Call me shoe-obsessed, but in my book, footwear maketh the woman. That doesn't mean I think you need to spend a fortune or amass a collection to rival Imelda Marcos, but it is important that you feel comfortable in your shoes, that they're smart and not scuffed, and that you can easily walk in them. The latter sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised by the number of women who still put that at the bottom of the priority list. A box-fresh pair of pumps is a glorious thing; a ferocious blister breakout is not. And unfortunately the latter tends to happen more frequently in the summer months. After half a year of hibernating in comfy boots and sneakers, sandal season—and all of its requirements—has come around.
Increasingly, the gap between sensible and chic shoes is narrowing. Brands are starting to create comfortable high heels as a speciality, employing advanced tech and the work of orthotics into comfortable high heel styles that you'd actually choose to buy. But even outside of these developments, things are looking up on the sensible fashion footwear front: Midi heels and flats have never been so acceptable, and high-street stores are using more leather (rather than synthetic materials), for example. To be fully equipped for the hot months ahead, we tapped the knowledge of two of London's leading foot experts to provide some honest advice.
Keep reading to see what they'd recommend you avoid and then shop the shoes that tick all of the boxes.
Patent Finishes Are the Biggest Problem
"Open-toe shoes are genuinely described to be more comfortable, however, patent shoes that are not very flexible, meaning they don't allow for stretching, can be very uncomfortable in warmer weather when your feet will naturally swell," says podiatrist Dina Gohil of DG Podiatrist.
Open-Toe Shoes Are Good, but Be Aware of This Detail
"Look out for the depth of the front of the shoe," says Dina, of open-toe styles. "Sometimes the straps can be too close to the toes, and this can cause blisters, or pain, callous and furthermore development into corns."
Her advice is echoed by City Chiropdy's founder and podiatrist, Andrew Gladstone, stating that "wide, deep and comfortable shoes" are the optimum choice at this time of year. "If it is warm and your feet swell, then making sure your shoes can accommodate the extra size after swelling would be good," he notes.
Flat Sandals Are Good for One Thing, but Not for Another
Sandals that are completely flat "can put a lot of pressure on the balls of your feet, especially the joint for your big toe, which can make your feet feel tired at the end of the day," says Dina, adding that despite this downside, the freedom given to your toes would make them very happy.
The Obvious Rules Apply
Andrew has a few hard-and-fast pointers that will help you select the most useful summer shoes: Pick a style that is deep and wide, so it doesn't feel tight or squash your toes. Then look for a silhouette that features "plenty of ventilation and breathable materials—and try to wear socks, footsies or trainer socks rather than bare feet, as this will help prevent blistering." Well, that gives another thumbs up to the socks-and-sandals trend.
Thanks to Andrew, we've also discovered an ingenious trick to survive those heatwave days: "Surgical spirit rubbed over feet and between toes can help prevent your feet getting too sweaty—and perfume works as well, as it's got a high alcohol content." Who knew?
The below shoe styles come with Dina's approval—these fashionable and sensible sandals are ready to shop now.