Here's how to rock this spring's biggest shoe trend pain-free.
Mules and slides are projected to be one of this year's biggest fashion trends. Which is great news, because as far as style is concerned, they're incredibly versatile: the open back helps seamlessly transition an outfit from winter to spring, and the slip-on style means they couldn't be easier to get on and off.
The only problem? Mules aren't exactly great for your feet, says New York City-based podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, MD. "The concern with both mules and slides is the open back," she explains. "When a shoe doesn't have a back or even a strap, the foot relies on toes gripping to keep the shoe from sliding off your foot while walking." Over time, this can lead to foot problems such as tendonitis, inflammation, and strains and might also worsen existing issues such as hammer toes.
But this doesn't mean you have to miss out on the trend entirely. If you choose to wear mules, Dr. Sutera recommends doing so for short periods of standing or walking (in other words, you probably don't want to commute in them). You should also look for a pair that has foot-friendly features such as arch support, a cushioned footbed, a rounded toe box, and a not-too-tall heel.
Dr. Sutera, who is also a member of the Vionic Innovation Lab, recommends this style from the comfort-focused footwear brand. It has a deeper-seated heel cup than many other mules (meaning it's a little easier for your foot to stay in the shoe), as well as a contoured footbed and the brand's concealed biomechanic technology to help align feet.
Free People Loafer Mule
Dr. Scholl's Idol Mule
Lucky Brand Lidwina Espadrille Mule
Two of spring's biggest trends—mules and espadrilles—come together in this fashionable slip-on from Lucky Brand. A two-inch heel, like the one on this wedge, can add height without hurting feet, says Dr. Sutera. "Heel height should be no more than two inches, which is what the American Podiatric Medical Association recommends," she explains. Anything higher, she warns, "puts much more strain on your entire skeleton, your ankles, hips, knees, and back."
Loeffler Randall Lulu Block Heel Mule
Donna Karan Mott Mule
Taryn Rose Blythe Mule
TOMS Leila Slingback Sandal
BØRN Opal Mule Sandal
Prefer an open-toed slide style? Make sure you look for one that properly fits your feet, and err on the side of being a little roomy rather than too tight. "Don't let your toes hang out of a more open style," says Dr. Sutera. We love that this pair has a cushioned footbed with plenty of arch support. (Want more slide sandals? Here are some of our favorites.)