Minimalist Shoes – Choosing Simplicity and Stylish Elegance

There are so many options available for shoes these days-from casual and trendy to fancy and red-carpet worthy.  If you’re looking for supportive shoes that are better for your feet and can alleviate any problems you have, let’s talk about minimalist shoes as an option.

Minimalist shoes are created with less material with sustainability and foot support in mind.  There are minimalist shoes available for women, men, and children in many styles and options.

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have the right kind of shoes in your closet?  Are you experiencing foot problems and looking for something healthier for your feet?

 What are Minimalist Shoes?

Minimalist shoes are created using the minimalist principle of “less is more”, or with minimal materials.  Sustainability and maximal foot support are also considered with the creation of minimalist shoes.  According to a study by several doctors at Laval University, minimalist shoes provide minimal interference, high flexibility, no motion control or stability devices, and low weight and height for optimal performance.

Shoe store - Minimalist Shoes - Gone Minimal
Shoe store

There are a few criteria to look for when shopping for minimalist shoes:

  • Flexible shoes – Shoes should bend and engage with the bend of your foot for support and safety.
  • Zero drop – There shouldn’t be a significant difference between heel and ball of foot height (more than 4 mm) which creates unnatural movements in your feet.
  • Wide toe box – There should be enough room for your toes to move and flex with uneven walking surfaces.

Due to potential lack of foot strength from prolonged use of standard shoes, orthopedists and trainers suggest you take some time to transition your feet to minimalist shoes with the following tips:

  • Embrace the barefoot!  Go barefoot more to add to your foot strength (on safe surfaces, of course).
  • Start sturdy.  Find a minimalist shoe with a firmer sole.
  • Start slow.  Wear your new minimalist shoes for short periods of time, starting with about 15-20 minutes.  Increase each week to build up strength and prevent injuries.
  • Separate those toes.  Standard shoes tend to scrunch toes together, so consider using a toe separator for 10-60 minutes each day to spread them out and increase flexibility.
Shoes in the grass - Minimalist Shoes - Gone Minimal
Shoes in the grass

Not sure about whether or not minimalist shoes are for you?  Let’s look at some of the styles and options available to see if they might fit your lifestyle.

Minimalist Shoes for Women

Minimalist shoes for women come in many different types for everything from everyday wear to office-appropriate.  These shoes are not about a plain and functional sole tied on with strings!  Women can be choosy about their footwear, and thankfully there are so many beautiful options for minimalist shoes.  From flexible flats and sexy sandals to running shoes that make it feel like running barefoot, there are options in every color. 

Minimalist Shoes for Men

Minimalist shoes for men may not have as many colorful options as women’s (sorry, guys!), but there are still many to choose from.  The most commonly purchased minimalist shoes by men are walking and running shoes.  There are casual sneakers, sandals, running shoes, and even slip-ons.

Minimalist Shoes for Children

Childhood is an excellent place to start with minimalist shoes, and there are several options for minimalist shoes for children.  Children already love being barefoot, and minimalist shoes tend to simulate the barefoot feel without a great deal of weight or material.  From athletic options to water shoes, these shoes are flexible and lightweight, which are ideal for children.

Minimalist Sneakers - Gone Minimal
Minimalist Sneakers – Gone Minimal

Types of Minimalist Shoes by Activity

When choosing minimalist shoes, it’s important to consider factors such as the activity you’ll be engaging in and personal preferences. Proper fit and gradual transitions are essential for your feet and muscles to adapt to the minimalistic design. Consulting with a specialist or trying on different brands and styles can help you find the right minimalist shoe for your specific activity and needs.

We all have multiple activities and things we pursue daily, so we need shoes that will meet those functional needs.  Let’s review minimalist shoes by activity to see what fits your lifestyle.

Minimalist Running Shoes

Minimalist running shoes have been around for quite some time now, but have recently increased in popularity.  There’s something about running barefoot, or feeling like it’s barefoot, to breathe new life into your running routine.  Minimalist running shoes come in many options from what looks like your standard running shoes to those that articulate each toe.  These running shoes are designed to provide support with minimal materials while being lightweight and comfortable.

Minimalist Walking Shoes

Walking is an excellent form of exercise for just about anyone, and support is still important when looking for shoes.  Minimalist walking shoes are lightweight, flexible, and supportive to the foot as well as comfortable.  Some are pretty fashionable as well-you’d probably be surprised that perhaps you’ve already got a pair in your closet!

Man hiking - Minimalist Shoes - Gone Minimal
Man hiking

Minimalist Training Shoes

When working out at the gym, lifting weights, or even just riding a stationary bike, it’s important to have the right shoes with some versatility.  Minimalist training shoes can provide the versatility you’re looking for while being lightweight and supportive.  They provide flexibility and come in many different styles and options.

Minimalist Dress Shoes

Whether it’s for work or a nice dinner out, it’s nice to have some dress shoe options.  Thankfully there are minimalist dress shoes for both men and women that also provide many options.  Some of these, especially for women, may not have the zero-drop (they’ve got a bit of a heel), but they’re still minimalist in every other aspect.  From lace-up leather dress shoes for men to pretty flats for women, there are minimalist dress shoes for those dressy moments in life.

Minimalist Shoes for the Everyday

When you’re running errands, grocery shopping, transporting kids, or even working in the yard-there are minimalist shoes for the everyday.  You could consider some walking shoes, and these are appropriate for casual wear as well.  These everyday types of minimalist shoes are flexible, comfortable, lightweight, and supportive.

Black leather sandals - Minimalist Shoes - Gone Minimal
Black leather sandals

Minimalist Shoes for the Outdoors

Got an active outdoor lifestyle?  Don’t worry-there are minimalist shoes for the outdoors as well!  Let’s review some of the options currently available.

Minimalist Hiking Shoes

When you’re hiking you want flexible shoes that support your arches and ankles, especially when there’s uneven and rocky terrain.  Minimalist hiking shoes can provide that support with shoes that are lightweight and comfortable for even long distances.  From standard-style hiking sneakers to high-tops, there are certainly a pair to meet your needs and preferences.

Minimalist Waterproof Shoes

If you’re a water lover, be it boating or swimming to running in the snow, there are minimalist waterproof shoes that are sure to fit your active lifestyle.  There are options available in sandals, running shoes, hiking boots, cross-trainers, and even casual shoes that are waterproof. 

Woman golfing - Minimalist Shoes - Gone Minimal
Woman golfing

Minimalist Golf Shoes

If you’re a golf enthusiast, there are minimalist golf shoes to help you enjoy the walk.  With or without spikes, there are zero-drop options that flex to your feet and help adapt to the varied terrain, both on green and in the rough.  It’s just like golfing barefoot!

Barefoot Minimalist Shoes

Many of us enjoy and even prefer being barefoot, and sometimes it’s just not safe to remain barefoot.  Thankfully there are barefoot minimalist shoes just for us!  These everyday shoes are lightweight and flexible, offer plenty of toe room, and help you maintain that barefoot feel while keeping your feet safe.

..Minimalist shoes provide minimal interference, high flexibility, no motion control or stability devices, and low weight and height for optimal performance.

This helpful video explains the benefits and why minimalist/barefoot shoes are important and a few places you can get your own pair.

Related Insights

Are Minimalist Shoes Bad for Your Feet?

Minimalist shoes take some getting used to if you’ve worn conventional shoes all your life, but they’re not necessarily bad.  According to sports medicine researchers at Pennsylvania State University Hershey, minimalist running shoes can limit some injuries but suggest that more research is needed.

Can You Wear Minimalist Shoes Everyday?

If you have made the transition to minimalist shoes gradually, there’s no reason you can’t wear them every day.  With so many options for every lifestyle, why not go “barefoot”?

What Are Minimalist Shoes Good For?

Minimalist shoes are good for so many things!  From casual sandals for the beach or pool to comfortable dress shoes for the boardroom or dinner date, there are no limits to what minimalist shoes are good for!

Barefoot in the sand - Minimalist Shoes - Gone Minimal
Barefoot in the sand

Qualities People Look For in Shoes

I asked 5 friends or family members to list the top 5 qualities they look for in a shoe: Some qualities might be: availability, sustainability, weight, price, brand, longevity, versatility, color, style, etc. Here’s what I found out: 

QualityTally of Family/Friends
Arch support2

Other Resources:

Minimalist shoes are not minimal in options-there are so many styles and looks available that you may even already have a pair in your life.  With sustainable and lightweight materials, functional and supportive soles, and styles to meet even the most active lifestyles, you just can’t go wrong with minimalist shoes.  Who knows-you may even be able to alleviate some foot problems with a pair of them!

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