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:
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.
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.
Recently, it h￼as 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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.