6 Tips for Wearing Flats If You're Over 60, According to Stylists and Podiatrists
Achieve high fashion at a low profile with this easy advice.
High heels can quite literally elevate your style, but for many women—especially as we get older—they're also a challenge to wear. That's because, after just a few short hours, heels can place unnecessary stress on your arches, the balls of your feet, and your toes, leading to a range of possible problems including hammertoes, bunions, and even stress fractures. Thankfully, wearing flats if you're over 60 offers a stylish and comfortable alternative—the key is balancing form and function. Read on for six tips for wearing fashion-forward flats if you're over 60—all while staying safe and comfortable.
Wear arch supports or orthotic insoles.
Arch support is an important consideration when buying shoes over 60. That's because it helps to keep your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back in healthy alignment, leading to fewer strains and injuries. But one of the main concerns with flats is that they're, well, flat.
"The problem with flat shoes is that they strain your sole, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles; they have no shock absorption and your toes often do all the work to keep the shoe on," explains Sanders Podiatry.
Plus, as The Foot & Ankle Specialists point out, "Flats…without arch support or shock absorption put extra strain on the balls and heels of your feet."
However, if you purchase a pair of flats that you love and find the arch support lacking, you can always add orthotic inserts to keep you more comfortable.
"Orthotic insoles help to maintain healthy posture while providing extra cushioning and arch support, making them a great addition to any shoe," Gregory Alvarez, DPM, FACFAS, a podiatrist at the Ankle & Foot Centers of America, tells Best Life.
Find shoes with good traction.
You may assume that flats pose less of a tripping or falling risk than high heels, but many flats have poor traction.
This is especially true with ballet flats. "Most of them have slippery soles that are narrower than the wearer's foot," notes the Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland.
"Slipperier soles can be dangerous, so look for a shoe that has good grip to help you stay steady on your feet when walking in slippery conditions," suggests Alvarez.
For more style tips sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Opt for wide sizes.
Many women over 60 find that their shoes feel most comfortable when they opt for a wider size.
The reason for this is because, as we age, our feet "change in their elasticity the same way other body parts do—tissue becomes less tight, causing the increased width and sagging of the arches," explains Kelly Hynes, MD, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon with the University of Chicago Medicine, in an interview with the university.
Alvarez adds that your feet may also swell after being in the same position for a while, so a wider shoe "will ensure a better fit when your feet expand throughout the day."
Be mindful of the toe shape.
The shape of the toe of your flats is important from both a comfort and style perspective.
"You won't find a lot of ballet flats with square toe boxes. Most are rounded and don't provide enough wiggle room for actual toes," explains the Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland.
However, Paola Farina, a stylist based in Milan, Italy, notes that ballerina flats with round and square toe boxes can "shorten the figure," especially if you're not tall. "Those with pointed tips, however, elongate the figure and are fine for everyone."
Try these timeless styles.
Flats run the gamut of styles, ranging from casual espadrilles and sandals to more formal footwear such as high-quality leather mules. So, the first thing to do when shoe shopping is to decide which type will make the right style statement for you.
Farina recommends finding the balance between styles that are on-trend and timeless. She suggests satin ballerina flats, classic leather flats, and leather moccasins or loafers (she says those from Tod's "never go out of fashion").
Additionally, Farina suggests flat sandals or slippers that are embellished with jewels, noting that when made well, these are "designed to last."
Consider these colors and patterns.
Peter Martinez, a stylist and designer for Leather Skin Shop, says you should choose your color scheme with an eye for easy styling.
"Consider flats with stylish and versatile designs that can complement different outfits. Look for classic colors like black, navy, or brown that can be easily paired with various clothing options," he says.
However, Farina adds that you shouldn't let your age dictate your style, and urges women to explore their personal tastes at every life stage. "I never consider the age, but instead consider the person I have in front of me."
For women over 60 with a bolder sense of style who still want a timeless look, Farina recommends these patterned flats made in fine brocade fabrics and vibrantly colored velvet.