Chances are you have probably been to a shoe store at some time in your life. Possibly recently, and possibly just this morning (where you picked up the most adorable pair of mid-calf suede boots, just perfect for sauntering around in the fall leaves). Unless you are positively a shoe junkie (and there are plenty of you out there—no shame in it, really), the sheer number of shoes, with the varieties of sizes, styles, functionality, (and sometimes even the music the shoes can play—good grief!) can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a few tips that may help your shoe selection just a little bit easier.
First of all, it’s probably best to make your visit to the shoe store later in the day. Feet swell a bit while you walk around, and you’ll want to make sure the shoes you select fit your feet at their largest. If the store has staff members trained in shoe fitting, have them measure each of your feet while you’re standing up. Measuring just one simply won’t do, since your feet may differ significantly in length. (If your feet do differ a bit in length, buy shoes that fit the larger foot.) Your feet may change in length as you get older, so be sure to get your feet measured every time you go shoe shopping.
Now, once you’ve found the best-looking shoe in the store (and in your size, too!), you’ll want to test it out to make sure it works for your feet. Check the heel—if it’s taller than 2 inches, you’ll probably want to avoid it. High heels can cause or exacerbate numerous problems with your feet and ankles, including bunions, hammertoes, corns, ankle sprains, neuromas (inflamed nerves), and even stress fractures.
Also, once you’ve put on the shoes, make sure your toes have plenty of room in the toe box (the area at the end of the shoe where your toes go). There should be about a half inch of space in between the end of your toes and the inside of the shoe, enough room to wiggle your toes around. If the toe box is pointed and narrow, you’re more likely to develop problems such as hammertoes and corns.
You’ll also want to make sure the widest part of the shoe corresponds with the widest part of your foot. Not all shoes will work perfectly with your feet. You may even notice that the best shoe size for you differs from brand to brand. Always pick a shoe based on comfort, not just size.
While you’re trying out your shoes, be sure to wear the type of socks or stocking you’ll be pairing with the shoes later when you go out on the town (or hiking, jogging, or country dancing). Take a good walk around in your shoes, and be sure to try out both shoes in the pair, not just one. If they feel uncomfortable at all, you shouldn’t buy them. Shoes should not require a break-in period. (Although, of course, if you develop blisters after wearing a shoe, there are products that can help.) You may have to try several pairs before you find the right one, but, if you’re especially fond of shoe shopping, that may not be a problem at all.
Buying shoes doesn’t have to be too complicated, and it may even be enjoyable. But however you do it, it’s important to select shoes that will support your feet in the thing they do best: supporting you.