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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