Buying shoes the smart way

Making Sure the Shoe Fits

by Stephanie Pedersen

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Podiatrists estimate that up to 85 percent of the female population wear ill-fitting shoes, causing a host of painful and expensive conditions, including bunions, corns and calluses, as well as lower back pain, fatigue and even accidents. Moreover, a poorly fitting shoe also wears out faster than a well-fitting one, putting even more strain on those purse strings. To help you maximize your shoe-buying dollars, consider the following:

  • Shop for shoes in the afternoon. Your feet swell as the day wears on, meaning late-day feet can be half a size larger than they were upon waking.
  • Select a shoe that is close to the shape of your foot. If you have lots of width in your toe area, a pointy-toed shoe is going to hurt, no matter what its size.
  • Have your feet professionally measured. Weight gain, age, gravity and pregnancy can all cause feet to enlarge. Furthermore, not all manufacturers size their shoes the same, so just because you are a size six in one brand, doesn't mean you'll be a size six in another.
  • Leave a least a 1/4-inch between your toes and the end of the shoe, and enough space for digits to lie flat. Squashing the toes can cause unsightly corns and lead to hard-to-treat toe deformities.
  • Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with minimum slippage.
  • When trying on shoes, walk through the shop, stand on your toes, rock onto your heels, do a few turns. Make sure the shoes are a perfect fit, even if you feel as if you're making a fool of yourself!
  • Can you see any dried glue bits anywhere? This is a quick sign of poor workmanship. If you see it, put the shoes back and move onto another.
  • Is the shoe fully lined? Sandals don't count here, but all other shoes should be completely lined, preferably with leather, which absorbs foot moisture better than synthetic material.
  • Is the sole firmly attached? It doesn't matter whether it is cemented to or stitched to the shoe's upper.
  • If the shoe has decoration of any kind, take a close look. Everything should be tightly attached and reinforced with extra stitching. Glued-on ornaments are a no-no!
  • Try on the shoes again when you reach home. If you change your mind about how comfortable they are, return them.

Stephanie Pedersen is the author of Shoes: What Every Woman Should Know.

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