Best Dress Shoes for Children Who Wear AFOs – Styles that Are AFO-Friendly

Does your child wear Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFOs) and are you finding it hard to find stylish yet comfortable dress shoes? Dressing up for a special occasion is an exciting part of childhood, but finding suitable dress shoes for children who wear AFOs can certainly be a challenge. The first thing I recommend doing is asking your medical professional whether it is absolutely necessary that your child wears dress shoes with his/her AFOs. If the answer is yes, then keep on reading as I will show you the styles that are AFO-friendly and ensure both style and functionality.

Some children are not required to wear their AFOs with their dress shoes. If this is the case with your child, I will provide you with a link to a different resource that showcases a list of supportive dress shoes that will help support your child’s feet and help him/her maintain balance.

Did you know that the right pair of shoes can enhance your child’s confidence and allow them to have more stability? After having tested many different shoe brands and styles, I have learned which shoes generally work best for children who wear AFOs.


Note that in order for your children’s dress shoes to be able to accommodate the AFOs, they need to provide a wider opening for your child to be able to easily slide the foot with the AFOs on. The dress shoes should also provide extra depth to accommodate the additional room taken by the AFO. I will delve into more detail shortly, but first I’ll go over some basic yet important information.

Kindly note that if you are in a rush and would like to go directly to the selection of the best dress shoes for children who wear AFOs, you can click here.

Defining Ankle-foot Orthoses (AFOs) and Their Functionality

To be on the same page, let’s go over defining Ankle-Foot Orthoses, more frequently known as AFOs, which are among the most commonly prescribed lower limb orthoses. They can be custom-made for children and they usually encompass the foot, ankle, and leg, finishing just below the knee, although not in all cases. 

AFOs are made to treat a variety of factors and conditions, including joint instability, muscle weakness, and high muscle tone. One of the main purposes of wearing an AFO is to provide stability, but if your child wears shoes that are too large you will be defeating the whole purpose of wearing the AFO.

Key Characteristics that the AFO-Friendly Dress Shoes Must Have

1️⃣ Extra depth: This characteristic will allow for the child’s AFO to fit deeply inside the dress shoes. The deeper the AFO sits inside the shoes, the more comfortable your child will feel.

2️⃣ Oversized openings: This is key, as this characteristic will allow parents to easily slide the AFO inside the dress shoes so they don’t have to struggle every time they have to put on the AFOs.

3️⃣ Round toe-boxes: This characteristic will help prevent the front part of the AFO from destroying the front part of the dress shoes.

Best Dress Shoes for Children with AFOs – Styles that Are AFO-Friendly

Finally, take a look at a selection of the best dress shoes for children who wear AFOs. Do make sure that you click on the specific model that you like (no matter if it’s a boy’s or girl’s color) as the shoe is probably available in many different colors. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases.

Consider that certain shoes that might work well for certain children who wear AFOs/SMOs might not work well for others for the simple fact that not all braces are made the same way.

I consistently recommend parents consult with their orthotist or medical professional regarding their child’s footwear and its fit. They can provide valuable advice on selecting appropriate styles that align with the child’s medical-specific needs.

Not Sure How to Order the Correct Size for Your Child’s AFOs?

No worries, with accurate measurements of your child’s feet and AFO footplate, you’ll have a reliable reference point for shopping online. One of the most important features that both the shoes and AFOs need to have is that they must fit the shape of your child’s feet perfectly. 

Quality measurements begin with expert consultation, so you should start by following the 3 steps outlined in a different resource I created.

Many thanks for reading! We hope you found helpful this post on the best dress shoes for children with AFOs. Kindly feel free to share this post with your community on social media as well as your experiences in the comments section below. Keep in mind that if you have any questions or need any assistance, you can also contact us via email and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Supportive Dress Shoes that Your Child Can Wear without the AFOs

If your medical professional determined that your child doesn’t need to wear his/her dress shoes with AFOs, then I suggest fitting your child in a pair of supportive dress shoes that provide a stable base of support and firm heel counters.

What Shoe Brands Manufacture Dress Shoes that Work Well with AFOs?

This is a frequently asked question I get from many families that want to know my take on it. It’s hard to recommend specific shoe brands as there are certain styles among each shoe brand that work a lot better than others. For example, I have noticed that several families recommend Billy shoes, but in reality, not all shoes made by Billy are capable of accommodating AFOs. Some Billy shoes are available in wide and extra wide widths which makes them ideal for children who wear AFOs.

Stride Rite has a line of adaptable dress shoes (available in extra wide widths) and Memo also offers certain orthopedic dressy shoes that work well with AFOs.

What Dress Socks Work Best with AFOs?

Socks play an important role when it comes to keeping your children’s feet healthy, especially if your children need to wear a pair of AFOs with their shoes. I have helped a large number of children who have developed blisters and red spots from wearing their AFOs with the wrong type of socks. I suggest that whichever socks you decide to get for your child’s AFOs, make sure that they are long enough to cover the length of the brace to provide protection and comfort to your child’s feet and legs.

Other Relevant Articles for Children Who Wear AFOs

Here you can find additional information and recommendations on sneakers and sandals for children who wear AFOs.