Sensible shoes for touring time

We get in a snit about walking shoes: Why are they so ugly? Why aren't more good-looking, sensible shoes offered?

Choosing such shoes requires a specific mind-set. We should approach walking shoes like a long-loved mate: you know the compromise you've made, but you wouldn't have it any other way. If you want steaming passion, slide into Loubies and stay put. Below, some choices. (Price and availability might change on linked sites.)

The Prada, Madrid, in misty rain 
The Raboutin Dream slip-on is the Lamborghini of sensible shoes. I tried it: light, sleek microfiber, better-looking than in the photo. The wedge is low and the entire shoe is supremely comfortable. 

Here's a shoe that can carry into evening if you don't need to be formal; price $375 from Amazon. Also available in grey leopard.

St. Petersburg: Up and down the steps of churches 
Arche's Ceyrz jazz oxfords lace right up the instep. Calfskin with Arche's famous hevea sole and, as the name implies, an honest arch support. The slight metallic sheen rescues them from being gym-like. Price, $345.

Jaipur: Touring temples
Ecco's Jump shoe has a "moisture-absorbent circulation system" to keep feet cool all day, and leather lining. They're called "hard-wearing", a boon if you've ever tried to get shoes repaired on the road. Good for touring where it's hot, but where you don't want to expose your feet. Price, $115 at ComfortFeetShop.

Portobello Market, London: Shopping for vintage silver on a nice bright (grey) day
Saddle shoes are cheeky with jeans or a simple skirt, which is probably what you're wearing, yet they're eminently sensible. The Bass cream-and-red-patent wipes off easily, but you can also get them in pink/cream or black/cream. Price, $108 on sale at 

Biking across Antwerp, mixed sun and cloud
My friend Kari introduced me to Trippen, the hip and high-quality German brand. These Future maryjane style metallic shoes ($375) show how they've lifted the often juvenile maryjane into fully-feathered cool, in the edgy neutral, bronze. For more Trippen styles, see GravityPope's collection here.

Monhegan Island, Maine: Rambling round, stopping to picnic
 Sometimes you need an open shoe, but bare sandals are risky when negotiating uneven terrain. Mephisto's Aida fisherman sandal is the ideal blend of open/closed support. (I love fisherman sandals.) Price, $280 at ComfortFootShop.

Montréal, dinner with friends at Sardine
Maybe that second La Paloma was not strictly necessary– but we're on vacation! Everyone will be wearing summer shades, and why not join in?

Let's walk there and back; it's easy in the ventilated Arche Drillo sandal, about $225, shown in Camellia.

Buy well before departure to break your shoe in. (I rarely buy new clothes for a trip, but think hard about the shoes—happy feet, happy traveler.) Whether exploring your home town or far afield, have fun!


Anonymous said…
I have two day time options now, white Superga's or tan Tod's loafers, all ballet flats seem to rip my ankles to shreds and walking in heels has never been a skill of mine.
Susan B said…
Hah! We're on the same page again. I'm going to link back to this post as it ties in perfectly. And I LOVE all of your choices here. (Am planning another visit to the Arche store in Paris...shhhh.)
Karena said…
Some very nice choices in all price ranges; it is all about comfort. I actually like the Ecco and the last red pair!!

Art by Karena
The 2012 Artist Series
Duchesse said…
Tabitha: I've avoided canvas shoes because for travel they don't clean as well as leather, but do love a pair of crisp white sneakers.

pseu: We're both thinking of travel!

Karena: Sometimes I buy a pair of sensible shoes b/c I "have to" and then they grow on me.
My, those Eccos are inexpensive! I also love the Trippens and the Mephisto Aidas, but I fear that the latter would be too narrow for my feet (which are smallish and wide). I like fisherman sandals too, and they are also very good for casual (moderate-speed) urban cycling.

I may be going to Germany this summer, and I'll be looking for Trippens. Eccos are also widely available there.

I have worn canvas shoes travelling, and studying in Italy - in hot countries they are easily washed in a basin and dried on a balcony if you have another pair of shoes or sandals - but never white. I'm not fond of white on myself in any event, and I like them in colours - perhaps red or green.

We know whom you are meeting in Madrid!
Darla said…
I have my eye on some Arche shoes in a local shop. I've owned Arche in the past and for me they are well worth the price.

Anonymous said…
All of your choices are very attractive, and workable for some, but unless a shoe (1.) comes in a wide width and/or (2.) will accommodate a custom orthotic, it won't work for many people with problem feet, including me.
william said…
I love all your choices and am staring at the Trippen Mary Janes and wondering if they would accommodate an orthotic. I have moved to flats exclusively because of my pathetically weak ankles. I wear Naot Mary Janes in various colors (black, gray, and a silvery cream for this summer) and put orthotics in them and feel successful because I do remain upright.

Jill Ann said…
I have to admit I'm not feeling the love for any of these shoes; well, except for the saddle shoes, they are adorable! It is so hard to find truly comfy shoes that aren't frumpy. I've had some luck with Clarks Privo line; they have a bit of an athletic shoe feel, but are sort of funky ( but not too much) and have some good color selections. I love my black & white polka dot cushiony ballet flats I got from them a few years ago! Sadly not still available.
Sue Mecklem said…
The Trippens are beautiful but not within my budget. I've been searching for walking shoes for a trip to Paris in July but it's so hard to find comfortable, sophisticated looking flats. Maybe an oxford like the saddle shoes would work. Great ideas!
Anonymous said…
You found a great selection - and stretched my concept of sensible shoes. For me the sine qua non is built-in arch support - which ballet flats are lacking.

I am still puzzled whether any socks could be worn with Mary Janes? and a skirt (in hot weather). I don't want to go barefoot in shoes nor always wear sandals. QUESTION: Can I wear black "no-show" socks in Mary Janes- or will the fashion police arrest me? Please advise.
Rubiatonta said…
Duchesse, I just LOVE the saddle shoes. White bucks are also nice for summer on all but the hottest days. I wonder if you can still find the little bags of chalk I used to use to keep mine white.

Clarks are showing a very cute perforated jazz oxford -- flat -- for summer that I think would be great for hot weather travel.

My solution for not wanting to wear socks in hot weather is to buy an athletic shoe insole -- I'm usually able to find them covered in terry cloth here in Spain -- and cut them down to dress-shoe size. When they get really yucked out, I just pitch them and buy a new pair.
Duchesse said…
wendeleh1: In our city, we have a shoe store for wide feet and one that features very appealing shoes that accept orthotics, as well as bespoke shoe-makers). Hope those options are near you.

lagatta: Trippen is sold in Montréal at Kaliyana on St. Denis- not the full line but you can get a look.

Darla: There are also eBay vendors selling Arche, often at a discount, and Zappos have some.

Francie: An e-mail to either GravityPope or Trippen's own site, might yield an answer.

JillAnn: Yes, but when you gotta walk, you either wear shoes like this or suffer. The clunky athletic shoes I see many tourists wearing look worse. I know Privo; now and then I see one of their styles I like-definitely worth checking out and well-priced.

Sue Mecklem: Trippen are very well-made, long-lasting shoes. Why not keep eye out for sales and enter Trippen + your size into eBay's search engine?

Anonymous: Yes, you could wear black or nude no-shows.

You don't have to go no-show, either; low-cut socks or anklets can work too, if you have nice ankles- and then you can play with colour or pattern. If you are walking all day a higher sock holds up better than a footlet, which, even if sock-weight eventually tends to "walk off" and bunch.

*Some* Mary Janes look too cute-juvenile on a grown woman; that's why I showed the Trippen. If you could shrink a shoe and put it on a four year old, it is not a good Mary Jane.

I also like oxfords with socks.
Judith said…
Hi Duchesse,

Thanks for the answer to my mesh bag query on Hostess's post....found one in my local supermarket.

Love your chic hair style. Ida
Anonymous said…
Duchesse: Thanks for your answer to my question about socks with Mary Janes. Today I found my solution: HUE pleated shorties (colour: oatmeal heather)They stop just above the ankle and blend with my skin - so are close to invisible:
RubyE said…
I have to disagree with you about the ugliness of walking shoes because several years ago I found a great source: Ped Shoes! Trippen (which you show above) and Cydwoq couldn't be more comfortable and CUTE for when you need to walk all day. I *just* bought these (came yesterday), and I immediately took them for a walk downtown. Perfect and very comfortable!
Duchesse said…
RubyE: I did not say all walking shoes are ugly, but you have to look for attractive ones. Those I have shown, I find to be attractive. I did not show Cydwoq because to my taste many of their products are overdesigned, as are Fluevog and some of the weirder Trippen. I like the shoes you chose very much.
Northmoon said…
I purchased the Ecco Jump shoe before I went to Grenada last winter. I can verify it is a very comfortable walking shoe.

Next I hope I can make use of one of your or Deja Pesu's recommendations for a trip to Paris someday soon!
Hadilly said…
A brand that doesn't get much mention is Wolky. I find their Passion model to be a fabulous shoe, lots of support, fits orthotics, zillions of colors, and has a great ballet shoe vibe. I find mine very comfotable.
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