Grannies and weddings: your shoes should not be the reason you are crying

If there are words that strike fear into my very core it is ‘shoes for weddings’. Not that I am not overjoyed at sharing in my friends’ happiness, that is a given, but it’s the thought of what I am going to wear on my feet on a day that involves lots of standing and hopefully lots of dancing (just because I have arthritis doesn’t I mean I don’t love to dance, it just means I can’t do it as much as I want). I find it very difficult.

I have made a LOT of mistakes when it comes to choosing shoes for weddings, the most memorable was when my arthritis was at my worst and I was a bridesmaid for one of my best friends. I panic-bought a pair of, admittedly beautiful, silver ballet flats from LK Bennet. The leather was quite firm and in my mind going to be supportive, but in reality it was unforgiving, just rubbed my feet raw, offered no support, restricted my movement and my ankle was in agony. You think I would have learnt my lesson, and yet I just repeat the same mistakes flitting between a pair of super-ugly yet comfortable ballet shoes until they finally fell apart and buying shoes that I wear once, kick off when I hobble home and pass on to someone else at the first opportunity. 

The only guideline I now give myself for purchasing shoes for a wedding or party is that they have to be soft leather or textile. I have an ankle with reduced mobility and, in order for me to walk around, my other joints have to flex more or in a different way to people without this problem. Thus I find shoes that are restrictive in the toe and foot region very difficult to wear, they will rub me and will generally make my ankle work harder, making my leg completely miserable by the end of the day. Pain in my bones is one thing, but when it is coupled with blisters I start to fall apart because, cumulatively, the pain adds up to be more than the sum of its parts. In the summer I can wear strappy sandals, which are less supportive, but also less likely to be restrictive, and I find that is better for me. But what about spring and autumn weddings? I can’t wear strappy shoes on cold days because having cold feet makes the pain worse. It’s like a horrible catch 22.

These shoes have all successfully been worn to a cooler-weather wedding. I can’t say my feet were in paradise or anything like that, but in terms of working with my outfit and not ruining my day, these were OK. Despite having quite a small area for the toes, they were soft enough (and for the blue ones, this involved stretching with newspaper and warming the leather with a hairdryer… I have learned that dealing with arthritis takes prep) to allow my feet the extra movement that they seem to require.

IMG_0126
Front to back: Dune, Boden and M&S

As you can see, I have usually gone for ballet shoes, and the total flatness is not a particularly comfortable thing to deal with (especially for the standing around that tends to come with weddings). So, I have been on a bit of a quest to find something fashionable that isn’t totally flat. Kitten heels are out (were they ever in? I mean it always seemed like a non-committal response to a high heel, and no one wants non-committal at a wedding), they are too tottery and unstable for my ankle; the surface-area of the heel is just not large enough.

no
Shove as many lightning bolts and kitties on it as you want, I am not falling for it

But fashion may have dealt shoe-lovers with arthritis a good hand this year: the granny shoe!

I say may, as, first, I find this shoe is difficult to style without looking like my nana (she was awesome but not a glamour-nana). You have to pay attention to look ‘ironic’ by making sure you’re looking supercool in the clothing department (I’m not great at this as I tend to gravitate towards my natural inner-geek, but that’s why instagram exists, right?).

nanna and grandad
Nana (and Grandad): not a fashion leader but always had a battenberg in…

Second, the heel is maybe a smidge too high for me at 2 inches (and I am going through a ‘good period’ in terms of pain at the moment, there’s no way I could take this height if I were worse). But I’ll you know how it felt in the following shoes and you can decide whether to take the plunge and see whether they work for you.

Clarks

I know it seems like I live in a Clarks shop, but there’s one right next to my station and I am very, very good at missing my train, and I can either wait for half an hour on a draughty platform or I can try on more shoes. I choose shoes.

grannt collage
Chinaberry fun: £65

Weirdly, I couldn’t find these particular ones on the Clarks website, or any website, so they may have been a limited run, but they also come in fuchsia or black, I found an ivory colour in Next (yeah, I don’t get it either) or if you like this aqua colour, you can get an unadorned version called the Chinaberry gem (!) from Sarenza. I also tried on the Chinaberry pop, but I didn’t like the strap across my foot, it seemed less elegant than without.

pop
Chinaberry pop: £55

I hated to admit it, but the granny shoes looked pretty good on. The assistant even remarked on it (I know that’s their job, but it did seem genuine) and was surprised that I didn’t buy them (I didn’t tell her I had arthritis, I never seem able to get the words out). The problem was they just weren’t very comfortable. Because the leather was patent, it felt very hard on the toes and across the foot, despite the cushioning underneath. The heel itself felt OK; they were very stable, and if requiring stability is your main issue you should definitely give them a go. The height was surprisingly OK, it certainly felt higher than normal; it wasn’t instantly more painful, but I wasn’t sure how long I could deal with that height. To me the main thing putting me off was the restrictive nature of the shoes, and I was prepared to leave granny shoes on the ‘no’ pile. However, I figured just trying one shop was not good enough for it to be a proper review, and in any case my interest in these shoes was piqued.

Topshop

It’s a bit of an effort for me to get to a decent Topshop (my local one is small and never has anything interesting in), but I have heard the Juno shoes praised so highly from various sources that I went to the absolute chaos of Topshop Oxford Street to try them out. You are welcome!

I’ll admit now have a bit of a thing for metallic shoes! I am a bit of a magpie, and I like to look down and see the shiny leather. Fortunately, it seems that metallic is in at the moment! The Juno shoes did come in other colours, but I went straight over to the gold and fell in love.

Juno
TopShop Juno: £59

These were really lovely shoes, the leather was really soft and felt nice over my toes. I walked around in them a fair bit (again, I didn’t mention the arthritis so the assistant probably thought I was crazy), and they seemed OK. To be honest, as much as I liked them I just didn’t think I could last that long in them. They were just maybe half an inch too high and I think I would wear them and regret it.

20160318_131312
Hmmmmm… so golden, but are they comfortable enough? Are they?

I also tried on the Juliette shoe, which comes in silver, but found the leather to be harder and more restrictive. Also, the size was a bit weird. I am a 6.5–7, but the 7 was very big.

Juliette
Juliette: £46

So, the jury is still kind of out on this one. I am not convinced enough to part with £50+ on the shoe gamble, but I would love to know how anybody else gets on with these. There are other options for weddings, however, so I will look further into this soon.

Advertisements

Clarks Trigenic shoes

So, I mentioned trigenic shoes and how nice they were for arthritis recently and, now I have finally finished trying them all on, I can finally write about them properly!

When I first saw the trigenic shoes, I think it was this pair, I didn’t really take much notice:

flex
Trigenic Flex: £100

To me, they were another shoe that was pretty casual and pretty expensive. They looked a bit like shoes my podiatrist would point to and say “these would be beneficial”. Beneficial is not something I or most people, I imagine, want to have as a wardrobe-based adjective. I do not want to look ‘beneficial’.

Then, while trying on other shoes one day I noticed the Tri Angel looking all lovely in a really nice shade of grey that will go with everything in my wardrobe:

angel
Tri Angel in blue/grey: £65

These looked very ‘wallabee’ and, as I said, Walter White has kind of made these cool (at least in my head).

Walter
I still miss you Breaking Bad. Yes, I am a recovering addict.

I tried them on, which you can read about here, and I was astonished. I have tried a lot of shoes on, but these were something different. They are so light! As mentioned in previous posts, the weight of sturdy shoes is a literal drag sometimes. They make my feet feel heavy, like a burden. Here were sturdy shoes, but with flex and lightness. So I did what any normal person would do and tried on most of the shop.

Tri Angel
My feet having some sort of revelation

Tri Skipp

skippy
Pretty yet functional

These are very feminine, a sort of sporty ballet shoe, which were so light it was like being barefoot. I think you could wear these to a wedding or summery event in this white colour (they would definitely work with a slip dress) without anyone thinking ‘trainers?’. One thing I noticed, and you can see in the picture was that these shoes were wide, which is a good thing for people with arthritis in their feet, but were a little too wide for me. The black and red colour is also nice, but a bit more sporty. I think the nice thing about the white colour is that it doesn’t immediately scream ‘sporty shoe’ at you.

skippy collage
Tri Skipp: £55

Tri Nova

Not content with shoes I could wear now, I started thinking ahead to summer. I apologise for the state of my feet… I am still in winter mode and was not expecting to go nuts in a shoe shop that day.

nova
The Tri Nova, presumably not named after the Vauxhall Nova, the crappy car of choice of my 6th-form friends. The word ‘Nova’ gives me maths A-level flashbacks.

I am not a fan of sandals that wrap the ankle like this as I find the straps restrict the natural movement in my joint, making it sore, and just makes it obvious that the ankles are different sizes; however, on other people, the support around the ankle might be useful. I didn’t think they looked very elegant on me, but then I could have been reacting badly to ‘Nova’. These are also available in white and a metallic copper.

novapic
Tri Nova: £55

Tri Alexia

Alexiacollage
Just super lovely

These sandals were my favourite, with more than a touch of the very expensive, very gorgeous, very coveted Marni Fussbett about them, and these are the ones that I will buy for my summer holidays. They were very comfortable in the shop (and I realise that is not the same as walking round for hours in them, so when I do get them will let you know how I get on). I really liked that the criss-cross design drew attention away from my potato-ankle, the lower picture shows this ankle, but it doesn’t look so bad here because your eyes move towards the front of the foot making it look more graceful. That’s GRACEFUL ARTHRITIC JOINT, everybody! These shoes are magic! They were also available in what they term “gold metallic” but to my eyes are a more bronze colour. Clarks, please have a word with your colour naming department!

Alexiapic
Tri Alexia: £60

There are lots of other designs that I didn’t try on (I did have other stuff I needed to do otherwise I would have spent all day there). These are sporty (though they do look disproportionately long), and I like the colour:

aerobic
Tri Aerobic: £60

These sandals are a little too similar to a hiking sandal for my taste, but if you like that style of shoe, this is a nice example, and I like the mix of the pink and the brown (usually, hiking sandals only come in ’emergency’ or ‘camo’ colour palettes):

Ariana
Tri Ariana: £60

So, I reckon there is a shoe here that could tempt and delight pretty much everybody, and I would definitely suggest ordering a pair to at least try out to see what the fuss is about if going to a store is a bit of a faff (Clarks, like most places now, does free standard returns and free delivery) . And to celebrate this little pocket of shoe-joy, let’s dance to the Ballad of Heisenberg in our light and comfortable shoes.

 

Slip dresses: back to the 90s

This post isn’t really about shoes you may want, it’s about things to wear with shoes you may already have. To be honest, recommending things to wear isn’t my strongest point as I don’t work in fashion or indeed anything aligned to fashion; however, I do keep an eye on what is happening in the fashion world, mainly because it’s nice to know whether I am accidentally ‘on trend’ or whether I am going to be spending the next few months staring at ruffle-adorned shirts wishing I could get away with having certain parts of my anatomy highlighted with a pelmet. 

Something that I have noticed will be very much in for summer is the slip dress. This is something I cannot really wear: anybody over a D-cup will really struggle with a strapless bra, and even if I find a wonderful, supportive one, slip dresses on me tend to look a bit like I have gone out in my underwear as you really can’t miss the boobs. I even went as far as trying one on for an example, but it just looks a bit too indecent to post the photo, and I know my mum reads this blog from time to time. I did wear slip dresses in the 90s, but I don’t think I want to do that now. I don’t think anyone would want me to do that now.

However, I wanted to write about them because nearly every picture I’ve seen of slip dresses, including the catwalk and fashion magazines, have slip dresses styled with ALL manner of flat shoes. This is a dress made for pretty much any flat shoe: what a free pass! So I think this could be taken advantage of if this style of dress suits you.

2-calvin-klein-collection-spring-2016-rtw
Trainers with Calvin Klein (image from Vogue)
Celeineslip
Flat points with Celine (image from Vogue)
7-alexander-wang-spring-2016-rtw
Bulky sandals with Alexander Wang (Image from Vogue)

 

mangoslip
Mannish flats with Mango (currently out of stock)

So I think there are several ways you can go with this: all sorts of trainers, brogues, birkinstock-style sandals, pointed flats, and probably more. Maybe the approach shoes would be pushing it, but sporty trainers seem to be good to go too.

There are loads of slip dresses on the highstreet too, and in all colours and budgets, different fabrics and belted or free flowing. You could wander into most shops and pick one up today:

slipCollage
Oasis: £65. 2 Mango: £39.99. 3 Mango £35.99. 4 Whistles: £195. 5 Zara £29.99. 6 Topshop £34.

And it seems that even if it’s freezing (which is highly likely given that spring seems to have forgotten it is supposed to get warmer this year) you can still wear the slip dress, just put a T shirt underneath it and/or a sweater over the top, and then you listen to Elastica and party like it’s 1995 presumably.

slipjumper
Image from Pinterest, slip dress worn with Nike trainers. Yay!

Next post, I’ll get back to the shoes…

 

Life in the Desert (Boots)

I wasn’t planning on writing a new post so quickly after the last, but these boots are in the sale at Rogue Shoes, and I wanted to bring them to people’s attention before they all sold out.

rogue
Rogue Shoes Ziggy Stardust (also available in black and brown): reduced from £160 to £70

I don’t actually own a pair of desert boots; they are on my list of shoes I want, but as I often have to go casual as a sign of defeat, I tend to spend my money on smart shoes and just bung on a pair of trainers if I want a casual look, and thus these are still not in my wardrobe despite their retro appeal.

I do own a pair of Rogue shoes, however, as I treated myself with some Christmas money. I went for the Iced Gem (they had my name on them, How could I not?!), and I can vouch that they are incredibly soft and comfortable, the soles are extraordinarily squishy and they look amazing with their metallic-speckled fur facings. They are definitely worth the price. I have been waiting for the weather to get nicer to wear them properly, as I can’t bear to expose them to a wet, dirty London street. They are too special.

icedgem
Iced Gem: £169

Now that the desert boots are in the sale I am very tempted to buy a pair; I adore the zig-zag down the back, and I feel like it would be a good David Bowie tribute. I think the black would also be good gig boots — I ask myself: what would David Bowie do? He would want me to buy the boots. I am not sure whether the soles will be as bouncy as the Iced Gem EVA sole, they look quite thin, but they may be worth a try!

The other shop that is famous for desert boots is of course Clarks, which I am trying on here in ‘light blue nubuck’ (other colours available), which actually looked a bit too ‘hospital green’ for me in real life; you can imagine these in a hipster operating theatre:

dersertboots
“the artisanal scalpel please, nurse”… Clarks desert boots: £95. Socks: Jonathan Aston

The soles on these are crepe, which is a form of rubber and shock absorbing. They are wide, and I reckon these shoes could take a brace as the leather is flexible. I guess it’s hard for a shoe to balance up how thick to make a sole versus the flexibility, but I always found the soles for desert boots, and the similar Wallabee, to be too inflexible or not quite cushioning enough.

There is, however, now an alternative to this sole in Clarks, the trigenic flex, which has a shoe with a strong Wallabee feel, without the chunky sole, in its range:

Tri Angel
Tri Angel: £65. Socks: Happy Socks

 

I’m going to do a whole post on trigenic shoes very soon, but if you really like the Wallabee design (Walter White wears them in Breaking Bad if you needed persuading) but you find the soles too restrictive, you should try these out ASAP. They are incredibly flexible and really, REALLY light, it’s like being barefoot… only supported. I was sceptical about these shoes until I tried them, and I am really looking forward to writing a post on them soon.

Embellished trainers: fun shoes! No, really!

I love trainers, and I am making the effort to wear them more. I am also endeavouring to have more fun with my footwear and try things I wouldn’t normally go for. Ergo I decided to try some fun trainers in a sort of extra efficient two-birds-with-one-stone policy (also known as laziness).

You know how sometimes life imitates art? Well, in 2014, Dior released the ‘Fusion sneaker’. I am not going to debate whether £740 is excessive for a pair of trainers, it’s your money, you do what you want with it, but it has to be said that they are a lot of fun (and fun is definitely not happening a lot with arthritis), and they look great with tailored clothes:

diorfusion
Just crossing the road in my £740 trainers. As you do

I can’t afford to splash £740 on shoes, even if they are crazy and beautiful, but while I was idly surfing the internet one day, I found some rather fun high street versions of these trainers: these in Kurt Geiger, and these in Mango that were channelling the Fusion vibe. The Mango version won me over in the end, being a bit cheaper, and I decided to give them a go, fully expecting that I would find them just too ridiculous to ever wear.

And the verdict?

IMG_0115

I really need to up my tailored clothes game! I love them! They are really cushioned, well proportioned, and they have a really nice roll to the sole, but they don’t seem like a gym-style trainer. I could easily wear these with a smart pair of trousers. My search for the perfect pair trousers also continues; I think they have to be cropped as you need some ankle showing here, and the trainers don’t really work with skirts on me as they finish bluntly, quite high up, which has the effect of making your leg appear shorter, and as the midi-length skirt has a similar effect, it makes my legs look oddly short. I don’t think I am the right side of thirty to try these with a mini skirt, but if you are feeling brave, it could work! Smart cropped trousers are what I would normally wear with a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths, which have been very fashionable recently:

IMG_0113
Stan Smiths with smart trousers. They work… they are work

The difference is that the Stan Smiths make work for my ankle, they look so comfortable, but they are so flat, and offer no support under the arch, that they might as well be a difficult ‘smart’ shoe. While I wouldn’t want to wear the embellished trainers every day (I am far too scruffy to go for tailored clothes every day, and I really don’t think they would work on me with anything else), if my potato-ankle were to be giving me trouble one day, I could see myself happily reaching for these.

IMG_emb
Chilling out in my trainers

The only downside I would say (apart from the price, but Stan Smiths are also about £70 and don’t have sequins on them), is that the body of the trainer is an elasticated mesh, and it kind of fits like a trainer sock under the ankle. It’s not tight on the potato-ankle, but it is close fitting, and if you have a lot of swelling in the foot, it may cut in. Also, the positioning literally underlines the different sizes in my ankle, and it’s very obvious I have one ankle pretty much double the size of the other. I am OK with that, but I can imagine not everyone would like it.

So, if you can’t wear the flatter style of trainers that are currently ubiquitous, or you’re bored of them and want to try something a bit different, these are well worth a try.

Having more trainers in my life

I’ll be the first to admit I have a bit of a love–hate relationship with trainers. I LOVE them, and I will talk about a lot of different types on this blog, and how they are on my feet, but they also drive me a bit crazy because they are the easier option for so many people, but can actually take a bit of work for me.

When I was first diagnosed with arthritis my podiatrist passed me a catalogue of shoes I would find beneficial, which was mostly comprised of running shoes. Specifically, the running shoes designed for overpronation, classed as ‘stability’ shoes. These are no light, stylish affairs — they mean business; they prevent the ankle from falling in, and to do this they have to have bulk. People who don’t overpronate may prefer ‘cushioning’ running shoes, which are designed to just cushion the foot on impact (a wonderful thing for cartilaginously challenged), rather than offer a lot of bulky support, and you can see the difference here:

vs
It looks like the stability shoes have eaten all the other shoes and are eyeing up their next kill

Basically, my podiatrist was telling me to dress like a marathon runner, which I said was bad taste considering I was barely able to walk. He took the point and handed me a catalogue for approach shoes, which I talked about here. Also, at the time, people didn’t wear trainers with smart clothes as they do now, so if you were going to wear sporty trainers, you had to dress sporty too. If you can carry this off I salute you, but I always seem to end up looking like Vicky Pollard.

pollard

Nowadays my ankle is not so bad, and I don’t need so much foot support, and I often spurn trainers as a throwback to the days when I had to wear shoes that could fit a leg-brace inside. Now I can wear elegant brogues and loafers, in the summer I can wear pretty sandals (though I do have to be incredibly careful as to which I get as not everything works with my ankle), and I do take advantage of this new-found freedom. In addition, I have an hourglass shape: big boobs, big bottom and a small waist – think Joan from Madmen but with far less polish – and I prefer to dress with a defined waist, often quite retro, and trainers often just don’t go.

joan-mad-men
Joan Holloway does not wear trainers

Recently, it has also been far more acceptable to wear trainers with non-sporty clothes, just a cursory glance at trainers on Pinterest brings up some amazing, cool outfits with all sorts of trainers.

trainers outfits
images from Pinterest

I look at these and think, yes! Trainers! With everything! This is for me! That said, this sort of look (lots of layering, boxy shapes, draping fabrics) is not very easy for me to pull off because of the abundance of T&A, but I do love a challenge. It hasn’t been so much about changing my style so much as liking, adapting and seeing what works for me. Change is always good and inspiration comes from everywhere.

Slip-on trainers

I find the easiest trainers to wear in terms of just going with everything are slip-on trainers (also known as skate shoes). Vans are the most famous brand, which is how these shoes are also known. I don’t actually own any Vans because they are quite expensive, and I have found lots high-street alternatives that work just as well, but these are on my wish list. Mmmmm, lovely monochrome:

vans
Vans textile slip-on £57

These shoes from Mango would be on the list if they were leather, I don’t really like plastic shoes as my feet sweat too much, but you may be of the less gross persuasion:

mango
Mango slip-on £35.99

These sorts of shoes don’t offer a lot in the way of support, either at the ankle or the arch, and they have a very flat sole, making your ankle do a lot of the work to stop your feet flapping about like a duck’s. They are often wide, however, so if you need an insole, these shoes could take them, and the soles are thick and cushiony. I tend to wear them for work because it dresses down a smart skirt or pair of trousers that would otherwise look too prim for my preferences.

prada2
How I dress for work. These shoes were £12 from New Look, and have been called “those posh velvet shoes”, which goes to show you don’t need to spend a fortune

But, as I said, they are hard work for my ankle because they are so flat. I could never wear these if I had a long way to walk. However, something recently caught my eye in Clarks. I have a love–hate relationship with Clarks too, but in the past few years they have really upped their game. These shoes, the Coll Island have a ‘hidden wedge’ inside the sole.

coll
Coll Island (also in black and ‘fuchsia interest’) £55

When I first read about the wedge, I was a bit uneasy. When I think about hidden wedges, I think about the disappointment in finding that a pair of beautiful flat-looking shoes were a cruel lie. However, this wedge seemed to be small and built for comfort so I thought I would check it out.

coll
Trying on the Coll Island in Clarks

The wedge is perfect! It is just the right height to take the ‘flatness’ pressure off my ankle, they are well worth trying out if you find totally flat shoes difficult too, and the soles were very bouncy and cushiony, and although I don’t think I could walk for miles in them, I certainly would consider these for an jaunt in which there was a lot of standing about (art gallery shoes..?). As you can see from the picture, the shoes were a tiny bit too wide for my feet, not by a lot though, and they are very much on my wish list (more so than the Vans). They are not particularly cheap at £55, but that’s not too bad for a leather shoe, especially one I could wear when I was feeling a little delicate without it being a ‘special’ shoe. I am so over special shoes, it’s awesome shoes from now on.

 

Approach the Approach Shoes

Approach shoes (so called as they are worn to approach some massive rock you need different shoes to climb) are the most boring shoes I own, they’re not fashionable at the moment (the fashion trainer du jour seems to be plain white and flat like Adidas Stan Smiths), and I don’t really like writing about them. However, they are also the most useful shoes I own and, as I needed a new pair, I thought I would write a review.

I have a dog, and in the spring to autumn months I wear approach shoes to walk him, and I can cover a few miles without problems. I also wear them if I am having any trouble with my leg as they are easy to wear, and deal best when my ankle is irritated. That said, I wouldn’t wear them to work unless I were on crutches, because I like to look either professional or interesting and these shoes do neither of those. I wouldn’t wear them to go out either, because I like to look my best, maybe this is vanity, but there is nothing wrong with that. They were for a long time the only shoes I could wear because when my arthritis was at its worst, I had a leg brace, and that would only fit in these sorts of shoes. Additionally, if you’re wearing a leg brace, you’re desperate, and I needed all the help walking I could get.

Brace
My leg brace! technically it was easier to walk, but it made actually leaving the house much harder

I think, now, there is a greater range of shoes that can handle a brace, and when I find ones I will flag them up for any brace wearers. Unfortunately, I threw my leg brace away when I didn’t need it as a symbolic freedom gesture, so I can’t physically take it to the shops and try it.

So why are these shoes so good?

First of all they help to stop overpronation, an excessive inward roll of the foot, which I had developed in order to compensate for the lack of mobility in my ankle joint. Overpronation is not good for the rest of the joints, and actually made the pain worse so I needed that support around the ankle and under the arch.

Second, they have a rocker sole (also called rolling sole), whereby the curve of the sole helps the body move over the toes when you walk. This means your ankles don’t have to do that work.

output_jaTqir
Behold the power of my little finger

Third, the heel height is about 1 inch, which, according to my podiatrist, is the right height to keep my ankle aligned properly. Counterintuitively perhaps, shoes with completely flat heels, such as ballet pumps, seem to put a lot of pressure on the joint, and I cannot walk in them.

Last, the soles are really strong and grippy. This isn’t only important for when I am walking in the countryside where there are slopes; my potato ankle is not stable, and if my good foot slips (on wet metal grids for example) I am hitting the concrete.

The problem with this type of shoe, however, is the weight of all that sturdiness, it can tire your legs out and, if you don’t need the support, a running shoe would probably suit you better. They are also incredibly expensive, and it is unfair but a fact of life that if you have any kind of special requirements, cheap shoes just don’t cut the mustard. I think these shoes are worth spending money on, as they are my go-to when I am sore and my feet need love, but I am aware that is not everyone’s priority. If you look after them, however, they do last for years of daily wear.

So which ones are the best? Annoyingly, it depends on your feet, and the best thing to do is go to an outdoors shop, like Coltswolds Outdoors or Blacks, and try them all on. They have two basic styles, those modelled on walking boots and those more like trainers. I prefer the latter, and I also like waterproof Gore-tex shoes as I have to walk the dog on wet grass sometimes (I can’t do wellies… or wet feet). Gore-tex shoes are a lot more expensive, so you will be able to find cheaper, non-waterproof versions. The main thing is how the brands compare, and these are the ones I tried.

Salomon Escambia GTX

escambia
RRP £110

This has had some good reviews online, but they were my least favourite of the ones I tried on. They were a little ‘boxy’ compared to the others, feeling more like a walking boot, and had less roll.

The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX

NF
RRP £110

These were much better looking than the Salomon and also had a really nice roll to the sole. North Face shoes were the narrowest I tried on, so you may struggle if your feet are wide, or swollen or you wear orthotics. If you have narrow feet, however, they are probably the best bet, though you may need to go up a size, and if you don’t need such a roll in the sole, the North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Lite GTX might be even better.

Meindl Respond Lady XCR

medl
RRP £120

The Meindl Respond was the widest shoe I tried on, too wide for me, but great if you have a brace or insoles. It rolled nicely onto the toes, but the width made them look quite boxy.

Merrell Siren Sport GTX

merrell
RRP £120

As you can tell from the picture above I already have a pair of these, and they’re the pair that fit me best. They’re not too narrow and not too wide and I like that they adjust down to the toe. I also like that the look is a little more ‘trainer’ than some of the other approach shoes that have more of a rugged look. I always feel a bit of a fraud in anything too mountainy as it’s not like I’ll be trotting up one any time soon.

Scarpa Oxygen GTX

Scarpa
RRP £150

This was the most expensive shoe, and probably the most ‘street’ looking of the shoes I tried. It was quite narrow and the roll wasn’t as pronounced as some of the other though, but it apparently it has a special ventilation system that pumps air around the shoe (I didn’t get particularly heated in the shop, but it may be worth trying if you find you get hot, bothered feet).

In the end, I got another pair of the Merrell Sirens (if it isn’t broke and all that), albeit in a slightly different colour and my dog seems to approve (or rather, doesn’t actually care at all).

IMG_0108
Stopping means food, right?

Next time: shoes you actually want to go out in!