Don't sacrifice style for comfort

by Jennifer Ortakales / Beacon Correspondent • March 14, 2013

Standing in line at the Max one day, I came upon a couple in front of me wearing matching TEVA sandals. Along with these outdated athletic shoes, they wore identical pairs of khaki Bermuda shorts that completed their out-of-place, tree-hugger outfits. Once I overcame my initial horror, I began to think of the unfortunate number of people who still wear these kinds of shoes.

People usually say they care more about comfort than style. At first, this seems like a sensible explanation, but what they don’t realize is their ugly footwear is making an even uglier statement. Even the most unstylish of shoes say a lot about a person, and when you’re wearing the wrong pair, they don’t say nice things. Whatever your footwear faux pas, the first step in acquiring more stylish feet is to stop the excuses. Comfortable shoes don’t have to be ugly.

There is no other winter boot that has been redesigned, bedazzled, knocked-off, and over-worn than the UGG. Behind the design of this shoe is one thing — unoriginality. There is nothing special or complex about its form, making it ridiculously easy for retail stores worldwide to sell their own copies.

But the biggest problem about UGGs is that they make any outfit look sloppier. They are associated with laziness because women usually wear them with leggings or sweats. Yet, there are still women who wear them to the office, peeking out under dress slacks and ruining any intention of looking professional. Plenty of stores sell unique styles of snow-enduring boots so there’s no reason UGGs should even be an option. Even hefty boots like Sorels have become more trendy with new styles available. Ankle boots are the perfect option for work because they’re short enough for slacks, but also look sophisticated with skirts and dresses.

When it comes to seasonal shoes, the flip-flop is perhaps the first that comes to mind. This shoe has become synonymous with summer, the beach, and Old Navy. However, much like the UGG, their simple design has gotten old. As the cheapest style shoe around, stores sell them for almost nothing, so every flip-flop fanatic has one in every color. These sandals never last long, so it’s only a few months before it’s time to buy another identical pair from the thousands off the manufacturing line. Cookie-cutter couldn’t be a better definition of the flip-flop. 

There’s a very wide range of alternatives to the flip-flop. Gladiator sandals come in many different designs and can be trendy or simple depending on your personal style. Wedge or high-heel sandals add elegance to sundresses and many flat, strappy sandals are comfortable enough to walk around in all day. For the times flip-flops are the most convenient, like at the beach or a pool, at least a nice pair of metallic flip-flops will compliment your bathing suit much better.

The number one mistake made by men is wearing their running sneakers with khakis. They put on their dress pants for work, but don’t realize professionalism doesn’t stop at their feet. Weekend and work attire deserve very different styles of shoes. Investing in a respectable pair of brogues or loafers is the only way to guarantee your business apparel is completely professional.

Another athletic shoe that too many people misuse is the recently invented FiveFingers. Originally made for running, these rubbery “shoes” separate each toe and claim to be healthier for your feet than sneakers. But too many people make the mistake in wearing these health-fad shoes outside the gym. They weren’t designed to be attractive because their sole purpose is for exercising. No one can be taken seriously wearing them on the street. People’s first reaction is to ask, “What’s wrong with your feet?” or “Why aren’t you wearing shoes?” and these thoughts instantly disrupt any interaction you make with someone. For those who can’t run without them, do yourself a favor and just change into different shoes after your workout.

From Crocs to Birkenstocks, there are plenty more examples of horrible choices in footwear, but the most important thing is knowing you have plenty of options. Being comfortable in your shoes is an essential part of your day. There’s nothing worse than getting painful blisters on your way to work or going to class and realizing you shouldn’t have worn heels. But first impression is an element that can be equally uncomfortable. A lack of effort in the footwear department comes off as lazy and ignorant, while a sharp pair tells people you’re ready to take on a challenge. If you’re a victim of a shoe blunder, consider the statement you want to make, and find a pair that won’t cause people  to cringe in line behind you.