“It’s a condition in which the foot does not have a normal arch while standing, and often the arches on the inside of the feet are so flattened that the entire sole of the foot touches the floor,” explains Pamela Mehta, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and a medical advisor to The Good Feet Store. Flat feet can be genetic, caused by injury or arthritis, or a result of wear and tear on the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle.
No matter how you’ve come to have flat feet, the key to shoe shopping is to find a pair that will keep your foot supported, maintain proper alignment all the way up your spine and throughout your body, and prevent pain and inflammation along the inside of your soles, heels, ankles, shins, and knees.
The best summer shoes for flat feet will tick all of the boxes above, but also be breathable and, well, cute. And spotting them will be so much easier if you know what to look for, and what to look out for, assures Dr. Mehta.
3 key factors to keep in mind when shopping for shoes for flat feet
“Arch support is imperative in preventing foot, ankle, knee, hip and back pain,” explains Dr. Mehta. “Shoes that have no support at the arch are likely going to exacerbate pain and inflammation along the inside of the foot and ankle.” Built in arch support or room for an orthotic insert is important for everyone, but especially crucial for people with flat feet.
Heel support that keeps your foot in place is vital to help avoid any additional strain on your foot, as well as your ankle and leg tendons. Miguel Cunha, DPM, a podiatrist based in New York City and founder of Gotham Footcare, previously shared his advice for what to look for in a summer sandal with Well+Good. He says it’s important to find a pair with an ankle strap for additional heel support. This will increase stability, reduce the chance of a twisted or sprained ankle, and help secure the shoe on the foot so your toes don’t need to to grip onto the footbed as much.
Flexibility is one thing you don’t want a lot of in a summer sandal should you have flat feed. Sturdy soles help prevent your feet from rolling inwards. Unfortunately, most flip flops, ballet flats, and thin sandals that don’t lift your foot too far from the ground have very flimsy and flexible soles as well as minimal arch and heel support, which make them a less ideal summer shoe for people with flat feet, explains Dr. Mehta.
6 summer shoes to shop if you have flat feet
Hush Puppies Brite Jells Quarter Strap Sandal — $70.00
Looking for nostalgia with a side of comfort? These jelly sandals hark back to summer camp days with their fun colors and squishy feel. But the brand’s trademarked Bounce footbed that’s hidden in the wedge is also great for conserving energy in each stride.
Vionic Aris Lace Up Sneaker — $130.00
If you’d prefer to opt for a close-toed option that still channels summer vibes with a fun color and style, these Vionic sneaks are for you. Reviewers applaud the Vio-Motion footbed for its amazing arch-support. One even wrote, “I love them! They are really cute and still extremely comfortable. There is extra support to keep you going all day, whether you are just out shopping or working out!”
Sorel Kinetic Sandal — $130.00
Since sky high heels aren’t the kindest to your soles, Dr. Mehta suggests opting for a platform or wedge sandal if you still want to add a few inches but also keep your flat feet comfortable. This durable, athletic pair, is stylish and offers a thicker sole for shock absorption and arch support. It also features an ankle strap to keep your foot locked in place as you walk.
Birkenstock Callan — $140.00
If two things are true, it’s that Birkenstocks are immensely comfortable, and that you can’t go wrong with a white slip on shoe in the summer. Dr. Mehta “loves that [Birkenstocks] have made a comeback because they offer both arch support and a wide toe box.” These versatile shoes are laid-back, soft, and supportive enough to wear all day long.
Naturalizer Early Bird Sandal — $60.00
These breathable sandals have a nearly two-inch wedge, if you’re opting for a little heel, but also feature a slip-resistant sole and dual forefront straps to keep your feet secure and supported. They are also made with technology in the base that contours to your feet for all-day comfort.
Dr. Scholl’s Retreat Sustainable Sport Sandal — $110.00
This cushy, sport sandal brings sustainability to your summer wardrobe. The linings and upper are made from recycled bottles, and the outsole is crafted from plant-based algae that reduces the need for plastic manufacturing and waste. They’re also lightweight, easy to take on and off, and the arch is the perfect mix of pillow-soft and supportive.
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