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Comfortable women's shoes for city walking AND then dinner/show

My wife is looking for a comfortable city walking shoe (not hikers) that she can wear all day walking in a city but also be worn out in the evening for a nice dinner or a show (think London West End). Thanks in advance!!

Posted by
7475 posts

My wife like Skechers ..... lots of styles to choose from and very foot friendly

I would focus on the 'comfortable for walking' aspect . At dinner and at a show feet are under something and out of sight.

Posted by
3405 posts

I've gone to two West End shows. I didn't notice that anyone really paid all that much attention to what people were wearing. There were a few people dressed up, but most people looked like what I would term as business casual and then others in jeans, etc.

Posted by
9777 posts

I just bought my third pair of ECCO Soft 7 GTX Slip-ons. They are waterproof, comfortable out of the box, and, IMO, look fine with dressier slacks for dinner in a nice place. I can remove the footbed and use my own insert, which also helps comfort.

I only travel with two pair of shoes for two month trips: these and hikers.

Posted by
18892 posts

I take only the pair of shoes on my feet to Europe, and they are lace-up athletic shoes. Thus it is clear that I do not prioritize nice-looking shoes the way your wife does. I haven't felt uncomfortable in London theatres wearing the same clothes and shoes I used for sightseeing all day.

Shoe comfort is a very individual thing. What works for Person A is by no means guaranteed to work for Person B. I am confident I wouldn't be comfortable walking around all day in anything your wife would consider acceptable for dining out. Perhaps she'll find something that doesn't leave her feeling crippled at the end of the day, but in case she isn't that fortunate, I'd suggest she consider a pair of lightweight ballet flats or something similar that she can carry around on fancy-dinner days in an attractive tote bag and put on before dinner or the theatre.

Posted by
18 posts

Please don't take offense, but I'm not sure why you are looking for shoes for someone else .... because that's something very individual. I'd like to know what kind of shoe she's looking for in her own words. How casual/dressy, what style, what size, what color? I know you're her spouse, but we may understand better what she's looking for if we hear from her. Please don't take offense. It's a personal thing. And these days, what's casual/dressy/comfortable for one woman is not for another. I have a friend who can wear nothing but sneaker-type shoes because of foot issues. They aren't problems, it's just life. Others are looking for something else.

A good place to look for something when you're not sure exactly what you want is an online shoe store, like Zappos.com or any of the other online shoe stores that allow for free returns. You can look at them, find your size, see other's reviews, pick a few to try on, then send them back (even all of them!) without charge.

It's been so long... I remember buying shoes. That must have been at least 2 years ago!!!

Hoping to travel this fall...

Posted by
489 posts

Another vote for Skechers, especially to “Go Walk” series. They are like walking on clouds. Lots of options available. Here are some ballet flats:

Skechers Women's Go Walk Lite-15400 Wide Ballet Flat https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075YZN4B6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_JJGSTRPJ0MJ7Q4JBMXBW

I also vote for comfort over fashion when traveling. Especially when it comes to shoes. With very few exceptions, no one is going to be turned away based on their footwear.

Posted by
1024 posts

The softest leather possible with cushioned soles. Plan on splurging on this item because your trip will be way better if your feet don’t rub against anything.
I also carry a friction stick and blister band aids just in case.

Posted by
2928 posts

For every day city walking my go to shoe is a Sketchers go walk slipon. As a PP said, they're pillowy soft. Yet they provide decent support. When I want something a little dressier I go to my Clarke's leather slip on. Excellent instep support, and they don't have a slippery sole. They look fine with slacks. But everyone is different when it comes to a comfortable shoe. I prefer to shop in person at a shoe store I know has a range of styles and brands, and knows how to fit your feet.

Posted by
50 posts

It's nice to be a scout, but your wife needs to go to a walking shoe store, The Walking Company, Ecco, Clarks, Mephisto-- What works for someone may not work for someone else. Gotta try them on.

Posted by
528 posts

I ditto the remarks from above by 'acraven' ---- when we go to Europe, it is usually for 2-3 weeks and I don't take a second pair of shoes - they are too heavy and take up too much room.

We never go anywhere so fancy that I can't wear what I wear all day and, to be honest, no one is looking at my feet.

We tend to travel in the Fall and Dec (for the Xmas Markets) --- so I wear KEEN boots and love them.

She needs to go try on- as everyone loves something different - I see many above like Sketchers, while I don't - for me, they are too pillow-y/soft with NO support.

I love KEEN and Hoka and Merrill. Super supportive on all the cobblestones - and KEEN boots look nice always

Posted by
5632 posts

Have her look at Keens. They are the only shoes I travel with. Depending on time of the year and destination might be my Uneek sandals, or Whisper Sandals. Most likely it’s my lace up Keen Presidios or their leather slip on. I swear by the brand. Costly but durable. Still wear their red Newports I bought 11 years ago. It’s the brand that suits me.

And trust me after decades of traveling to London and seeing shows very few individuals dress up anymore. Jeans are the norm for both men and women.

Enjoy your trip to London and whatever production you will be seeing. If it’s Hamilton ( saw it 2019 ) you’ll enjoy it.

Posted by
920 posts

OMG, Laurel, you picked my shoes! Well, to be honest, the latest version of the ECCO. I have had so many over the years and have walked from Hyde Park to the Globe Theatre in them, so can attest to their comfort - usually no break-in time for me, either.

I recently cleaned out my office after our covid hiatus. My employer wants to remain at a distance. I regained my ECCOs that have been stranded in the office for a year. I washed them in the machine - they are nylon with a bit of leather, They look great,

Another handy, washable brand is Bernie Mev - available at Zappos. These are about 1/2 the price of the ECCO. I buy a new pair about every 2 summers. The style I purchase is a MaryJane with a nice thick sole. There are a number of styles - just stay away from the high wedges that might be unstable. I wear my Bernie Mevs daily and walk miles each day in them.

If I need a rough, tough walking shoe (not what you are looking for, apparently) I purchase Keen. I am pretty loyal and have been wearing the H2O shoes for about 20 years.

Good shopping. I am a fan of Zappos - no shipping costs and many, many brands to select from.

Posted by
3768 posts

I have attended a few dressed up events in Europe where my normal travel shoes would not have looked appropriate. (Men in tuxes; women in sparkly dresses.). But, I still want to be able to walk for miles, have no blisters and comfy feet at the end of the day. I wear my Keen black Rose design sandals all over during the day and switch into a black dressy flat for events and dinners (a lot of times I will change into a dress or long black pants in the evening). The lightweight black flats I have taken for my past few trips are from Bandolino and have a formal bow over the toe area. I bought them at Macys.

Posted by
7920 posts

I needed a pair of dressy heels for the San Francisco Ballet. I went to the Walking Co. and bought an expensive pair that were gorgeous… they killed my feet. They felt great in the store, but an hour of walking in SF killed me. Bought a pair of Mephisto’s, they killed my feet. Same with Clark’s (I have beautiful ankle boots in my closet, anyone want them? lol), Sketchers and Naot. My point is, even the good, expensive, “walking” shoes are individual to each person, as acraven said. Only your wife knows what brands work for her, she should look for a dressier version of those brands. For instance, I love Birkenstock and bought a beautiful Birkenstock dressy heel that are perfect for fancy occasions (they don’t make them anymore, but they have cute Mary Janes). Or, acraven’s suggestion to carry very lightweight ballet flats (not the one linked above) is the answer imo.

And btw, there’s nothing wrong with asking a question on the RS forum on behalf of someone else. We don’t need to know details to recommend the brand of shoe we like.

Posted by
29 posts

I too am a fan of Keens, but am not sure that the style will suit her for very dressy in the evening. When I need a shoe I can walk in and dress up in, I either like JBU or Aravon. Both brands have dressier styles that may suit her while still being very comfortable for walking around town.

Posted by
1942 posts

I've loved Skechers for years as my lightweight and cushiony travel shoes in which I've walked over 14 miles in comfort on long travel days. But I hate them on wet cobblestones... nearly slipped many times and have to take baby steps to stay upright.

Now I have 3 pairs of Aetrex Mary Jane's in various versions. A bit more support than Skechers and still can walk for miles... without slipping on wet pavement. With their sales I've gotten them for not much more than Skechers.

Posted by
1582 posts

I use folding ballet flats when I travel - usually a black or metallic. I like to give me feet a break from my regular daytime shoe. If she only wants to do 1 pair, have her order from someone like Zappos or Nordstrom that offers free return shipping and then try wearing them around the house to see how they feel. Lots of shoes feel comfortable when you first try them on but don’t feel so great for long distance. I am a big fan of shoes with removable insoles so I can use my own inserts.

Posted by
1104 posts

I have no idea what your wife will be wearing during the day and then to the show, this makes a big difference on the recommendation. She is not going to wear sketchers with a skirt. Also what season? In the Summer I have sandals that I wear all day and can use with a skirt for night. In the fall/winter I have a pair of booties that I can wear all day and then wear with a skirt. They are all Aetrex or Orthaheel/Vionic. I take 5 pairs of shoes every trip.

Posted by
564 posts

Hello Brian:

I understand how difficult it is to find a good pair of shoes that are comfy and yet look good. Also, Europeans are much more concerned about looks than we are. In fact, if you wear a nicer pair of business like or business casual like shoes, you get better chances of being upgraded for your flight!

It took me years to find a good pair. I suggest she looks at these brands:
Arcopedico (Made in Portugal)
Naot (Made in Israel)
Ecco (mainly the European made models)
Sanita (clogs are made in Poland)
Geox (mainly the European made models)
Cloud (Made in Portugal)

Do not recommend:
Dansko (they WERE good, but now have transferred to a different production source in China)
any major brands that are for the mass market
any brands that don't specialize in shoes

Stores suggested--I only suggest specialty shoe stores:
https://footwearetc.com/
Clogoutlet.com
https://cloudfootwear-na.com/

In addition, don't forget to use show insoles to enhance the comfort level. If her shoes' insoles are not removable, consider three-quarter length inserts. Try the low profile ones first.

While in Europe, don't forget to spend some time looking at shoes. They have far better shoes there.

Good luck shopping! I know that this is not easy.

Posted by
12490 posts

I'll just ditto the view that feet are so different that what works for one won't necessarily work for another. Heck, discontinuation of a specific Privo slip-on (made by Clark's) that was my go-to for both trail and city trips for years has me on the hunt for a replacement too. Sketchers definitely don't have enough support for 10-15 miles on hard surfaces (not even 3-5 miles) for my dogs, and 2 newer pairs of Clark's that I otherwise LOVE have let me down for anything over 3-4 miles. Sigh...

So, your wife will have to go to a better shoe store and see what works for her - Merrill, Clark's, ECCO, Born, Rockport, even Naturalizer.... One tip? Have her do her shoes shopping later in the day, preferably after she's been on her feet for considerable time so they've swollen to 'sightseeing' size. Higher temperatures can cause mine to swell too. What she wears for all-day walking is going to be infinitely more important than for sitting activities, like dinner or theater so, sure, maybe just pack a lightweight pair of flats for all but winter trips.

I always take two pairs of shoes (wear one; pack one) as my feet tend to feel better when alternating between pairs. Also had a massive fail once with a pair I thought would carry me all day and didn't. Ow. Side note: sadly, The Walking Company retail stores are gone; they're operating online only under the name WalkingCo.

Posted by
7920 posts

Dansko are great for me. Another example of what works for one person doesn't work for another… and why this is a very popular topic on this forum, lol.

Posted by
1356 posts

Nordy's actually carries a lot of comfort shoes, and they have a generous return policy. REI allows returns [pro-rated] after wearing shoes.
Good luck!

Posted by
1249 posts

What worked for me one time doesn’t necessarily work later. Brands change but more importantly my feet have changed as I get older. My current favorites are Ryka sports shoes changed out the insole to arch support from my podiatrist, Algeria tie shoes that are discontinued and FitFlop sandals that are also discontinued. I take three pair of shoes because after three neuroma surgeries, a broken foot and torn tendon, my feet like variety.

When I first went to Europe at age 18, I took two pairs of leather sandals with 1 1/2” stacked heels. Next trip 25 years later I took Cole Haan slip-ons, Rockport walking shoes and something else I don’t remember, besides riding boots. 25 years later I took the above listed Ryka, Algeria and FitFlops. I’ll wear those again next year unless something else changes.

So as everyone has said, your wife needs to try shoes on, lots of shoes and different styles. And after she buys her shoes she needs to break them in, long walks (3+ miles) over different types of terrain and up and down stairs. I pack heel and toe blister bandaids, a glide stick and silicone toe protectors.

EDIT: Good socks are just as important as comfortable shoes. I like Wright Socks Cool Mesh anti-blister socks. I don't like wool. Everyone has her own favorite. Be sure your wife tries shoes on with the socks she will wear on your trip. The wrong socks/shoes combination can cause foot pain and blisters.

Posted by
552 posts

"Nordy's actually carries a lot of comfort shoes, and they have a generous return policy."

And the Nordstrom anniversary sale begins on July 28. And if there's a Nordstrom Rack near you she might really score.

Posted by
12 posts

It's a personal feeling but I am much more comfortable entering a restaurant or store in Europe dressed similar to the Europeans. The locals tend more to strike up conversation with me. I've had friends say they were seated at a poor table or did not get acknowledged by a clerk when wearing sweats and sneakers. They were offended. My clothes have to be comfortable and versatile but appropriate for the situation. I've had good results with a number of shoe brands, no matter the style,... lace up, sandal with adjustable buckle or velcro, slip on wedge, or ballet flat. I want a shoe that I am confident with "stay with me" on uneven surfaces, cobblestones and stairs. Sketchers are too cushy for me. I need all-day support with a decent toe box. My "go to" list... Ecco, Keen, Vionic, Born, and... depending on the style, Naturalizer. I find that Naturalizer can vary greatly from one style to another. 6 or 6 1/2 narrow or medium. Some brands favor narrow or wide with feet. Some are known for arch support. If your wife has a pair she likes, I suggest she look at the brand and find what styles are currently offered. And like the former suggestions... wear them on carpet to be certain and have the opportunity to return/exchange. Happy walking!

Posted by
1104 posts

Kathy- Your comment about feet swelling is so true! The Aetrex sandals I take have velco straps for just this. I know that once I take a pair of shoes off of my tired, been walking for 10 miles in the heat feet those shoes are not going back on. With the velcro I take my shoes off, give them some air and release them from their restraints, I know I will be able to put them back on with no discomfort. City walking in the winter is a totally different story. I can walk miles and miles in my Aetrex booties and never be uncomfortable.

Posted by
656 posts

If this helps, in the last approximately 5 years, in travel to Europe and various cities, I have worn sketchers black slip-resistant shoes; 2 pairs of votta-edge by Clarks, but Clarks stopped making that model and I didn't find another Clarks model I liked; and at least one pair of sketchers that was a sort of a non-dressy, non- athletic, dark colored, non-black street shoe. I am a man but I am sure they make similar models for women. Just make sure your wife wears something
-flat or very close to flat,
-lace up and not slip on
-something with some cushioning that has the characteristics of a good walking shoe
-close toed,
-the sole should be a little bit flexible but thick enough to protect against the ground, but not stupidly thick like the kind some young women might wear to make themselves look taller.

Posted by
3525 posts

I've found that a "city walking shoe (not hikers)" does not work for me. It doesn't matter where I'm walking, I have to wear what some would call hikers: lace up, ankle height and water proof.

The cobblestones and often uneven pavement of European cities is a challenge and the last thing I want to do is trip or slip or turn an ankle. I also find that such supportive shoes help keep me on my feet longer without pain, blisters or exhaustion.

These are now my preferred shoes for European travel. Keen Terradora Waterproof Mid Height Hiking Boot They actually make my size 10 feet look smaller. I should note that I only wear pants when I travel and that my shoes barely show.

I wear them any time of year with Sockwell moderate graduated compression socks. The socks also provide support and help prevent fatigue. Their fiber content blends that include merino wool, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon and spandex keep my feet dry and cool or warm as needed. I've never had a blister in years of wearing these socks with boots or shoes. It helps that they come in fun colors and patterns.

Over the years I've found that I rarely wear a 2nd pair of shoes, but I still stubbornly take a pair of flats to change into should I ever go anywhere that I would feel more comfortable doing that. I recently bought these Abeos for a 2nd pair. They're comfortable and very light, but I'd never wear them for walking around all day.

Before my last trip in the summer of 2019, I " discovered" a very light, stretchy fabric non-slip ballet flat kind of shoe intended for wearing in the shower. On the trip the summer before, I had a lot of trouble with some very slippery shower floors. I got these little shoes and will never travel without them. They work great and dry very rapidly. They are similar to these but are not Mary Janes, have nonskid soles, are European sized 40/41, made in China and have absolutely no other markings on them.

Posted by
8231 posts

For those of you who travel with only one pair of shoes I will share a cautionary tale. Two years ago I was visiting my family in Germany, where we spent a week together in a very small town on the Rhine. My aunt wore a pair of her favorite comfortable shoes. We were out one day and the bottom of her shoe had a blow out. There was no way she was ever wearing those shoes again. Thankfully she had packed an extra pair of shoes. If that had been me and if they were my only shoes I would have been in big trouble because I have a very difficult time finding comfortable shoes.

Nordstrom will allow you to return shoes, even if you’ve been wearing them outside for an extended time. I ordered some shoes online during Covid and after wearing them around the house for awhile I determined that they were not keepers. When I went looking for the box and packing slip I discovered my hubby had thrown them away. I took them to the store and they located the online order, giving me a full refund.

Posted by
552 posts

Andrea's aunt's experience is similar to mine. I had a pair of Keen Saratogas. My favorite, and what I would recommend to the OP if they hadn't been discontinued. I had worn them to climb the Great Wall of China, through the monsoon in Guangzhou and they would be "smart" enough for a dinner and a show in London. I had left them outside of our chalet in the Swiss Alps one night but in the morning only one was left. A "thief" in the night had taken one; presumably to snack on the leather. :-D