Stuff We Love

Uh-Oh, How Did I Become So Fashionable?

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I have foot problems. I'm pronate and have fallen arches. I've been wearing orthotics in my shoes since I was a teenager. If I don't wear them, I feel pain from the bottoms of my feet up through my hips. But while my orthotics solve the pain problems, they cause other problems. Namely, it's really hard to find shoes. The orthotics push my feet up about half an inch inside my shoes, meaning anything I put on my feet pretty much has to have laces or straps or some other device to keep my feet firmly encased.

And that means no sandals. Ever. My toes haven't seen the light of day since (fill in the year because I don't tell).

I've tried experiments with velcro, with a toupee tape called "Top Stick" (thanks Alison Stewart for the tip!), I've even pondered learning shoe-making to see if there's some way I could combine orthotics and sandals to relieve my sweaty summer feet. But nothing worked until this summer, when I accidentally discovered the gladiator sandal.

(more adventures in foot fashion after the jump)

I wasn't looking for it, but there it was, placed right at eye level as I slowly ascended the escalator at Lord and Taylor's. It was a little fancier than I'd like, buckly and strappy, but it had the exact thing I needed—a piece of leather enclosing the heel, which is just enough to keep the orthotic from shooting out the back of the sandal. By the time I'd reached the shoe floor I had to have them.

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I paid close to $90 and I wear them almost every day. Hello, toes!

Flash forward to today's cover story in the New York Observer. It turns out that gladiator sandals are the hot shoe of the summer. Which bums me out for a couple of reasons. 1: I look like I'm trying to be fashionable 2: there won't be any gladiator sandals around next year when I need another pair.

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I'm a shoe fiend (I have 70+ pairs) and I just can't get into the gladiator sandals. You really should check out Zappos - you'll be able to find all kinds of sandals that would fit your needs. These are particularly smart http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/40159982/c/72.html. Also, can you wear brands like Dansko or Ecco? I know they make a sandal.

I have my own foot issue....I had a bad bunion and toe misalignment for several years. I just had surgery to correct it (bunionectomy) and I won't be able to wear my beloved shoes for about 4 months. I've had to buy "sensible" shoes while my foot heals. I've finally gotten out of the ugly surgical boot and the first day I walk out the door with regular shoes on, my 15 year old daughter says "wow mom, I thought I'd never see you in old lady shoes"....ARRRRGH!!

Sent by Julie | 11:33 AM | 6-5-2008

@Julie,

OMG $279!!!! I just cannot spend that kind of money on a pair of shoes. That's about what I spent on my wedding dress. The $90 I paid for the gladiator sandals just about made me cry, but I figure I'll wear them every day.

They are cute shoes, though, so I appreciate the heads up.

I never heard of the other shoes you mentioned, so I will check them out.

Sent by Tricia, NPR | 12:39 PM | 6-5-2008

Ooops....sorry Tricia, I didn't realize they were that much. My secret? I typically won't pay more than $39.99 for a pair of shoes and my weakness is $20 shoes that are on sale. I highly recommend DSW, they have a massive variety of shoes at all price points and you can get some really great deals in their clearance section. I'm sure they have a store or 2 in NYC (I've seen it on What Not To Wear). The Danskos and Eccos are going to run right at $100 but they are "engineered" on the inside to correct any foot anomalies, thus no need for the orthotic insert. The great thing about Danksos in particular is that you'll wear them for years - in the end, a great value. For a cheaper option try Sketchers, a lot of great styles and they too are fitted with orthotic soles.

Sorry for going on and on about this.....you have such smart people on your show, this is the one subject that I feel like I can make a contribution. I can't tell you how much it's killing me right now not to be able to wear cute shoes, I had surgery six weeks ago and I've got at least a couple of more months to go - I'm trying to keep my eyes on the prize.....thanks for letting me live vicariously through you.

Here are a couple of pairs for you, both darling as can be and under $50....
http://www.dsw.com/dsw_shoes/catalog/product.jsp?index=93&category=cat20045&prodId=170394&brand=

http://www.dsw.com/dsw_shoes/catalog/product.jsp?index=15&category=cat20041&prodId=154519&brand=

Happy shoe shopping!

Sent by Julie | 4:37 PM | 6-5-2008