Aren't we a tribe of foot soldiers! By now we've survived every foot fault from blisters and bunions to corns and calluses, from pinched toes and "pump bump" to bruised soles and sprained ankles. Is it any wonder nothing comes between us and our comfort shoes?
Comfort shoes are even shedding their dorky reputation: The styles I've seen designers trotting out this spring have never been more chic. (And affordable, to boot.) It all means that there's no need to wait for these four basic types to go on sale.
1. Ballerinas with substance and style. Ballet flats have become year-round wardrobe basics, but they offer no arch support. And that's an invitation to knee, hip or back problems — unless, that is, you select updated styles with super cushioned footbeds and more structured soles. I'm partial to soft shades of nude or pink in suede or in buttery leather, among them Naturalizer's "Sarah," Born's "Julianne" and Clarks' "Candra Blush" styles.
A cautionary tale: Resist the temptation to buy the ankle-strap or lace-up versions of this flat. Not only are they constricting and annoying, but they tend to emphasize cankles, heavy calves and end-of-day swollen ankles. They also make our legs look shorter — to say nothing of sabotaging the whole slip-on-and-go objective.
2. Low pumps with chunky heels. Women of America, step away from the stilettos! Spiky heels and pointy toes are a guaranteed way to commit "shoe-icide," especially for anyone who must endure bunions, hammertoes, corns or long hours of standing or walking. (In short, all of us.)
So … what's a smarter, trendier choice? How about low pumps with stocky 2-inch heels and a tapered oval or almond toe? These add just the right amount of length to our legs and height to our silhouette. They also position your feet and arches naturally, distributing your weight evenly rather than concentrating it on your toes and the balls of your feet. Luxury labels can set you back $500 a pop, but Nine West's "Huett," Anne Klein's "Hallie" and Franco Sarto's "Fausta" all look just as fashionable. (And their padded insoles are irresistible.) A light, neutral shade such as sand or taupe will go with everything.
3. Metallic loafers. Coats of silver, pewter or gold have transformed a schoolgirl staple into sophisticated statement shoes that work 24/7. So now may be the perfect moment to consider swapping your ankle booties for Aerosoles' "Main Dish" in silver, Trotters' "Staci" in pewter or Lust for Life Sport's "LFL" in gold; all three of these sturdy loafers boast a cozy lining, enough wiggle room for toes, and flexible, high-traction rubber soles. They're also fancy enough for work and nights out, but not too dressy for everyday leggings, ankle pants or jeans.
4. Embellished sandals. Cool white sandals that gleam and show off your pedicure make it that much easier to toss your flip-flops for good. (And you should do just that because flimsy rubber thongs provide zero arch support. Indeed, wearing them day after day can lead to plantar fasciitis.) Crocs' "Lina D'Orsay," Earth's "Sunbeam" and Isolá's "Elisa" sandals all boast flex soles, contouring and extra cushioning.
Now that should give you something to walk about!
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50+, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life, and Love after 50, as well as AARP's new Beauty & Style special edition for tablets.