Bunions Got You Down? Try These 6 Adorable Shoe Styles That Won’t Kill Your Feet

Woman with sore feet
Woman with sore feet

Bunions are probably one of the most common foot problems that no one wants to talk about. Why? Because even your mani-pedi won’t make them magically disappear. Plus, comfy shoes for bunions tend to, well, hard to find. And orthopedic flip flops scream “I didn’t try.”

I’ll put a disclaimer on this right now: If  you feel that you need to visit an orthopedic specialist, please do. But if you are trying to fit cute shoes into your wardrobe, despite the bunions and without further damaging your precious tootsies, here are some ideas.

What are Bunions?

According to Bunion Center, the underlying problem is that tight shoes put pressure against the foot. That leads to a painful swelling on the big toe. Although some experts think that bunions are genetic, many believe that the problem is exacerbated by ill-fitting shoes, specifically shoes that are too tight and too pointy.

Quick Shoe Tips for Bunion Suffers

  • Avoid “pleather” shoes that restrict your feet
  • Look for shoes in breathable fabrics like cotton and linen
  • Search for wedges which provide height, but distributes weight much better than regular heels
  • Watch out for shoes with seams along the sides that may cut into your feet
  • Find brands like Kork Ease, Clarks, and the new comfort line by Kenneth Cole called Gentle Souls

6 Cute Shoes for Bunions

Now, onto the nitty-gritty. Here are six stylish shoes for bunions — they’re all styles that give your feet some room to avoid squeezing those painful bunions.

1. Elastic sandal

If you have bunions, elastic is your friend. Look for shoes that have elastic straps/tops that comfortably stretch over your foot.

2. Wedges

Wedge sandal with elastic green strap
Italian Shoemakers Nami Wedge Sandal, $44.99, DSW

The right pair of wedges are another option for you. They provide the height of heels but distribute weight equally. That reduces the amount of strain on the front of your foot.

3. Uggs: a bunion sufferer’s friend

If you have bunions, you get a total “Ugg pass.” The boots offer comfort and trend for those looking for more options besides orthopedic shoes. Make sure your feet are dry when wearing the boots as moisture can lead to bacteria. See our post on where to find discounted Uggs.

4. The right flat

While flats provide relief for high heels, they can be a nightmare for those with bunions if the shoe is cut wrong and/or a seam is placed right where your bunion is located. Flats that have all over stretchy material, as shown above, are best.

5. Lace fronts

Shoes that allow you to adjust laces to expand the box of the shoe is a must for anyone with bunions. Just watch out for any seams that might cut into your foot.

6. Adjustable Sandals

Sandals with adjustable straps are great for those with “baby” bunions as they offer the option to adjust the width of the sandal. And, since Birkenstock has updated its line as of late, there’s no reason you can’t have a little fun with the style.

How are you dealing with your bunions? Leave a comment with any recommendations you have!

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    Antionette Blake

    I love them all!

    They are ugly and not elegant . What about a designing shoes for woman that want to keep feeling feminine and elegant?

    I have to sort of disagree about the first three. having bunions (totally genetic in my case) any shoe that has a strap RIGHT at the bunion area is the worst kind… it’s just going to rub…

    So what shoes can we buy that don’t rub across the bunion? I just bought keen sandals which are being returned. They hit the bad spot and created a huge irritation.

    great .. 1 again thanks I will be back here in the shortest time

    I agree with Jen, you must not have bunions.

    I have bunions, and I agree with Jen 100%.

    Hi Elbe and Jen– Thanks for your feedback on the story! Rest assured that the TBF staff is looking into updating the shoe choices asap.

    For relief from bunions and hammer toe made worse by uncomfortable shoes, check out SmartToes Toe Stretchers.

    Whoever wrote the article clearly has no idea of the discomfort and sheer pain of bunions, or the medical advice never to wear high-heels if you have bunions. We need low heels, extra width and higher cut shoesso they don’t have edges or straps pressing on bunions. Please will some shoe designer focus on pretty attractive stylish shoes that have those qualities!

    clare you are so right totally ridiculous for those of us with huge bunions to even think about any of those shoes

    I have to chime in. This article is absurd. Between the high heels, which will just put an extreme amount of pressure on the forefoot and painful bunion to the no-support-flats which will do the same, it’s clear this author doesn’t know what they’re talking about. At all.

    Agree w/most of the commenters. These shoes are horrible for bunions!

    The best shoes I have found for bunion discomfort are the Go Walk line by Skechers. Not fancy sandals like these, but you’ll be able to actually walk and travel and participate in activities without being in pain. We need more shoe designers to design shoes with stretchy straps and good arch support.

    I had to scroll down and view the comments on this article because I knew other ladies with bunions would agree that these (first 3 at least) shoes are the WORST and most painful shoes. All of us should get together and come up with the REAL top 5 shoes best for bunions.

    omgosh….anyone with a bunion would know you can NOT wear heels!! what a joke this is

    This is an old post, but the first shoe isn’t too bad if the bunion sits right behind that first strap. When I wear strappy heels, especially ones that criss cross at the toe box, my pesky little bunion has room to poke out from those straps. It’s never that obvious and with the right shoe, it’s awesome.

    I also like to stick to chunkier heels/wedges.

    So what can you wear when you have bunions ? Please help

    Try flexible, cotton shoes or wedges. Mainly, you want to choose styles that don’t restrict your feet or force all of your weight to the front of your feet.

    I had terrible feet, handed down from my Mom, bunions, hammer toes, toes going sideways, etc! By the time I found the right doctor, after 20 years of pain, I told him to cut them off at the knees, they hurt so bad. I was in my late 40’s then and he literally cut the toes off and reconfigured them, first foot, then the next foot 6 weeks later. Best thing I ever did. I’m in my 60’s and still no pain. As far as shoes the only thing I wear is Skechers Shape-Ups, and I was lucky to find a nice leather sandal Shape-Ups that works great. Haven’t been able to find those sandals again but I keep looking! I really don’t know how many other shoes I could wear today but I never want to have that foot pain again so I just stay with what works. I agree, I could of never worn any of the shoes that are shown on this site, dream on!

    You mean your doctor amputated your toes? Never heard of such!

    I have found heels even though I have quite large bunions, though to be honest not very many, it’s about finding ones that don’t squeeze the bunion, have straps in the right place so the bunion doesn’t hang out and are soft enough to stretch where needed. there are no particular brands out there at the moment but Look at callashoesdotcodotuk for shoes designed for bunion feet.

    I agree Jerni. I have bunions on both feet and a hammertoe on right foot, but I have become adept at finding stylish shoes that don’t hurt my feet. Nordstrom is a good place to shop, both in store and online. I have ordered six and seven pair (free shipping and return) and have a try on session in my own home. This also works with shoebuy.com and Zappos. I have the disadvantage of a large foot (size 12), flat feet and recent foot surgery that makes it difficult to wear certain kinds of shoes or find them in my size. Most of the brands mentioned here don’t sell my size. As a result I had to pay $400 for a pair of Stuart Weiztman boots!

    I agree. We need shoes that are beautiful, yet comfortable and functionable. I have a 6 1/2 – 7 WW foot, bone spurs on my heels, and problems with edema making it hard to find any decent shoes anywhere. I have went from all the normal shoe stores in the major malls to all the major department stores and cannot find anything but the SAS Freetime Walking shoe. Even Nordstroms who use to carry wide widths and narrow heels in the same shoe, no longer carry them. I love these shoes, SAS, and where I use to work, it worked because business casual was allowed, but for most business offices, interviews, outing on the town with friends, and special occasions they do not work. I could not even find flats that would make due. I use to wear Hush Puppies Body Shoe which had a leather upper but the bottom was all man made but very comfortable. It had a square toe box and came up higher so it came over the bone so it would not rub. They only make the Angel II now which is totally man made materials. Easy Spirits made their case by implying they were so comfortable that you could play basketball in them. The wide was so narrow and pointed that it caused my toes to stack up on top of each other making it so I could not walk in them. When I was in high school, my favorite shoe was one I got at Kenny or Thomas McCann. It was a hard leather, platform shoe with a round toe, a chunky heel, and laced up. I wore them for years but they finally got their use. They worked because of the round toe. My doctor has told me to wear flats because of the bone spurs and because my siatica acts up once in a while but I still would like to have a pair of pumps on hand for those occasions you need something more. Do you have any suggestions.

    I agree with the rest of you that these shoes listed will not work. I have found sandals that work for me, Teva Tirra. But still trying to find the right flat, boot, and tennis shoe.

    Sufferers, not Suffers —

    I love Danskin clogs and most shoes by Born & Clark.

    awesome product

    I have horrible feet! A bunion on my right foot at the big toe, wide feet, high arches and hammertoes. I have to agree with the other comments but I know some brands to look at! The brand Gabor has the cutest wedges and the leather is so soft that the straps don’t bother my feet. I can handle these for a few hours. They are the most comfortable shoes with a heel that I’ve found. A couple other brands to try are Soft Spots, Easy Street, Trotters, Cobb Hill, & Aetrex. You can find alot of these shoes at the following stores online; Dardano’s, Foot Smart, and the Walking Company. Good luck ladies! Oh, and Nordstroms carries wide width shoes too!

    Ladies, once you have bunions, it is a sign of damage to the feet. Sadly, the only shoes for women with bunions are those ugly shoes prescribed by podiatrists. Also, even if you have bunion surgery, you can no longer wear “regular” shoes. Wearing wide shoes is not going to cut it either.

    I have bunions and I disagree that the only shoes for me are ugly ones prescribed by a podiatrist. I’ve wasted a fair amount of money on shoes that did not work, but I have many that do, and my shoe stretcher was one of the best investments I ever made. Real leather shoes help, since they are much more amenable to stretching.

    I just got a nice pair of non-leather shoes from DSW for $30. They are called Fidelity by Mix No. 6, a cute pair of slip-on flats with a diagonal strap. Even though they have pointed toes they are comfy because the design is such that the shoe does not cover my bunions. The down side is that they do expose my bunions, so if you’re embarrassed by the look of them this is not ideal. But these shoes are very dressy-looking, enough to wear with a dress, and I was desperate for that. They are available in black or ivory croc or cobalt blue or blush pink smooth leather-look.

    Another cute shoe that has worked for me is Felicia, a ballet flat by Sam Edelman. It’s expensive, but very pretty and very comfortable. It has a very cushion-y sole, and the upper is a very soft leather that stretches out nicely. If you have arch problems it may not work for you, but for me the problem is primarily bunions, and I can wear these flats for quite a while before I have to have a break.

    Personally, almost any shoes by Merrell fit me and my bunions the best. Merrell has running shoes, hiking shoes, shoes for everyday wear, and some casual-nice shoes. A lot of their options are really stylish, while still having the comfy wide toe box and narrow heel.

    Not bad suggestions. I have a bunch of suggestion on this site: http://footcarefacts.com/category/bunions/

    Zach,
    Thank you for sharing. What a great resource!
    ~Catherine

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