This post is waaaaay outside my norm. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve gotten a pretty good handful of new shoes over the last year and a half or so. Most of these were purchased only after months (sometimes years) of debate. I am not an impulse shopper by any means. I know there are lots of bloggers whose jobs are to do reviews like this. But they are often getting the shoes for free and/or they have closets full of shoes so what’s adding one more pair? I’m just a regular gal who usually (though not exclusively) wears shoes. There was a time in my life when I wanted as many pairs as possible. But I’m currently in a season where less is more and I’ll take quality over quantity most any day, thanks. So, yes, random and totally not related to sewing at all, but if any of you have been contemplating one of these brands and has Spending Money Paralysis like I do, this post is for you.
Chaco Lowdown Slide: I know I should have started with something that has a bit more curb appeal, but these are my tested tried and true favorites. I love them completely. My first pair of Chacos lasted almost 10 years. A worn strap busted about two years ago and it took me a full year to commit and buy another pair and I am so glad I did! Chaco has changed their soles; they used to be very rigid but now the soles are pretty flexible. It makes them much more comfortable. With my old pair, I had to break them in every time I pulled them out for summer. But this pair hasn’t ever needed a break-in period.
What I don’t like about them: I have heard on many occasions people saying that Chacos are so hideously ugly that they should all be burned. I personally do not feel this way, but I’m also not very fashion savvy, so take that however you feel. Their look is A-OK by me. I think my only real complaint is that the straps stretch out over time. If you adjust them to your preference they probably won’t stay that way (at least here with the backless style) but will loosen over time. Not a huge deal, they still stay on me just fine.
What I love about them: I can personally attest to their durability, as I mentioned above that my first pair lasted something like 10 years. They are also very comfortable. My feet have been at their most picky this pregnancy, but I can wear my Chacos all day without having any issues. They are great for hiking in. They are comfortable to get wet. They have great traction. They stay on just fine even though they are backless. They are just an all around great shoe, especially if you have a more active/outdoorsy lifestyle. I got mine during a 4th of July sale.
Teva Original Universal: I saw these last year and loved them, so when I saw them this year and still loved them, I decided to get them. I was worried I’d never wear them because they are rather loud (when I bought them, Ben said, “Hey, now you can work on Sesame Street!” Thanks, Ben.) but I actually wear them pretty often because most of my clothes lean more towards neutral. Having been a hardcore Chaco fan, moving into the Teva universe was a bit risky (I think there’s a bit of a rivalry between people who wear one or the other) but I’ve been really happy with my Tevas. They are a great shoe.
What I don’t like about them: Putting them on isn’t as easy as putting on my other sandals (I know, it’s velcro! But it requires bending over which isn’t my favorite task right now with my pregnant belly!). And I don’t think the traction is as good as my Chacos.
What I love about them: But they are very comfortable. The sole is foam with something a little heavier for the tread, which makes them very comfortable but maybe not quite as heavy duty (as sandals go) as Chacos. BUT they do make a version with a heavier duty sole (that I’ve never tried on so I don’t know what it’s like as far as comfort goes, but it is more stable). I love how colorful these are. They also make a similar version but with more muted, earth tone colors which are also very cute and maybe more palatable;). These are good for hiking. They can get wet. I wore them one day during a recent trip to Boston. We did a lot of walking and they gave me no issues.
Birkenstock Mayari: When my old Chacos died, I wanted a new pair of sandals but struggled to decide which ones to get. I liked the idea of trying Birkenstocks because they’re cute and look put together but every time I tried them on in-store, I didn’t feel like they were as comfortable as everyone hypes them up to be. Finally I asked around and was assured that the comfort comes with wear, and that has definitely been the case for me.
What I don’t like about them: Of all the sandals I’ve listed, these ones rate the lowest in comfort. They are comfortable and they do mold to your feet, but when I wear them too long, they hurt the bottoms of my feet (very well may be pregnancy related). So they’re great just not for a long time.
What I love about them: I love that these are cute and I can wear them with almost anything. Where I live the vibe is definitely more granola, so Chacos and Tevas are common, but I like that these Birkenstocks make me feel a bit more put together. They are certainly a time-tested classic. I’ve heard of people who’ve had their Birkenstocks for decades and still love and wear them. They are obviously high quality; that comes through in how they look, feel, and wear. They are a great shoe, just not quite as comfortable for me as my other sandals. I’ve heard different things about the legitimacy of buying Birkenstocks on Amazon so I bought directly from Birkenstock.
Birdies Starling: Over a year ago I had a big trip planned so I did a lot of research on comfortable but stylish walking shoes. I’ve always liked the look and versatility of loafers, so I looked at a lot of different brands of loafers. The trip didn’t happen (thanks, covid) so I didn’t get any shoes then. But a few months later, when I found this pair of Birdies at Nordstrom Rack Last Chance, I was well enough versed in the brand to know what a crazy good deal I was getting and to want to give them a try.
What I don’t like about them: These really are very comfortable and could stand up to a good amount of walking BUT they get very hot. They might do well in colder weather for lots of walking but I definitely wouldn’t recommend them for walking a lot during the summertime.
What I love about them: As mentioned above, they are super comfortable. The sole is squishy and soft and made of something like satin so it feels really good on your feet. I’ve never been a huge fan of suede, but this suede has stayed looking great, so I can’t complain. The color is very versatile. I paid next to nothing for a brand new pair of these, but they are high quality, chic and comfortable so I would say that the regular price is worth it.
Tieks: Several years ago (way back before kids when I was still working) I came across Tieks and drooled over them but couldn’t justify the cost. Then during the beginning of the pandemic I saw that Tieks was doing deal where they’d give you a gift card for making and donating masks. I was already doing that, so I figured being able to buy some shoes in the end would be a pretty good deal. So I kept sewing and donating, but just documenting it along the way so I could get the gift card and get the shoes for less than half the regular price.
What I don’t like about them: I’m just going to be straight here (with an unpopular opinion) and say that I don’t think they are worth the cost. Yes, perhaps the quality of the leather and craftsmanship of the shoe justify the high price but to me they are not very comfortable so I certainly wouldn’t spend $175 on them and honestly I probably wouldn’t even spend $75 on them again. I am a true size 7. With flats I sometimes think I can do 7.5 but every time I do I regret it. These felt a bit tight when I first got them but I didn’t want to swap them out for an 8 because the Tieks website suggests sizing down for half sizes (since they don’t make half sizes). It seemed like an 8 would be too big. So I kept the 7 hoping they’d stretch out some. Well, I’ve had these for over a year and while I don’t wear them all the time or for very long, I do think I’ve worn them enough that they should be a bit more comfortable but truthfully they aren’t. They feel very tight on my big toes and my heels and the circumference of the opening always leaves an indentation on my foot (which to me suggests that the shoe is too tight). I often wear them to church but I’m happy to kick them off the second we get home.
What I love about them: They are a very high quality shoe; the materials are all sturdy and nice. They’re super cute, for sure. They have a TON of different colors to choose from. I wore them on a walk one time and had to chase after my girls. I’ve run in other flats and it seems like every time my foot hits pavement I can feel the impact of it rattling my whole body. The soles on my Tieks absorbed the shock surprisingly well. No rattling. And I have got to mention the packaging. Oh man, the packaging was gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a package that was so lovely. Plus they include a couple carrying bags for your Tieks (they’re foldable and can fit in a tiny bag. I’ve since gotten a mask from them as a thank you for donating masks. I’d say their customer service is A++.
On Cloudswift: I’ve thought about doing a pregnancy running post but running and I have not been the best of friends this pregnancy, unfortunately, and I just don’t want to do a post about all my struggles. I’ve tried 4 different pairs of running shoes and none of them allow me to run more than about a mile because my right leg just starts hurting so bad. I’m sure it’s pregnancy related and probably due to my stride changing as a way of coping with the additional weight. But in any case, I tried very hard to find a good pair of shoes, searching outside my regular brand, and I tried a pair of On shoes at REI. They were very comfortable, but they are pretty expensive so I found an older model on their website for a bit less, bought it and have been enjoying it ever since. Again, I haven’t been able to run very far in them but I do run a little and walk and I’ve been very happy with them.
What I don’t like about them: One thing I loved when I tried them on was that there was no tying to be done. But I purchased a late model that does have laces that need to be tied (#pregnancyproblems). But they are designed without a tongue so I usually just keep them tied and slip them on anyway. The tread is kind of funky and leaves really big gaps so I’ve gotten some pretty big rocks stuck in the sole. I mean, getting rocks in your sole is an issue with any shoe with tread, but I’ve never gotten such huge rocks stuck. It’s weird but whatever. This isn’t necessarily bad but I’d say they run small. When buying running shoes you want to size up to allow your foot to adequately move around the shoe (so you’re not slamming your toe into the wall of the shoe). I normally buy a size 8 running shoe but other reviewers said the shoes were a bit small. I went with an 8.5 and I’m really happy I did.
What I love about them: These shoes are surprisingly comfortable. They’re not necessarily cushy (they don’t, as the name might suggest, feel like walking on a cloud) but they are sturdy with give in the right places. I’m hoping I can run more in them after I have the baby, but for now they’ve been great for short runs as well as walks. It’s a bonus that they look good and I love the color I got.
Allbirds Tree Runners: This is a shoe I’ve been eyeing for quite awhile. Anytime I’ve googled “Best walking shoes” Allbirds are on the list. I had a pair of Nike Frees for 5 or 6 years that I loved but that needed an update. Before my trip to Boston I finally decided to go for it and buy a pair of Allbirds BUT they didn’t have the color I wanted in stock. I tried to find something locally (since I was getting short on time) but had no luck. But Allbirds has a handful of stores in the United States and one of them happens to be in Boston so one afternoon that we were there and had a bit of extra time we headed over to the store. I tried on this pair (which is the color I had been wanting) and it took me about two seconds to know that I wanted them (I also tried on their loungers-which is like a loafer-and loved them so maybe someday I’ll get those as well).
What I don’t like about them: Hmmm…I’m not sure I have anything I seriously dislike about these shoes. I will say I like the look of the Wool Runners better, but I knew that I’d prefer a cooler shoe which is why I went with the Tree Runners. I also think it’s interesting (neither good nor bad) how nondescript these shoes are. Their branding is super subtle (it says “allbirds” on the back of the sole).
What I love about them: These were comfortable the second I tried them on and have been comfortable ever since. Pulling them on for the first time my first thought was that they felt like a sock with a sole on it. The upper is pretty stretchy and soft and the sole feels very cushion-y. Here’s a story that can attest to their comfort: The day after I bought these I wore them all day long and we ended up walking over 27,000 steps that day. I’m pregnant. I didn’t get any blisters and my feet still felt pretty good at the end of the day. That’s how comfortable they are. They are machine washable and you can also wear them without socks. I think the sole insert is made out of wool and it is really soft. Obviously I really love this shoe.