Stylish Comfortable Shoes

I am headed to Paris and to Italy. I need to have a pair of stylish shoes to wear for hours of walking. I don't want anything clunky or a 'doctor recommended' style shoe. It's Paris that has me concerned. I am interested in a ballet flat with very good support/padding,waterproof would be a plus, but emphasis on "stylish/right on trend." Any suggestions? I am in my 30's, if that helps.
Thank you!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

I suggest you head to Nordstrom and see what they have that appeals to you.

Posted by Susanna
Charlotte, USA
38 posts

Nancy, I was in Italy 9/2012. I did a ton of walking and wore black loafers, leather top, rubber bottom. Softshoe by Medicus. I don't know if they are still available. They were great for the cobblestone streets, wet weather, etc. They worked with pants and skirts. I noticed alot of Italian women in loafers or small heeled pumps, mostly dark colored. To be honest, people really don't pay much attention to our shoes, (they know we are tourists). I would make sure what ever you take is COMFORTABLE. Trying to walk for hours with aching feet isn't worth stylish (IMHO).

Posted by Bev
Decorah, Iowa, USA
250 posts

Nancy, First, have you checked the Graffiti Wall section for the shoes topic? There maybe some information that you could use on that site. Second, I agree with the previous posters in terms of getting something that you like. I know you won't know what it is like to wear the shoes in France and Italy. Think COBBLESTONES and uneven surfaces in many areas. Since I have foot issues, I have to order shoes and then "practice" wearing them in the house until I decide if they are comfortable or not. Usually my husband tells me that I can't order ten pairs of shoes and have them delivered. He tells me this as the box is sitting in the living room. :) While you want something that is really cute, you also want something that will be COMFORTABLE! I would also suggest you try Schuler's Shoes. I know there is a store near the 494 and I35 interchange. There is a big shopping area on the south side of 494. Bev

Posted by Julie
Chicago
10 posts

Try something by Anne Klein. Their AK Sport shoes are stylish and very comfortable. They have been my European travel shoes for the past few years; and the slip on styles are great for airports too.

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1145 posts

This is the kind of question that makes me so glad that I am male and don't have to worry about the fashion impact of what I wear. I can just wear whatever I know is comfortable and forget about what anyone else thinks about it.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
398 posts

Check out SAS shoes - incredibly comfortable - they've been making shoes for nurses for ever - I can walk for ever in them. Most of theis shoes are not very stylish but they do have a cute pair of MaryJane like shoes and several loafer styles. Their sandals are like walking on clouds!

Posted by Emily
Chicago
256 posts

Nancy-
I'm also in my 30s, and suffered a broken ankle less than a year ago, so comfort is my number one priority. But you're right, we gotta look cute too! I live across the street from a DSW and they have a lot of pairs of "street sneakers," which are sneakers but are much more sleek than average running shoes. The soles are much thinner, and the toe is less blunt. I picked up a pair of grey and pink (NO WHITE SHOES FOR THIS TOURIST!!!!) Nike street sneakers about 6 weeks ago and with some Dr. Scholl's s, held up to my European walking regimen. Adidas and Puma also make them. I have a pair of bright blue Adidas street sneakers from last year I wish I could still wear on long walks, but I wore down the soles.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Thank you to each of you for taking the time to read my question. Ladies, thank you for your suggestions, I appreciate them and will check into them. Guys, what can I say? Ummm, thanks for sharing? Perhaps you do need to think about the shoes you wear; sexism doesn't pertain to style and fashion.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1333 posts

hi @ Nancy, afa shoes to wear, this is just jmo. gender has nothing to do with it. on my current job,im on my feet mostly standing but some walking and pushing equipment for 12h/day and its on concrete! After a few weeks of this i was wondering why i was so tired after the day eventho its not that difficult and i remembered that "tired feet = tired body" so i went on a quest for shoes. Price was no issue due to the fact it was my job to be on my feet. So i bought and tried shoes from 20 Buck KMarts restaurant shoes to 200 BUCK NOATs. that includes some SAS as was mentioned. what it came down to was getting shoes to fit YOU. Yes sometimes what other people recommend helped. One other important factor was that once i bought those shoes, i had several to wear and what i believe helped more was being able to change shoes daily. I still do. Ive been wearing those shoes for over a year now, but they are worn out/broke down so i will go on another quest to find new one if the older ones arent available anymore. So, for my trip i knew that i would be doing alot of walking and over there theres alot of cobblestone. I ended up with Keens and Tevas. they arent pretty shoes either, but i was CONFORTABLE wearing those for 4 weeks overthere! I could have tried to find something more "stylish" but Comfort was priority 1 & 2. No need to worry about looks since "fashion" changes faster than politicians minds and im not a clothes horse. i leave that up to others. Happy feet = happy trails.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Okay, Ray, gotcha. Glad you found shoes that were comfortable for you whether at work or on your trip.I agree that it is important to have comfortable shoes and ones with good support when you're on your feet all day.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Ballet flats are always going to be in, of course, but aren't even the expensive ones ($100) pretty inappropriate for walking all day long? You're in your 30's, so I might suggest something that young women (in 20's) were wearing when I was there last fall (in Amsterdam anyway, but they're popular everywhere, of course)...Vans. Literally, it was the most common shoe I saw for young women wearing jeans and more casual attire. Tons of colors, different styles, good arch support...it's a good choice IMHO. I would just go to Nordstrom at MoA and take a look around.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7670 posts

Shoe questions are always difficult because everyone has their own opinions and needs, and what works for one will not necessarily work for someone else. But I agree with the guys. Comfort is priority #1 for me. For shorter periods, they might be fine, but for the added walking I tend to do on vacation I want really good support and comfort.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Thank you, Michael, I really appreciated your email! I'll check out the "Vans."

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1583 posts

Shoe threads are always interesting! But the only way to find what is right for you is to go and try them on. See how they feel and how they look on your feet. I join the suggestions to go have a look at Nordstroms. They have a wide selection of good quality shoes, including high end and trendy, and they have a liberal return policy if the ones you choose don't work out. We here in the Seattle area love our Nordstroms! As for ballet flats, Privo makes some that are specifically meant for walking, with good support and Clark's of England quality. And they carry them at Nordies. You could also look at the Cole Haan/Nike Air hybrids.

Posted by Mira
Midwest
108 posts

Honestly, it depends on your feet. Get something that seems like a possible candidate and walk around your city for at least a mile or two. Do the loop around Lake Calhoun or Harriet - if I remember correctly one is like 4 miles (used to live in Mpls). On my last trip I had a pair of TOMS (the basic canvas ones, in gray), and a pair of black ballet flats from DSW (the brand is Me, Too. Nothing special for walking). I had to try about 100 random ballet flats in the store before one felt decent. Anyway, I walked 10+ miles a day, pushing a stroller and chasing a running toddler, and had nary a foot pain. The time before that, a pair of Clarks sandals was awful. There's no real predicting, in my experience. So ballet flats can and do work for some people for miles and miles of walking.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Thanks Miranda, I'll keep your helpful hints in mind when trying on shoes.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1583 posts

Let us know what you find! I am always looking for new ideas in cute shoes that are good for walking too!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3576 posts

I'm going to dare to offer an opinion and say the most important thing is a thick sole so you don't feel the cobblestones underfoot, and to prevent 'cobblestone fatigue'. I, too, want to find these elusive ballet flats "with very good support/padding"... Where have you traveled in Europe (or elsewhere) before, and what type of shoes did you wear and what kinds of problems did you have with them? That will help us with our future suggestions.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
762 posts

Munro's are great walking shoes and sandals. They offer a lot of support. You can find them at Nordstroms or Nordstrom.com, or on Zappos.com. Mephistos and Ecco's offer great suport and comfort also.

Posted by April
Portland, OR
246 posts

Nancy, This is a timely post for me as well. I am in my thirties as well and have been to Europe 8 times and am headed there again in June. I am still looking for the perfect shoes. Last year I had a pair of Clark's sandals that were good for casual, and dresses but they didn't offer much support. They had a cushy sole, but as others have mentioned...the cobblestones. I have never almost rolled my ankle so many times as when walking in Europe. I have worn Keen's in the past and they are very good, but not very stylish or feminine....in my opinion. :) I just bought a pair of Mephisto black loafer type shoes; they were on sale at Nordstrom's. They are definitely NOT sexy, but they seem supportive so I will give them a shot. I also bought a pair of ballet flat type shoes from Aerosoles last year for the trip and although they were cushiony and comfortable they didn't provide much support for my arch and ankles. I have decided that there is no way around it. I will be bringing a pair of running shoes, for the obvious running, but also because the cobblestones, site seeing at Pompeii, walking the Eiffel tower, etc. necessitate that level of support. I agree with the other ladies, go to Nordstroms and try on lots of shoes. Wear them walking around Minneapolis for an entire day and see how you feel about them. Be sure to bring two pair of shoes so that you can alternate. Happy travels. :)

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1333 posts

hi again, i forgot to add. when i was trying/buying shoes, they had one of those foot scanners to check for pressure points on your foot. it doesnt show dynamic (walking/running) loads, but static (standing). the clerk mentioned i had some of the highest arches hes seen on a guy so that made it more of an issue to find shoes with arch supports. I guess i should try some of those 4" stilettos for walking on cobblestone? one other comment. Im not sure how you are going to carry your luggage, but i do mine in a backpack. That adds weight to you so, that can just make it more difficult. happy trails.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Thanks to the rest of you who submitted suggestions this aftn. and p.m., I appreciate everyone who has shared your shoe experience or shoe suggestions on this post. Eileen, I agree with you about the "cobblestone" dilemma; to look for a thick sole is a good suggestion. I've been to Europe 3x, with the last 2 visits 2006 and 2010. I wore a pair of Merrell zipper-close sport-tennis shoe (was able to buy a new pair for the 2nd trip) and a pair of Munroe slip-on's which we're cute and very comfortable. I can buy another pair of the Merrell's with a zipper top so I'm covered on that end. I don't have anything to replace the Munroe's. I can bring them with, but I'd really like a flat that is cute and comfortable for during the day. There is a Nordstrom and an Aerosole store at the MOA. I will be headed over to the MOA with a list of everyone suggestions. Again, thank you all so much! Ray, I see you have a sense of humor - lol! Now that is one shoe I hope you do care to not be seen in. lol Thanks for the backpack/weight mention, that was thoughtful.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1333 posts

Hi again, i forgot to add that imo/ime sox can play a difference also. i normally use cotton crew/athletic type sox for work, but for my travels i decided to try some of the Marino wool blends from REI. i found that they kept my feet cooler/warmer and less if not zero sweating in my shoes on my trip. i also thought they were more cushier. One thing tho, my BIL uses the same type and wear them around the house, but they dont hold up well for that. just something else to think about if you decide to go that way. happy trails.

Posted by Leslie
Orange, USA
151 posts

Nancy, If you're interested in another pair of Merrell's, they have several ballet style shoes on the Nordstrom's website. I walked all over London in a pair of their "barefoot" Mary Janes and was perfectly comfortable all day. I'd forget about the Vans though. I have several pair and enjoy wearing them for work or around town, but the soles make them very heavy and they're not really good for walking all day.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Thank you, Leslie! I appreciate your suggestion. I'll check out the Merrell's you mentioned.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

Here's another suggestion, although they don't carry them at our beloved Nordy's. I just bought a pair of Crocs "Kadee" ballet flats. They are cuter in person than on the website (really!) and have the most wonderful squishy soles. I wore them all over Belize in February, including dirt roads and stony ruins, and they did really well. Nice support, comfortable, and I was pleased with the look. You wouldn't know they are Crocs. I got the navy ones. The pink might be a bit too "crocky"! For the best of all possible worlds, I second the recommendation of alternating flats with sneakers. Keeps my feet happier much longer.

Posted by CHRISTINA
Wake Forest, NC, United States
60 posts

You need to chose comfort over style - that's just my opinion! We traveled for three weeks last spring and I wore the following: Merrell Moab Waterproof Hiking Shoes - Women's http://www.rei.com/product/810830/merrell-moab-waterproof-hiking-shoes-womens These were so comfortable that my feet never hurt once during our trip! Also, we got caught in the rain many times and my feet stayed dry! We're headed out in a few weeks for a month this year and these are coming with me again! With all the walking you will be doing and the cobblestones I recommend a good sturdy shoe!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7185 posts

Who knows what my wife will wear next trip but the last two have been Sketchers bicycle style shoes. She bought one pair before a trip, liked them enough to buy multiple pairs when she got home (variety of colors) and has loved all but one pair. Except the one, they are comfortable out of the box and stand up to plenty of walking. She didn't buy them at Sears but this gives you an idea of what's available: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_07652670000P?sid=IDx01192011x000001&kispla=07652670000P&srccode=cii_17588969&cpncode=30-139388312-2

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Christina, Brad and Angela, Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question, I appreciated it. Thank you for your suggestions, too. Nancy

Posted by Julie
Minneapolis, MN, USA
9 posts

I've walked hundreds of miles in Eourpe (including Paris, London, Rome, etc) in my Sketchers. I have a stlye that slips on so there are no shoelaces to hassle with. Probably the type Brad described. This year we're going to Spain and needing a new pair of walking shoes, I just got a pair of Ecco which are also a slip-on sneaker-type. I have plantair faciticias in my left foot so I have to choose shoes with excellent arch support.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

This is such a tricky issue for me because I love being stylish, but my feet MUST be comfortable because we walk a lot. There were days in Paris when my feet killed me. And in London I walked too much and hurt my Achilles tendon. I was disappointed then because I had to get inserts for my Merrell walking shoes, which I really thought would have been enough support to begin with. I really like those shoes, because they are cute blue mary janes, but clearly I am a person who at least needs to alternate them with my hiking boots. That being said, I just found a blog that deals with stylish female travel fashion. It aims at the younger audience, but there are some good shoe suggestions throughout: wwww.travelfashiongirl.com

Posted by Kat
Boston, MA, US
17 posts

I just bought a pair of black ballet flats from White Mountain. They have thick padding inside and a rubber sole. I have worn them for about a month now to break them in and another two months to go before my trip. I bought them on sale for $25. So far, they are really comfortable, like walking on a cloud, but I'll see how they hold up to heavy walking on the trip.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
560 posts

I will admit that I did not read through all the replies, so apologies if already mentioned: I typically like to wear Pumas. The sneakers are good looking (and trendy enough), and they have these awesome ballerina shoes that are very comfortable and stylish.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Thank you, ladies! I appreciated you letting me know what has worked for you! I checked out shoes last week from the terrific suggestions I received, will check out some more today, and hope to be done by next week. I appreciate you taking the time to share your suggestions.

Posted by Chris
Tyler, TX
145 posts

I just purchased a pair of Tiek's ballet shoes for our 3 week jaunt to Switzerland and France. Came across them on another travel site....they are on Oprah's list and reviewed and endorsed by Smarter Travel.....come in many styles and colors and have their own travel pouch as you can fold them in two and carry them in your purse.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Thank you, Chris! I appreciated you sending me this info. and I'll check them out.

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1390 posts

WOW, so many options. I have been looking for new shoes for my trip this year and am very frustrated. Everything looks so OLD! I've checked Dansko, Merle, Clark, Ecco. I've always worn my Chaco sandals because they hold my foot, have a great arch support. However, this time I'm packing a little differently, planning on wearing a skirt and maxi dress most of the time, and the Chacos are just too "sporty". I have been shopping for 2 weeks now and can't find anything that I like for my style that will give me the support for walking miles and being on my feet all day. I have a closet full of shoes, but nothing for all day on my feet and lots of walking. The search continues, as I'm heading to REI to try on some Anhu brand. I just want a nice pair of stylish sandals that are comfortable! My posting might not be helpful to you, but I can recommend Chaco footwear depending on what you plan to wear. In the past on trips to Italy and France I've worn Puma shoes and my Chacos. I might end up giving up my search and staying with what I know works for me (but might not be as "cute" as I want with my new skirt/maxi dress )

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Ellen---have you tried the Dansko " Dani" sandal? There is nothing "old" about it. They are both nice-looking and very good for walking. Not a clog; this is in their "Carmel" line.

Posted by Karen
Atlanta
800 posts

Ellen - have you looked at Naot brand sandals? I have a few different pairs from them and love taking them for summer travels when I wear a lot of skirts. They have some flat sandals with straps all the way around as well as a few that are backless but offer really good arch support. You definitely have to break them in though as the footbed material (cork?) molds to your foot so its a little stiff to begin with but they get really comfortable after wearing a while.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3194 posts

These Mephisto sandals are my favorites... excellent support and comfortable.

Posted by Nancy
Mpls., MN, USA
13 posts

Ellen, That is exactly how I was feeling, everything looks soooo old! I have eliminated a lot of shoes and going to check out some more. Cole Haan has come out with a ballet flat that looks comfortable. There are 2 versions of it and I haven't tried either; they would be cute with skirts and pants.
Thank you for your suggestion, Ellen. Thanks on Ellen's behalf too, to you ladies that have responded with suggestions for Ellen and I. :)

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
398 posts

Several years ago I bought the cutest little strappy black sandal with a kitten heal at a Bass Outlet store. I can walk in those ALL DAY - I did about 10 hours and countless miles in Philly & Boston. I am kicking myself for not buying several pairs! I still have them & they still go everywhere with me!