Orthopedic Shoes or Just Trendy Shoes? These Days, It's Basically Impossible to Tell

Orthopedic Shoes or Just Trendy Shoes? These Days, It's Basically Impossible to Tell
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The ugly shoe is getting uglier. So ugly, in fact, it is positively orthopedic.

Sensible, flat and decidedly unstylish "grandma shoe" styles, a catwalk staple since 2013, are still nowhere close to falling out of fashion. Now the line between the shoes you see on the runway and the kind of "comfort" shoes your doctor might suggest is almost entirely blurred. Our coolest kicks now look nearly identical to the kinds we always considered woefully uncool, from "comfort" brands like Tevas and Dr. Scholl's to true orthopedic shoes.

What is happening?

"Millennials care more about being comfortable," Meghan Cleary, footwear expert and co-founder of shoe brand Meghan SAYS, told Mic. "There's a streak of individuality, a streak of utilitarianism — 'I want to throw a couple of things in my backpack and go.'"

So thank the athleisure trend, which has us surrendering to ultimate comfort, as well as the shift away from gender norms altogether, as we embrace the kinds of clothes — especially shoes — that skew agender. But also thank your parents: As trendy millennial brands get more comfortable and gender-neutral, the "comfort" brands are getting more stylish for boomer shoppers.

"The $100-and-up comfort shoe is where the women's footwear market has grown most in the past few years — up 6% from last year," NPR reported, "thanks, in part, to the baby boomers who demand style with their comfort and will pay for it."

All that, and now we can't tell our Celines from your Dr. Scholl's. Can you?

On the left, Chanel's slick clogs. On the right, Aravon's Holly Women's Orthopedic Clog from the Healthy Feet Store.Source: Chanel/HealthyFeetStore
On the left, Chanel's slick clogs. On the right, Aravon's Holly Women's Orthopedic Clog from the Healthy Feet Store.  Chanel/HealthyFeetStore

Can you tell? These clogs might both have ankle straps, but only one pair is slip resistant, stain resistant and boasts a nylon stability shank. It's not the pair that reportedly costs $1,125.

On the left, a recent Teva design. On the right, the sparkly designer sandals of Eva Chen.Source: Instagram
On the left, a recent Teva design. On the right, the sparkly designer sandals of Eva Chen.  Instagram

Can you tell? Former Lucky editor and Instagram queen Eva Chen shows off sensible sandals in the back of a cab. But real Tevas were made for scaling walls at the beach.

On the left, the Propet Wash & Wear Slip-On sneaker. On the left, a @fashion_inside_club Instagram of Celine sneakers.Source: ShoeBuy.com/Instagram
On the left, the Propet Wash & Wear Slip-On sneaker. On the left, a @fashion_inside_club Instagram of Celine sneakers.  ShoeBuy.com/Instagram

Can you tell? Everybody wants these Celine slip-on sneakers. But do they come with a 1,000-mile guarantee like these orthotic sneakers?

On the left, Vince's $250 Banler Flannel Skate Sneaker. On the right, Dr. Scholl's slip-on sneakers.Source: Neiman Marcus/Dr. Scholl's
On the left, Vince's $250 Banler Flannel Skate Sneaker. On the right, Dr. Scholl's slip-on sneakers.  Neiman Marcus/Dr. Scholl's

Can you tell? Vince, purveyor of comfortable yet ridiculously pricey basics, is selling these black and gray slip-on sneaks. But they probably don't come with the built-in sock insole offered by Dr. Scholl's gray felt rivals.

On the right, Chanel patent calfskin ballerina ankle boots. On the right, an Instagram by @emilynsoliman.Source: Chanel/Instagram
On the right, Chanel patent calfskin ballerina ankle boots. On the right, an Instagram by @emilynsoliman.  Chanel/Instagram

Can you tell? It used to be that when you wanted ultimate comfort from your flats, you had to buy socks to stretch them out. Now Chanel has gone one better with the two-in-one sock-shoe. 

On the left, an Instagram from style blogger Chiara Ferragni. On the right, Dr. Scholl's Warner Wedge Sandal.Source: Instagram/Dr. Scholl's
On the left, an Instagram from style blogger Chiara Ferragni. On the right, Dr. Scholl's Warner Wedge Sandal.  Instagram/Dr. Scholl's

Can you tell? Fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni matches her Chanel Boy bag to her Dr. Scholl's wedges. Oops, we mean Celine wedges.

On the left, an Instagram by Elle France of Chanel sandals. On the right, blogger Dylana Suarez DIY's her Teva sandals.Source: Instagram
On the left, an Instagram by Elle France of Chanel sandals. On the right, blogger Dylana Suarez DIY's her Teva sandals.  Instagram

Can you tell? If your budget doesn't stretch to these Chanel sandals inspired by airport runways, you can always make your own with Teva's DIY sparkle kit.

On the left, an Instagram from Kendall Jenner. On the right, the Riley sneaker by orthopedic shoe company Dr. Comfort.Source: Instagram/Dr. Comfort
On the left, an Instagram from Kendall Jenner. On the right, the Riley sneaker by orthopedic shoe company Dr. Comfort.  Instagram/Dr. Comfort

Can you tell? Do feet problems run in families? Because the flats the Kardashians wear on "Sister Sunday" look a lot like Dr. Comfort's orthopedic shoes, padded tongue and all.

On the left, shoes from Alexander Wang's Resort 2016 collection. On the right, an Instagram of Dr. Scholls' Weslyn sandal.Source: Instagram
On the left, shoes from Alexander Wang's Resort 2016 collection. On the right, an Instagram of Dr. Scholls' Weslyn sandal.  Instagram

Can you tell? Were block wedges made to go with asymmetrical one-armed fleeces or LBDs? Alexander Wang and Dr. Scholl just can't agree on this one.

On the left, metallic Prada sandals. On the right, metallic sandals by Ros Hommerson, from the Orthotic Shop.Source: Instagram/Orthotic Shop
On the left, metallic Prada sandals. On the right, metallic sandals by Ros Hommerson, from the Orthotic Shop.  Instagram/Orthotic Shop

Can you tell? Prada and podiatrists recommend strappy metallics and thick heels.

On the left, Prada's neoprene sneakers. On the right, Grasshoppers' black "comfort" sneaker, from Famous Footwear.Source: Prada/Famous Footwear
On the left, Prada's neoprene sneakers. On the right, Grasshoppers' black "comfort" sneaker, from Famous Footwear.  Prada/Famous Footwear

Can you tell? Rubber soles? Check. Laces? Check. Conspicuous label printed on insole? Well, two out of three isn't bad.

On the left, an Instagram from @lbrand_stylegirl of Marc Jacobs sneakers. On the right, an Instagram of Dr. Scholls' Scout sneaker.Source: Instagram
On the left, an Instagram from @lbrand_stylegirl of Marc Jacobs sneakers. On the right, an Instagram of Dr. Scholls' Scout sneaker.  Instagram

Can you tell? These Marc Jacobs shoes are frowning because they don't have the arch support of Dr. Scholl's.

On the left, Christian Louboutin's $519 Mary Janes. On the right, the Coco heel by Dr. Comfort.Source: Net-A-Porter/Dr. Comfort
On the left, Christian Louboutin's $519 Mary Janes. On the right, the Coco heel by Dr. Comfort.  Net-A-Porter/Dr. Comfort

Can you tell? Watch out, Dr. Comfort. Mr. Discomfort Christian Louboutin has ditched sky-high stilettos for sensible Mary Janes.

On the left, the Delight shoe by Dr. Comfort. On the right, the Dillion Oxford by Alexander Wang.Source: Dr. Comfort/Instagram
On the left, the Delight shoe by Dr. Comfort. On the right, the Dillion Oxford by Alexander Wang.  Dr. Comfort/Instagram

Can you tell? But seriously. Favorite orthopedic shoes been discontinued? No worries, Alexander Wang's got your back.