A Podiatrist Convinced Me to Drop These 3 Spring Shoe Trends and Buy These 3

Woman wears black Frankie4 sandals on street with white-and-blue floral-printed maxi dress

(Image credit: @balencianas)

I'm in love with shoes. And in every love story, there's that heartbreaking moment when the protagonist and their soulmate begin to drift apart. That's what's happening to me right now as my feet are healing from a nasty online purchase that did not meet my standards of comfort. Having comfortable shoes is so important to every fashion editor. We're on our feet all the time, as part of the job is going out to discover new brands, and New York City is made for walking.

Since my latest shoe purchases haven't been as walkable as I would've liked, I decided it was time to talk to an expert about what I should be looking for in my next pair. Enter Frankie4 co-founder Caroline McCulloch, a trend-forward podiatrist who's willing to break down the facts about foot health with me because, let's be real, tough love is necessary when someone is dealing with the level of heartbreak that I described above. Based in Australia, the line focuses on merging comfort with chic styles—an intersection that barely existed when McCulloch decided to start the line after speaking with patients at her practice. Naturally, anyone stylish is a bit wary of wearing a shoe labeled as orthopedic.

"I was guilty of referring patients to wear shoes they didn't love. I reached a point where I dreaded telling the ladies I was treating that their only options were either daggy-looking comfort shoes or sports shoes. I saw women of all ages feeling like they were compromising on their look because it was their only option to reduce pain," she explained to Who What Wear. "So [my husband] and I set out to work on our first prototypes, starting with the footbeds. I knew if I could make my footwear designs a reality, under the feet [of] and available to all women, then I could help alleviate, cure, or prevent foot pain for many more women. The rest is history."

While I won't be completely saying goodbye to some of these fun trends, McCulloch has me convinced that I should shy away from them on days when I'll be on my feet a lot. When taking care of my health involves fashion, I dive right in. Below, you'll find the four shoe styles that won't wreak havoc on your feet while still looking cute, according to McCulloch.

Toss: Tight-Fitting Shoes

Keep: Supportive Sandals

"Generally speaking, a good walking sandal should provide cushioning and support features that provide relief to the woman who has foot pain. All of our sandals feature contoured footbeds [and] arch support, and several feature adjustable straps to ensure a secure, adjustable fit and proper alignment. On the flip side, shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause many problems. Tight-fitting shoes can compress the toes, leading to ingrown toenails, while loose-fitting shoes can cause friction and rubbing, resulting in blisters and abrasions. It's essential to prioritize proper fit and comfort when selecting footwear to prevent these issues."

Toss: Ultra-High Heels

Keep: Comfortable Sneakers

"[You should avoid] very high stiletto heels. The elevated, thin heel places excessive pressure on the forefoot, leading to issues such as bunions. Additionally, high heels alter the body's biomechanics, increasing the risk of injuries. Instead, for everyday wear and activities like walking or standing for extended periods, comfortable sneakers with cushioned soles and ample room for toe movement are essential. Finding footwear with breathable materials is also essential for added comfort."

Toss: Thin-Soled Shoes

Keep: Chunky Styles

"Shoes with thin, flimsy soles provide minimal cushioning and shock absorption, which can lead to foot fatigue and discomfort—especially when standing or walking for prolonged periods of time. Comfort is king and is why we avoid a firm footbed. We balance soft, impact-reducing materials with considered supportive curves under your foot to help provide a better foundation that aims to reduce and prevent heel pain (plantar fasciitis)."

Shop more comfortable shoes:

Assistant Shopping Editor
Ana Escalante is an award-winning journalist and Gen Z editor whose work ranges from dissecting size inclusivity at fashion week to discussing how American Girl Doll meme accounts are the the answer to society's collective spiral. She's covered it all: Queen Elizabeth II's corgis, Roe v. Wade frontline protests, and the emergence of jorts (or jean shorts for the uninitated). At Who What Wear, Ana is responsible for delivering smart, insightful, personality-driven shopping guides and trend features for a digital-first generation.Before joining Who What Wear, Ana was Glamour magazine's editorial assistant, where she focused on daily news and special packages, including leading the brand's 2022 Met Gala coverage. For more than half a decade, she has covered style, beauty, and digital culture for publications such as Paper magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue Japan, and Allure, among others. Ana has been called a rising star in media by publications such as Nylon and Teen Vogue. (Her mother, meanwhile, calls her "the coolest person" she knows.)