I was set a challenge. And believe me when I say, this really was a challenge. I was asked to research the subject of summer shoes for people who have psoriatic arthritis. I must immediately make two points very clear. Firstly, as I have stated before, I do not have any medical background so everything I say is purely based on my own personal experience of psoriasis. Secondly, I do not suffer from psoriatic arthritis (thanking God and hurriedly touching wood!) and so I had to do quite a bit of research into the problems faced by sufferers when buying footwear.
Quite apart from the usual difficulties faced by psoriasis sufferers who wish to conceal their feet, a number of problems were highlighted. Psoriatic arthritis issues include;
- Joints and tendons in the foot becoming inflamed
- A slight heel is needed to counteract strain
- A very high heel can cause inflammation or pain in the knees
- Pain and/or swelling can move between toes and ankles
- The foot needs to be supported.
Quite rightly however, when I was set this challenge, the lady in question specified that she really wanted some shoes that were on trend and stylish. Faced with such a list of criteria, I did what any self-respecting blogger would do. I immediately cried Help! I ran to my fellow fashion bloggers, explained the issues and within hours they were back with their suggestions. So a big thank-you to Fiona, Pearl, Beth, Kat, Susan, Jane and Joanna for their input.
Off we go! I started with Clarks, as they are the high street store known for their range of wider fitting shoes. Given the propensity of arthritic feet to swell at different times, I figured a wider fit, particularly in the toe area would be an advantage. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the selection on offer. Unless you are of Grandma vintage, there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from. The first one that caught my fancy was this Balcony Poem flat shoe, which has a slight heel. I reckon that this would be smart enough for work; it would be ideal for a night out with either skinny jeans or palazzos; and let’s face it. I can't resist a bit of leopard print!
From a comfort point of view I’m including this Raspberry Tea sandal. It has a certain Birkenstock appeal and I quite liked the idea of coordinating your toe nails with teal coloured polish.
Marks and Spencer had a slightly better range with their Footglove Wider Fit selection. The leather stud T bar shoes have a slight wedge to support the heel, have good coverage to conceal plaques and are sufficiently stylish to work as either a casual or dressy shoe.
As I’m not an expert on arthritis, I’m not sure to what extent this next pair would work. The elasticated sandals are a great metallic shade and certainly conceal the foot. I’m not sure however, whether the elastic element would be a help or hindrance should the foot begin to swell.
Ecco have long had the reputation for producing shoes where function definitely trumps form. To be fair however, their range has become more stylish over the past few years and I’ve picked out a few which may work. The Ecco Spin is a strictly casual shoe or trainer and I think they’re fab. They would look great with jeans or combats in the summer months and as all Ecco shoes have an inbuilt insole, they should supply sufficient support.
The Ecco Sculptured Sign are not a million miles away from the gladiator style that is in all the shops this summer and the tan colour would go with everything. I think these are definitely worth looking at.
I love a loafer! I much prefer them to ballet flats and Ecco have come up trumps with this offering. The Lakselv loafer comes in a few colours, is made of a soft nubuck leather and again has the internal support that is needed. It is worth noting that Ecco also do a great range of leather insoles for around €20, which can be inserted into any shoe and definitely give great support to feet.
Next stop on my research was Duo Shoes. These Kalina sandals come in a range of colours, but for variation I’ve chosen to show them in the green hue. Like the previous gladiator-esque examples, I think these could look very stylish either with skinnies for casual wear, or with a more formal trouser for work or dressier occasions. These were also featured in Grazia magazine, so definitely a winner with the fashion set.
Duo also do a range of loafers, such as this Seine in Taupe Nubuck
I then moved on to Van Dal shoes. This a brand renowned for its wider fitting, but I wasn’t sure whether I would find anything suitable. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. Another loafer, the Elda, but this time a rather jaunty sequin effect front which makes it a little more interesting.
The Dal Sarawak sandal is on a similar theme to those chosen earlier, but with some metallic embellishments. The slight wedge heel should also provide the required support.
If concealing psoriasis is not an issue, this March ballet flat could definitely tick all the boxes as not only is it a wide fitting shoe, but it has the required slight heel.
My blogging pals came up with some other options to be considered. Brogues were mentioned (very on trend this summer) as were clogs (possibly too hard) and crocs (we sent that blogger to Fashion Jail!) An alternative route favoured by all was the possibility of having shoes specifically made to suit your personal requirements. Shoes of Prey received high praise for their work and although expensive, the point was made that it was a worthwhile investment to alleviate excruciating pain. One blogger that I conferred with has personal experience of psoriatic arthritis (see more details here) and her recommendation included not just Shoes of Prey, but also Vivienne Westwood.
If you do suffer from psoriatic arthritis, or indeed have any suggestions for stylish summer shoes that might fit the bill, please do let me know. Having scoured the internet, and stared at every wide-fitting and flat shoe in existence I can fully understand how difficult it must be to find shoes that suit. I hope that I have provided some help or at least have given some ideas of where you might find a shoe that works for you.
On a final note, I would like to bring your attention to a new website that has recently been launched, www.psoriasense.co.uk. This combines not just practical and useful advice for all sufferers of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, but in contrast many other similar sites, it manages to remain positive and upbeat at all times. Do check it out!