a guide to orthotics-- pretty shoes despite foot problems

Hello there! Today on Devilishly Pleasurable we have another guest blogger, Colleen of Scrap and Run, continuing the series on shoes. For those of you who are new here or haven't been here for a bit, I ran two earlier features on shoes, one where I celebrated my collection of shoes through the years, and a guest post by Megan of Two Birds Boutique on indispensable tips on wearing your shoes all year round regardless of seasonal changes. That was the first time DP featured a guest blogger, and this is followed by Colleen, who dispenses advice for those of us requiring orthotics to deal with foot problems, allowing you to stay comfortable without sacrificing aesthetics. So often are we bombarded with images of the beautiful and pristine, yet the pursuit of fashion, style and beauty is not as straightforward for all of us. As Colleen puts it, her confidence has increased; and let's hope that you too can pass this information to your family, friends and colleagues who might be plagued with similar problems, spreading a little (shoe) love. . .
"My shoe taste has changed over the years.  In high school, I liked chunky shoes.  Now I like more dainty shoes.  At first I did not like pointy toed shoes and now I own a lot of them.  However, some things for my taste have not changed.  I love a good heel.  The more height the better.  My husband is 6’5” so I really want height now.  The women on my dad’s side of the family are 6’ tall so I have wanted height since family functions when I was growing up.  I’m just a short 5’7 for my family.  I also have pretty steadily been afraid of open toed shoes.  I did get one pair this summer.  I am still half-scared about wearing them.  My price range used to be Payless prices but once I got foot problems, my price range drastically increased and I once spent $160 on a pair of shoes.  My current preferred price is to stay below $50.  I don’t try to favor one brand over another but I have just found success lately with Connie.

When purchasing shoes, I think how often I will wear it.  I need to get a lot of use out of a shoe before deciding to buy it. Up until a year or two ago I would have said if given the choice between new shoes or new apparel that new apparel would have won any day of the week.  Now I look at both and decide.  If your outfit is awesome but your shoes are lacking, the entire outfit is lacking.  You need the entire package.  I had a lot of issues with this before when I was forced to wear flats every single day.  I wore what I referred to as Grandma Shoes.  I have plantar fasciitis and it is actually pretty bad.  I have seen a few specialists about it and gotten special orthotics. 

A growing collection. . . 
I don’t have a lot of shoes yet.  My collection of shoes that I love is starting to grow so I only have the basics.  I pick my shoes based on my outfits unless I have a desire to wear my red shoes or my purple shoes. One of my favorite pair of shoes for the fall and winter are the Nickels shoes that rang up wrong and only cost me $5 (see those on top left). Another new favorite are my newest pair of boots.  I never realized how awesome boots were before.
Choosing orthotics
There are multiple types of orthotics.  The kind I have are the 2/3 hard orthotics (see here and here for photos).  They have orthotics that go the full length of your foot. They also have orthotics that soft.  I am no expert. I just know a little from talking to doctors and having to wear them for years.   The orthotics that are specially made for you start with a mold of your foot.  There are orthotics available now that are made for a certain type of foot and they are a lot cheaper.  I have not tried these but I hear they work well.  Dr Scholl’s is at least one brand that has more inexpensive orthotics.

I prefer prescription over Dr Scholl’s insoles because I have more than the normal amount of foot problems and taking a mold of my foot is the best way. I have extremely flat feet, platar fasciitis, and pronate a lot while walking.

I have never had the orthotics that are more like foam. I am not even sure what exactly they are called but my brother had them and his orthotics didn’t last nearly as long as mine. Mine are older than his and I can still wear mine.  I have had two podiatrists and both have specifically told me to make sure the person making my orthotics did the hard kind.  I’m not sure of the reasoning but I had more relief and mine lasted long than my brother.   If you go to a shoe store, they prefer the full length orthotics because you can remove an insole from a current shoe and replace it with the orthotic. With a 2/3 length, you have to put yours on top of the insole.  The con of putting it on top of the insole is your foot sits higher than it normally would so you need to make sure your heel doesn’t sit too high.  The pro of putting your orthotic on top of the insole is that your toes and the ball of your foot wear out the insole in the shoe instead of your expensive orthotic.

In addition to soft or hard orthotics, there are regular and slim fit orthotics. The “regular” ones are actually very wide and only fit in certain athletic shoes and they do not fit in any other type of shoe.  The regular width is the best support for athletic activities though.  The slim fit orthotics fit in dress shoes and other types of shoes so that is always a plus

Insurance will cover orthotics but you should do some research before determining where to go.  Some places charge double what another place would charge for the same quality product. 

I got my best pair of orthotics from a local store that mainly 90 year olds go to get shoes.  Once they realized I was there for me and wasn’t with someone, they helped me fine. I could always go back to get the orthotics adjusted if I ever had an issue.   Most of the time you will go back after 1 month, because you can’t tell immediately how the insoles will feel. They feel different at first and you don’t know if it is good or bad.  Don’t be discouraged and wait a few weeks before you determine if they are working.  Most places recommend you phase in the orthotics by starting with only wearing them 1 hour the first day.

I believe if you only have minor foot problems, then the doctor recommends the soft orthotic over the hard orthotic because you don’t need as much stability, but I would always go for the better version if you have the chance.

To sum up, 
  • If you need orthotics find out what type the doctor is prescribing first.  The slim fit ones are nice for dress shoes but the wider ones are better for running. Know what you want them for and research where to go.  Prices can range from $300 to $600 but insurance does cover them so you only have to pay a portion.  
  • You can use orthotics with a 1.5” heel or less.  
  • If you wear orthotics, make sure you have them with you at the store because shoes fit differently with an insole in them.

Other shoe tips!
  • A  4-inch heel can be a lot more comfortable than a flat.  Ballet flats or a similar shoe do not have enough padding to make your foot angled properly to look nice and they also don’t end up as comfortable.  
  • If you cannot walk up three flights of stairs in your heels, then you should not be wearing them.
  • If you require your wardrobe to be updated for the seasons or styles, your shoes should also be updated.
  • Don’t get discouraged and plan to try on many shoes for every pair you buy.  Don’t settle on something you think may work or may be comfortable. Know.  Otherwise you buy shoes and don’t ever wear them.
  • Wear pantyhose to the store if you plan to try on dress shoes. Wear athletic socks if you plan to buy running shoes.  Bring socks with you if you aren’t wearing them that day. Make sure you try on shoes with the thickness of socks that you will be wearing. It makes your life a lot easier.  The last time I went shoe shopping, I bought my black Steve Madden pumps and my New Balance Running shoes.  I had socks in my purse in addition to having my orthotics in my purse.  

About Colleen:
I’m Colleen from ScrapAndRun, and have been blogging since April of 2003.  I started with LiveJournal and recently switched to Blogger.  I have been taking my daily picture since May 2005.  I never took it to put on a blog or to talk about fashion.  I took it so that I knew when I last wore something.  I used to create my website manually with the pictures with tables but luckily, my husband made it into a database to create a calendar automatically.  I love having others read my blog but also love the archive.  I love data. I have also been keeping a weight graph and posting it to the internet since May of 2003."

Do email Colleen if you have any further questions on orthotics, shoes or fashion in general, and stop by Scrap And Run to say hello!


  1. oh wow, i enjoyed reading this. especially the tips. :D

  2. I'm glad I could write this. I hope people like it.

  3. Before I had my hip replacement I wore orthotics so this took me back to the days of the shoe tantrum. xxx

  4. A very insightful post. I enjoyed reading it.
    Now I'm more informed about foot problems than before. Nice shoe collection, too. Have a nice weekend;-)

  5. Interesting - I have my fair share of foot and knee problems so this was very informative.

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  14. Choosing orthotics is one of the toughest job and you need to be very careful about it. BTW I would be very grateful to you if someone can help me in choosing orthotics and can tell me about different websites. I have one that I can share with you but I need more so that I can have variety of choices.



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