What not to wear on your feet after 50

I fancied myself a pretty stylish girl for a time, subscribing to the motto that shoes make the outfit. Whether it was a cool pair of Frye boots in my teens (and now actually yet again) or a pair of great wedges, I knew the outfit was not “together” without the right shoe. Sexy, hip, youthful, stylish – in an instant the shoes were the ticket.

But that all changed after I screwed up my feet with sports in my 40s. Both my running and biking shoes transformed the shape of my toes, width of my feet and added a knobby bunion to each foot. My feet that had grown from size 8 to 9 in my 30’s (a ½ size with each kid) grew another half a size in my late 40s to a whopping 9 ½ (I’m a late bloomer). I suffered from a bout of plantar that forced me out of my favourite flip flops for a whole summer – ouch!

So after 50, I became the arbitrator between my feet and my shoes – negotiating between pain and pleasure. The ache in my stride did not keep me away from shoe stores and I began to cut deals with my feet. I was so not going orthopedic! My clogs and flats were not invited to the party. I chose fashion over pain…I sold my sole (get it?). I would wear the irresistible stylish discomfort to a party, knowing I’d last a dance or two before kicking them off opting for barefootin’.

Ever hopeful, slightly deluded and unwilling to face reality – I spent way too much money on a fleet of un-wearable shoes. And over time, sadly, reality has trumped. My party shoes are lined up neatly in my closet and I know it’s time to move on.

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So, this month, with the onslaught of blizzards and cold keeping me housebound — my closet became an unavoidable project. My shoe collection beckoned me for a thorough weeding.

The purge was emotional. I decided it would be fun to catalogue a few of my most special pairs.

This was to be the Goodnight Moon of my party shoes.

Goodbye to my lovely silver Prada slip-ons that actually cut a wound into my bunion after a few dances at a spectacular wedding.

prada silver slip ons

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Ciao to my Made in Italy lacy black with silk bow Isaac sophisticates. No longer could they contain my foot girth. Shoe flesh overhang made my metatarsal scream. I only wore them to dinners where I wouldn’t have to walk, but no more – I can’t even get out the front door in them anymore.

isaac shoes declutter

My Giuseppe Zanotti’s (who is that anyway), with a dazzling bronzy jewelled strap never really worked and I have no idea why I bought them. Oh yes, they matched a bronze skirt that I adored. They were last worn to a birthday bash that my slashed feet barely recovered from.

jeweled sandals

Bye bye delicious beige suede hipster J. Crew wedge boots. You can no longer hold me erect. Shame on me for believing the false marketing. These were no “comfort shoes” and would never keep me fashionable and pain free.

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J Crew What Was I Thinking

Goodbye to my Olivia Rose, too small, too pointy, they can not contain my heel overhang and I must bid them adieu.

Olivia Rose Tal: Too Small

Oh and Anyi Lu, what to do? Au revoir. Your strappy patent harnesses do not enhance but moreover accent the miles my feet have seen.

Can't Do Anyi Lu Sandles Anymore

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It turned out my party shoe purge forced me deeper into the closet and I began pulling and pruning and tossing spikes, and boots into a heap of embarrassing dimension.

I was unstoppable. I could not quit until every shoe remaining passed the wearability test.


Exhilarated and exhausted I gazed proudly at the pile of shoes and knew they could have another home. Someone would enjoy them.

And so – with a spring in my step I sprinted to the Salvation Army and was greeted by a lovely woman who was thrilled to receive the donation.

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Later that evening dining at our favourite restaurant, I told my husband about my success. I confessed that I felt liberated until …. my friend walked in wearing a pair of the most fabulous Manolo Blaniks and I knew that my shoe detox would not hold. I could feel my foot twitching and I knew, I was already beginning to relapse.

Manolo Blahnik


Previously published here

By Felice Shapiro