Summer Shoe Threat-o-Meter
Best for: Camp counseling; pointing out constellations in the night sky
Doctor's note: "Break them in by wearing them around your home so you know how they feel before you wear them outside."
Best for: Swaying at a mellow concert; preparing hors d'oeuvres for a party
Avoid: Sightseeing around Europe
Doctor's note: "If you're going to be doing a lot of walking, your best bet really is a pair of stylish athletic sneakers."
Best for: Getting around the office on "Summer Monday–Thursdays"; standing during a speech or a toast
Avoid: Rushing to catch a flight
Doctor's note: "Cork and raffia soles offer better shock absorption. Wood is very rigid, which can cause your foot to overcompensate. This can lead to instability and extra pressure on the knees and hips. With wooden sandals, look for a rubberized sole that helps with shock absorption."
Photo: Getty images
Best for: Family reunions; picnicking in the park
Avoid: Energetic frolicking (especially in the rain)
Doctor's note: "The fabric would be more comfortable for those with calluses and bunions that are irritated by leather straps and hardware."
Best for: Addressing individual quirks. "Thong-style sandals can be better for people with wider feet, calluses or bunions, as there's more room in the forefoot. The ankle strap of gladiator-style sandals could help slightly with stability, but these sandals often lack arch and heel support. To avoid blisters on the ankle or top of the foot caused by rubbing straps, keep those areas well moisturized."
Avoid: Running through amusement parks
Doctor's note: "Worishofer sandals were designed by a podiatrist, and the cork sole provides good shock absorption. Also check out MooShoes.com, a retailer that sells shoes made from vegan, cruelty-free materials, like faux leather and satin that tend to be softer on feet."
Photo: Getty Images
Best for: Adding height at a crowded rooftop party
Avoid: Climbing stairs in lighthouses or ancient cathedrals; chasing after children
Doctor's note: "For a wedding or other formal occasion, consider styles from Easy Spirit, Aldo or Stella McCartney—pricey but worth it. Try them with a padded insole or arch cushion from the drugstore."
Best for: Cruising on a bicycle built for two; chilling at a backyard barbecue
Avoid: "They may look sporty, but they're not intended for walking or standing for long periods of time."
Doctor's note: "I work with a lot of professional women who think these are their 'safe shoes,' but they can cause a lot of problems."
Photo: Getty Images
Best for: Boosting height, confidence, sex appeal and personal style (just remember that eight weeks on crutches can undo it all)
Avoid: Walking (ask someone to carry you!); fulfilling your bridesmaid duties on the dance floor
Doctor's note: "Get your feet properly measured. Go at the end of the day when feet are most swollen, and have the length and width measured while standing up, because shoes fit differently when you're sitting down. I'm a believer in custom orthotics that have been prescribed by a doctor. The Cobra orthotic is made to be worn in high-heeled shoes, and provides a little metatarsal cushioning and midfoot control."
Best for: "Lounging at the beach or the pool."
Avoid: Distances longer than the parking lot to the sand
Doctor's note: "I'm not sure if FitFlops give you the workout that they claim, but they have great arch support and heel lift. The back of the foot controls the motion of the front of the foot, so if you stabilize the heel, you also stabilize the arch and the forefoot. They also have a thicker sole, and raising the foot slightly off the ground helps you avoid glass and rocks. FitFlops are best for people who have already achieved some level of fitness—I wouldn't recommend them for those who are unstable in their gait."
Best for: Dining alfresco; watching a play at an outdoor theater
Avoid: Museum tours; hopscotch
Doctor's note: "Commute in running sneakers and then change into these at your destination."