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Wear This, Not That: Lovely Alternatives to Latest Trends

Sometimes style and practicality find themselves at odds.  Maybe shoes that are wildly popular fashion-wise just won’t cut it for you from a comfort perspective.  Or perhaps a certain “it” shoe appeals to you, but is too expensive.  In an effort to help our readers stay stylish but still comfortable and/or on budget, we proudly present our picks of cute, comfy alternatives to four currently popular  shoe styles.

Sofft Somers

Wear This: Sofft Somers

Earth Tangelo

Wear This: Earth Tangelo

Slip-on sneakers have been around forever.  But in the 80s, Vans took them to a new level of California cool that was a far cry from Mr. Rogers and the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.  This versatile style has had yet another resurgence in the last couple of years, but some things haven’t changed – slip-ons can often be clunky, fit poorly, and have very little support.  Thankfully comfort shoe brands have taken notice and offered up options like the Sofft Somers, which gets 5-star reviews for being stylish, lightweight, and supportive.  The Earth Tangelo is another great option, loved by reviewers for its comfort, sleek styling, and trendy perforated uppers.

Alternatives to Tieks: Yosi Samra, Born Julianne, Josef Seibel Pippa

Wear this: Yosi Samra Samara (middle), Born Julianne (lower left), Josef Seibel Pippa (lower right)

If you search online for flexible flats, you’re sure to quickly encounter the turquoise blue-soled Tieks, which  seem to have taken the world of flats-wearers by storm.  Reviewers love their foldability, luxurious packaging, and large selection of colors and patterns.  Some rave about the comfort, others not so much.  But price is the real deal-breaker for many – they can run upward of $200.  If Tieks appeal to you but not your wallet, consider the similar but much less pricey Yosi Samra Samara, a flexible flat that earns 5-star reviews.   If you want a comfortable flat but don’t need foldability, a great, less-expensive-than-Tieks alternative is the Joseph Seibel Pippa, which gets terrific reviews for fit and comfort. And yet another consideration is the Born Julianne with its arch cookie (cushioned insert at the arch), and good fit at the heel.

Vionic Beach Noosa

Wear this: Vionic Beach Noosa

If you love the fun patterns and vibrant colors of flip flops like Havaianas but fear (rightfully so) that your feet won’t love them, we have a find for you!  The Vionic Beach Noosa is a sleek, fun, colorful flip flop that has arch support, cushioning, and heel cup for stability.  Having long abandoned flimsy (albeit fun) flip-flops in the name of comfort, we can’t wait to give the Vionic Beach Noosa a try this summer.

Altra Escalante

Wear this: Altra Escalante

Knit trainers are having a fashion moment, which makes us happy because the forgiving, sock-like knit uppers can be great for folks with bunions or hammertoes.  But most lack any meaningful arch support.  We finally found it in the Altra Escalante knit sneakers.  Take it straight from the Barking Dog’s mouth – these are awesome!  (Keep an eye out for our full review, coming soon.)

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17 Responses to Wear This, Not That: Lovely Alternatives to Latest Trends

  1. Riana Rosas says:

    Are there any alternatives to classic converse both high top and low cut?

  2. Nancy says:

    In the slip on sneaker category, the Taos Dandy is great! I love the arch support in them, and they are cute and stylish. They do run a little bit small, but they stretch because they’re canvas.

  3. laura says:

    Id love a slip on sneaker with a wide toe box and narrow heel and support (of course) any ideas? I usually have to compromise and end up not wearing the shoe…

  4. cedar says:

    I’m looking forward to your review of the Altra Escalante. I have fallen in love lately with Altra. The Torin and Lone Peak have become my favorite walking or jogging shoes. Currently, I’m (still) dealing with a big plantar fasciitis flareup, and started thinking about how the calf needs to be stretched. Although zero drop isn’t suggested for PF, I thought it kind of makes sense. So glad I gave it a go. The Paradigm and Olympus didn’t work for me.
    I love the look of that Joseph Seibel Pippa and just added it to my zappos cart! Love the slip on sneakers, too.
    Thank you.

    • Kirsten Borrink says:

      Cedar, I love the Escalante even more than the Provision 2.5. It’s definitely a low rider, but has just the right amount of arch support and cushioning for me, plus the knit upper fits like a sock–nice and fitted through the midfoot, narrow at heel and wide in toes. Come to think of it, my plantar fasciitis hasn’t flared since wearing Altra so there must be something to the zero drop. Or it could be that I’m stretching more after workouts.

      • cedar says:

        Sounds nice! I do have the Nikes with the knit upper, and it’s a great idea.
        I’m looking forward to trying the Escalante! Sometimes a low rider can feel so amazingly stable, but it must have cushioning, too. (which I think the Escalante is medium cushion?)
        Thanks again for the reviews, most helpful.

    • Pat says:

      Ai had plantar fasciitis for a year, bought Kuru shoes and of healed! Not cheap, but really good support. Have a look.

  5. lisa schmitz says:

    Walking Cradles has an adorable “sneaker style” slip on that has a super-lightweight and flexible EVA bottom, mesh uppers with self-adjusting gore, a soft leather heel cup with a padded collar. The “Fraley” comes in black and taupe with the on-trend white bottom, is $120 and due to hit our website next week. Our wear-testers love it and it is cute as heck! If you would like to see a picture of it prior to it hitting, just email me at:

  6. Mary Frances says:

    Fitflop makes all of these styles for those, like me, who need a soft footbed more than any other feature. Sizing is very inconsistent. For the most softness between your foot and the floor, look for the Microwobbleboard sole.

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    Kirsten Borrink has reviewed over 1,305 comfortable shoes since 2007.
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