Throughout modern history, so-called “comfort” shoes have gotten a bad rap. Begrudgingly purchased out of necessity by nurses, servers, and people with foot conditions; strapped on by sensible, errand-running moms; and stacked high in the closets of our grandmothers, this supportive footwear category prizes functionality over trend-following, and often gets overlooked by we fashion-seeking shoe magpies.
However, the winds of change are blowing. Our feet are growing tired of flesh-biting straps, hard-as-rock footbeds, and weight distribution made uneven by unsupportive heels. Sure, there’s an endless stream of trendy sneakers out there, but sometimes we want more — the elevated visual statement of our favorite of-the-moment shoes paired with the easy wear of, say, a Dansko.
Luckily, several things are at play. Dorkus malorkus footwear is meeting fashion half-way, with brands like Birkenstocks and Clarks revamping tried-and-true lasts in need-it-now colorways. In addition to this, a new crop of comfort luxury brands have popped up, offering sleek, high-end styling with the same kind of engineering that used to be the sole (ha!) specialty of the comfort brands. There’s also the endless wave of divisive granny and dad styles that continue to parade down designer runways, embraced by fashion people who love a good ugly shoe. We’ve included a mix of all here, because our greatest priority is helping you maintain a balance of comfort and style at all times, no matter where it’s coming from.
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We adore the striped summery brilliance of these Comfortview slides, which come in extended sizes and widths to accommodate feet of all shapes and sizes. They’re also equipped with a padded footbed and skid-resistant soles, so that your walkabout is a safe and comfortable one.
Comfortview® The Reese Footbed Sandal, $, available at Amazon
The clog auteurs at Dankso offer so much more than the gardener mainstay that they’re known for. These retro-inspired wedges come with a moisture-wicking lining and a foam-cushioned midsole, and The Walking Company recommends them for plantar fasciitis support.
Dansko Sophie, $, available at The Walking Company
We recently reported on the resurgence of the Teva-style sandal and its irresistibly Dad-like charm, and this technical shoe from Danish brand Ecco is giving us street style vibes in a major way. Its unique, cushioning support technology will make it easy to pound the pavement all day.
Ecco EXOWRAP 3S VELCRO Sandals, $, available at Ecco
Aerosoles’ long-engineered comfort technology — impact-absorbing diamond pattern soles, memory foam footbed, and a heel cradle for extra support — makes these wild mules a summertime no-brainer.
Aerosoles Platinum East Coast Mule, $, available at Walmart
Sofft’s Breeze sandal feels as good as it sounds, boasting a cushioned footbed and a leather lining to prevent blisters. And these classic black leather slip-ons are a wardrobe staple we love.
Sofft Somers Slip-On, $, available at Zappos
With a stabilizing heel seat and ball-of-foot cushioning, many of Vionic’s styles have the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval. With so many spring-friendly, on-trend styles, they’ve got our seal of approval, too.
Vionic Jolene Bootie, $, available at Amazon
For some, the word “Croc” conjures a fleet of tank-like foam clogs in a Skittles-hued array of colors — not exactly the kind of footwear you’d choose for a fashionable outing. However, this functional brand has evolved, and they now offer a range of styles appropriate for wear outside of the home — all with the lightweight, flexible comfort that they’re known for.
Crocs Tulum Sandal, $, available at Crocs
Kork-Ease got its start in the 1950s by pioneering the cork wedge sandal. Its platform reached the apex of popularity in the ’70s, but the company is still making spot-on retro sandals outfitted with foam-cushioned soles.
Kork Ease San Carlos, $, available at Kork Ease
The buzzed-about former podiatrist Marion Parke outfits her high-end, Italian-made shoes with medical-grade foam insoles, for the ultimate combination of comfort and luxury.
Marion Parke Cyrus Slides, $, available at Shopbop
These casual canvas sneakers by VenusCelia have an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars and 692 ratings on Amazon. Extra points for the fact that they’ll cost ya less than $20.
VenusCelia Canvas Lace Up Sneaker, $, available at Amazon
It’s official: Clarks’ easy-wearing Wallabees have reached icon status. While we’re probably all more familiar with the timeless browns and tans that our dads wore, we are definitely snagging this sleek black version to pair with pretty much everything.
Clarks Wallabee Black Suede, $, available at Clarks
There’s nothing like a classic pair of clogs to take you through the rest of the summer — especially when the soles are rubberized for traction. These wear-anywhere shoe also come equipped with a soft, microfiber-lined footbed that’s cushioned for a seriously comfy walking experience.
Propet Washable Walker Slide, $, available at Zappos
Blend in at the Echo Park Craft Fair with these sunny Born slides — a reviewer called them “the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned.” A multi-layer foam cushion will have you trend-setting sans achy feet.
Born Trang Slip-On, $, available at Born
Channel the ’70s in these elevated Naturalizer platforms, equipped with the brand’s signature top-notch, arch-supportive cushioning and unique heel cup.
Naturalizer Patience Espadrille Sandal, $, available at Naturalizer
Taryn Rose was an orthopedic surgeon prior to founding her shoe brand. Molded insoles, patented shock absorption, and the croc-embossed leather of this black, chunky sandal makes it the perfect spring-to-summer transitional shoe.
Taryn Rose Lydia Metallic Nappa Flat Sandal, $, available at Amazon
The Mallorca, Spain-based footwear brand Camper is known for its comfortable walking shoes and stylish design. Dancing the night away will not be an issue at future weddings, thanks to these cream-colored (and totally chic) block heels.
Camper Upright 60mm Leather Sandals, $, available at Farfetch
We don’t need to tell you that Birkenstock is on fire right now — the comfort-shoe manufacturer shows no signs of stopping after 245 years (!) of making footwear. Thanks to collaborations with high-falutin’ brands like Opening Ceremony and Rick Owens, you have more options than ever, but our summer pick are these under-$100 off-white thongs with — get ready for it — 2,611 reviews.
Birkenstock Birkenstock Gizeh Birko-Flor™, $, available at Zappos
A cushioned footbed and glove-like leather construction make these under-$30 slip-ons perfect for running errands or lounging around the house.
SUNROLAN Leather Comfort Fit Ballet Flats, $, available at Amazon
The avant-garde je ne sais quoi of these Spring Step slippers make them a perfect complement to any Comme- or Margiela-heavy lewk. The “tender” designation is accurate — a cushioned sole and flexible fabric upper will make any tired or swollen feet happy.
Spring Step Tender Loafer, $, available at Amazon
Walking Cradles name says it all — they call their signature cushioned footbed “tiny pillows”. The sleek back fabric and easy-to-wear styling of this low heel will take you from work to the weekend without missing a beat.
Walking Cradles Leandra Sling-Backs, $, available at The Walking Company
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