Your Ultimate Shoe Guide as You Get Older—From Stylists
These essential styles are too versatile not to have in your collection.
As you get older, it's a great idea to re-assess your wardrobe, getting rid of those pieces that are looking a little worse for wear or no longer flatter your figure. While you're at it, stylists recommend taking stock of your shoe collection. As you get rid of those styles that are out of fashion or uncomfortable, it's worth replacing them with timeless alternatives that look and feel good on your feet.
"As we age, our feet tend to change in size and shape," explains Liza Egbogah, BSc, DC, DOMP, a manual osteopath, chiropractor, myofascial release therapist, and founder of dr LIZA shoes. "We also have different needs when it comes to our feet due to changes like loss of heel fat, pad loss, fallen arches, and splaying (spreading apart) of the feet. Our footwear choices should reflect these changes." As such, Egbogah notes that stilettos, flimsy flats, and sky-high or pointy-toe pumps should be avoided as you age.
But in addition to physical changes, it's also normal for your personal style to evolve over time. "Your daily activities and lifestyle may shift," notes Joe Manktelow-Pimm, a fashion expert and founder of 7Gents. "Retirement might mean less officewear and more casual or active pursuits. Trends also change over the years—and what looked great in your 20s may not suit your aesthetic in your 50s or 60s."
With all that in mind, we asked stylists to share the types of shoes you must have in your closet as you get older. Read on for their five top picks.
Supportive white sneakers
"As we get older, it is essential to keep moving, and we want to do this in style and comfort," says Egbogah. So, she recommends investing in a simple, sleek white leather sneaker with an orthotic insole—which is great for getting your steps in but still chic enough for grabbing lunch with friends. The best part? This style pairs with everything from floral dresses to blazers and slacks.
Dominique Dupuis, a fashion expert and owner of URAD, recommends pairing your sneakers with ankle-length jeans. Add a crisp navy T-shirt and oversized retro sunglasses for a youthful, laid-back vibe.
"For a sophisticated twist, try a platform leather sneaker to elevate and urbanize your everyday style," adds Elizabeth Kosich, a certified image stylist and founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling. "Style these with floor-skimming hemlines like a wide-leg trouser or maxi skirt."
Orthopedic ballet flats
"A good ballet flat goes with anything and can be worn casually or formally," says Egbogah. "But as we age, we need more support in a shoe—and choosing an orthopedic ballet flat with arch support is essential to prevent injury and ensure you're comfortable."
What's great about flats is that they're easy to slip on and off, and they're lightweight and compact, making them perfect travel shoes. They also go with just about everything, says Egbogah, including jeans, leggings, skirts, and dresses. Dupuis recommends pairing them with tailored pants "for a polished look."
Neutral low wedges
The main advantage to wedges over traditional pumps is that they give your foot a little extra stability—which is key as you age. "Wedges will give you an extra inch or two without sacrificing comfort," explains Yenia Hernández Fonseca, a stylist, luxury fashion expert, and contributor to Margo Paige.
Ideally, you want to seek out low platform wedges—these provide more even weight distribution so you're not putting too much pressure on the balls of your feet.
Not a fan of the wedge look? Dupuis suggests trying a modest kitten heel instead. This delicate, ultra-feminine style looks just as chic with knit pencil skirts as it does with distressed boyfriend jeans.
Driving moccasins or loafers
"The classic driving moccasin acts as a pseudo-sneaker, though you'd never know it," explains Kosich. "In luxury materials like suede or leather, it's also a smart-casual shoe year-round."
Fonseca notes that loafers have a similar sophisticated yet casual appeal and can be worn with tailored slacks or jeans. Pair them with a crisp white button-down shirt and tailored blazer in a fun bright hue for a trendy business-casual look.
Kosich sums up the classic mule's vibe as "business in the front, party in the back."
"Mules combine classic covered-toe style with unrestricted open-heel design, resulting in the perfect shoe with airflow that doesn't pinch, squeeze, or chafe," she says. "For a casual weekend uniform, try a suede clog mule, turtleneck, and cargo pants—then add wooly socks in winter to stay cozy. Or, pair your mules with a cashmere sweater, ankle-length trousers, and trench coat."
Remember, says Manktelow-Pimm: Quality matters more than quantity when it comes to footwear. "Invest in well-made shoes that will last and prioritize fit and comfort," he tells Best Life.
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