Sarah Harris, flat sandals

Shoes: Pleasure & Pain is a new fashion exhibition at the V&A (opening 13 June), though as anyone over-40 knows, it’s all about the comfy shoe now. Having squeezed my feet into second-hand winkle-pickers as a teenager, worn daft heels as a fashion editor and run around in Converse All Stars as a down-with-the-youngsters freelancer – I came to the conclusion about a decade ago that it is worth spending money on decent shoes. Top podiatrist Margaret Dabbs agreed, when I interviewed her for the Guardian.

Birkenstocks x1236
Birkenstock sandals at Milan Fashion Week

Dabbs also explained the affect the physical ageing process has on our feet. Including why the skin dries out (reduced activity of sweat glands) and why we should moisturise on a regular basis, I was wondering why my heels were like a pair of cracked, old potatoes…

Some of my favourite comfy summer sandals:

white BirkenstocksBirkenstock Arizonas1Birkenstock Arizonas available HERE and HERE.

Ancient Greek Sandals available HERE and HERE and HERE. Read the full Guardian article HERE.

Top photo: Vogue’s fashion features editor Sarah Harris via Pinterest.

49 thoughts on “How to keep your feet looking great when you’re older

  1. Timely. I am considering my summer sandal options and in bit of quandary. Obviously do not wish to resemble sad old sack with no style whatsoever, cannot bear the peep-toe, Birkenstocks make me feel far too middle class and Chiantishire…and now back to the running, my feet not beauteous. Too flat and I walk like Lisa Simpson, too high and impossible to be comfortable in hot weather. Very first world problem.

  2. Flats are best, Annie G but now you’ve got me worried about Chiantishire connection. The Birkenstock Backlash starts here!

  3. I really love a nice pair of heels, but don’t sacrifice comfort for a fashionable pair of shoes. Summer has always been a time of the year to be very careful with my feet because of dryness. Extra scrubbing and moisturizing are essencial. Comfortable shoes, but that don’t make you look like your granny, are a must ;).
    Have a nice summer,

  4. I have been involved with several aged relatives and the condition of their feet has been miserable.
    Often it gets hard to bend over and give yourself a pedicure and if the memory goes a little it’s easy to ignore awful toenails.

    The best reason I can think of to not give up sandals is to make sure that your toenails are presentable, at least once a year.

  5. Nothing worse than hot feet in strappy sandals that cut in. I recommend Varca sandals. Comfortable and so inexpensive I can have a selection of colourful options.

  6. Alas Converse are too flat for us old gals with hip replacements and arthritic joints, my feet might look nice in them but I’d limp even worse than I do already.
    That lady in the top photo is

  7. Agree, Vix. I used to live in Converse in my twenties and when I started wearing them again in my forties, my feet hurt!

  8. Love Varcas Marilyn! To combat the flatness of Converse I put very thin gel inserts that protect and give some shock absorption on the heel and ball of the foot . I have recently bought a suede lookalike pair from Next which had lots of cushioning in the sole which have been very comfortable.. I also think the woman in the top photo looks fabulous!

  9. Having reached the Age of Finicky Feet, a low heel and arch support are my most sought-after footwear features. Agree it doesn’t pay to skimp or put up with uncomfortable shoes!

  10. Listen ladies, ‘comfy’ is the white flag in fashion. It’s fine if your doing the Camino de Santiago in a cold rain but if you’re traipsing around town in a nice outfit and desire GSL’s wolf whistlin’ glance falling on your lush hindquarters then get yourself in a pair of HEELS !!!

    1. Was that intentionally offensive or just attention-seeking? …or perhaps you’re simply an arse.

      1. Oh my poor little Shawn Marie!
        just playful banter my dear; I do sometimes forget how eager some are to take offense these days…they don’t teach that little poem regarding Sticks & Stones anymore.

        1. Interesting…”just joking” or the like is the most common defense offered by men whose obnoxiousness has been pointed out. We are not eager to take offense these days; we simply don’t have to put up with that kind of “just playful banter” any longer. And that poem is dead wrong about the power of words, in this case to reinforce and perpetuate the objectification of women. I’ve read your comments for quite a while, GSL, and you’re better than that. I suspect that you “just” enjoy a bit of deliberate provocation.

  11. Let’s talk about nail polish colors for our exposed toesies. Does Grey hair go with black vixen toe nail polish? Must they be red? How about aqua? Trying to hard? Does one go with youthful colors, appropriate colors or it doesn’t matter?

  12. My 75 y.o marathan running friend got me into Spenco brand last year. ( Orthotics shop on eBay has many- but I avoid the flip flop style ones -too sloppy/wide.) Built in gentle molded footbed – perfect for me. Supports ball of foot and gentle arch with heel cradling. Light weight.With a closet full of flat Chanels and Stubbs and Wootten’s I go for the Spenco’s 90% of the time. A little too granola-y for dressy, but fab for walking all over antique shows and towns like Vegas-where I am at the moment. (business) Have 4 pairs in the beige/nude colors. They disappear into the leg- and noboby really looks at your feet ,as my husband keeps telling me. Good advise!

  13. Ignoring GSL and moving on………………….. I am waiting for an op. on my foot as my fallen arch has totally collapsed in a heap and my back and knees HURT like hell. For the last few years I have stylishly worn my Birkenstocks, Mephistos, Fit Flops and Varcas. There is NO POINT in looking great if your facial expression is one of agony. Silly me, I no longer dress purely to impress the opposite sex. In fact, I don’t dress to please them at all.

    1. Bev,
      Don’t pack it in just yet; likely all you need is a little GSL sweet talk to have you climbing into a pair of FMPs and shaking your groove thing into the wee smalls…..

  14. Dear Alyson – with respect, please eject this odious little man from your reply list as it is making a total mockery of your site. Many thanks

  15. Beverley,
    I see Sticks & Stones wasn’t taught by your Mum either. I do comment here quite frequently and occasionally in a tongue-in-cheek playful manner as I did today. If you really were offended; I apologize and just look away whenever you see my avatar.

  16. “Sticks & stones, tongue-in-cheek, playful manner” are one thing, misogynistic statements with sexual overtones are another. You are well aware your posts are very offensive. It’s time to go into therapy to understand why you hate your mother.

    1. Shawn Marie,
      I come from a line of very strong impressive women who never went into hissy fit rages over silly nonsense. I did a week of posts celebrating my matrilineal line. My mother, who I love dearly, is who taught me about Sticks and Stones when I was 4 just as my grandmother did to her.
      I am far too much of a gentlemen to speculate in public forum over your psychological deficiencies.

  17. Q:”How to keep your feet looking great when you’re older?”
    A: Never do mean things to them throughout your lifetime! ( ie: heels, poor fitting shoes etc.)
    I’ve never any inclination to let my feet hurt.

  18. I go out for the evening and all hell breaks loose in the comments box! Well said, Beverley – we don’t dress for men we dress for ourselves. GSL – stop being such a wind-up merchant. Banter is fine, just ditch the misogynistic shit. FMPs and wolf-whistling, which century are you living in?

  19. GSL is still talking. I give up and quit the site. I leave poor man’s Jimmy Cagney to you, Alyson. Good Luck

  20. Beverley – please don’t quit. I will try to monitor comments more closely, but I’m at work today and that last one slipped through. Regular visitor’s comments seem to go up automatically & I am new to WordPress – bear with me!

  21. Beverley,
    Do please stay and I’ll be the one to leave; if my last comment warrants censure then obviously I shouldn’t be here.

  22. Alyson, as a fellow Human League fan…. I am busy humming ‘Don’t. don’t you want me?’
    So true about the aging foot! Are comfort and style mutually exclusive? Obviously not, as clearly demonstrated by the comments from those fabulous women above.
    As for heels, as one of my favourite stylish people, Ines de La Fressange says ‘No man would ever say” I’d love you more if you were four inches taller!” Certainly, none of the witty, charming and successful men in my life would think pain and discomfort a prerequisite for style and I am sure that is the same for the rest of the women commenting here.

    1. Claire,
      I really was joking regarding comfy= white flag re fashion; in fact in some of my recent posts; I encourage women to go the comfort route as putting them most at ease which is when they are the most charming….and thereby attractive. As a guy who’s a strapping 5’6″; I have had several amusing incidents when taking a taller gal out for a dressy night at the Opera or dinner when she comes down to the lobby dressed in flats; not because she wanted to for comfort but because she thought my ego needed it and we sort out that she actually would prefer the heels if “I didn’t mind” and I give her the business for thinking I’m such a candy ass and encouraging her never to make concessions like that on account of a man.
      While Ines de la Fressange is right, I would add “A man will love BEING with a woman who felt better about herself for that evening in heels making her 4 inches taller.”
      But again, if she is at her most comfortable (and best) in Birkenstocks, Brogans, or (God Forbid!!) Uggs then just wear whatever gives you the best energy… which always trumps a great outfit.

    1. I agree: I’d like both GSL and Beverley to stay. Who wants to read a comments section in which everyone agrees or adheres to the Code of Nice all the time? The more I read of GSL, the more I think he is playing with us. I just hope he doesn’t really think that wearing high heels makes women feel better about themselves in any way that counts.

  23. OK, that top photo is dreamy! Where does one get those simple-but-not-dowdy flat white sandals? Any suggestions are appreciated!

  24. I love her hair who ever that model is she is a stunner! I cant get into the birkenstock sandal craze because my feet are too narrow and always slide through the front! I do believe in a regular pedicure at my age 49 because my hells can become weapons! xo K

  25. Jen, the top white sandals are from Penelope Chilvers. Who always has fantastic sandals and LOTS of flats.

  26. Karolyn – that’s not a model, it’s Vogue’s fashion features editor Sarah Harris.

    Completely agree, Leslie!

  27. Ladies, ladies let’s not jump on GSL’s throat I personally didn’t interpret his comment as a misogynistic one. He is merely stating a fact (come on let’s be honest comfortable yes but pretty they ain’t.) I wear them all the time but strangely when I see them on my dad(!?) I can’t bear to look at them. The expression on my husband’s face when he sees us both wearing them is priceless.

  28. I have tried Birkenstocks on in the store and have been told how comfortable they are especially for travelling but the style just doesn’t do it for me.

  29. Superga are super stylish and comfortable – look good with trousers, jeans and skirts. Fab feet and happy smile.

    Still think there is a place for heels but not always in the heat of summer.

    Thank goodness we have choice and, hopefully, confidence to wear what we want to wear because it makes us look and more importantly feel good.

    Just a point I do think nail polish is a must for summer toes!

  30. I need a comfortable shoe that looks stylish on short fat 50-year-old legs… I have just bought a pair of ‘wide fit’ heels, but the 4 inch heels scare me already. 🙂

  31. No matter what the shoe/sandal choices are, the recipe for fabulous looking feet, no cracks, no hard spots is: immediately after a shower or bath rub your feet (soles, heels, toes, up to the ankle) with a bit of Body Shop’s Peppermint Foot Cream (not the lotion, the cream). Socks. A tried and true formula from when Anita Roddick first started The Body Shop! I am not affiliated with the company, nor will I receive any compensation. The product is fabulous.

  32. Part of the reason I look after my feet and keep my toenails painted is yoga – I see them closeup every morning!

    Straight Arrow Urea Cream sounds awful but keeps calluses at bay, along with a good nail brush and pumice. I used to have pedicures but figure I can spend the money better elsewhere – on shoes?

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