I’m calling mules the shoe of the season. They are a closed-toe shoe with an open back that exposes the heels and ankles. The slip-on style had its heyday in the ‘90s, and is back with a vengeance, transitioning from fringe to mainstream this year. 

Mules tend to work best on high-volume feet with high insteps, high arches, shorter toes and a wide foot print. They are just about the worst type of footwear style for low-volume feet. They tend to fall off when you have low insteps, low arches, long toes, bony feet, and a narrow foot print. I have low-volume feet, and developed foot cramp trying to keep mules on my feet when I wore them two decades ago. Walking up and down stairs was the worst. So I was the first to say no thank you to the recent resurgence of mules.

I do like the look of mules because of the closed-toe and the modern retro vibe. I prefer the way they look to most open-toed sandals. So earlier this year I started looking for a style that would work for my feet. I found the Simonette Mule (in narrow), which had an enclosed silhouette, narrow fit and thick sole. These features made the style work for me. No cramping, and no “clacking” when I walk. I couldn’t be happier with them.

Simonette Mule

The lesson is to consider the following variables when looking for mules that feel stable, supportive and stay on your feet:

  • Width: Mules must create a snug fit to feel secure, which means getting the right width for your feet. For low-volume feet, choose a NARROW width. If you have wider feet, try a regular or wide size because mules will also fall off your feet when they’re too narrow.
  • Coverage: Choose styles with extra vamp coverage across the top and sides of the feet. Those that skimp on the coverage tend to slip off. My mules have good coverage on top but its the side coverage of the vamp that does the trick.
  • Sole: If you’re looking for flat mules, choose a thick and substantial sole — something more substantial than a flip-flop or bedroom slipper. You don’t want to feel the ground as you stride. The Naturalizers that I bought have the added advantage of soft leather and a cushioning footbed that make my unpadded feet very happy.

Wearing socks and hosiery with mules is treacherous because they make your feet slippery. Mules also aren’t orthotic-friendly. If you’re after more arch support, choose a heeled version instead of flats.

I’m eating my words because I found mules that work for me. The styles in the collection below tend to tick off the boxes when it comes to the variables discussed up top. It’s a visual starting point if you fancy the idea of wearing mules, but think they will be hard to fit.