The Importance of a Good Shoe Doctor

There were so many good times. That one New Year’s eve when you danced in the dawn of a new era together until the sun rose over the horizon. Your best friend’s wedding where you lunged, hurdled and tackled your way through seven bridesmaids standing between you and a mid-air bouquet.  Your vacation in Italy, a candle lit dinner, the Mediterranean salt air flirting with your hair while you played footsie under a luminescent sky. And now…it’s over.

You’d been teetering on the edge for too long now, ignoring the truth of what was sure to come. Finally, that final step in the wrong direction, and SNAP! 

Your heel and along with it, your heart, are left in pieces. Broken, with no hope of repair. If only you had paid attention to the warning signs earlier, maybe you could have saved what you’d had.

There is no better advice than to care for the ones you love, and the same holds true for your shoes. When it comes to properly caring for your shoes, an ‘ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ which means that finding a good cobbler is paramount to extending the lifespan of your shoes. When you find that pair you really can’t live without, don’t wait until the heels are scuffed, the straps are stretched, and the soles are worn to take them to the shoe doctor. With some preventive maintenance, you can give your shoes a long, healthy run. Here’s a few things the cobbler can do to keep your shoes in shape:

Condition, Clean and Protect: Leather, suede, and natural fiber fabrics can and should be protected with a product that will help maintain the original condition of the material. For leather, a spray-on leather protectant or a clear wax conditioner can do wonders for preserving your shoes in their best possible condition. Suede is really hard to clean once it get’s dirty, so go the extra mile and use a spray-on suede protectant to keep it in tip-top condition. Natural fibers like cotton canvas can be coated with a stain-resistant spray that will keep the fabric cleaner longer. Once you’ve taken preventative measures, don’t forgot to regularly refresh your shoes with a polish, wax, and regular cleaning.

Slip-Resistant Soles: Generally a rubber sole that reinforces the existing rubber or plastic sole of a shoe. This is a great option to help absorb shock in a particularly stiff pair of shoes and keep you from slipping.

Vibram Soles: Vibram is a brand of rubber soling manufactured in Italy that many cobblers use to protect the soles of designer and other leather-soled shoes. The sole of the shoe is filed down slightly to fit the Vibram sole, but the result is well worth it. Your shoes will go for miles with this durable sole in place and the traction these soles offer will keep you from slipping. The Vibram sole even comes in red for your treasured Louboutins!

Dowel Lifts on Heels: These are primarily found on stilettos and pumps. Your cobbler will replace the existing heel tip to make sure that you don’t wear your heel down to the base of the shoe. Think of changing the tips of your heels like changing the tires on your car- essential for your safety, the longevity of the vehicle, and the aesthetic appeal.

Reinforce Straps: This is a great option for any piece of footwear with ankle straps that are expected to keep your foot contained within the shoe. The strain of movement and weight of your body against the strap makes it only a matter of time before the clasp or strap itself will fail you. A good cobbler can stitch reinforcement into the strap and clasp to keep this from happening or repair straps that may have already failed.

Repair Buckles: Sometimes the best of preventive measures still leave us unprepared and your bound to eventually have a buckle or clasp break on one of your most treasured pair of shoes. In most cases, a cobbler can replace the buckle with a new one, sewing it back in to position on the strap, though you may have to change the buckle on both shoes to get them to match.

These tips will go along way in keeping your shoes working hard for you, looking and feeling good, and extending their wear for years!


Shoe shopping? Remember Your Values.

There comes a time when the truth can no longer be ignored, but try telling that to a 20-something shoe fanatic who refuses to accept that her size 11 feet will stand in her way of a stunning pair of strappy wedges in a size 9 1/2.  I cannot tell you how many times I replayed this story, over and over again, until it dawned on me one day that I was only doing a huge disservice to my feet in the long run, and that it is my divine right to wear shoes that actually fit.

No more! Ladies, we spend our whole lives in our bodies, walking, running, jumping and playing on the only two feet we’ll ever have.  Our precious peds mean way too much to our overall longevity to risk hammer toes, strained ankles, torn ligaments, and worn out hip joints in the name of fashion. In the name of our health and our integrity, those of us with larger than-average-feet need to learn to say ‘no,’ hold out for the right fit, and be honest with ourselves about the long term consequences of our shoe shopping actions.

Should we then shelve our shoe lust and resign ourselves to Birkenstocks and Skechers?? No way!! The key to shoe shopping for anyone, but especially for gals with larger feet, is to have a defined set of shoe shopping values that you refuse to compromise. It’s sort of like dating. Just because Mr. Thursday night is handsome, sleek, tall, and irresistible doesn’t mean he’s the right fit. Will he make you feel comfortable, secure, and supported? Or will he damage your sole, nip at your heels, and leave you crying out in pain? If so, it’s time to move on until you find the one that’s the whole kit and caboodle.

It’s the same with your shoes. The good news is that choices in footwear for extended sizes have expanded greatly in the last decade as many designers have started to recognize the needs of a growing population (both in foot size and quantity). Still, no matter what size of shoe you wear, it’s important not to compromise on a few fundamental values for selecting shoes. Here they are:

1) Say Goodbye If It’s Not the Right Fit. This is a classic case of “it’s not me, it’s you, Mr.  Shoe.”

Size Matters: If your toe is touching the front edge of the toe box even a little bit, the shoe is probably too small. All designers cut sizes a little differently, so don’t be afraid to ask for the next size up. Your toes should be able to wiggle and move a little, especially since feet tend to swell a bit after standing or walking for any extended period of time. The heel should be comfortably snug, but not pinching.

Girth Counts: If the sides of your feet are hanging over the edge in an open sandal or heel or being squeezed in a boot or closed shoe, then the shoe is probably too narrow for your foot. Likewise, if your feet are sloshing around inside the shoe or you feel like you have a pair of water skis strapped to your feet, then the shoes are probably too wide.

One is Always a Little Bigger Than the Other One: It’s important to always try shoes on both of your feet, however, knowing which of your feet is bigger than the other will help save you time when you’re on a shoe shopping marathon with ten pairs to go. Try the shoe on your biggest foot first, that way, if the fit is no good, you won’t waste your time trying on the other one. If you find a comfortable fit on your bigger foot, then try on the other half of the pair on your smaller foot to make sure the fit is perfect.

2) Don’t Underestimate the Short Ones. Tall can be overrated and it’s important to know your limits when it comes to height. Let’s face it- if you wear beyond a size 10 shoe, you’re probably not all that challenged in the height department, anyway. Give yourself, and your knees and metatarsals, a break and opt for a three and a half-inch heel or less. Save the nose bleed heels for the occasional girls’ night out or events where you’ll be mostly sitting. You’ll be saving your joints and your date’s ego. A win/win for everybody!

3) Watch Out for the Cheap Ones. If the fabric or material is crinkled, uneven, or flawed, or if the design looks or feels flimsy, you may want to think twice about investing. Like so many things, you get what you pay for with shoes and you deserve better anyway! Hold out until you find the right pair for the right price. They’re out there, you just have to kiss a few toads first.

4) Take ’em for a Test Drive. For the love of God, do not commit to the shoes until you’ve taken them for a walk around the block, or at least the sales floor! You don’t know anything about those shoes until you’ve broken them in a bit and they often show their true colors once you walk in them. If the heel slips or wobbles, they squeak, slip, or crease in the middle when you walk, you will be unhappy once you get them home. Hold out for something better.

5) Make Sure You’re Compatible. With the bright glow of a lit show room, endorphins flowing from your shopping buzz, the elevator musak in the background, it’s easy to get caught up, don your shoe goggles and see something for what it’s not. Avoid buyer’s remorse by opting to try on shoes with something remotely close to what you might actually wear them with. This way, you’re more likely to pick a pair that reflect your true style.

So remember, ladies, if the shoe fits, but only if…wear it!

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