Sue wrote to me last week requesting assistance in finding a non-frumpy shoe that would fit her medium-wide forefoot and narrow heels. Surgery to correct a bunion and hammertoes has left her right fore and mid-foot "thicker" or wider, yet she still has narrow heels. Yes, this is a comfortable shoe conundrum for the Barking Dog. I'm going to make a few recommendations based on personal experience and internet research, but I'm calling on all you with "combination feet" to pipe in with your shoe suggestions in a comment below.
1. Aravon by New Balance: These dress-casual shoes have all the comfort technologies you'd expect from New Balance, and they even come in widths. I own the Aravon Mia and find the toe box to be very accommodating of bunions and hammertoes. The heel stays put as it runs narrower than the forefoot. Available at Zappos and PlanetShoes.com with free shipping and returns.
2. Beautifeel: This lesser known dress comfort brand hails from Israel and gets high marks from the Barking Dog for supreme comfort and style yet a slightly lower mark for affordability. Although customer reviews are scant on the internet, the ones I did locate mentioned Beautifeel's wider toebox and narrow heel. I can attest to this as I owned a pair ten years ago when my rheumatoid arthritis started to take off big time in my feet causing bunions, painful hammertoes and metatarsalgia. As a middle school teacher, I needed one dressy pair of comfortable shoes for open house and conferences. Beautifeel fit the bill with their super soft leathers, comfortable lasts, flexible outsoles and well-positioned manageable heels. Available at The Walking Company and Amazon.
3. Cobb Hill: Owned by New Balance, Cobb Hill shoes feature multiple widths, roomier toe boxes and narrower heels.
4. Naot: This brand from Israel is quickly gaining fans in the US as women discover how truly wonderful these supportive, comfortable shoes can be. Ten years ago Naot looked like Birkenstock, but not so anymore. Their styles are innovative, young and unique. Check out the Sea, Coast and Tamariki for a shoe featuring a wider toebox and narrow heel.
5. Munro: Made here in the good ol' USA, Hot Springs to be exact. Munro makes quality "good fit" footwear in extended sizes and widths. They use a combination last when building the shoe (meaning the heel is narrower than the toe by two widths).