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Shoes – fashion over comfort? How to have the best of both worlds

Shoes – fashion over comfort? How to have the best of both worlds

No pain, no gain. And never have truer words been spoken when it comes to shoes. A fashion expert and a podiatrist tell us when comfort is fashionable and when fashionable is healthy.

Text: Andrea Monica Hug and Ruth Jahn
Photos: Andrea Monica Hug


Sporty but sleek

You don’t always need to buy trainers from big sports manufacturers. There are some great models in leather or cloth, with prints or without. White remains the on trend colour in Switzerland. You can wear trainers with a suit or a summer dress to shake things up a little. And even better: the trend applies to both men and women, so I’d recommend that ladies browse the men’s section when looking for new trainers – and vice versa.


Snug but stinky

Trainers tend to be comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with them as such, if only they didn’t smell so bad. Trainers shouldn’t be worn all the time as this can cause your feet to sweat and lead to athlete’s foot. Trainers for everyday use don’t need insoles or shock absorption. If you play indoor sport, an insole, stable heel support and, depending on the sport, a wide sole are a must. If you’re a frequent jogger, I’d recommend trainers with cushioning.

Kitten Heels

A compromise with a little bit of a lift

Kitten heels lend an outfit a touch of elegance without having to resort to high heels: the heel is moderate, makes your hips sway and the tapered toe elongates your legs almost as effectively as stilettos. Add a pretty pattern or metallic effect, and you’re guaranteed to turn a few heads.


Corsets for feet

Your forefoot will suffer in narrow shoes in which your toes are squashed together and the shoes pinch and hurt.  If narrow shoes are worn over longer periods, this can lead to toe deformations such as hammer toe. Nevertheless, the heels aren’t generally too high which means the balls of your feet aren’t put under as much strain. But these shoes are anything but ergonomic for your feet and the stiletto heel offers little to no support.


City chic with tassels

What can a man wear when he doesn’t fancy wearing trainers or elegant lace-ups?  Loafers! Loafers pair really well with a shorts and t-shirt combo or with jeans and t-shirt. Light-coloured shoes made from wild leather are particularly attractive as they make tanned legs appear even browner.


Flat and casual

Slip-on loafers are flat and flexible which means your feet are less wedged in than with normal loafers. They can also help to train the muscles in your feet. Soft, flat loafers train the smaller muscles of the foot quite effectively. The only downside is the lack of support and the possibility of them slipping off your foot.


Wedge heels – no problem

High-heeled shoes are not designed to be worn all day. They can be teamed with an elegant evening dress at the bar or with a trouser suit for an important business meeting over lunch. Those who find stilettos too risky might consider wearing wedge heels this summer. Wedge heels have a slimming effect: your body appears to stretch and your legs look longer and slimmer.


Fashionable shoes – damaged feet

Women aren’t doing their feet any favours by wearing high heels as it practically immobilises the lower ankle. The balls of your feet are overexerted and your toes are forced into a malposition. The muscles at the front of your thighs and your calves are overstretched, which shortens your calf muscles, the long-term effects of which include varicose veins, arthritis of the knee, hip complaints, hollow back and forefoot deformations. High heels are said to help train your muscles in terms of balance and certain compensating movements, but this doesn’t change the fact that high heels are detrimental to your health.


Flat, practical, attractive!

Slip-ons aren’t just really comfy to wear and perfect for a pleasant walk around town – they also look stylish thanks to the variety of detailing and colour patterns. They work with any sporty, casual everyday outfit and can be combined with a blazer for the office to make you really stand out from the crowd.


Relax but don’t pamper

Well-fitted, flat shoes with an insole pamper our feet and make them “lazy”. They might feel comfortable, but, for healthy feet, this can lead to muscle atrophy in the long-term. Invest in a pair of shoes with a good insole if you already suffer from some sort of foot ailment such as flatfoot, burning feet, kinked flatfoot or malposition of the heel.

Business shoes

Business done properly!

You can’t really go wrong with business shoes unless they clash with your outfit or are dirty. Brown and black tones are always appropriate, and you should pay extra attention to shoe hygiene. You can add a splash of colour to your outfit with coloured laces or red socks, for example.


Where do your shoes pinch?

Anyone wearing closed lace-up shoes on a daily basis should ask a shoe specialist for advice when looking for the perfect fit. The shoes shouldn’t be too small or give your toes too much room to move. Opt for a soft upper leather that prevents your shoes from rubbing or pinching.

Three golden rules for healthy feet

  1. You’ve already won half the battle if your shoes are comfortable. In particular, make sure they’re wide enough. Some 85% of people suffering from foot pain are wearing shoes that are too narrow. Shoes that are too narrow are an absolute no go!
  2. Alternating your shoes on a regular basis is the best thing you can do for your feet. If your feet have to be constricted, then at least introduce a bit of variety! All shoes force feet into a rigid position which effectively strains joints.
  3. Treat your feet whenever possible and go barefoot. On uneven ground, in woods or meadows, and at home, too. Going barefoot is the best training for your feet and ensures all your foot muscles are active and trained. In particular the long foot muscles which stretch from your feet to below the knee and the small foot muscles on the instep, on the side and underside of the foot.

With the kind support of Walder Schuhe and FussInstitut Zürich

The fashion expert

@andreamonicahug is a photographer and fashion blogger and has been writing the street style blog Chic in Zurich for the last five years.

The health expert

Dr Georg Klammer specialises in orthopaedic surgery and traumatology of the musculoskeletal system at the FussInstitut Zürich.

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