No matter your age, shoes will always be the one accessory that adds a statement to any outfit. If you're in your 50s, maybe you've changed and walked in many pairs of shoes that don't match your current lifestyle. One thing women in their 30s, 40s and 50s have in common is that comfort is key to any styling choice — including shoes.
The turn of a decade doesn't mean you have to quit certain fashion choices, but instead build on your existing wardrobe system. A few experts shared their tips and must-have shoe style essentials to keep in your footwear repertoire, whether you're 50 or beyond. Plus, we compiled a list of shoes that will leverage any look.
Common foot problems in your 50s | Shoe essentials for women in their 50s | Features to look for | Styles to avoid | Shoes to shop | Meet the experts
What are common foot problems in your 50s?
The most common foot ailments in your 50s include "bunions, heel pain from things like fissures or cracks, arthritis [and] toe deformities (hammer, mallet or claw toes)," says podiatrist Dr. Janine Ferrigno-Taddeo.
While not every woman in their 50s have to deal with foot issues, podiatrists recommend looking for shoes that add extra support and stability.
What shoe essentials do women need in their 50s?
Style is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so it's key to keep your personal taste in mind. According to style expert and former celebrity stylist Law Roach, there are three shoe essentials a woman should have in her closet: a great flat, a black pump and a boot of some sort.
A pump is essential because "it can be worn to work, to the office, to lunch and can go all the way into the evening. For me, that is the most interesting and versatile shoe. A pump with 90 to 100 mm heel height is manageable," he says.
For style expert Olivia Eslami, a driver shoe is another must-have staple to own. "If you are going to wear a flat, this is the type to invest in. Drivers offer more insole support and are more durable than an everyday ballet flat," she adds.
Ideally, you'll want a shoe or boot that is easy to slip on. Ferrigno-Taddeo suggests opting for breathable styles and boots that are not tight or restrictive. Also, you can add a pair of orthotic inserts to help keep your feet balanced and aligned when walking.
Features to look for while shopping for shoes
According to Ferrigno-Taddeo, shoe styles with a "rounded toe box, shorter heels, sturdy soles and slip resistance are the most essential kind of footwear for a woman in her 50s. The chance of falling and slipping increases as we get older, so footwear to help prevent or minimize that is ideal."
Eslami also recommends shoes with an arch and insole support, along with those with a block heel between 70-75 mm. Though 100 mm shoes are not off-limits, she advises choosing those with thicker heel or a wedge. "A great pair of wedges will work for you when you need height but don't want a heel. They are also great alternatives to a basic flat."
Shoes to avoid in your 50s
While style is personal, there are certain shoe designs women should be wary of when they enter their 50s. Aside from looking for footwear with support features, Ferrigno-Taddeo suggests avoiding shoes with high heels (3.5 inches or higher), a narrow toe box and minimal traction, as these don't provide the comfort and stability that is needed.
As for Roach, his suggestion is simple: women shouldn't feel restricted to any shoe style. "I’ve always been against do’s and don’ts. Nobody shouldn’t tell what a woman should wear or not. I always empower women to do and wear whatever they want."
Must-have shoes for your 50s
Cushionaire Women's Pim Knit Platform Sandal
A sandal is a warm weather essential, so you should find a comfortable pair that complements your casual attire while you're running errands or hanging out. This pair features memory foam insoles, an elastic upper that holds your foot in place and a two-inch platform for a cushy fit. Whether you wear them on vacation or indoors, customers rave about how lightweight they are.
"They have a nice gentle platform that you don’t notice when you walk. The stretch band across your foot helps for comfort but doesn’t rub even if you walk 3+ miles at a time in them," said one Amazon reviewer.
Clarks Women's Sharon Gracie Penny Loafer
For a more professional setting, wear this loafer that will give you comfort and a classy look. The shoe has a soft cushioning and padding that will prevent your feet from getting sore. Also, it features a modern outsole that reminisces a sneaker. This style can be paired with your favorite work slacks or denim for a put-together look.
One reviewer said this shoe is great for plantar fasciitis. "I bought these for a conference knowing it would be a ton of walking. They were stylish and supportive."
Vionic Women's Drift Berlin Toggle Closure Active Sneakers
A white pair of sneakers is a must-have in any woman's wardrobe, no matter the age. This pair will support your everyday activities thanks to the toggle closure that offers an easy slip-on experience. The sneakers are made with breathable mesh fabric and superior footbed technology that provides comfort, support and stability — especially if you have flat feet, high arches or alignment issues.
"They are lightweight, give great support and I can tighten or loosen the top as needed (tight for a workout and then loosen them as my feet swell throughout the day)," said one reviewer.
Greatonu Heeled Sandals
Keep your wardrobe looking classy with these heeled sandals. They feature a cushioned insole and the mule style is easy to take on and off. The open-toe design will give your feet room to breathe and is a great pair to wear on business or casual days. According to customers, you will need to break them in if you have a wider foot.
Franco Sarto Jacer Slingback Pump
Whether you're heading to the office or stepping into the bar, this pump is a classic staple. The shoe features a block heel and a slingback strap for a comfier fit. This pair is a must-have because of its versatility — you can easily pair it with jeans, slacks, dresses, skirts, T-shirts and more without having a fashion disparity.
The padded insole and almond toe box will give your toes more room to wiggle. This is a shoe that will complement any piece you wear.
Aerosoles Dave Women's Sandal
For a more sophisticated version of the classic sandal, this shoe is ideal for comfortable walks. The molded footbed offers stability and the velcro strap secures the ankle while supporting your foot. This is great for all-day wear and pairs well with any dress or bottom. It also features two neutral tones for a minimalistic aesthetic.
Karl Lagerfeld Paris Patzi Embellished Leather Espadrille Sandals
If you love the pearlcore aesthetic, this espadrille-inspired design will give you a chic vibe. This shoe is embellished with gold hardware, pearl details and a leather upper for a feminine look. The sandal features a padded insole for a sporty feel and a grip-tape strap to secure the ankle. If you have a wider foot, this is a great choice to keep things comfortable and slip-resistant.
Easy Street Carmella Sandal
Unlike strappy sandals, this one in particular features a thicker upper that will control your grip. The shoe features a mesh upper fabric, a block heel and round toe box that works very well for all-day wear. Customers rave about how comfortable and stylish this sandal is, especially how easy it is to clean.
One customer said they "danced in the rain in these shoes and they were soaked! They dried nicely and look the same. Comfortable for walking on average distances on rough pavement."
Steve Madden Lando Black Leather
For any last-minute dress-up moments, this comfortable platform shoe is a suitable option. The shoe features a chunky lug sole with a classic horsebit hardware for added glam. It also comes with a roomy interior and the sturdy structure combines elegance and functionality.
Cole Haan Women's Driver Driving Style Loafer
According to Eslami, driver shoes are a must-have for women in their 50s for their versatility and comfort. Drivers are similar to moccasins and are a great alternative to traditional flats for their professional aesthetic. This one comes in different colors and features a rubber pod outsole that provides good traction. Wear it with slacks or denim for a touch of sophistication.
Brooks Women's Levitate 5 Neutral Running Shoe
Shop TODAY editors love Brooks for its reliability when it comes to running or gym workouts. The shoe features a sock-like fit that allows breathability and room to move. Also, it's perfectly cushioned to support you every step of the way.
Whether you're standing all day or working out, this running shoe is well-received by podiatrists for its overall design. "For the first time in my life I can do 12 hours on my feet and not leave in pain!" said one reviewer.
Birdies The Starling
While flats are not a podiatrist's favorite, Birdies are one of the only ballerina shoes that seem to be Shop TODAY-approved. For most commuters that walk to work, these flats are ultra comfy and chic. The shoe has a pillow-like footbed that feels very cushioned once your feet step in.
"Birdies flats provide all-day comfort thanks to the extra layer of padding between the sole and the bottoms of your feet. While my job doesn't require me to stand for long periods of time, Birdies still provided me with a stylish, comfortable flat to sport all day!" mentions Shop TODAY editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger.
Ecco Women's Gruuv Sneaker
If you're looking for a hybrid shoe that works as a sneaker and everyday shoe, this is the one for you. The Gruuv is a modern sneaker that features removable dual-fit comfort foam insoles, buttery soft Nappa leather, flexible rubber sole and FLUIDFORM construction for flexibility. This is a pair that won't disappoint you when standing in line for hours.
"This is the most comfortable leather shoe right out of the box I have ever bought and I’m 58 years old. I like them so well that I bought a second pair and am contemplating buying a third pair. Incredible comfort and stability along with great style and fit (true to size). This is definitely a shoe you can wear and will want to wear all day every day," added one customer.
Meet the experts
- Law Roach is a retired celebrity stylist known for his work with high-profile clients and features on the red carpet. Currently, Roach is a partner of T.J. Maxx.
- Olivia Eslami is the owner of OEC Consulting, a Miami-based international consulting company that helps businesses to grow and achieve their goals. She recently shared tips for how to dress in-between weather.
- Dr. Janine Ferrigno-Taddeo is a podiatrist and expert consultant at Aetrex, a brand focused on offering shoes for people with different foot ailments.