Happy Feet!

Andrea here, musing on footwear. There is a specific reason—but there will be some meandering hither and yon before I reach my ultimate destination.

First, let’s take a stroll through a Regency drawing room . . . I’ve always thought that the era’s fashions are attractive. The gowns of  the ladies offered a stylish array of cuts, colors and fabrics. And the attire for gentlemen was equally elegant—breeches or tailored trousers, waistcoats, where color and texture could a pop of individuality, and a variety of styles for evening coats.

But I must say, the footwear strikes me as less than ideal. Fragile and delicate slippers for the ladies provided little support and cushioning for the ladies. Hessians or heeled pumps for gentlemen were both fashioned on a straight last, meaning that the wearer had to break them in to form the right and left foot. Ouch!

The working class of course needed practical study footwear for all manner of activities, so there was a wider variety. But still, the museum displays I’ve seen have me mentally limping.

When you think about it, comfortable—I mean, really comfortable—footwear is a rather recent development. All the high-tech fabrics, rubbers, gels and space-age cushioning, combined with CAD design and cutting edge engineering, have provided the ability to fashion shoes to fit most every imaginable activity.  (Well, maybe not every one. . . but close!

Now, I happen to be a “jock” and really enjoy a variety of sports. So my closets contains, um, a lot of active footwear. (NO Manolo Blahnik stilettos in sight.) In my world, a sneaker is not just a sneaker. For example, for squash, which is played indoors on a wooden-floored court, you need a special, softer gum rubber sole for traction. Wear a regular tennis shoe and you risk a nasty slip and injury because the rubber is too hard. (above: squash shoe)

Hiking demands a waterproof upper and thick, lugged soles to manage the rugged terrain. ((I love my Merrells)  For trail running, you need a waterproof running shoe with very heavy duty traction and durable uppers to withstand the wear and tear. My spiffy Swiss trail runners from On are up to the job. (right: hiking shoe)

And then, there’s classic running shoe, which comes in a zillion models made by numerous brands and has become a staple of everyday life for many people. I’m partial to Asics, but I’m always on the lookout for the newest “ultimate” shoe for walking comfort. To be honest, there are a lot of good running/walking shoes out there and it’s a matter of personal preference. So I tend to be skeptical when I hear a sudden buzz about a hot new brand. But I recently read about a shoe that has suddenly become a hipster favorite so I decided to take a closer look. (above: trail running shoe)

Hoka shoes had developed a reputation as a shoes for the Older Set. It has a wide, roomy toe box and a thick, funky-looking sole that provides luxurious cushioning. Then (who knows how the word-of-mouth spreads) they suddenly began to be the shoe for resident doctors and hospital workers, who are on their feet all day. The buzz then spread to serious runners . . . and then fashionistas. And lo and behold, it is now the “cool” shoe. The company makes the various models in both standard hues, but also fun, wacky colors.

Curious, I decided to try on a pair at my local REI store. (Actually, I tried two different models.) As I said above, I’m pretty experienced in asessing athletic footwear, but I was totally soldat the first step! It’s hard to describe, but they are noticeably more comfortable—not marshmallow soft, but your feet feels pillowed in soft, supportive cushioning. I feel I could walk for hours without getting footsore. (And no, I haven’t be paid by Hoka to write this!) So, for the last few days, I’ve been happily tramping around my neighborhood in my new shoes. (see left and in the beginning of the post)

What about you? Do you have foot fetish? Is your closet full of shoes for different activities? Do you have a pair of favorite go-to shoes that you love?

8 thoughts on “Happy Feet!”

  1. Andrea, you have certainly proved your jock credentials today! I got sporty shoes for indoor exercise on wooden floors, but that is the beginning and end of my sporty shoe knowledge. But now I’m interested in trying on some Hokas because comfort is always at the top of my shoe list. (Though preferably not turquoise colored!)

    • Ha, ha! I didn’t have room for all my jock shoes, but you get the gist!

      I definitely recommend trying on a pair of Hokas. (And they have your colors of earthy red tones, so you might fall in love!)

  2. Thanks for the terrific post. And all the information. I now know all the shoes I will never need because I will never be doing any of those activities. Just think of all the money you have saved me.

    I love the aqua colored shoes. But, I like shoes that make me smile.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Annette. Hokas will definitely make you smile in so many ways, so you may want to try them !

  3. I am most definitely not a ‘jock’ and never will be LOL! But I do love comfy shoes so will look out for the ones you recommended, thank you. I used to have a pair of Sketchers that I loved but I wore them out completely. When I was going on my trip to Pompeii I needed good walking shoes for a whole week’s worth of sight-seeing. I found a pair in a local shop from a company called Legero. They are sort of in between sneakers and proper shoes, feel very cushioned inside and didn’t require me to wear them in first – they were comfy right from the start. And they look slightly more ‘dressy’ than sneakers. (And no, I haven’t been paid to promote these either).

    • Thanks for the link to your new shoes, Christina! They look vert spiffy, and yes, dressier that sneakers. I will check them out!

  4. My husband and I are both converts to Sketchers, they are so comfy! I got rid of most of the heels I used to wear for work, back in the day when we wore business suits!
    I also have some Allbirds casual slipons, they are not as supportive as Sketchers, but they do come in cool, snazzy colors.

    • Karin, I’ve heard very good things about Sketchers, but haven’t tried them. Will have to take them on a test drive! All Allbirds really do have some jazzy color combos, but I agree, they are not quite a cushiony as some of the other top brands.


Leave a Comment