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The Real Top Shoe Trends For 2021

Lisa Schmitz February 2021 new

Shoe Kuel Category Expert: Lisa Loyet Schmitz

Pick up or log-on to your favorite fashion magazine and you’ll likely find “Top Shoe Trends for 2021” full of beautiful and creative sandals, sky high stilettos, sleek kitten heels and thick lug soles.

That the shoe industry took quite a hit when the pandemic set in should come as no surprise. Sales of dressy shoes and high heels plummeted farther than J. Lo’s neckline at the 42nd Grammy Awards.

The Pandemic Challenges:

So, are those the trends that are actually selling or the styles that look best in photographs? Fashion is revolutionary. We are all optimistic for the return of fancy high heels and strappy sandals! Fashion articles sell fashion magazines, not products. Fashion editors and fashionitsas sell hope, ideas and inspiration. Design studios, however, respond to actual demand for products based on consumer wants, needs, and purchasing trends. With the pandemic, staying in has become the place to go. We’re seeing ourselves rather than being seen. All over the world studios face the challenge of creating shoes that fit our stay-at-home lifestyle. What they know is that comfort doesn’t mean sacrificing fashion. They’re keeping the creative juices flowing to create new, fun, flirty, sexy, and fresh fashion shoes.

Comfort Is Queen In 2021:

But, what is actually selling in 2021? Comfort. With our everyday lifestyle starting to tiptoe out of our home offices and at-home-date-nights, women aren’t ready to abandon the lifestyle of yoga pants and aloe-infused fluffy socks just yet. When we do step out, though, we want to keep that comfort. We want to look good. So, what’s a girl to do?

Below is a list of the types of shoes actually being purchased by women that will continue to sell through this transitional time. Don’t get me wrong: this girl LOVES her high-heels, rhinestone boots, and trendy platforms. Over the years my shoes end up in one of two categories:  1) all-day shoes (those being the shoes I can be on my feet for hours and hours without hurting), and 2) sitting down shoes (those being the beautiful pieces of art-for-the-feet that absolutely hurt like hell if standing for more than 20 minutes)! Finding shoes combining both cute and comfortable isn’t always easy.

My position as Creative Director for Walking Cradles creates a bias. That noted, I wouldn’t work here nor promote these shoes if I didn’t 100% put my money where my mouth is. Or, in this case, where my feet are. Full disclosure, when I refer to the categories of shoes that are selling, I am going to recommend Walking Cradles shoes. Shoes that are either available now, or will be coming out this Spring. There are other brands which have lovely, good-quality, properly-fitting shoes. When shopping for other brands, just keep in mind the key points I share when selecting yours!

Tips For All Shoe Selections:

A Good Fit:

The first and most important thing you want to consider is the fit. Make sure that both the length and the width of the shoe are what your foot needs. Wearing shoes that are too big or too small can cause problems. Not only with your feet, but also with your ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

To Sock Or Not To Sock?

If you are planning to wear socks with your shoes, try them on with the socks. Make sure your toes have room to wiggle just a bit. Of course, not so much that there is extra room at the front of your shoe, but on the tops of your toes. This area of a shoe is called the toe-box. Without proper room in the toe box, you could end up losing a toe-nail! I know this firsthand because it has happened to me. There is nothing less lovely than ruining your pedicure due to a missing toe-nail!

Darn, That Smaller Foot:

Next, make sure your heel isn’t slipping. This will result in blisters forming on your heels. Those are both painful and irritating. Almost everyone has one foot larger than the other With a slip-on shoe you may need to invest in a heel cup to accommodate your smaller foot. You’ll want to make sure that you select a shoe size that fits your larger foot because there is no hack to remedy this problem. Heel cups are made in gel, moleskin, leather, foam, etc. and can be found in pharmacies, shoe stores, and big-box stores. Heel slippage happens most often in slip-on shoes. If your shoe ties, this may not be a problem.

Take Them For A Test Drive:

Finally, walk around a bit indoors in the shoes to ensure adequate insoles for your foot needs. Ask yourself:  Is there enough arch support? Is the cushioning enough and will it hold up when you wear them? This is a common problem when memory foam is used for insoles. It “remembers” your foot, and the pressure points (heels and balls of feet) break down almost immediately resulting in no cushioning in the areas that require it most. Will you be inserting an orthotic? Make sure the shoe can accommodate your personal insert. Try the shoe with the insert in place.

Now For The Actual Trending Styles For Spring 2021:


We all love the feeling of a sneaker. And with athleisure clothing being so dang cute these days, we wear it as much as our daily uniform as we do for our actual workouts. When selecting a sporty sneaker, make sure you have considered all the points made above. Sporty sneakers are typically a shoe we turn to for our daily activities: walking, errands, shopping, going to the park, etc. Make sure you feel stable. Make sure your foot feels secure without the shoe being too tight. You want your feet to feel just as good when you take your shoes off as when you put them on!

Walking Cradles recommends:

Sporty sneakers

(shown is the Orleans in Black & White Snake Print Leather)

Orleans slip-on sneaker and Osmond slip-on high-top bootie sneaker both on our flexible, sturdy Metro bottom. Fraley mesh and leather slip-on sneaker on our lightweight, flexible EVA•lution bottom with removable insoles. (All available now)

the Dash in black stretch

(shown is the Dash in Black Stretch fabric – coming soon!)

Coming Soon:  Dash stretch fabric slip on sneaker, Delta leather slip on sneaker, Destin tie sneaker with perferred leather uppers, and Dylan tie sneaker with stretch fabric and leather uppers. All part of our brand-new Metro+ collection which has enhanced arch support and heel impact resistant (removable) insoles on a lightweight, flexible and durable bottom (All available late-March).


Again, comfort is key. For the days you don’t want to wear sneakers but don’t want to give up that sneaker comfort, loafers are the perfect choice. Easy to slip off and on, comfortable, and a bit more dressed-up than just a sneaker. A good loafer will keep your feet looking great while providing comfort features that allow you to walk all day without wincing! Look for the same qualities here as mentioned above in the sneakers.

Walking Cradles recommends:

Red Walking Cradles shoes

(shown is the Francesca in Cranberry Nubuck)

Camden, Cormick, Clayton, Clover and Eliot:  These casual loafers are definitely made for the person who is on their feet all day. Designed specifically with an ample toe box and comfort features like a padded collar, these shoes provide all-day comfort made in beautiful, genuine leather uppers with removable insoles that provide non-compacting foam for long-wearing cushiony comfort! (All available now)

Fall, Flynn, Felicity, Florence, Francesca, Freya:  This construction is styled to be more of a sleek flat. But still packs all the comfort features of a sportier looking shoe (these insoles are also removable). A favorite among teachers, hairstylists, and other occupations where standing all day is typical, yet looking stylish is still a priority! (All available now)

Foster, Waverly, Winnie, Wren, Wyatt: Here you have a classic design made with unexpected comfort features. With the same Tiny Pillows® removable insoles that provide arch support and cushioning, these styles have lightweight, flexible bottoms that allow the foot to move naturally while going about your day! (All available now)


This category exploded with the onset of “sheltering in place,” quarantining, and working from home. No surprise here. Why would we want to take the time to lace-up or buckle-up when we were only leaving the house to walk the dog or collect the mail? Shoes that were easy-on, easy-off and still comfortable to wear around the house became everyone’s favorites. And since many slippers provide only a covered piece of cardboard with furry uppers, some shoe brands heard the cry for more. Women realized that walking around the house in poor fitting slippers is just as painful as trying to catch the subway in stiff stilettos.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been at the grocery store and seen the person in front of me wearing a big fluffy slipper with her heels hanging out the back. Or, what about those slides that soak up any amount of water that is on the ground when you take the garbage out? Smart shoe designers took notice and began combining all the great comfort features of their sporty and casual lines into a clog/slide/mule/slipper. The best pair combines cute and comfortable for the best of both worlds.

Walking Cradles recommends:

Mules shoes for Spring 2021

(shown is the Freedom in Navy)

Additional Options:

We have several options of these in-demand styles that will have your feet happy to be cradled in comfort, whether indoors or out (all insoles are removable and can accommodate an orthotic)!

Emerson – made of woven leather uppers and a stacked-look heel

Freedom – made of perfed nubuck uppers on our extremely lightweight, flexible EVA•lution bottom

Walker – a classy leather mule with soft, faux-fur lining and decorative gold hardware on our lightweight, flexible EVA•lution bottom

(All available now)

the best indoor/outdoor slipper

(shown is the Dana in Black Zebra Stretch fabric – coming soon!)

Coming Soon:  Dana – arguably the best indoor/outdoor slipper. This style is made of zebra print stretch fabric uppers, with our new Metro+ enhanced arch support and reinforced heel pad for impact resistance. An ergonomic heel cup helps keep your feet inside the shoe whether your walking, driving or just putting your feet up to watch the next binge-worthy Netflix series.). (Available late-March).


It’s only February, but many of us take a winter break to a sunny destination, or begin planning for warmer weather outfits. Sandals are always a popular choice. Beware of the standard cheap flip-flop because what you don’t pay for in the shoe, your feet will pay for in the end. With their lack of support, structure and floppy bottoms, this type of sandal should be reserved for wearing at the pool or beach. In addition to the lack of support, they are also easier to trip in which can result in bumps, bruises, rolled ankles and broken toes. Don’t fret. There are thong-type and many other sandals that both fit, feel and look great without compromising your foot health.

Sandal Expectations:

Shock absorption and arch support are equally as important in sandals as they are closed-up shoes. Make sure your sandal has a contoured or cushioned footbed. Walking on a flat, hard bottom is not just bad for your feet, but pretty much everything from the feet up.

If you have problems keeping sandals on your feet or have problems tripping while wearing them, consider shopping for styles that have adjustable straps. This will hold your feet in place and the adjustability provides stability not found in all sandals.

Make sure there is some sort of traction on the soles. Especially, if you are going to be wearing them in wet areas. Slipping on a smooth-soled sandal pretty much ensures not only a spilled drink, but could land you off the pool deck, beach or out of the pleasant spring and summer air and inside with an unwanted cast! For those shoes that don’t come equipped with traction on the soles, either purchase an adhesive anti-stick shoe pad or rough up the bottoms by doing a little Chubby Checker style twist on some rough pavement.

Finally, please make sure they fit properly! There is nothing that ruins a cute summer outfit more than seeing an inch of heel in the back of a shoe, or even worse, toes hanging off the front! If they don’t fit right, not only will they not look good, but they aren’t good for your foot health.

Walking Cradles recommends:

Metro Collection

(Shown is the Spencer in Navy)

Spencer and Shea – part of our Metro Collection, these sandals are sporty and sturdy. With non-compacting foam insoles, the cushioning bounces back wear after wear and the anti-microbial sueded micro-fiber lining keeps your foot dry and comfortable! (Both available now)

Pool  – part of our Comfort Cradle collection, this sandal has a molded footbed that still includes our cushioned Tiny Pillows®. Pool has adjustable straps on the fore part of the foot as well as at the ankle. (Available now.

Coming Soon:  Spiro – similar to the Spencer (above) but is a slide, and Penelope – similar to the Pool (above) but is a thong.

Heather and Henley – these Metro+ sandals were introduced last year and quickly sold out! The enhanced arch support, ergonomic heel cup and leather linings make this super lightweight, flexible sandal a real summer dream-come-true! (Both available now)

Coming Soon:  Hustle and Hudson – based on the popularity of the Heather and Henley, our designer created the Hustle, which is a little more of a dressy casual sandal, still with three hook and loop adjustable straps, as well as the Hudson, which is just a perfect simple slide. (Both available late March).

In The End:

So, there you have it! Whether you purchase the sublimely cute and comfy Walking Cradles current trends or you stick with your tried-and-true brands, make sure you give your feet the respect they deserve. After all, they have a pretty big responsibility keeping up with you and your busy life!

About the Author:

Lisa Schmitz is the Creative Director for Walking Cradles shoes – a women’s shoe company whose mission is to hit the perfect combo of fit, comfort and style for a wide range of women’s shoe sizes. Working in this women driven company, Lisa is able to combine her years of experience with marketing, advertising, graphic design and shoe modeling. Working closely with the shoe designer, Jamie Wells, Lisa is involved in many aspects of the research, development, fit-testing and marketing of the shoes. Lisa is honored to have been selected as a shoe-expert with Kuel Life and to have Walking Cradles shoes available for purchase in the Kuel Shop.