Fashion vs. function: Jamie Stelter on why flats are a medical must


People always ask me about my shoes. Most people want to know where I got them, but some wonder why I would ever go on air without wearing heels.

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2003.

“Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis,” explained Dr. Harry Fischer, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “It’s usually joints that are tender and swollen and painful, red. It’s usually certain characteristic joints, often small joints of hands and feet.”

I’ve been working with rheumatologist Harry Fischer at Mount Sinai Beth Israel for about 10 years. In that time, I’ve had fusion surgeries in my neck and foot.

But, it was a total ankle replacement that permanently took away some of the flexion in my foot.

That means no high heels.

That’s why you’ll always see me in flats or sneakers.

“Comfortable shoes are the most important thing and I think sneakers are very comfortable. Sneakers with a good arch support, you know sometimes shoes that are wide enough and comfortable enough with enough support,” said Dr. Fischer.

It’s taken years of tinkering with medications and diet and exercise regimens to be where I am now — healthy, strong and walking without pain.

But, not everyone has artificial joints or chronic disease. Maybe you just have achy knees. Thanks to brands like Margaux, finding the right shoes is easy.

“The beauty of this brand is that they’re custom made for you and will fit to your specifications to a T,” said Erica Russo, fashion director at Bloomingdale’s.

Russo recently showed us around “The Heart of Shoe York” — the new floor at the Bloomingdale’s flagship store on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street where flat shoes come in every shape, size and color.

“Fashion is having a love affair with flats. There are just so many options from the mules, to the loafers, to the sneakers, there really is something for everyone,” Russo said.

So whether you have a medical issue or you just want to be comfortable.

“Flats are not going away. They’re just going to continue to evolve and get more special,” Russo added.