’s not that they aren’t lovely, but aside from the fact that they don’t fit my life, the flesh below the knees is no longer willing.

I used to take comfort in the fact that shoes were reliable. Regardless of how tough it might be to find stylish clothes that fit, I could always rock the shoes. Though I’ve never been one to jump gleefully into a pair of 4″ heels, I rarely balked when it came to putting form ahead of function where footwear is concerned. Then something happened: mes pieds rebelled. Once narrow, they widened with pregnancy and never looked back from those broader horizons. I’ve always had a high arch and instep but now coupled with the new horizontal expansion, finding shoes that I can even get my foot into–let alone stand up and walk in–has become exponentially more challenging.

Search online for “comfort” shoes and you are assaulted with a plethora of beige lace-ups that scream “Senior bus to Laughlin!” Narrow the search by selecting wide sizing, and the prospects become even more dismal. Comfortable-yet-chic shoes have become a sort of Holy Grail pour moi.

Some recent successes:

These shoes from “1803” were my go-to walking shoes when we visited Paris, and though not the pair of stiletto’s that all Parisiennes are reputed to wear (yes, another myth), they were perfect with the dark-wash and black jeans I primarily wore that week. They are exceptionally comfortable and supportive; I put several miles on them each day without a moment of discomfort or tired feet. They don’t come in wide, but the regular size was fine.

I was delighted to find out that most Ferragamo shoes are available in wider widths. (Don’t be fooled by the “Luncheon at the Garden Club” styles available online; they actually have many more au courrant options in the boutiques.) So when I decided it was time to invest in a good pair of classic pumps, I was able to find a pointy-toed, stiletto heeled iconic pump in a C width there, and yes they are actually comfortable to stand and walk in, though probably not so much on gravel or cobblestones, nor for hours on end. Hint: they don’t sell the wide sizes online, but you can call one of the boutiques and order.

Stuart Weitzman also offers a multitude of styles in wide widths, though the comfort factor is hit-and-miss. You can’t always tell just from looking at the shoe either, you really have to try them and walk around for a while. I’ve never gone wrong with their boots, though.

Here are some other styles I’ve been eyeing. While they may not qualify as “Superfantastic!” they do stand out a bit from the usual comfort/walking shoe fare:


Not your typical stodgy Mephisto’s

More Pikolinos
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  1. Shoes. I’ve got a short fat foot and anything higher than 2″ just isn’t worth the pain. But you are so right, there just isn’t very much available for wide feet…especially short wide feet. Why can’t some of the really cute 4″ styles be made w/2″ heels? I don’t think they’d lose too much in the translation…

  2. Bless you! This is the problem I’ve had for years with shoes.

    I had my children pretty young and my toes have always been on the wider side. I wear a 9C in most shoe styles. I even have a hard time finding comfortable running shoes because of my high arch (if I’m not careful, the lacing will pressure the nerves on top of my feet causing my toes to go numb).

    At the moment I’ve got a pair of Aldo’s that are several years old, they fit beautifully and are very comfortable, but they are only good with pants – the style is all wrong for dresses.

    I will look into the Ferragamos for more dressy shoes. I didn’t realize they came in widths!!! Fabulous!

    And I love the walking shoes which are something else I really need badly. I have a pair from Think! that I bought about 7 years ago. They are still in good shape (built like iron), even though I wear them daily – but I’m soooo tired of them!

    Shoes, I love them – I just won’t wear them if they hurt. Anyhow this is excellent information! Thank you so much.

  3. I am so surprised those are Mephistos!!

    Taryn Rose has a few very cute shoes and, sadly, plenty of “comftorable” looking shoes, i.e. some that would look at home on the bus to Laughlin.

    I love the Cole Haan Air Boots. They are so comfy and very high stlye. I wish I could take them with me to Paris in July—however, boots in July don’t really work.

  4. To heel or not to heel, that is the question. I bought a pair of shoes at Lord and Taylor in Boston 2 weeks ago. At $80 they were cheap given the strength of the pound. With a contiguous heel, they looked good and they were comfortable when I tried them on. On their first outing, I had the first ever experience of walking back home to change into my comfortable, flat and reliable red Tod’s. Great!

    Now my brands are just 2 – Ferragamo and Tod’s. The rest and their heels can go to shoe hell. 🙂

  5. Arche makes the best shoes and boots: beautifully made, durable, stylish, gorgeous colors, flats or low heel and if you buy the nubuck (most are) you can WASH them. if you don’t have a local retailer, order them from Zappos and I’ve bought many pairs on eBay. Also Theirry Rabotin- like Taryn Rose- $$$ but great.

  6. Clark’s has become my go-to company for funky yet comfortable, well-priced shoes (most top out at $89)- for me it is becaus ethey make a size 5! I also love John Fluevog. Pricier, but so worth it in terms of design and comfort. I don’t think they specifically list wide-width styles, but they have a very helpful staff (online and at the Boston store) who would suggest styles that might work for you. They tend to run a half size or so small (which is why I can still get away with their boots, to which they add extra insoles underneath the leather lining for me).

    I extole my pair of oft-worn Rubini boots on my blog – rubber soled but with a lovely yet eminently walkable heel!

  7. duchesse, I may need to have another look at Arche. There’s a “euro comfort” shoe store not too far from me that carries them.

    LBR, I love Cole Haan styles too, but unfortunately most are too narrow for my feet.

  8. I love the look of Arche shoes but have had mixed results comfort-wise. Their insoles aren’t padded generously enough, for one thing, and the Euro sizing can be a problem when half sizes aren’t available.

    I’ve had the good fortune to find a pair of gorgeous Cole-Haan boots in a C width at Nordstrom Rack (!) for about 25% of their original price. They may have been a sample. Keep searching!

    One little-known brand for you to check out: Corso Como, carried at Zappos and Nordstrom. They’re just a little bit funky and well priced (about $150 for pumps and casual shoes). Not only do the insoles have heavenly gel pads, but the shoes are made according to strict ethical and environmental practices (no child labor, recycled materials in the boxes, etc.).