Got a bunion? Wear these cute shoes. Doctor’s orders.
You may feel like you’re all alone in trying to find the best cute shoes for bunions. After all, “cute” and “bunion” don’t often go together, we’ll give you that. However, if you have that bony protrusion on the outside of your big toe—or your little toe, called a Tailor’s bunion or bunionette—you’re not alone. Bunions affect about 23 percent of people ages 18-65, and they’re more common in women.
Bunions are caused by years of abnormal motion and pressure on the toe joint. The faulty foot mechanics that lead to bunions can even be genetic! (Ugh, thanks, Mom.) Foot injuries, neuromuscular disorders, or congenital deformities can also cause bunions. And people with low arches, flat feet, arthritis, or inflammatory joint diseases are also prone to developing bunions.
That’s not to say you’re doomed to rock ugly, orthopedic-looking sneakers for the rest of your days. We talked to podiatrists and came up with this list of the best cute shoes for bunions to fit every area of your life.
It can be difficult to find a cute boot that doesn’t make your bunions scream. When you’re shopping, try to look for a shoe that has increased room in the toe box, says Pidich. “Generally, the more triangular the toe box design, the less comfortable the shoe will feel. The more rectangular the shoe, the more comfortable,” she adds. These cute booties have a rounded toe, and they come in wide widths, which should appease even the crankiest bunions. At 2 1/4 inches, the chunky block heel gives a little height without worries of toppling over. The sturdy rubber outsole also adds to the stability by keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground. A padded footbed and a leather upper maximize the comfort level. And the decorative button-and-loop accents give them a little pop.
“Stretch and form” type of shoes are great for people with bunions. “This type of shoe is made out of a cloth or very soft leather and forms to your foot, which usually eliminates any roughness or tightness on the toe box,” Pidich says. These flats, which come with a soft suede or leather upper, fit the bill. Although flats are notorious for having almost no arch support, these have a very slight 3/5-inch heel that helps support your arch. The super-soft leather lining and cushioned footbed lend an additional boost of comfort. And the metallic accent beads give the standard flats an adorable mini-makeover.
A seam rubbing up against your bunion is the last thing you want when you’re hitting the track or treadmill. To make sure your shoes don’t aggravate your bunion, make sure you try on the shoe, and do it later in the day when your foot is more swollen, says Amir Assili, a podiatrist at Shady Grove Podiatry in Gaithersburg, Maryland. If you try on a shoe in the morning, the seam may not put pressure on the bunion, but it might as the day goes on and your feet expand. Therefore, it’s important to look for shoes with well-placed seams or even no seam at all. The New Balance 880v7 has a mesh upper that is breathable and seamless. Two layers of foam cushioning provide great shock absorption. This cute shoe comes in wide widths, which will give even more room for a bunion. Even better, it comes in a variety of color choices, which means you can run in comfort and style.
This shoe has a 4 1/4-inch heel with a 1/2-inch rocker-bottom platform. “This type of heel eliminates bending at the toe box and allows the ball of the foot to ‘rock’ like a boat while walking, which helps ease bunion pain,” Pidich says. And although the heel height may seem quite high, the raised platform makes it feel lower. The block heel provides additional stability. But these shoes aren’t only designed for comfort. The crisscross design and resulting peekaboo cutouts give the heels a chic yet sexy look, which means you’ll feel good and look good, too.
Footwear with an adjustable element is a sensible choice for people with bunions, says Assili. Shoes with straps or laces will allow you to wear the shoe as tight or as loose as you want, which can give more room for your bunion. These sandals have adjustable hook and loop straps, a leather upper and a rocker-bottom outsole (just like the Kors sandals!), so they’re super comfy. In addition, they have a removable insole with memory-foam cushioning. The Verona comes in a variety of color choices for a casually cool look.
With bunions, you need a shoe with a deep-heel cup to keep your foot in place so it doesn’t slip around and squish your bunion. Ouch—just the thought. “Luckily, with the recent fashion trend of menswear for women, the new Oxford style of dress shoes for women provide great support, can accommodate orthotics, and they are my go-to shoe for my work day,” says Jessica M. Knight, a podiatrist and surgeon with Northwest Community Hospital Medical Group in Arlington Heights, Illinois. This Oxford has a round toe, a leather upper, and added arch support. The removable triple-density footbed gives you the option to wear the shoe as-is or insert your own orthotic insole. Available in wine, taupe, or two different black options, not only is this shoe bunion-friendly, it’s polished enough to be work-friendly, too.
“Having bunions doesn’t mean you can’t wear heels—it means wearing them smartly,” says Gregoria Caban, a podiatrist at the Surgery Center at Doral in Miami. That means you shouldn’t wear heels for hours on end and you need to scale back on the height. “A higher heel will make the foot slip forward on the shoe, creating pain and constriction of the toes and the bunion,” Caban explains. If you want to wear a pump at work, these 2 1/2-inch heels are the perfect height that won’t cause your feet to slip and slide. They have an almond-shaped toe, which scores high with podiatrists, and you can snag them in a wide width, too. The leather upper means the shoe can stretch to give your bunion even more room. Another plus: the padded footbed provides superior cushioning. This pump comes in black, nude, and black patent leather, so you have options that will look good with every item in your work wardrobe.