A common question asked by new barefoot runners is, "What shoes do you wear when you're not running?"
My answer is, "Barefoot whenever possible, otherwise as little shoe as possible."
When I started out barefoot running last year, the thought of barefoot living didn't even cross my mind. What I found is that the more time I spent barefoot, the more time I wanted to spend barefoot and the more I disliked the feeling of shoes. It's now been over a year since I've worn any kind of elevated heel, not even a regular tennis shoe. My comfort and balance are now noticeably affected by even the smallest heel elevation.
Today I spent some time cleaning out my closet and pulled out all my old shoes from the back. Before donating and/or consigning them I thought I'd take some before and after photos to show what has happened to my shoe wardrobe over the last year.
Here are some of the shoes that I wore before June 2009. Look at those heels!
Here is my current selection of footwear.
From left to right:
Footzyrolls - Limited Edition Collection, Gold Gator
Footzyrolls - Everyday Collection, Black as Night
Target gladiator sandals, resoled by a local cobbler
My favorite footwear option of all -- none! :)
Footzyrolls - Summer Snake Skin Collection - Wonderous White
Converse One-Star (from Target)
Vibram FiveFingers KSO, brown/brown
I curled up the gold and white Footzyrolls in the photo to show how light and flexible they are. They are not durable (I wore out my first pair in a few months), but they are the most minimal shoe I've ever worn and I find them a reasonable option for dress clothes.
I bought the gladiator sandals this summer at Target. These images are from Target showing how they looked when I bought them.
As I noted at the beginning of this post, I'm not fond of even the slightest heel elevation. I bought these with the intent of taking them to my local cobbler to see what he could do to make them more minimal. He resoled them with his most minimal sole material. They're nice. A bit thicker than I'd prefer (~5mm), but much better than when I bought them.
Here are a couple of close ups showing how they look now. You can see that the sole is completely flat now, no heel elevation at all.
Next time I think I'll make a few more calls and see if there are any other cobblers in town who can get things a little thinner. The good news is that if I come across a cute pair of kitten heels or flats with a wide enough toe box, I know I can get them resoled to a more minimal option. It's not an inexpensive option, but it's one that I hope will help me better balance the fashion and function aspect of shoes for those occasions when a shoe is necessary.
One thing I've really started enjoying since moving to a barefoot lifestyle is dressing up my feet without using a shoe. My toe nails are almost always polished and occasionally decorated with nail art. I have a growing collection of toe rings and ankle bracelets. And I make my own foot jewelry which proves to be the ultimate in minimal footwear. (Sorry, no, I'm not planning to sell any. :) I don't have the time to handle orders.)