Let me start out with a big 'ol **DISCLAIMER** that I am no doctor. I have no medical training.
I am NOT recommending any courses of treatment.
I am only sharing my own experiences and hoping that you might benefit.
So, about a year ago I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and a heel spur. Woo! Party time! Not at all. The pain in the beginning was crazy. I talk about it very briefly here and here.
IN THE BEGINNING...
I was wooed into buying things just because they were comfortable.
The pain in the beginning was seriously so bad I cried. Please, friends, if you find you have pain in your body, don't just ignore it. So. Birkenstock clogs. I was looking for something stylish, work-appropriate and comfortable. The salesman at a local Birkenstock rep told me that everyone who tried these on loved them but they (the shoes) were just a little too small...
I wear a size 37 in Euro sizing. 7 in USA sizing. And he was right. They felt sooooo good. I felt like I needed to change my look to wear them, though. And these days they only get worn around the house or doing errands on days that I don't want to put any effort into my appearance. In short, almost never.
THEN I GOT SUCKED IN BY GLOWING USER REVIEWS...
People exclaiming that some shoe was the best thing since sliced bread.
I missed ballet flats. I have never accepted that having Plantar Fasciitis means an end to my love of ballet flats. One of my co-workers extoled the virtues of FitFlops. So I looked into them. Major controversy on whether they really work. I ordered these for a steal on Zappos but you can also find them here. For me, ultimately, these shoes don't work. My foot works too hard trying to keep them on and I find the toe clenching causes more pain. I keep them around for dressy occasions that don't involve a lot of walking or dancing. They are still patent leather...
AND THEN... I HAD A BETTER IDEA OF WHAT TO LOOK FOR!
Now I have some reliable brands that look good, feel good and fit my vintage and retro style.
One of the first shoes that I found that hit the trifecta of comfortable, supportive and vintage-appropriate was from the Worishofer brand. This particular style is the Krista. I was able to find it on Zappos but one of the best selections I've seen of the brand is from this fun bite of little, old, Floridian lady culture: Buddy Shoes of Boca Raton.
Check them out! They are full of adorable, vintage-appropriate shoes that also joyously scream, "I'm going to be a fashionable old lady!
These were some of the cutest retro wedges I have found with arch support. I got them at Schuler Shoes when they went on sale. I love them so much and I am super bummed to have set them aside for the winter... *sad face* They are from Earth Shoes! You can still find them here.
I found this style of Birkenstock going down the retro shoe rabbit hole some drippy evening. Once I found out they exist I became obsessed with trying them on. Unfortunately, most retailers don't stock Birkenstock shoes. I ended up having them shipped from a store in Virginia and man! So glad I did. They are called the Perugia. I would link a store but they were a serious investigation to track down. So a Google search for you!
These Earth Shoe Solars are my go-to, closed-toe shoe. They have simple design details and feel very secure whenever I wear them. The negative heel design provides lots of comfort and the instep strap is super easy to pull on and off. These were my first success in getting close to my basic ballet flat.
Lastly, the shoes so nice I had to buy them twice! My Birkenstock Messina's always get compliments. Most folks have never seen a Birkenstock in a Mary Jane style. I found them in black at first and then spotted the brown ones on sale at... you guessed it! Schulers! They pretty much work with everything. Although they are a bit on the clunky/chunky side they are super comfortable and quite cute!
-Plantar Fasciitis is not a shoe death sentence
-trial and error is essential to finding real footwear solutions to chronic foot pain
-brands covered here: Earth Shoes, FitFlop, Birkenstock, Worishofer
-additional brands worth a look! Taryn Rose, Chaco, Dromedaris
Good luck my vintage pals! It gets better!