Published on March 21st, 2010 | by Kirsten Borrink


Stylish Shoes for High Instep

Do you realize in my 2 1/2 years of blogging about comfortable shoes, I have never addressed the instep? Bunions–no problem. Plantar Fasciitis? Check. Even hammertoes have pushed their way into a blog post, but not the instep. Until now.

Nancy wrote to me last week asking me to help her find a shoe that would accommodate her high instep, or "tall feet." Nancy states, "The high instep means I actually get blisters on the tops of my feet. It also means straps that attach with Velcro (boooo) often don't span my foot." Can you relate? After some good ol' Barking Dog nose-to-the-ground research, I've come up with quite a few options for the tall-footed. Keep in mind Nancy also suffers from metatarsalgia (ball-of-foot pain), so the recommendations listed all have a cushioned forefoot or anatomical footbed. While I can't promise these will work for all high insteps, remember the free return policy at Zappos!

1. Naot Tamariki: I chose this comfortable shoe because of the open space in the middle of the foot; no mary jane-type strap. Plus the Naot anatomical footbed is unsurpassed for support. $168 @ Zappos.

Naot tamariki
 2.  Wolky Cusani: Not only are both cross-straps adjustable, the footbed is completely removable if you need to insert a thinner orthotic to create more depth. I love, love, LOVE Wolky: room for toes, supportive yet cushioned footbed and fun styles. $149.95 @ (free shipping and exchanges).

Wolky cusani

3. Aravon Maya: Made by New Balance. The Maya has an ankle strap but no instep strap. Hurrah! This dress comfort shoe features a rocker sole and roomy toe box too. I chose this style because of a customer comment regarding her high instep and how these shoes have been so good to her. Comes in medium and wide widths at Zappos for $145 and FOUR widths at Shoebuy for $149.95.

Aravon maya

4. Clark's Un.Crow: The hook and loop closure to adjust the top straps made me think this comfortable sandal could work for a high instep. Customers love the cushioned footbed of the Un.Structured line. $110 @ Zappos.

Clark's uncrow

5. Rieker Celia 87: Can you see how long the velcro cross straps are here? I dare a tall foot to stop those straps. Plus Rieker is known for their padded footbed, roomy toe box and forgiving instep straps. $99.95 at Zappos.

Rieker celia

6. Dansko Alize: Nothing across the mid-section of the foot, soft nappa leather, foam footbed and adjustable buckle slingback. $125 @ Zappos.

Dansko alize

Ok, now it's YOUR turn. Do you have "tall feet?" What shoes have worked for you? Leave a comment below to help our friend, Nancy and others with vertically-enhanced feet.

About the Author

Kirsten Borrink

Blogger, Wife, Mom, Dog-Lover, Coffee Drinker, Owl Watcher.

23 Responses to Stylish Shoes for High Instep

  1. Kimocean says:

    I love the idea of tall feet. At 5’3″ they’re about the only tall part of me! I have to say that I’d be quite surprised if any of the velcro strapped shoes work. Maybe the ones with the ankle strap but velcro just doesn’t usually work for me at all because it gets pulled from the ends and eventually loses it’s hold. Otherwise though I think there are some good recommendations.

  2. Audrey says:

    I have “tall feet” too, and I think some of these might work. I worry about the ones that don’t have any sort of strap or are slingback, because along with my high instep comes the issue of not being able to keep a shoe that doesn’t have a strap on my feet! I think it has something to do with the sides of the shoe not having an arch to hold onto, if that makes sense. Anyway, I don’t know if others with tall feet have this same problem. I find that most shoes with a buckle strap work better than those with velcro. Some shoes that have worked for me in the past include Clark’s styles with buckles, and even Kork Ease sandals, since the front part of the shoe ends before my arch starts, and the strap is at the ankle, not across the top of the arch.
    Oh, and I also have ball of foot pain, which means platforms are ok, but anything that makes my feet pitch forward hurts.

  3. Audry,you are in good company. Nancy mentioned the same thing about the slingbacks not staying on with her high arch. Of course, not having this particular foot issue myself, I had no idea! It’s so helpful to hear from others with high insteps. I love Kork-Ease. Good recommendation. Here’s a link for other readers: link to

  4. emt says:

    I have tall feet too (to go with the rest of me that’s elongated/tall). I don’t think these Reiker, Clark, and Aravon styles would work for me due to the strap placement. I have problems with a lot of shoes because the top of the shoe or the straps is too tight right on the bone on the top of the arch. I have to be really careful with Mary Jane styles & sandals. Lace-ups can be hard to adjust so they stay on the foot without being painfully too tight across the height of the arch. Boots are pretty impossible, although this year I finally found a great pair of ankle boots from Everybody by B.Z. Moda that are wonderful & well worth the price. (I had a pair of Frye’s years ago that I loved, but it took me forever to get my feet in or out of them because they were so tight through the ankle & instep for the years I owned them. The salesman had optimistically told me they’d stretch out.) Plus, some ballet-type shoes are cut so low at the sides that the outside arch of my foot is above the side of the shoe.

  5. emt says:

    Update – I just received the Naot Matai pair I ordered & they are wonderful. The velcro strap works with my tall arch & the shoes feel great on my foot. I definitely will be ordering in more colors as I can afford them – well worth the price.

  6. EMT–the Naot Matai is the best. I know at least 10 people that have a pair ranging in ages 30s-70s and they LOVE them. Glad the velcro strap works for you.

  7. Diana says:

    Dansko Alize are really good and exactly match to my dress which i dought to my birthday.Can anyone tell me where can i buy such pair of shoes.Please help to

  8. meems says:

    I discovered Soffts this month and I felt like Cinderella with the perfect fit slipper. The first pair I bought were Mary Jane style medium heels for work, and every other Soffts shoe I tried on felt wonderful to walk in with my high instep. I never knew, in all my 59 years that there were dress or business dress shoes that could feel so great!

  9. Pamela DuBois says:

    I not only have a high instep, but due to poor circulation, the tops of my feet swell along with my ankles, so shoes with ankle straps or Mary Janes style shoes don’t work because the straps are NEVER long enough. AND the worst part is my feet are extra, extra wide. What can you suggest to all this?

    • SuChez says:

      Ditto!! I also have the luck of having size 13WW feet with the high instep. Impossible to find cute shoes. Usually end up having to buy mens or super cheap ballet flats at Payless which make my feet hurt. Bah.

  10. Pamela,

    Have you ever taken a look at ?
    They specialize in multiple width footwear. Are you looking for a flat or heel?

  11. Maggie says:

    I Have very high arches too, i just hate shopping for shoes, boots are vertually impossible to get on, high heals make my feet look worse, strappy shoes are a definate no no as the straps never reach, i always end up with flat shoes that spoil any out-fit if i am going somewhere special – i hate my feet!!!

  12. Michelle says:

    Can anyone offer help wiht locating a shoe that will help me. I have ball-of-foot pain and very wide feet. I need sometign supportive with an instep. I have orhtodics, and I don’t want to ahve to rsort to the “old-lady” shoe since I am in my 30’s. I have bought the Mophisto brand and they have velco, but i hate thema nd tehy are not wide enough with my orthodic. Dansko is not wide enough. I have been able to use a New Balance mens 9EE…but not cute…I pourchased a Klog in a 10w, but after wearing it around the house, it is not going to be wide enoug either….any suggestions?

  13. Tamara says:

    So happy to discover this blog! But I disagree about Naot Matai. I found it very shallow. My feet couldn’t tolerate the strap at all.
    What’s more, the shoe was somehow too soft and unsupportive.

    I found much better arch support with Alegria Paloma shoes…also fit my instep. Trouble I’m having with them is that the uppers are a little stiff and the strap is not on a loop and is just, well, crappy and rubs my foot. I’m hoping if worn with tights in the winter they’ll be OK because otherwise they’re great.

  14. LG says:

    You described my same foot deal. I so agree about tennis shoe or lace shoe hurting across the top and straps being bad also. I do well with the full Birkenstocks (not the newer types that are not as intense in the arch height), and I do love the Naot Matai as long as it is a sandal, but one needs to know it’s a cork inner sole that takes time to compress to one’s foot. They were so light that they didn’t hurt even with a strechy strap near the ankle. I did ok also with MTB’s and some orthopedic shoes. Some shoes did better with added orthotics that had a metatarsal pad to offset the odd landing that can come from landing too hard on the wrong part of the forefoot due to the high arch (I tend to land more on my toes or tip of ball which causes a lot of pain).
    Anyway, thanks for sharing. I have never been able to just buy shoes….so hard. Loafers with a short toe box work well, I learned that from a movie where Jason Alexander had a line about how he needed expensive loafers with a shorter toe box because of his high instep. I tried it and it’s true. Anyway, good luck!

  15. Joann says:

    I wear a size 10 narrow and have a high instep. I am looking for a black dress flat or sandal with closed toe or strap covered toe. It is for a semi-dress event…on stage,where we will be standing for some time…and my feet won’t show.

    This is a TALL order I realize. If you help me my feet and I would be so very grateful!

  16. Pam says:

    **sigh** none of those will fit my feet – I have EXTREMELY high insteps – I guess I’ll just keep on keepin’ on with my Men’s athletic shoes – they don’t even come together all the way on the top of my feet – I guess cute shoes are just not in my future. :0(

  17. Pam says:

    I checked those out and have been looking since 2010 – still have found nothing – even diabetic shoes don’t fit.

    • Katie says:

      Leather can be stretched professionally. If you buy real leather shoes and take them to the right person (an orthotist or shoe repair person) they should be able to stretch them for you. They may also be able to add material or make you a custom strap, just make sure you get your shoes in a color which they have (usually black).

  18. Hi Pam,

    This post is rather old, but I just noticed this new style by Naot. I like the strechy collar around the instep. No reviews yet, but wondering if it might work for you? I know it’s pricey, but maybe worth a try?
    link to

  19. Tallfoot says:

    As the other tall footed people mentioned, slingbacks may as well say “sling right off your foot with every other step”. They look really cute as long as you stand still and don’t go anywhere.

    Also, as they mentioned, even these long straps don’t tend to work when you can only make 1/2″ of the velcro come together.

    And trying on shoes doesn’t take that long because we literally cannot put our feet in the shoes most of the time. It looks like the Cinderella’s stepsister shoe fitting all the time for us. If you’d like to replicate the experience, borrow a kid’s doll shoes or some toddler shoes and attempt to put your feet in them.

    The downside of lowering the edges to expose more foot/avoid sizing issues is that you end up with the shoe edges biting your feet in unexpected and uncomfortable places, which means painful cuts and blisters. And, as was mentioned, the “hello, would you like to see the underside of my instep?” peep show that happens with ballet flats.

    I’ve occasionally found some no-name boots that have lots of room, and those have become my everyday shoes.

    One slip-on shoe that has more give than it looks like: Sketchers has an elastic-topped casual shoe that looks like a tennis shoe without laces. Sketchers changes the exact fit and the color palette from year to year, but sometimes they fit.

  20. Carolyn says:

    I have to say it heartens me to read all these comments from women with high instep problems! I don’t feel so alone. No one has mentioned what the issue is with boots….. I describe it to people as “not being able to get my foot around the corner” to slip into the shoe…if that makes sense to you all.
    I also have a wide foot and wide calves so I’m not looking for high boots, but even low ones are impossible to get on.

    Any suggestions?

  21. JoJo says:

    An old blog, but I have to chime in. The angle of the top of my feet rises right where my toes end. Do for me, it’s not the straps that concern me as much as just getting my toes in. Usually shoes will cut me off right there, and there is a lot of pain with each step. I am hoping to find some new options with these brands at least.

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