The best ladies' sandals for feet with bunions August 07 2023

Summer is the perfect time for getting your toes painted and your feet out to enjoy the cooling air free from the constraints of shoes and boots.


But what if you have bunions? Which is the best style of sandal to wear without rubbing and leaving you in pain? And what if you feel self-conscious about your bunions? 

The good news is there are styles that work really well for feet with bunions that will get you back to loving wearing sandals. Here’s a quick guide for what to look for and what to avoid when shopping for sandals when you've bunions.


What are bunions?

Just a recap. If you’re reading this, you’re probably more than aware of what a bunion is, but for those unsure…

Bunions are bony lumps on the big toe joint on the side of the foot. They occur when your big toe turns inwards, towards your other toes, and they often have hard or red swollen skin.

Your feet are a lot like your hands, in that they’re a very flexible part of your body, made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, lots of muscles, tendons and ligaments. They also change over your lifetime, spreading and becoming broader and longer.

On average, women's feet increase by 2 whole shoe sizes from when you finish growing as a teenager to your latter years. 

While some people are genetically predisposed to developing a bunion, the leading cause is poorly fitting footwear that’s too small, too narrow or in the case of heels - too high. All of which squeeze the toes together, causing the toe joint to become deformed.

More than 15% of women in the UK suffer from bunions1

Once the big toe leans towards the other toes, the tendons stop being able to pull it straight and calcification (deposits of bone tissue) form on the joint, making it larger and leading to discomfort and pain.

chunky sole bead and flower detail ladies leather sandal

What to look for in bunion-friendly sandals

The key considerations when sandal shopping for feet with bunions are:

  • Rubbing – The cut, material and quality of manufacture are all factors, as well as where the sandal sits on your bunion. If the sandals are cut so that the strap/top of the sandal sits across the bunion, partly on and partly off the bunion, it will rub, which with time will cause pain and may even further damage the joint.
  • Fit – The better the fit, the more comfortable the sandals will be for longer, and as a bunion may mean you have differently sized feet, this becomes more of a consideration. Adjustable sandals are your friends here.
  • Cover – The more material that covers the bunion, the more your foot will be held securely and comfortably in place. If you’re self-conscious about your bunion, this also means it’s more hidden from view too.
  • Material  Whenever possible choose leather or textile sandals, avoiding manmade fabrics wherever possible as they don’t give in the way natural materials do. 
  • Size – A bunion often makes one foot larger than the other. Choose the size that’s comfortable on your larger foot, as it's usually easier and better to tighten a shoe to fit a smaller foot than try to stretch a tight fitting shoe. If you choose a smaller size (to fit the smaller foot) you risk aggravating the bunion and may make the joint worse.


Adjustable sandals

We recommend whatever style of sandal you choose, if you have a bunion make sure it’s adjustable over the top front part of the foot. You’ll thank us later.

Being able to adjust the fit of your sandals over the top of your foot means you’re more comfortably accommodating your foot’s unique degree of ‘wonkiness’. The sandal will fit your foot more securely, allowing you to walk in comfort for longer. If you have differently sized feet, one sandal can be done up more than the other, so both feet will be held securely and in comfort.

Adjustable sandals often look better on (as they fit without straining, bulging or gaping) and, most importantly, feel better – as you’ve less likelihood of rubbing.

For instance, this sandal can be adjusted in two places (across the top and toes) to better fit your feet.

multi-coloured mule style leather sandal

Sandals and shoes that you can lace-up offer a welcome degree of adjustment too, making them comfortable and more comfortable for longer. 

white and floral laceup leather sandal

The sandals below are the last word in comfort with every strap: around the heel and across the top, middle and toes, being adjustable to give you the perfect all-round fit.

gold leather wedge heel ladies sandal

Ara navy blue adjustable leather sandals

ara adjustable silver leather sandals 

Sandals that cover your bunion

Covering the bunion completely, particularly with a cotton, bamboo or leather-lined sandal, will help to prevent rubbing – especially with an adjustable sandal.

The styles below are all adjustable and illustrate the breadth of styles available, from practical for when you’re walking miles or on your feet all day, to more fun, playful and dare we say ‘funky’ styles. 

red leather wolky sandals

chunky soled brown leather ladies sandals


Wide fitting sandals

The combination of a bunion and the increase in width and size over the years means a wider-fitting sandal could be a great option.

These give your bunion much-needed space, preventing rubbing and discomfort. Again, look for sandals that can be adjusted to allow you to get a perfect pain-free fit.

The sandals below, by Waldlaufer, come in wide and extra wide fittings, up to a 6E width, have either a ‘back-in’ heel or strap for greater security and can be adjusted across both the top and toe part of the foot for a wonderfully tailored fit.

navy blue leather ladies adjustable sandals
adjustable soft pink leather sandals



Sandal styles to avoid

Strappy sandals

While this kind of super strappy sandal looks fabulous, if the narrow straps land in the wrong place, for instance, over your bunion, they could cause rubbing. In a nutshell, be aware of narrow straps that land on your bunion.

silver strappy leather corkbed sandals

Sandals that partly cover the bunion

These may be wonderfully pretty and feminine, but depending on the size and position of your bunion, this kind of sandal could cut across it, which will quickly cause discomfort.

We’d recommend avoiding this kind of sandal unless you’re going to be mostly sitting. 

Rosegold metal detail ladies leather sandals

This sandal is adjustable and may be perfectly suitable, providing the top strap doesn’t sit part-way across the bunion. If it does, we’d suggest you choose a different style.  

white leather corkbed two strap sandals

Whichever sandals, shoes, boots or slippers you choose, be kind to your bunion. Make sure you give it enough room, your choice of footwear fits without pressing, ideally can be adjusted for greater room where most needed and definitely doesn’t pinch or rub.


If you have any questions about the best bunion-friendly sandals for your feet, or in fact the best ladies’ footwear for your corns, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis… we’re all trained shoe fitters and very happy to help. Call us on 01488 686480 or send us an email on



1 Bunions (hallux valgus)