Natural Minimalist Shoes Review
For this Soft Star Shoes review, I have been wearing the Adult Solstice Sandal in Turquoise. This fashionable women's minimalist sandal is made from natural leather with a flexible Vibram synthetic rubber outsole. If you are looking for barefoot shoes that look pretty on your feet, Soft Star Shoes may be just the right brand for you!
I first reached out to Soft Star Shoes about reviewing their sandals in 2014, and they sent me a pair to try. I do apologize that this review is way overdue, but on the bright side, I've had a couple years to get to know my Solstice Sandals.
Disclosure: The product(s) in this post were provided to me by the manufacturer or their PR company for me to try.
About Soft Star Shoes
Soft Star Shoes are handcrafted in Oregon, USA from premium, responsibly sourced leathers. As well as adult minimalist shoes, Soft Star also offers baby and youth shoes. Their selection includes athletic barefoot running shoes, casual shoes, moccasins, boots, and slippers. And if you don't see the color combo you are looking for, you can Design Your Own (DYO)! I've been dreaming about a pair of their women's DYO Ballerine Flat in Deep Blue Sea, with a Waikiki Heal, and Black trim.
Soft Star Shoes has wonderful customer service, and their elves can assist you in selecting your shoe size. I watched their sizing video, and traced my feet, but I still accidentally chose a size too big. They kindly exchanged them for a smaller narrow pair with an extra hole punched on the strap. If you are uncertain about which size to select, I suggest giving the elves at Soft Star a call so they can help figure out the best option for your feet.
It was exciting, like Christmas morning, opening my new shoes and slipping them on my feet. But before taking photos, I had to paint my toe nails with Scotch Naturals water-based nail polish in Loch Ness Mystery!
|Soft Star||Adult Solstice Sandal||NOVA Turquoise||6U (7 Womens), narrow||$100|
Minimalist Shoes are More Natural
Soft Star Shoes are "natural" in two different ways. First, they are made from natural leather. Mine have a synthetic outsole, but you could opt to make them all natural with a bullhide outsole. Secondly, minimalist shoes allow you to walk with a more natural gait.
Minimalist Shoes for New Walkers
I started seriously considering switching to minimalist shoes when my son was about to start walking. My husband and I were trying to raise him naturally, from the foods he ate to the clothes he wore. Once you start going down the natural lifestyle path, the rabbit hole to more and more natural alternatives seems endless. I preferred shoes made of natural materials, which are hard to find these days. But what about the whole concept of wearing shoes? Is that healthy for young developing feet? We decided to delay putting shoes on our son until he was up and walking. And once he was walking, we would choose minimalist flexible soled shoes, to allow his feet a free range of motion.
Minimalist Shoes for Adults
So if no shoes at all or barefoot shoes were the best option for my toddler. What about me? Should I be rethinking my shoes? Researching minimalist shoes was a real eye opener. It's not just about the shoes you wear, but how you walk and run. Imagine running barefoot over rocky terrain. You would immediately switch from striking the ground with the heel of your foot, to landing on the ball of your foot or flatfooted. There has been a movement to switch to barefoot running, because that it how we humans were designed to run.
Minimalist Shoes for Running
I was a long distance cross country runner in high school, until my knee caps started dislocating and and my knees would be swollen by the end of a race. My doctor's explanation was that my leg bones had grown, but the muscles that were supposed to hold my knee caps in place hadn't caught up. With all the natural living knowledge that I have gained, I'm guessing there were other factors, such as my diet being sorely lacking in collagen and that I was running incorrectly. When I joined the cross country team, no one taught me how to run or analyzed the way I was running. So I purchased running shoes with a cushioned heel, and landed with a heel strike. I wish someone would have told me I could run in minimalist shoes and land on the balls of my feet. I had just given up ballet, for running, so it would have been an easy transition at the time.
Years later, I started running again, training for the Great Aloha Run. I went shoe shopping, intending to purchase minimalist running shoes. But none of the minimalist brands in the local athletic shoe store fit my feet. So I left with exactly the opposite of what I intended to purchase- running shoes with a thick air-cushioned heel. Not so surprisingly, that running phase didn't last long. After the Great Aloha Run, my husband and I decided it wasn't a viable hobby with the aches and pains it caused. Maybe I'll take up running again someday, but with minimalist barefoot running shoes...
Minimalist Sandals for Women
I still wanted to give minimalist shoes a try, so I did some more research and found a few brands online. The Soft Star Shoes looked lovely, and were Made in the USA from natural materials. That sounded like a great fit!
I received my Adult Solstice Sandals, and found out shortly afterward that I would be leaving soon to travel for an extended time in SE Asia. Since the sandals were very lightweight and low profile, they fit easily in my backpack.
Observations About Soft Star Adult Solstice Sandals
I didn't get to wear my Soft Star Solstice Sandals as much as I wanted to at first. During our stay in SE Asia, I was too nervous to wear open-toed shoes on the uneven sidewalks, where my toes might easily get stubbed (or run over by a motorbike!). So I mostly wore them on special occasions. If you are headed somewhere with reliable sidewalks, Soft Star Shoes would make excellent travel shoes, since you'll hardly even notice them in your luggage!
Next time around, if I knew I was headed off to travel, I would opt for the Ballerine Flat. I've discovered that a pair of ballerina flats are an excellent choice while traveling, in case you want to switch from unattractive walking shoes to something more dressy.
Now that we are back home in Hawaii, I've finally gotten to spend some more time wearing my Solstice Sandals. The leather is starting to mold to my feet, which is a quality I love about natural leather! It's worth it to choose high-quality shoes that are comfortable and fit you just right!
When first switching to minimalist shoes, it's common to be more sore in your calf muscles and lower legs, since you may use different muscles while walking. The shoes themselves never caused any rubbing, blisters, or irritation. I wasn't sure at first about the design of the heel coming up so high in the back, but now I realize that feature helps hold the shoe snuggly in place. The leather insole is soft, but not padded. The Solstice Sandals are very comfortable because the thin flexible soles allow my feet a full range of motion.
I love that the Solstice Sandals go great either with a pair of jeans, for attending a family concert at the park, or with a skirt, for an Easter Egg hunt.
I posted this photo below in a Paleo parenting group, and someone spotted my shoes and asked, "Are those Soft Star Shoes?". The Soft Star name is well known and respected in the Paleo community!
Soft Star Shoes Review Summary
To make a long story short, I love my Soft Star Shoes Solstice Sandals, and they've allowed me to finally make the switch to minimalist shoes.
Favorite Aspect: Other than the teal color? I love the high-quality craftsmanship and natural leather.
Least Favorite Aspect: The only draw-back with these sandals is that they are not meant to be worn in the water. That's to be expected with leather shoes, but here in Hawaii it is nice to have sandals that can go straight from the park to the beach.
Rating (5 / 5)
Natural materials: Soft Star Shoes receive their first star for being made from natural materials. With the DYO options, you can swap out the Vibram outsole for a bullhide sole.
Packaging: If I remember correctly, the packaging was very minimal and eco-friendly.
Effectiveness: The Adult Solstice Sandals earn another star for being wonderfully comfortable minimalist shoes.
Value for your money: At $90+, the Solstice Sandals are more expensive than synthetic sandals, but they are reasonably priced for hand-crafted natural leather sandals that are made in the USA.
A pleasure to use: The Solstice Sandals are both cute and comfortable to wear.
Overall: Overall, the Soft Star Adult Solstice Sandal earns 5 out of 5 stars. I'm sure their other styles would too! I highly recommend Soft Star Shoes, whether you are looking for toddler shoes for your new walker, or casual or running shoes for yourself.
Where to Buy Soft Star Shoes
Soft Star Shoes are available directly from the Soft Star Shoes website.
Have you made the switch to minimalist shoes?