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Just give me some Foot-shaped Shoes!

There’s something that I just cannot understand about the fashion industry, and it is… shoes. For a functional item that we wear every day, the shape is just whack. Why is the norm for shoes to be a semi-pointed oval shape? Feet just aren’t that shape. Why has this gone under the radar for so long?

To be honest, I never used to think about this either. But in 2015 I jumped on the Birkenstock bandwagon and bought my very first pair of Arizonas to show my feet a little appreciation for all the hard work they do for me. My feet became very happy & accustomed to spreading out in an anatomically correct shoe, and before I knew it my foot shape actually began to change! Into the anatomically correct position that is, so that’s great for my feet, body, posture and balance -not so great for all my other existing shoes though, because their narrow, oval-shaped toe box just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

It was a bit of a miserable, confusing time because I had no idea what was going on or where I could buy comfortable shoes -the shoe world just isn’t designed for a natural foot. It was fine in the summer because my Birkies hit the mark but come winter, I couldn’t find any closed in shoes that would fit me comfortably.

I am a big walker -it is often my chosen mode of transport, exercise and even meditation, so uncomfortable feet are just not okay. And so, I began my search…

And I’ll tell you, the struggle is real. It is VERY hard to find shoes that are anatomically correct or ‘foot shaped’, and even harder to find any up to my style standards. I’ve spent many hours over the past 5 years researching to find shoes that will keep both your toes and your pride comfortable.

Here’s an insider peak into my “favourite foot-shaped shoes” list:

Duckfeet: My favourite winter boots, check out ‘Odense’.

Birkenstock: Where it all began, be careful when selecting their shoes though because I’ve noticed some of the newer ranges have a (dare I say,) narrow toe box- the horror!

Lems: Check out their boulder boots -very light and comfortable.

Nature footwear: Probably the most stylin’ sneaker out there in the foot-shaped community.

Vivo Barefoot: Check out their new ‘Chelsea Boot’

Altra: For running shoes.

KEEN: For hiking boots.

I hope this list can help you to keep your shoes on point, well, actually the opposite.
Now, I would LOVE to hear from you, -has something similar happened to you? Do you take toe box into consideration when buying your shoes? Do your toes hurt when you walk long distances? Do you know any other great foot-shaped shoe companies?
Let me know in the comments!


  1. Pat

    I too have long been frustrated by the lack of foot shaped shoes. Equals my frustration at the dearth of ROUND eyeglass frames in a sea of boring rectangles.

    I’m surprised you have not discovered Alegria shoes. They make classic clogs, Mary Jane styles, boots, slip ons and sandals, even bedroom slippers and many of the styles are made non-slip for nurses. All but the sandals/slippers have removable/replaceable footbeds with excellent arch support. Fun, colorful patterns and designs as well as more conservative looks and colors.

    I discovered Alegrias a decade ago in a “comfy shoe” store, and wore my first pair out of the store with instant relief from plantar fasciitis. I’ve not worn another brand of shoe since then–except for Altra sneaker. But I can’t wear Altras for a whole day like I can Alegrias. I took two pairs of Alegrias with me to Paris, Nice and on to Italy. Walked miles everyday, even hiked up Mt. Vesuvius wearing them. No problems.

    While they still keep the foot shaped lines going with new additions, in recent years Alegria has also introduced shoes, boots, and sneakers that are NOT foot shaped.

    But all the classic foot shaped Alegrias are great. Alegria Shoe Shop has hundreds of styles, colors to choose from, free shipping and returns. Very well made, long lasting. Highly recommend.

  2. Gina Weeks

    I just found these type of shoes recently. They have so helped with my toe pain. But the barefoot shoes really aggravate my plantar fasciitis I am just looking for a very basic Mary Jane or a semi office shoe that has more padding in the sole but is shaped in the natural toe box shape. Any suggestions?

    • Megan

      Altra are anatomically correct but have padding! I live by these for walking now!

    • Megan

      Or perhaps you could try Lems 9to5s with an after market insert for padding?

    • Izabela

      Hi Gina,
      I’ve just read your comment. I’ve seen that the brand Naot has Mary Jane’s that are padded & seem to be wider in the toe.

  3. Jane

    I find the toe spring in shoes very uncomfortable. Our toes do not point up to the sky! I notice that some “foot shaped shoes” still have toe spring. That ruins them for me. I have read that toe spring helps runners run faster, but most of us are not running competitively or most of the time.

  4. Cris

    Hello all! A bit late to the comment party, but I’ve got some golden foot-shaped shoe brand suggestions for you (in no particular order):

    * Vibram FiveFingers (the best! —yep, you will have to overcome the mental block of self-consciousness to wear them daily, but they are SO worth it)

    * Belenka Shoes (super wide, comfy in the toes, and high quality— just check for the heel seams that some models have [can create a hotspot on the heel])

    * Barebarics Shoes (casual sneakers — a Belenka sister brand)

    * Ahinsa Shoes (can be a little lower on vertical interior room, but nice and wide)

    * Topo Athletic (THE best wide toe-box athletic/running shoes—- yes, far better than Altra [Altra has intentionally narrowed their shoes in recent yrs and no longer adhere to making true foot-shaped shoes, since those don’t sell as well as narrow conventional shoes])

    * Freet Footwear (Possibly the best all-around. They have great boot/hiking/bootie models. Almost all models have a bootie-like comfort, are high quality, and are reasonably foot-shaped [though they could be wider like the Belenkas or Ahinsas])

    * Splay Athletic

    * Zaqq Shoes

    * Baer Shoes

    * SoftStar PRIMAL (specific only to their PRIMAL line of shoes– “primal’ referring to natural, foot-shaped)

    *Lems PRIMAL (specific only to their PRIMAL line of shoes)

    • Emalyse

      Hi Chris, thank you for the comment!
      They are amazing suggestions, I’m always pleased to hear about more foot-shaped shoe brands I didn’t know about. The good thing is that it seems like more and more brands are popping up now with wider toe boxes these days. Yay for happy feet!

    • Michelle M

      Hi, Chris,
      Thanks for your additional info. I have found that most barefoot shoes are pretty ugly or too casual. I like the Zaqq shoes that you included. They seem to be the only company I have looked at so far that offer something minimally fashionable.

    • Madlaina

      I am fairly new to the ‘foot shaped’ movement. I needed new hiking shoes and no matter what brand/model I tried they all hurt my feet, specifically my big toe joint. After some desperate online searching I found and bought a pair of Altra Lone Peak 7s and I’m in foot heaven. I have read your comment about Altra making them slimmer several times since then, but for my foot they seem to be pretty perfect right now. They have more than enough room in the toe box for my toes to spread out, but my mid-foot is very narrow with a high arch, and due to their slimmer design in the mid-foot they fit me perfectly there too. Also due to the way they are laced the first ‘lacing point’ sits behind my toe joint. Every other brand I have tried the first lacing point was right above the toe joint, therefore putting pressure on the joint and causing pain.
      I have yet to try Topo shoes, and may look at them when my Altras are due for replacement, but what I am saying is that for me the Altras tick all the boxes.

  5. Jessica Hall

    I too am on the search for winter-friendly shoes that don’t squish my feet after a summer in Birkenstock’s. I recommend Aurora Shoes. Pricy – but the style is simple enough and the shoes comfy enough that you can wear them lots. They are not barefoot shoes, but are foot-shaped!

    • Emalyse

      Ah amazing, I will have to take a look at them. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  6. James

    You asked a great question but provided no details or background.
    Why is it so hard to find natural shaped shoes remotely in my size ,12?

    • Emalyse

      Because of the unfortunate fashion trends leaning towards narrow toe boxes. Check out the companies I listed and you might have some luck there 🙂 -All the best!


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Emalyse the Naturopath

Hi! I'm Emalyse.

I adore everything to do with herbs, health and wellness and am on a constant quest to find more ways to support myself and others to become a glowing beacon of health -and not just for our bodies, but our minds, spirit, emotions and relationships too!

My happiest days are spent helping clients imrprove their health through a mix of holistic traditional medicine and the latest scientific research & functional testing. I like to blend the best of both worlds, and share my years of knowledge with you in the process.

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