Q22: What do you wear when you are forced to wear shoes?
Even the most dedicated and committed barefooters usually have a need to, or may choose to, wear some kind of shoes or other footwear in certain situations. That usually includes requirements of their employer, extreme weather conditions, or places they simply must be that require footwear to be worn with no exceptions.
Nowadays, simple flip-flops are accepted almost everywhere as “shoes,” and are a good choice since they are about the closest footwear to actually being barefoot. Almost all the top part of the foot is exposed to air and light, and though the bottom of flip-flops keeps the sole of the foot from having direct contact with the ground, much of the time – as when walking or sitting while wearing them – there is some space between the sole of the foot and the bottom of the flip-flops, since the bottoms aren’t rigidly attached to the sole of the foot. In addition, they are very easy to put on when necessary or remove. Other sandals – with straps – could serve the same purpose, but may be a little more confining and time-consuming to put on or take off.
In situations where full closed shoes are needed or required – such as a work situation or extremely cold weather – the best choices are leather with as wide a toe-box as possible so as not to confine or cramp the toes.
There are currently a number of manufacturers of what are called “minimalist shoes.” An Internet search for that term will yield many results.
One other option for a closed shoe would be leather moccasins, especially those with soft leather soles. They generally do not rigidly bind the foot or toes, so are ideal when a closed shoe is needed that is not required to look too dressy. Several manufacturers make them, and can be found online.
One company, Tandy Leather, sells a nice moccasin kit for about $20. They do come with a thin foam rubber insole padding, but that can be removed if desired by peeling it off before lacing the moccasins together.
Of course, “soleless footwear” offer another creative and stylish option. These provide the appearance of footwear above the foot but have no sole under the foot. See FAQ – Q23 for more information and examples.