Comfort—Yes, Style—Yes
Comfort—Yes, Style—Yes

I have a pet peeve: athletic shoes. They’re fine if you’re engaging in an athletic activity. But on city streets, in business attire—no. So often I see women wearing business suits with athletic shoes. It looks terrible.

I would be the first to say don’t wear high heels if you don’t feel comfortable in them. I seldom wear a heel because I have a poor sense of balance—I’m a klutz and I’m afraid I’ll fall and break something important. I wear chic flats or my beloved Chinese shoes.

Everyone who knows me knows about my Chinese shoes. Full disclosure: Long before I started writing for this paper, I wore Chinese shoes. You know them—black cotton Mary Janes or Kungfu. I buy them in Chinatown for $5. They are so comfortable, especially since I put an insole inside. I walk miles in them in absolute comfort. And how can you go wrong with that price?

When I go to Chinatown I stock up because I don’t know how long a pair will last. Sometimes they will last six months and sometimes just two weeks. I have some red satin embroidered Mary Janes and a few pairs of dressier ones that I bought for a few dollars more.

Bottom line: You can always find stylish flat heels, so wear them.

Make sure your shoes are kept polished and the heels aren’t run down. Find a good shoemaker and make friends with him. You’re going to need him.

And don’t think you can dye leather shoes. A number of years ago I had a pair that was very scuffed. I bought a bottle of dye and used it. It didn’t work. The dye chipped off and I had to throw the shoes away.

Something else I don’t think you can do is resole shoes. I had a couple of pairs resoled, and they were so tight afterward my feet were killing me. My wonderful shoemaker stretched them so I could wear them, but they were never again completely comfortable.

High heels make a woman’s legs look beautiful and sexy. Every time I see a woman wearing a pair I’m so envious. My mother always wore very high heels and could walk in them in absolute comfort. I can barely walk to the corner in a heel. Obviously, I was born without the high heel gene.

If you buy high heels, make sure the shank (the part attaching the heel to the shoe) is sturdy. Otherwise, as you walk the heel jiggles and splays backward—very unattractive and uncomfortable.

Don’t be afraid to wear shoes in a bright color or with a fancy bow or buckle. They jazz up an otherwise conservative outfit. Try it.

Happy walking!

Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity firm in Manhattan. She may be reached at

  • Angeline

    I love the shoes in the image! Does anyone know the designer for them?

    • Inga

      Love them too!

  • Trilby16

    The shoes in the picture accompanying the article are great! I want them. Those fabric Chinese Mary Janes– not so much. No cushioning, no support. They would kill my feet.

    The phenomenon of NYC women wearing business attire with athletic shoes goes all the way back to the transit strike under Mayor Lindsay. People were walking long distances to work and keeping heels under their desks. They still do I betcha. They are not going through their day in sneakers. I agree it doesn’t look great but if you have a long walk to or from the subway, you might choose this option. I don’t see how those fabric Mary Janes are really any better. They’re house shoes!

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