Thank god sneakers have become stylish enough to wear all the time. I am glad I can feel only slightly shameful when sporting the tennie and skirt look. I have some strong opinions about these sneakers based on my own feet and I could spend years of trying different brands and styles. Below are my personal opinions and preferences. Listen to your body and find yours!
new balance: I wore classic New Balances twice in my life. The first time I was in high school and was into vegetarianism and hardcore. These shoes were not cute, but they weren't made out of leather. I had a shaved head and wore cargo shorts. You get the picture! (Now New Balance makes a large variety of styles- even flats!)
The second time I wore New Balances was right after surgery. They were the first shoes I wore out of the boot. They were boats and I was made fun of by my friends, but they served a purpose. I have always heard that New Balances are great shoes, but for me they didn't have superb arch support and my feet kind of swam inside (I do NOT have narrow feet). pro: metatarsal break pretty sturdy, wide, lots of styles, these shoes work for many people con: really wide and bulky
nike: There are so many kinds of Nikes out right now and the Nike Free is an acceptable work shoe these days. If anything gives women a break from wearing terrible shoes to work, I am pumped. However, orthopedically speaking, Nikes are pretty terrible. There is little to no arch support, the heel cup does not cup your foot, they tend to run narrow and the met break is fashionably flexible. All of this being said, I love Nikes and just bought a pair as my "dress up" shoes (how sad is my life...). pro: fashionable, can wear to work, LOTS of colors/styles, affordable con: not the best for orthopedic concerns
asics/saucony: I put these two together because they seem to serve similar purposes. Some people like Asics and some people like Sauconys. I like Sauconys. My friend Marimba wears Asics. We have very different feet but our concerns are similar: good arch support (we both put in our own actually, but the stock arch support is ok), good mid foot support, good heel support, wide toe base, sturdy met break. These shoes are in no way as fashionable as Nikes and have to just be accepted as plain ol' sneakers. pro: they feel great, orthopedically sound, not too expensive con: not the best looking, a little bulky
five fingers: I have never personally been in the barefoot shoe club. I am however a barefoot contemporary dancer so I very much understand the benefits of being barefoot and having strong, articulate feet. Five finger shoes are not miracle way to get them. Strong feet take intelligent work just like any body part or firing pattern. I can see the benefit to wearing these in nature if you want protection from rocks and sticks or in the gym if you are stable enough to lift in bare feet and understand what that means. I do not see the benefit of track running or concrete running. From an orthopedic support perspective Five finger shoes, you make my joints ache and my MTPs cry. I can't offer a true Pro/Con as I have never worn them.
converse/vans(and also Toms): These are the shoes of my generation (I suppose I am not the only generation who can claim converse...). Growing up, you wore one or the other depending on your musical and action sport preference. These shoes are flat flat flat and have zero arch support. They are cheap and cool but they do nothing for your body. Wearing these shoes is asking for bunions and shin splints. I hate to say it, but these shoes are not good for you. pro: cute, stylish, easy, cheap con: not good for you!
More about feet, right this way!