Many of my patients are disappointed when I scold them for wearing high heeled or unsupportive shoes. They come to the doctor asking for a solution to their foot pain, but are unhappy when I tell them their poor choice of shoes is a large part of the problem.
The bad news: just like having poor eyesight, having foot pain means you need some correction. Instead of a pair of eyeglasses, you need supportive shoes. If you have 20/20 vision, there's no need for glasses. If you have no foot pain, you can wear whatever shoes you'd like (within reason--there are still some that will promote injury or hammertoes... but that's a subject for another blog). But if you DO have foot pain, or other problems like bunions or hammertoes, then you need to spend the majority of your day in good, supportive shoes.
The good news: I said you need to spend "the majority" of your day in supportive shoes, not "all day". I am completely aware that you cannot wear Brooks athletic shoes to a wedding, or on a first date to a nice restaurant. This is why I have termed the unsupportive flats or heels "Dessert Shoes".
If you ate chocolate cake all day long, it would negatively affect your health, right? Same with unsupportive shoes. But if you eat good, nutritious food at each meal, you can splash out and have a little piece of cake after dinner. Wear those good shoes (with orthotics if you need/have them) all day, and then slip into the heels for two hours while you're out with your friends.
Of course, some foot pain stems from more serious issues, so if switching to athletic shoes doesn't solve your foot pain, see your podiatrist to find the cause.