“I wrote 63 songs this year. They’re all about Jeter.” Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls’ Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don’t forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: November 16, 2012

Submitted by on November 16, 2012 – 10:06 AM41 Comments

I have a heel spur and plantar fasciitis (damn turning 40!) in my right foot. I am going to a podiatrist and getting medical attention. For a variety of reasons, I can’t get a steroid injection, so treatment consists of physical therapy, orthotics, and taking good care of my foot at home (no bare feet, ice, etc.) 

My question is about shoes. I work in a business-casual environment, and I’m having trouble finding cute, non-frumpy shoes that I can wear the orthotics in. I favor mary jane-type shoes with a low heel (an inch at the most) — something like these. Totally flat shoes are uncomfortable for me, and higher heels make my foot hurt a lot.

The problem is that the orthotics do lift my foot a bit — my foot sits about 1/4 inch higher off the sole of the shoe than it does without the orthotic. And in a lot of shoes, that’s enough to totally throw off the fit of the shoe. The shoe won’t stay on my foot or the edge of the foot hits me in the wrong spot. To make things even harder, I have wide feet, so my choices in shoes are usually limited.

I know I can just order a ton of shoes from Zappos and try them, but I was hoping that the Nation might have suggestions for me to help me narrow down my search. Can you or anyone else suggest specific shoes that will work well with an orthotic insert?


I still deserve cute shoes


Okay, this is a tremendous long shot but it will all be worth it if it pans out.

A few months ago, I was up late in Italy and flipping channels. I found an amazing movie on one of the non-Italian channels. It looked like it was from the seventies and the setting and actors were Middle Eastern. The language sounded and looked (in signs and labels, etc.) like Persian or Arabic, but could also have been Turkish or something else. Obviously since I didn’t know what the language was, I couldn’t understand the actors and was not following the movie precisely, but generally speaking, the plot seemed to be about two feuding crime families. It had the vibe of Danger: Diabolik! and similar seventies Bond rip-offs, with some more comedic touches. There was something very significant about a black-and-white photograph and much of the part that I saw was people struggling over possession of the photograph. 

Memorably, several scenes take place in a rooftop rotating restaurant. At one point during a fight, a mysterious older man with a pseudo-military jacket and Captain Nemo facial hair appears behind the bar and throws a switch that makes the restaurant rotate very quickly, complicating the fight. Later, several people from one of the families enter the restaurant having disguised themselves as Charlie Chaplin and Eliza Doolittle, a matador and flamenco dancer, and another male-female pair that was harder to interpret but involved a lot of neon gauze. The six of them do a high-energy dance number during which they steal the photograph.

Other notable features were that one of the main guys had a ring that he wore on his finger that would leave a cut in the shape of a cross when he punched someone in the face, and his counterpart had a ring that would leave a cut in the shape of an Arabic letter; someone falls from a high building and survives by landing in a truckload of limes; and three girls, one with extremely large and heavy braids coming out of the top of her head, spend much of the movie spying through a telescope and then rescued someone by jumping through a window on a motorcycle.

I’ve done a fair bit of Googling, but I get stuck since I don’t know the name of any of the actors, when it was made, where it was filmed or set, or even what language they were speaking. All I know is that it was one of the most entertaining things I ever saw and I need to own it and watch it over and over. 





  • Tylia says:

    “At one point during a fight, a mysterious older man with a pseudo-military jacket and Captain Nemo facial hair appears behind the bar and throws a switch that makes the restaurant rotate very quickly, complicating the fight.” I actually don’t have any advice/answers but I just wanted to say I would watch the crap out of this movie just for the scene as it was described!?! How do we not have an equivalant to this stateside?!?!

  • Catherine says:

    There is an English language equivalent to that scene – search for “Les Patterson Saves the World” and “rotating restaurant” and you can watch the clip – although in that movie a koala is responsible for turning the speed of the restaurant up ….

  • Mell says:

    I still deserve cute shoes,

    I have plantar fasciitis too (and i’m only in my mid-20’s…booo) so I appreciate this question! It’s probably too casual for your business-casual office, but hidden wedge sneakers (I have a black suede pair from Steve Madden and they’re pretty good knockoffs of Beyonce’s Isabel Marants) have saved me! You can’t put a full orthotic in but a heel support got the job done and they’re actually a lot more comfortable than regular tennis shoes too which are too flat. I’m able to wear them to work, but they’re awesome for weekends if you can’t swing that.

  • flora says:

    I don’t have any answers, but I would love to see that movie!

  • LunaS says:

    @Cute Shoes –

    If you have $150-200 to spend on a pair of shoes, I’d recommend Kumfs/Ziera. I’m wearing the “Deirdre” style right now, which is exactly what you described. Cute Mary-Jane with a bit of a heel, comes with an insert already, so the shoe is designed with that in mind. They have other styles which also fit the bill.

    It’s a bitch buying shoes for my feet (very short, very wide feet), so I completely get where you’re coming from. Good luck!

  • scout1222 says:

    Cute shoes, I feel for you. The one-inch heel seems to be a dealbreaker most times. I favor Clarks, and if I filter on Zappos to an inch or less, I get bupkis, or at least nothing that speaks to me. It seems like the flattest I can get is 1 1/4″. Unfortunately for you, this is not because I have orthotics, so while I say I enjoy Clarks, Sofft and Naturalizer, as always, YMMV when you shove an orthotic in there.

    However, the last pair of Clarks I bought came from a similar Vine question, so I have high hopes that you will find what you’re looking for via help from The Nation.

  • Rachel says:

    Dansko has a number of Mary Jane type shoes, some with removable footbeds to accomadate orthotics.

  • Jenn says:

    I think what “Cute” is looking for is called “Added Depth”. They have a removable insole so that the foot sits down inside in the right place. Google “added depth shoes” and also maybe check out these two shoes:

  • tita says:

    Cute Shoes, I don’t have anything in the way of shoe ideas, but a suggestion about making the orthotics work for you.

    You mention that “the orthotics do lift my foot a bit […] And in a lot of shoes, that’s enough to totally throw off the fit of the shoe.” Have you ever tried removing the shoe’s insole before putting in your orthotic? Often, this alteration will make the shoe fit as it was intended to, only better because the orthotic footbed is supporting you properly. It might be worth a shot, in any case. Good luck!

  • Miglet says:

    The movie is Naseeb. Full plot info here.

  • Miglet says:

    Argh. This is what happens when I try to fancy link things on my phone. Try these.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    Cute shoes! Beautifeels. Expensive as hell but with care they last for years. I’ve been wearing one pair for 20+ years. Every year my local shoe repair guy cleans them and replaces the heels. If you have orthodics go to a shoe repair shop and see if they can take out the existing insoles and replace them with something that won’t alter the fit when you wear the orthotics.

    I can’t help with the movie but surely the Nation has a obscure movie sleuth with the answer!

  • B says:

    Hooray for Miglet! I am not the questioner, but I was intrigued by the description.

    It looks like the whole movie is on youtube, but without English subtitles.

  • emilygrace says:

    Cute Shoes, If you’re willing to pay more for a couple pairs of work shoes, there are stores that do custom dress shoes that work with orthotics. Maybe ask your podiatrist or orthopedist if they know of one in your area?

  • DawnG says:

    Liz – I was going to say that sounded like a Bollywood movie (spontaneous singing and dancing in gauzy outfits FTW!) and was starting to dig when I saw Miglet’s response. The links aren’t pointing to the right place, but try this one instead:

  • Megan in Seattle says:

    Cute shoes: I have similar foot issues, and I would search zappos for Keen, Naot, and Dansko, most of which have removable insoles so you can use your orthotics. I rely on the women who own a comfort shoe store in my neighborhood to find things that are orthotic-appropriate but not orthopedic-looking, so if you can find such a place (e.g., a store that specializes in walking shoes, or anywhere with knowledgeable staff), you may be able to broaden your search. They also have Ziera/Kumpfs, which I haven’t tried, but which someone else mentioned above. Physical therapy & orthotics took care of my plantar fasciitis, so you WILL get past it…but of course, you’ll want to stick with sensible shoes to keep those tootsies healthy.

  • TC says:

    Cute Shoes, check out Merrells. A friend of mine has foot trouble and swears by them for everyday use, although she can wear more casual styles. I bought two pairs a few years ago and they are very comfortable, although I found the back of the shoe too high for me without a cushion so your orthotics should fit fine (the insole is also removable if necessary). They have a couple of mary jane styles, and the
    “Luxe MJ” description even says podiatrist approved. The styles are somewhat more limited than I remember, but there are some options.

  • Nina says:

    Cute Shoes, try the Taryn Rose brand. You can get them at Zappos. They were designed with people who have problem feet. I have the same problems you do, and have had them in the past.

  • KTB says:

    Cute shoes, my best friend has to wear orthotics and absolutely swears by Danskos–I think she has four pairs. I also think that John Fluevogs would work as they tend to be pretty deep and can have short heels. Stuart Weitzman’s loafers might also work–I have a pair and they seem like they would easily accommodate an insert.

  • Leigh says:

    Can I just say how much I love that article, @DawnG? It finally gave me what I needed to defend my argument on why Army of Darkness is my least favorite of the Evil Dead trilogy. “To quote more on Susan Sontag´s works, she says that pure Camp is the naive mode of Camp. Camp which knows itself to be Camp is less satisfying.”


    Also, I definitely need to see this movie now!

  • GrammaK says:

    I have similar foot problems, though no orthotics. I wanted flat Mary Janes with an adjustable velcro strap (I fly a lot). I’ve found Aravon Lucie shoes to be the most comfortable I’ve ever worn- with the added bonus that the strap is adjustable enough that I can wear thin commercial socks, or heavy hand knit wool ones, equally comfortably. I paid retail price for my first pair, but I bought the 2nd pair from this site:

  • Liz says:

    Never underestimate the Nation! I adore you guys. It totally is Naseeb, and this was the best birthday present ever.

  • Cute shoes says:

    Wow! Thanks for so many great options! I will look at them all.

    I do remove the existing insole to put my orthotics in, but my orthotics are thick so sometimes it’s still a problem. You’ve all given me some hope!

  • Liz says:

    P.S. Apologies that I mixed up Middle Eastern and Indian.

  • Laura says:

    The blog Barking Dog Shoes does shoe reviews and talks about shoes for various foot problems – it might be a good resource for you if you aren’t familiar with it already:

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    Check for shoes. You can narrow by mary janes, heel height, removable inserts, and check the Health and Wellness store for options. I have major joint problems and get pretty much all of my shoes there.

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    BTW, I am now ogling the hell out of the Alegria Palomas and wishing like hell that I had more money. The Snake Luster is calling to me. Loudly.

  • Davey says:

    Why don’t you call up your doctor and ask his advice. He and his staff have most likely encountered your shoe issue before. Good Luck!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Cute Shoes:
    I’m lucky in that my ortopedist makes 2 kinds of orthotics, one for sneakers and one for dress shoes. He also has a huge file of shoes he recommends though, have you asked the office if they have anything?

  • frogprof says:

    Cute Shoes: I have had a couple of pairs of Mary Janes with Velcro straps for years — they’re by Skechers and they’re very like the “Inspired — Swept Away” ones here: [I think I got them at DSW here in Austin]. Super comfy and fairly cute. I too have foot problems and am currently putting my orthotics into THE ugliest shoes on the planet: … but they have made a difference.
    Good luck with your hunt!

  • Cheryl says:

    Cute Shoes:

    Also check out Finn Comfort shoes ( They are pricey, but have removable inserts and are super comfortable and stylish! My orthotics fit perfectly down into the bed of the shoes.

  • mel says:


    The “Pursue” by Naturalizer. I have had these shoes in black and brown through a couple of pair (in each color) now, and they are my go to work shoe. A little sporty, but they work great with my wide feet and my orthotic inserts. they have a nice, deep toe box as well, which is something I need in a shoe. Love them.

  • JT says:

    They aren’t exactly what you’re looking for but when I had to wear orthotics, the only shoes I could comfortably wear were Toms. I also am kinda in between sizes in Toms so I went the size up, so they shoes were roomier.

    I do feel for you. My foot problem (Morton’s neuroma) didn’t go away completely, but it went away enough that I don’t have to wear orthotics all the time. I do have to stay away from heels, so I am struggling to find cute shoes. Good luck.

  • JLD says:

    Cute Shoes: Check out Dr. Scholl’s at DSW –'s+shoes/dsw4brand1500016/page-1/ – lots of variety. I can only speak to the Jamie style, which is more casual, but I am a fan so far.

  • Jennifer says:

    Munros are becoming favorites of mine – they’re a little more expensive, but they’re made very well, so wind up being less expensive in the long run.

    I haven’t tried any of their mary jane styles, but I have these oxfords. They have a 1-inch heel and with their removable footbed removed, they accommodate my orthotics handily (footily?). (I have the gunmetal, which are a lot darker than the pic, and a bronze/brown pair that aren’t pictured here – love them).

    I have been a mary jane addict for years, but suddenly they started seeming to casual (I am in my mid-forties). The oxfords seem just right for office pants outfits.

  • Maria says:

    I have PF and wide feet, too. It’s tough all right! I find that wearing Orthaheel flip flops around the house helps a LOT, as you don’t need a wide width in them and the right support is already built in. I haven’t tried their other shoes, though. I’m interested in their sneaker since it comes in wide width, but their shoes don’t.

    I had hard time finding Clarks in wide but they seemed like they broke down in support.

    I like SoftSpots now; I have one pair of their heels that are kind of magically balanced and somehow wearable even on these old feet. Unlike so many other brands of comfort shoes, these are also available in wide and double wide. For cuteness, I haven’t found anything I like better. Their website lets you search by size and width, too.

    I feel like Zappos is kind of a wasteland for wide and hurting feet, unless you already know a useful brand. A big issue that I run into is that I have a wide forefoot, but my heel is not wide. So I end up with wide or double-wide shoes that have too wide of a heel, and that causes heel instability. I can wear these for a little while, but I always go back to lace-up shoes.

    I didn’t catch what kind of work you do, but there is a site called Shoes for Crews that has some offerings for people who are on their feet.

    Maybe you’ve looked already, but there is a catalog and site called FootSmart that has many offerings of mary jane types of styles.

    Good luck with the quest! It does feel like a bit of a Holy Grail search.

  • Cora says:

    I suppose this is a bit off-topic, but is anyone here in the Nation into business start-ups? It occurs to me that if anyone is looking for a product to flog, they’d do well to come here and look at all the “Holy Grail” things we ask for — because once someone asks, at least three other people chime in with “hey I’d love that!” Doesn’t it seem like a ton of money could be honorably made off of us, to serve our quests for various shoes, makeup, bags, out-of-print books and hard-to-find video?

    Hmmmm. Brainstorm: Use code “RenFaire Douchebag” for a 20% coupon on your first purchase, HA!!!!

  • esssp says:

    i bought these because they are made to be worn with orthotics. they are really comfortable and are very cute for “orthopedic” shoes – i was prepared for them to be granny-ish, but they aren’t. i also got some nice looking boots from the same company.

  • nikki says:

    When I had orthotics, I bought some all-black sketchers and removed the insoles. I work in a business casual office and always wear pants, so they’ve always been fine. They are a wee bit casual, but really, no one seems to notice.

  • Colleen says:

    Thanks to the Nation, I Netflixed Naseeb and have just finished watching it. It’s a bit long (even fast-forwarding through the crazy-long cage-fighting scenes), but it was all worth it for the rotating restaurant dance/fight scene.

  • Turbonium says:

    how did you not link to “One Angry Sars” in this post

    i am disappoint

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>