When I am out and about I often make a mental note of what women are wearing on their feet. Occasionally I see someone in a very high heeled pair of shoes whose feet are obviously hurting her and I think 'why would you do that to yourself?' Or 'wait until you are older and have terrible bunions and you'll know those shoes were a bad idea!' However I think we all know why we women wear shoes like that - they are objects of desire and fit the person's head rather than their feet or maybe their lifestyle. I can't tell you how often I have done the same thing. Let's face it - trying shoes on in a store is rarely a good test of how well they will work in practice when you are going about your business. The trouble is that the right shoes often complete an outfit.

For instance If I am wearing a dress or skirt I always feel that I need a heeled shoe to elongate and balance my chunky legs, which is one reason why I nearly always wear trousers!

It's clear that the vast majority of older women take a very pragmatic view when it comes to footwear. I have come to this conclusion after looking at all our street style photographs by Beatrix Blaise. Of the 200 or so women we have featured, only 6 were wearing a heeled shoe or boot. All the rest looked stylish, relaxed and above all comfortably shod in a fantastic variety of completely flat short boots, high boots, trainers, sandals, lace-ups and pumps.

It's true that many were also wearing trousers, but the women who had chosen skirts or dresses looked perfectly fine in footwear without a heel.

My problem is that I have smallish square shaped wide feet with a high instep and the left one is a full half size smaller than the right. Oh, and to complicate things further I sometimes get pain in the joints of my big toes which makes most heeled shoes unwearable. Nightmare! The best solution for me is either flat boots which I wear from about October to April or lowish cut flat pumps with one or two insoles to stop the left shoe falling off as I walk.

I am no longer able to buy what I would call 'mainstream' shoes. I have finally (and reluctantly) acknowledged that I need footwear which takes account of the state of my feet.

For a long time I tried to cram my feet into something tempting in (say) Selfridges' fabulous shoe department. These objects of desire would then sit immaculate in their boxes in my cupboard as painful reminders that I just can't wear shoes like that any more. So I now head for brands which are made with my needs in mind. In the past year I have had some success with a pair of Gabor shoes which come in various width fittings. I bought these in John Lewis and they are very comfortable in a wider fitting and the sparkles on the front lift them above the boring for a plain pair of black suede shoes. I also like the platform which lends some extra height. I was wearing them last Saturday when I went to see a new play called The Labour of Love (excellent performance from Tamsin Greig and very funny). As I got up to let a woman of my age get to her seat, she looked down and said 'oh - I've got those shoes!' We agreed they were very comfy.

I've also managed to find a pair of comfortable plain black court shoes with a small heel by Peter Kaiser for evening events (car to bar with a posh frock). Last winter I discovered Geox shoes and boots and was delighted that a pair of over the knee boots actually fitted my larger than average calves. I wore these practically every day from December to February with my trousers tucked into them and they looked great.

I have recently been trying a brand called Cocorose, which might be the answer to a maiden's prayer for lots of you who are looking for total comfort with a bit of style.

They would also have been the perfect solution for the woman mentioned above whose feet were killing her on a trip out with friends. Cocorose have come up with the idea of a range of shoes which are flexible enough to fold in two. This makes them perfect for popping into your bag for the journey home after an evening in more 'challenging' shoes or for packing into the smallest space for a holiday or cruise. The shoes are modelled on the principle of ballet shoes and come with their own little zipped pouch for travelling. They are made in super soft leather and the elasticated backs mean that they fit both my odd-sized feet without an extra insole for the left one. I intend to keep a pair of these in my handbag in future for those occasions when my feet are killing me and I still need to walk somewhere.


The two pairs I have been wearing (see photo above) are are very lightweight so I feel they work best for summer or for indoor wear, but Cocorose also do a range of styles including trainers and boots too, so are well worth a look. This week we have a special offer for you on Cocorose. Just use the code LFF15 on their website to get 15% discount on your order.

I'd love to know about your own shoe dilemmas. Have you also given up on heels or do you still love to wear them on special occasions? Any hints or tips about good sources of comfortable footwear will also be appreciated by our many blog followers. Do leave us a comment below.

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