Feature Stories

Essential Shoe Buying Tips for All Feet

It’s no secret that women love shoes! Many times, we even build our outfits around the shoes we want to wear. And who hasn’t spent more time trying to find the perfect shoe to complement an outfit than we did finding the outfit! While shoes can be our best friends, they can also be our worst enemies. There are some key factors that need to be considered when purchasing shoes – especially if you actually plan to wear them and walk in them for an extended period of time. Here are some tips to consider, regardless of how old you are, what size shoe you wear, or what style of shoe you are considering.

Measure Your Feet

If you haven’t had your foot measured since you were a kid, find a full-service shoe store and get it done. By far, the biggest problem with shoes not feeling as good as they can is due to wearing the wrong size. The most accurate form of foot measurement is still a Brannock® device. You will need to stand up when having your foot measured and make sure to measure both feet (preferably with socks off).

What? They’re Not the Same Size?

Your feet are not the same size. If I had a nickel for every time someone thought their feet were weird because they don’t measure the same, I would be retired and living on a tropical island. Therefore, it is so important to have both feet measured, and when purchasing shoes, to try them on both feet.

Darn That Smaller Foot

What happens if your heel is slipping on your smaller foot? We recommend trying a heel insert/grip. Found in shoe stores, online at Amazon, at drug stores such as Walgreens and big-box stores like Target and Wal-Mart, heel inserts come in several forms: cushion, felt, gel, leather. These have adhesive that applies to the heel cup of your shoe, taking up the little bit of extra space if the shoe on your smaller foot is slipping a bit. If you are needing heel inserts/grips for both shoes, the shoe is either too big or poorly made.

A clear gel insert adheres easily into the back of most shoes.
Try Them as You’ll Wear Them

If you plan to wear socks with the shoes you are trying on – try them on with socks. If you are not planning to wear sock with the shoes – then don’t try them on with socks. This really does make a difference.

Afternoons Are Better to Shoe Shop

Speaking of trying on shoes, try to do so later in the day when you have been on your feet. Our feet do swell during the day. Also, it’s always a good idea to select the shoe size based on what feels best on your larger foot.

Width Matters

Some shoe brands only come in one width. This isn’t good if you wear a Narrow, Wide or Wide-Wide shoe. The most common mistake we have found is women go up a size (i.e., from a 9 to a 10) because they are unaware that they should be going up a width (from Medium to a Wide). Trust me when I say that we have had countless women tell us that finding their correct size and width has been life changing.

You Get What You Pay For

Sizes across brands vary greatly. Each brand has a different way of fit testing their shoes – if they fit test them at all. The saying “You get what you pay for,” can be very relevant when it comes to shoes. The amount you pay for your shoe could be an indicator of how many sizes the brand offers and how much testing is done on the shoes to ensure proper fit and comfort. Buying a shoe that starts out ridiculously cheap will probably never be a win-win. Finding a good sale on a quality shoe brand is like Christmas every time!

Form & Function

“They’ll feel good once I break them in” is not a statement that should be made with shoes. If they don’t feel good when you first wear them, chances are they will never feel good. If a shoe is uncomfortable and it fits properly, you should consider the purpose for which you are purchasing them. Admittedly, I do have several pairs of “artwork for the feet” that I only wear when I know I will be sitting down for most of the time, but this should be the exception – not the norm.

Will These Stretch?

This is a complicated question for shoes. The simple answer is “maybe.” The more complicated answer is “it depends.” Leather stretches, but you shouldn’t expect it to stretch another shoe size to feel ok later (see the previous point). Fabric shoes also tend to give a little bit once you wear them. Patent leather and man-made leathers are not going to stretch. So, going back to the previous point – if they don’t feel pretty darn good when you try them on, you need to put them back and find a pair that does feel good.

Cab to Table Shoes

What about dress shoes? If, like me, you love your fancy, night-out-on-the-town shoes, you know you don’t want to give them up entirely. If you have paid attention to all the points made above and have found a well-fitting dress shoe that you love – by all means, buy them and wear them – in moderation. Our feet need to have some variety happening to keep the range of motion going on. Make sure to mix up wearing higher heels with lower heels. According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, women should wear shoes with a height of no more than two and a quarter inches and shoes at these heights should be worn no more than two or three hours each day. The best time to wear your dressy (i.e., possibly less comfortable shoes) is when you know you’ll be spending more time sitting down than on your feet.

Take Care of Your Back

Same goes for flats. Some people just don’t want to wear heels, but did you know that completely flat shoes can wreak havoc on your lower back? Flaunt those sassy, classy ballet flats, but make sure to mix it up with a low heel now and then to give your lower back a break.

The bottom line is that you do not need to sacrifice comfort for style or vice versa. If you look great all over, but your feet are killing you – guess what, it shows in your face and your stride. My key shoe advice? Find shoes that fit properly and feel good, right out of the box. The best shoes are the ones you don’t want to kick off every chance you get.

Lisa Schmitz is the Director of Marketing and Creative Development for The Walking Cradle Company and has over 25 years of experience in the shoe industry. She may be reached at 636-203-4563 or lisaschmitz@walkingcradles.com. Walking Cradles shoes come in Narrow, Medium, Wide and Wide-Wide widths. They also have sizes 4-13 in most widths. You can visit their website at WalkingCradles.com.

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