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I just came from Whole Foods where a group of 80-ish-year-old women were having lunch. They looked great for their age, and had they not been wearing clumpy, orthopedic shoes, I would have guessed them to be younger than their shoes made them appear. Lately it seems, I’ve been obsessed with shoes. A few weeks ago I wrote about the Ferragamo Shoe Museum in Florence, and this week my friend and I went to one of those no frills shoe stores.

You know the kind, those warehouse-looking stores that sell every shoe imaginable except for the ones in your size.

Rows of sample shoes were displayed on tables that ran the length of the store. The shoes in stock were stacked underneath on the floor and generally consisted of two, medium-sized 8s, one size 12 and five pairs of wide-sized 2s. I knew right away this wasn’t a store for my size 9.5, 6A heel.

Since this was a no-frills store, there were very few mirrors. A woman with big hair and shaved eyebrows—who probably ran an establishment called “Ruby’s Beer, Wine & Setups”—asked if I thought her shoes would “drive Wayne wild?” I ask you…

What can you say to a 60-year-old woman with hair the color of an overripe mango, wearing clear, acrylic, Cinderella want-a-be’s? Then there was the woman who’d found the perfect “breed-me, don’t feed-me” shoes which made her look like Janet Reno does the lobby of the MGM Grand.

If you’re like me, you may have hard-to-fit feet and/or most every shoe except orthopedic, old lady shoes makes walking painful. I know all the causes of foot pain like bunions, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s Neuroma, hammer toes and toenail fungus, and I have none of them, but my feet still hurt. If those conditions aren’t bad enough, did you know we lose the fat pads on the bottom of our feet as we age, and more women, than men, suffer from a painful foot osteoarthritis? Treatments can range from cortisone shots—you can’t have more than three in one year—to soaking your feet in ice water and custom orthotics. None are surefire fixes!

Along with thinning scalp hair that finds its way out the bottom of our chin, painful feet are another example of things our mothers never told us!

So what do we do? Seriously! I’ve tried everything! My last pair of custom orthotics—which don’t solve my problem—were hijacked by Lulu, my 11-month-old puppy. The missing bites probably won’t make a huge difference, but I’ve been waiting for them to “dry out” before I insert them into my shoes.

Some boots are comfortable, and there’s always sneakers, although I’m not a fan of Mary Jane’s, Birkenstocks or flip flops. Rats! Every now and then a girl just needs a great pair of high heels! I’m really depressed about my feet.

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52 thoughts on “BUT I DON’T WANT OLD LADY SHOES”

  1. I am having surgery on Friday for plantar fasciitis and bone spur. I am hoping this will fix my foot as I have endured having to wear athletic shoes with inserts for almost two years not to mention the pain associated with it. My surgeon tells me in about a month I will be able to wear my regular shoes……I am hanging on his every word!

    • I’m getting there, but from time to time, I just want to wear a pretty pair of shoes. Thanks for stopping by Laura. I’m still thinking about your gut post. xoxox, Brenda

  2. I don’t know. I have psoriatic arthritis and am an RN. I wore high heels in another life when I was younger, but when I hit my 60s and my feet started being ravaged from PA, I was so happy to be free from high heels. This girl wears sneakers to prom night and dares anybody to say anything. As a Rene Brown so eloquently stated, “I am enough,”

    • I’d never heard of psoriatic arthritis so I looked it up. Goodness… That can be such a serious condition, and if you’re on your feet as an RN…. You need the best, sensible shoes for your feet. I’m wearing sneakers or a pair of arch support flats from a lot. They’re pretty and more importantly, they fit me and are good to my feet. I think that pair was an anomaly because their other styles don’t stay on my skinny feet. Oh I know without a doubt, “I am enough.” I’d just like to wear beautiful shoes again. Thanks for your input. I learned a lot. Brenda

  3. Years ago, when I worked in the floral industry, I lived in clogs and they saved my feet. Before that, when in my 20’s and 30’s I wore heels most days but, now? I have a comfy pair of Clark’s that work with my jeans and boots for winter months in different varieties. But come warm weather I live in flip-flops. It’s kind of required when you live at the beach. 😉

    • Hi Barbara, Clogs won’t stay on my feet and since I have “virgin toes,” I’ve never worn flip flops, starting at this age would be painful, plus I’ve read they don’t offer any foot support. Thanks for the reference to Clark’s shoes. I checked their website. Nice and well-priced, but they ones I clicked on didn’t have narrow sizes, but I’ll keep checking back. Thank you, girlfriend! Brenda

  4. Hilarious, Brenda! I know what you mean…I try hard to look stylish and pulled together at age 73… but the shoes! I have cool heels and boots but usually bail at the last minute in favor of comfort, walkability and in current snowy condition, non-slip!
    I love your descriptions of warehouse customers…truth! Makes me wonder if anyone ever wondered why in the hell I was trying on too high/too strappy/too teenish! LOL A girl can dream! Great post

    • Joan I’m happy you appreciate my humor. Comfort and walkability… Those are the key words these days, aren’t they? I was spellbound by your blog post about your granddaughter. I tried to leave a message but couldn’t. I never had children or grandchildren, but had a close, close relationship with my grandmother. A few months ago, I wrote a blog about grandmothers. Your beautiful granddaughter has blossomed, in great part, because of you. You will be with her, always. Brenda

  5. I have never been able to wear high heels and can’t imagine ever doing so, but I envy women who do and wear them with full confidence.

    • Hi Jen, I can’t imagine wearing those “Empire State building” sky high stilettos young women wear, today. Did you know a high percentage of them fall off their shoes and either sprain or break their ankles? What price beauty? They’re also having Botox injected in the bottom of their feet to deal with the pain of balancing 120+ pounds on the ball of their feet. You have to wonder what kind of foot problems they’ll have when they’re over 50? Thanks for stopping by, Jen! I appreciate it. Brenda

  6. Have you tried, Paul Green Shoes, Stuart Weitzman and Coclico? Less expensive brands to try Dolce Vita, and Via Spiga. Have any of these brands been a solution? I have very sensitive feet, and have to be very careful. It seems like you have to be prepared to spend more! What have you found to be the best brands? Btw, I have feet on the wider side, and yours are narrow, maybe the shoes I mentioned will not work!

    • Hi Nancy, I stopped by and looked at your paintings! What a creative use of color and skillful use of your knife! Very nice!! Thank you for the suggestions. I didn’t know about Paul Green or Coclico, and unfortunately they don’t have narrow sizes. I’m familiar with Dolce Vita and Via Spiga, but they don’t carry narrow widths either. My go to brand is Stuart Weitzman, but not all of their shoes are narrow enough for me and sometimes Marmi. Unfortunately Arthur Behern went out of business. I always spend a lot of money for shoes, but it’s because I only have a couple of brands to choose from, and they’re expensive. Thank you so much, Brenda

  7. Oh, my gosh, I know what you mean!! I really do! I love, love, love cute shoes but I have the same 9.5 6A heel feet that you do plus arthritis and plantar’s fasciitis. It sucks–NOBODY carries narrow width shoes anymore. Even on-line you find very, very few shoes that are offered in a narrow width. And I’m with you on the subject of “old lady shoes”. Never! Plus, the prices of shoes these days! The really good ones in a variety of colors and styles are totally out of my reach. And I don’t do barefoot, either. Too many calluses on the bottom of my feet and, as you say, no fat pads!

    A dear girlfriend and I always say our most fervent wishes are for World Peace and Cute Shoes! Alas, I think we’ll just have to wish for World Peace alone. Please, anyone, let me know if you find a solution for my problems with footwear.

    • Now that’s funny, Naomi! World Peace and Cute Shoes!!! You’re the only person who really understands my plight. It’s slim pickings for skinny feet and even slimmer for skinny, painful feet. Thanks so much! It helps to know I’m not alone! Brenda

  8. P.S. I also resonate with your comment about thinning scalp hair and it popping out my chin! I spend so much time plucking I’m never caught up with anything else! Oh, yes, then there’s the loss of eyebrows! I simply CANNOT find an eyebrow pencil the right color since Maybelline stopped making their grey one. Well, I might be able to find one if I was willing to pay $35. or more. Don’t think so.

    Well, still we all must keep a stiff (and hairless) upper lift and not focus overly much on the fact that we don’t and won’t ever again look like we did when we were young and fresh. And trying too hard just makes us look worse. Acceptance, ladies, acceptance. We are enjoying the privilege of growing older. Otherwise, you know where we’d be!

    • PS: Yes, aging beats the alternative! I know what you mean about getting thin eyebrows to look good. I’ve changed pencils, powders so many times. Most of the time it depends on how careful I am when applying it in the morning and being careful not to get them too dark and to make sure I brush the upper line so you can’t see the pencil on my skin… Brenda

  9. You mean I’m not the only one who finds whiskers on the chin, LOL? Who knew? I don’t want ugly shoes but they have to be comfortable. I walk around a campus.

    • Janice & Naomi… FYI I shave my face at least once a week when I’m in the shower. I just use soap. Don’t need a mirror. If I don’t, I have stray hairs and a furry face. Oh, and don’t forget your neck! Hairs grow out of there as well. The trick is to use a great razor and only use it on your face. Don’t use it on your legs. It will ruin a blade. Now I know how my husband always knew I used his razor for my legs. LOL! Thanks Janice! Brenda

  10. First, the “horses hooves” shoes at the top of your post were hilarious. And second – I’m finding, at age 65 (well, I found out years before that, actually) “why” there is such a thing as “old lady” shoes. I try to live in flat sandals (with cushions) and walking shoes because, well, comfort before looks. That’s what I say now, and I don’t care!

    • Hi Alana, Glad you like my crazy image. Don’t you know there’s some woman out there who’d actually wear those! On top of everything else, the aging foot thing is beyond rude and disheartening! Like you, I wear comfortable flats and sneakers. Someone could make a fortune if they’d solve that problem! xoxox, Brenda

  11. Brenda, thank you so much for your thoughtful blog – and, finally, I don’t feel alone. I have ankles the size of small wrists, so clunky “comfort” flats and sandals always look like I’m stomping around in toilet lids. Honestly, I broke down in tears after trying eight pairs of normal appearing flats in Nordstrom’s. Back to ECCO… I could wear some sort of attractive heels until I was 70, but it’s been straight downhill from there with multiple foot issues.

    • Oh Lynn! The way you worded that is funny, but there’s nothing funny about problem feet. I understand tiny ankles! I’m 5’7″ tall, average weight, but I can circle my ankle with my thumb and middle finger, so I have tiny ankles as well. You were fortunate to be able to wear heels until you were 70. Trying on shoes–and jeans–can be difficult when you can’t find anything that fits you. I’m sorry it brought you to tears… Brenda

  12. Yeah, I wanted to cry when a nurse/family friend told me about the loss of feet fat. I absolutely refuse to wear orthopedic-looking shoes, although I will wear low heels and cute sneakers. Also, boots are the only good thing about winter. Boots are awesome!

    • Linda, When I first heard about losing the fat pads on the bottom of our feet as we age, a lot of my foot problems made sense. I just started wearing boots with clothes other than jeans, so I need to buy another pair. I’m a Texas girl, so I never thought about wearing anything other than cowboy boots until a couple of years ago. Thanks for your comment! Brenda

  13. Two really great shoe brands that I have found to be both very comfortable and stylish are Cole Haan and Beautifeel . I think you have to adjust your mindset too and accept that you can no longer wear sky high heels.

    • Hi Emerald, I’ve accepted the fact I can’t wear high heels… never wore sky high heels, but my desire to wear a pair every now and then hasn’t gone away. My favorite pair of shoes are a collaboration between Cole Haan and Nike! They’re braided, black leather shoes… not really sneakers because they’re not as clunky as sneakers. My narrow width is what keeps me from wearing most flats, boots and sneakers. I’ll check out Beautifeel. Thanks so much! Brenda

  14. While I was still a hairdresser, I was always on the lookout for comfortably-chic shoes. A client came in with Fly London (or London Fly?) shoes one day, and… LUST! Check them out and see what you think.
    XO Donna

    • Hi Donna! Fly London does have great shoes, and they look really comfortable! I may have to do another blog where I list all of these great brands I’m learning about. The only problem is… They’re not narrow enough for me. Even “Narrow” in some brands is too wide! My feet are cursed! xoxox, Brenda

  15. I can’t do Birkenstocks either. They are not made for narrow feet. I walk right out of them. And if I can keep them on, I look like a duck…skinny ankles and wide feet. Ha. Back in high school, when chunky platforms (and I mean chunky) were in style, I’m sure I looked ridiculous. Long skinny legs and feet too big to haul around.

    Those” hooves” at the beginning of your post look like something right out of a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream.:)

    • Hi Sue, Sounds like you know what I mean! Having narrow feet is like being cursed! Your description of looking like a duck in chunky platform shoes is how I’ve felt with most “tennis shoes” in the past. The newer “sneakers” are a little sleeker. I have a silver pair on white platforms that I love!! Those “hooves” shoes are kind of strange… Thanks, Brenda

    • Hi Stacy! Over the years I’ve found only one pair of Taryn Rose shoes narrow enough for me to wear. They are known for being comfortable, and they’re not cheap. I interviewed Taryn Rose… maybe 10 years ago. You probably know her story but she was an orthopedic surgeon before she started making shoes. I admire the way she could open doors and didn’t take “no” for an answer. She eventually sold her company to a Japanese shoe company. I’ve heard from Taryn Rose shoe fans that the quality of the brand wasn’t as good as it was when she ran the company. Thank you so much for your suggestion, Stacy! Brenda

  16. I understand every word you wrote!! I have an issue with my right foot due to running, and there are many heels that I can’t wear. I love to look at shoes featured on fashion blogs, but I always wonder how long those young women will be able to wear those super high heels!! I used to think that my feet were at least kind of cute, but as my 54 birthday is tomorrow, I realize that they are not cute at all anymore!! Still, I love shoes, and love looking, trying on, and talking about shoes with my friends. I just have to be very careful with any kind of a heel or I won’t be able to walk after a while from the pain!!

    • Hi Sharon, My issue is with my right foot as well, but it was caused by a custom pair of cowboy boots where the arch was too high. It rubbed a blood clot on the arch of my foot. Doctor’s thought that big knot–the size of a shooter marble–was a tumor that might be malignant, but fortunately it wasn’t. When they removed the blood clot, they screwed up the nerves that ran to the ball of my right foot. Now standing or walking in just about anything for very long is sooo painful. You’re talking about “cute feet.” I’ve interviewed and photographed lots of “high profile” women over the years and have seen their feet. Oh my stars!!! Some of them look like space alien feet. Some of them have damaged and abused their feet to the point I’m amazed they can still walk in heels! I also wonder what the young women will do when they reach… even 45? The shoes many of them wear are Empire State Building stilettos! They even have the bottom of their feet Botoxed so they can wear those heels and not feel the pain! Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment. See you, again! Brenda

    • Hi Rebecca! Couldn’t agree with you more!!!!! Comfortable shoes, especially ones that are affordable, are FRUMPY! We need a shoe designer with some fashion sense… preferably one who’s in our age bracket and can’t wear heels, so SHE “gets it.” Don’t you love those goat heels? If you think about it, goats must have feet or iron and really strong ankles, because they climb trees and mountains. LOL! We could call our new shoe line… NOT FOR OLD GOATS! LOL! xoxox, Brenda

    • Hi Cindy, You’ve had so much on your plate, so thanks for touching base. I’m sorry you lost your father. It’s always hard to lose a parent plus we realize WE are now the OLDER generation in the family. I will email you right now! Thanks, Brenda

  17. BOTOX in your FEET????
    Well, THAT BOTOX has many remedies!I hear we can have it injected in our PRIVATE PARTS to HELP with the BLADDER LEAKAGE!!!!!!!!!
    Has anyone tried THAT?A SHOT down there just doesNOT SOUND FUN!
    MY ITALIAN has a TWITCHY EYE……….he has BOTOX injected like once a year to STOP THE TWITCH……….it does WORK for awhile!
    OUR QUEEN TO BE always has nice Pumps on……she has gorgeous legs too.I worry about her in her heels;I could NEVER DO THAT?
    I’m a FLAT only kinda GAL………for many reasons.
    If you need a FLAT for SPRING or SUMMER may I suggest COAST&KOI on instagram………………OMG!!!!!!!!!!

    • Contessa, For bladder leakage? Uh…. NO! Did you know women have Botox injections under their arms to keep them from sweating? What a strange world. Thanks for the Coast & Koi ref!! XOXO, Brends

    • Hilda, We’re suffering from high heel withdrawal. I don’t have bunions but hear they can be terribly painful. We never want surgery but is there any advantage to removing them before they get worse? xoxox, Brenda

  18. I hear you on narrow, boney, painful feet! My dad called them my expensive feet when as a child I had to have custom -ordered shoes sent to our small town shoe store –or tie up hush puppy oxfords in 5A that fit but caused me to hide my feet under my chair at school so kids wouldn’t see how icky those shoes were (ironically oxfords are now all the rage). Have you ever tried shoes? Read about them on another style blog and they look like a possibility. In meantime SW (wore their heels for years, now lower/flats for me) and padded orthotics in boots and fashion gym shoes keep me going.

    • Oh, thank you, Mary! Another shoe resource! I’ll take a look. Sorry to hear you have the same problem feet I do. I, too, lived in a small town when I was a kid. Mother and I had to drive to Indianapolis to their big department store for them to order my 6A narrow shoes. Since then I don’t have many to choose from. Even with orthotics, I can’t wear a lot of shoes and can’t walk or stand for long periods of time because it’s painful. Love my sneakers though!! Tomorrow on Fashion Friday, I’m going to post a list of comfortable shoes that all of you have given me, so I’ll add yours to the list. Thanks so much!! Brenda

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