Reader Request: Stylish Shoes That Accommodate Orthotics

I’ve had many requests for this topic and knew I was out of my depth, so I called in an expert. Kirsten over at Barking Dog Shoes gets many shout-outs from me for her unmatched expertise in finding shoes that work for fussy feet of all kinds. Read on for her recommendations for stylish shoes that accommodate orthotics!

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I’ll never forget when the podiatrist handed me my brand spankin’ new custom orthotics and said, “You’ll need to buy a pair of New Balance sneakers now and wear them all the time.” I dutifully nodded, then promptly walked to my car and cried. It was 1998 and I had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis three months prior. I was a 28 year-old middle school teacher that loved cute shoes. My tears quickly turned to resolve as I dismissed the thought of wearing glaringly white, cloddy sneakers with my skirts. No way, no how. There had to be some other type of footwear that would accommodate the orthotics. I soon became frustrated in my search, however. Remember, this was fifteen years ago. I settled on removing the insoles from my favorite purple suede Hush Puppies and shoving the orthotics in them for an anything-but-custom fit. Sigh.

Fast forward to 2013. While I would never wish chronic foot problems on anyone, there’s never been a better time for finding shoes for your much-needed orthotics. Yes, those white New Balances will do the trick, but let me help you find something with a little more style, sass or class for your work environment.

1. Dutch brand Wolky offers several collections with removable insoles. Try the Seraphina ankle-strap flat, the Tyler ankle boot or Tempo heeled mary jane.

2. Israeli brand, Naot: Many styles feature a removable cork and latex footbed which is incredibly supportive yet removable for orthotics. Recommended styles: Naot Sea, Taramoa and Myna mary janes and the Paris sandal.

3. Clark’s. I honestly didn’t know Clark’s actually made a few heels with removable footbeds, but take a look at the Sugar Dust and Levee Delta. The Wave collection of casual-sporty shoes all have removable footbeds for orthotics: check out the Wave.Trek. All available in multiple widths.

4. New Balance dress-casual brand, Aravon makes office-appropriate footwear in a varietly of sizes and widths, most with a removable footbed. The Maya is their most popular style.

5. Saving the best for last, I just came across the Portuguese brand, Softwaves, at OnlineShoes.com and was thrilled to see that their closed-toe styles feature removable footbeds. The styles are precious. Take a look at the Kyoto criss-cross shootie and the Wave ruched mary jane in citron and red coral.

If you want to wear a flip-flop this summer, try Orthaheel’s Tide or Carla II Toe Post with a built-in orthotic.

Do you wear orthotics? Heard of these brands before? Which styles appeal to you?

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for barkingdogshoes.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

  • Peta

    I don’t wear orthotics myself but I worked in a comfort shoe store for many years, working closely with a podiatrist, and in addition to Naot (mentioned in the post, which I wear plenty of myself!) I HIGHLY recommend the brand Ziera (previously Kumfs). They have some seriously stylish shoes and they work excellently with orthotics (and are also very comfy and supportive for those without them).

    http://zierashoes.com/

  • Jennifer

    What a great, timely post for me! I’ve recently developed foot issues and found that the green Superfeet I wear in my running shoes help in my regular shoes as well, except they don’t fit in most of my shoes. Nice to see some alternatives that will accommodate an orthotic.

  • Tina

    I think I was one of the ones begging for this post! Thank you so much!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for taking my question, at long last! But, seriously, what are you doing featuring shoes with heels? My orthotics are hard plastic and can’t bend to fit them, and even if they could, I’d be in so much pain wearing them that I couldn’t make it ten feet.

    Far and away the best source for orthotic-friendly shoes is InStep, a shoe store based out of Austin, TX that has very cute shoes, and also specializes in accommodating people with foot problems– seriously, they make custom orthotics in-house. Their website has a section devoted to orthotic-friendly shoes. http://instepaustin.com/designations/orthotic-friendly/shoes

    FYI, at least in Texas, you can have your doctor write a prescription for the high-quality shoes that accommodate orthotics, and this will waive the sales tax.

    Other than that, I shop at REI. They have a well-deserved reputation for outdoorsy stuff, but they carry really cute boots, too.

    • http://crossingthedelebear.blogspot.com Katie

      I imagine that when most people are talking about orthotics, they’re thinking of the instafoam ones that are foot length but not that built up. That’s how my orthopedist introduced them to me before my super built up blue ones arrived (such a comforting thing when he said my pronation – at 13- was the worst he’s seen in a long while). I’ve tried, I cannot find even a low wedge that will accommodate my “inserts” without compromising my joints. Closest was my 1″ paddock boots and even those I need to use my foam ones.

      I wish I had known about InStep when I still lived in Texas.

      Big Buddha’s Baily (the mary jane with the big bow) work really well for orthotics since the strap is elasticized and the foot deep than most brands. I have a teacher friend who was in flat boots all the time for her orthotics until I showed her mine.

      • Meredith

        I have hard plastic orthotics with a super high arch and it’s really hard to find nice shoes that are wide with that are also tall enough to close over the top of my foot and also have a low enough heel so they don’t aggravate the original problem. It is frustrating,

    • Anneesha

      Hi – I have hard plastic custom orthotics AND wear them in heels all the time! The podiatrist said if you are ABLE to get the orthotics into a shoe, it’s OK to wear them – although certainly not the most advisable for ongoing wear – and if they have a thick, chunky, or wedge-type heel, it’s much better than a stiletto-type. As long as the orthotic stays in place and your feet are comfortable, it’s helping. This doesn’t rule out open shoe/sandal types … my newest lower-profile hard plastic custom orthotics even look “ok” in them.

  • Copy Czarina

    Thank you for this post! I have psoriatic arthritis in my feet and ankles and will probably have to start wearing prescription orthotics. I have a pair of Zieras I bought last summer and am looking forward to wearing them again. New Balance is still the most comfortable for me, so I’ll check out Aravon.

  • A.B.

    I want all those shoes (except for the Clarks, that brand seems to fit my feet poorly). So cute! I don’t need orthotics, but those all seem to be comfortable shoe brands.

  • http://DestrehansDaughter.blogspot.com Sarah

    My Mom wears orthotics and she has a hard time find really beautiful shoes, so I have forwarded her this article right away!

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I am always looking for the most comfortable shoes, so thanks for this! I hadn’t heard of Softwaves, so I am checking them out.

  • Megano!

    I am 26 and have to wear orthotics, SO THIS IS THE BEST POST EVER. I didn’t know Clarks made ortho-friendly shoes! We’ll see if any of them come in a 12 W though (SIGH)…

  • http://oldmusings.blogspot.com Beth M

    Footsmart and Zappos both can be searched for removable insoles, and there are many more brands that will accommodate orthotics, although Kirsten has highlighted the most stylish ones. Don’t forget Alegria shoes which are super-cute and colorful, and with removable insoles, although I can wear those without my orthotics and still be comfortable. They’re all expensive, although you can often find these brands at 6pm.com or sierratradingpost.com for much less in some sizes and styles. But comfortable shoes that work with your orthotics are so worth it!

  • Jane

    I have orthotics due to a damaged MTP joint, so no heels for me. I also have pronation and one of my orthotics is built up, so I need high sided shoes. Here are my tips (I’m in the UK):

    Clarks “unstructured” range have removable insoles, and quite deep toe boxes, so will often accomadate orthotics. Also worth trying their “funky dream” shoe – it’s a bit clunky and retro, but completely flat, and quite a wide fit so will take an orthotic.

    Brantano shoe shops display all their shoes and their staff leave you alone to try on numerous styles, rather than hovering giving “helpful” advice. Worth tracking down a similar shoe warehouse, if you have one locally.

    It’s also worth trying a cheap brand – these are often shaped more simply, so can accomadate orthoses. I’ve had some success with Brantno’s Orchard shoes http://www.brantano.co.uk/orchard

  • Natalie

    Thank you so much for this post.

    I have high arches and I wear orthotics. The kind I have can accommodate a small heel. I’d like to add Hush Puppies they are cute and have removable foot beds. As for sandals Naot are cute and can handle my orthotic. I’ve had to add some foam under the arch to make them work, but people can’t believe that they are actually orthotic shoes.

  • Robyn

    These are fantastic! I’ve worn prescription orthotics since I was a kid and was always that one kid with the weird clonky sneakers while all my friends ran around in flats and sandals. It’s awesome to know there are more options out there than just buying converse a couple sizes too big to accommodate.

  • http://www.solecomfortABQ.com Janet

    Glad to know others are promoting the Wolky brand. We just inserviced our staff on the Wolky style Cleopatra that can accomodate most metatarsal length or sulcus length orthotics. Wolky in some styles can fit the long foot (Size 43). Would also add the following brands to the list of “cute” shoes that may work with orthotics – Klogs, Merrell.

  • Rachel

    Thank you so much for this article. I was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 34 and further problems with my knees recently. I was struggling to find a pair do shoes that were both suitable for orthotic inserts and comfortable and supportive without the inserts. I am now hoping to buy a pair of softwaves Kyoto shoes :-)

  • http://familyfeastandferia.wordpress.com Jennifer G. Miller

    I wear orthotics for my very flat feet but haven’t found good shoes to try them, so thanks for the suggestions! I cannot stand wearing athletic shoes–I’m not athletic, and my clothes (skirts and slacks, I don’t even wear jeans) do not look good with tennis shoes! I needed the suggestions for dress-casual. My feet are killing me after all the Easter and church time.

  • Lady Harriet

    I have bad feet but haven’t yet taken the plunge on custom orthotics. I have a pair of Earthies heels that are great. The footbed isn’t removable, but they are supportive even for my very high arches, well-cushioned, and designed so that your weight is spread out over the whole foot, instead of just on the ball of the foot and toes. I was introduced to them by a friend with flat feet, and she really likes them too. They’re expensive (usually $150+ retail), but I was able to save a little by buying mine on sale. I have pumps for work and I would like to buy some flats and a pair of wedge sandals too. They’re the only shoes other than soft-footbed Birkenstocks that I find truly comfortable. Everything else doesn’t have enough arch support, is too hard inside, or puts all my weight on the front of my foot in heels. I only wish they came in wide widths! I’ve owned shoes from Dansko, Clarks, Aerosoles, Naturalizer, El Naturalista, and Tsubo and tried on dozens of other brands, but nothing works as well as Birkenstocks and Earthies do for me. Some of the Earthies styles are really weird, but some are quite cute. Birkenstocks have also gotten better looking in recent years. You can still buy the ugly ones, but there are more feminine styles and fun colors available now too. I have a pair of the Bali sandals which are great.

  • rb (Rose)

    KIRSTEN IS POSTING ON ALREADY PRETTY!!!

    Brilliant.

    Kirsten, thanks so much. I think I’ll look into those Naots. I so feel you on the idea of wearing big white sneakers for the rest of my life. Um… no. No thank you.

  • http://www.infinityshoes.com/ Julia

    I don’t need orthotics right now but these brands are great. Rather than buying converse or new balance for orthotics, we actually have these great options that you’ve shared with us. Thank you.

  • Meredith

    I love this! But unfortunately I’m still stuck searching for something that will accommodate my orthotic. I’m 19, have severe club foot, and am told I should be wearing my nice big plastic AFO almost all the time. Right now, I can only fit it in tennis shoes, which severely limits my outfit choices and shoe choices, so more often than not I don’t wear it…. If anybody has ideas for cute shoes that would accommodate my giant orthotic, I’d LOVE to hear!

  • Pippa

    This post is well timed for me too as I’m having trouble finding pretty shoes to fit orthotics. Just wanted to suggest ecco as a brand that can fit orthotics, just bought my work shoes from there. I’m in the UK but think they have stores elsewhere as well.

  • andrea

    thanks so much for this article! I have tried to stuff my orthotics into my current shoes and it just wain’t working. I also just discovered a new brand called Oh! shoes which are supposed to be healthy and stylish at the same time. The pair I ordered had removeable insoles, hope they work out!

  • Naismith

    The Propet sandals are a lifesaver during the summer. Not toooooo stylish, but they don’t scream “comfortable” either. The red suede ones get compliments.

    Basically, footsmart.com saved my professional appearance.

    Also, for working out, I found some Avia shoes that are as good as New Balance and much cheaper.

  • Joanie

    I have orthotics, also wide feet and bunions. I am looking for removable footbed sandals with a heel strap, in wide width. So far I have not been able to find them. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sally

      Naot has lots of styles that have removable beds and straps – they don’t come in wide sizes, but they RUN wide. http://rstyle.me/n/bduwndm7e Will also ask Kirsten to weigh in.

      • Meredith

        Naot’s website says which styles run wide/narrow, I’ve found that to help a lot.

  • Allison

    I am waiting for my custom orthotics to arrive. Taos http://taosfootwear.com/ has a great selection of supportive sandals and Aetrex has a nice selection of both closed-toe and open-toed shoes for orthotics. http://www.aetrex.com/

  • http://www.barkingdogshoes.com Kirsten@BarkingDogShoes.com

    Joanie,

    I second Sally and Allison. Naot, Taos and Aetrex have styles that run wide and accommodate orthotics. Also the Propet Madeline might work for you as it comes in a wide, has removable footbed and backstrap:http://www.planetshoes.com/item/propet-madeline/22840/698

    The Naot Karenna has a removable footbed and adjustable straps–I think it would do well for a wider foot:http://www.zappos.com/naot-footwear-karenna-black-matte-leather?zfcTest=fcl%3A0

    The Naot Cymbal runs wide:http://www.zappos.com/naot-footwear-cymbal-metal-leather?zfcTest=fcl%3A0

    The Aetrex Paraiso sandal comes in a medium width with removable footbed and adjustable straps.http://www.shoebuy.com/aetrex-paraiso-leather-quarter-strap/349334/743582?cm_mmc=googleproductads_pla-_-none-_-none-_-{keyword}

  • Carol

    I just developed capsillitus in the second toe and have to wear orthodics, most likely for now on. I was so depressed thinking I would never wear anything but my ugly black new balance gym shoe for work. I couldn’t wear a dress or skirt all summer :( The new balance are very comfortable and do accommodate my orthodics but I really want to wear a cute shoe again. I am so excited for all these suggestions…can’t wait to start shopping for a cute shoe I can wear again!!!

  • Orphee

    I love this post!

    I’ve had good luck with a Spanish brand called Camper. They have really cute and fashionable shoes. I don’t know if all of their shoes have removable insoles but the boots and flats I have do.
    http://www.camper.com/en_US/

    They have stores in San Francisco and NYC. I usually get them on Zappos.

  • Rachael

    I wear size 9 1/2 or 10 shoes depending on if it’s closed or open shoes. Lately i have had a problem finding closed toe shoes. My toes are long and my ankle bone is high.So that give me a challenge for finding shoes. Any recommendations?

  • http://www.shoesissima.com Sabina

    I’ve always found clarks to be very comfy but never really found the larger size. I fnd that http://www.shoeissima.com fits both requests nicely. Thanks for the blog post interesting read. x