Remember when you were a child and a new school year meant a trip to the shoe store where they’d use all sorts of implements to measure your feet and make sure you were wearing the right size?
As adults, the personal fitting service stops. Instead you probably just browse online buy a few styles you like and hope for the best.
Obviously we can tell if shoes are much too big or too small but it can be hard to tell how well they actually fit and support your foot when you try them on for the first time.
And ill-fitting shoes can cause pain, blisters and friction can cause hard skin.
Tony Gavin, podiatrist and CEO of podiatry membership organisation osgo Healthcare, has some tips for what to think about when you go shoe shopping.
‘Make sure the shoe is the right type of shoe for the job,’ he said. ‘You’re not going to want a three inch heel for a hike in the hills.
‘There should be a thumbs width at the end of the toe before the end of the shoe. The toe box should be wide enough and deep enough for your toes.
‘The toe box is the crucial part as that is where ill-fitting shoes often do their damage, causing callus and corns on toes. If your toes are not very straight, they will take more up more depth in a shoe, and a shallow toe box will cause an area of pressure on the toes.
‘Walk a little, take your time, no shoe shop will mind you having a little walk around the shop for a few minutes. Just think how long you intend to have these shoes for and how far you are going to walk in them.
‘If they pinch or rub in the shop, they’ll pinch and rub when you get home.’
Susannah Davda, aka The Shoe Consultant, has over 20 years of experience in the footwear industry. She has some tips for the best way to make sure you get a good fit.
She says: ‘Try them on with the right hosiery: if you would normally wear socks with lace-ups, try them with socks. If you normally wear thin tights with court shoes, wear tights to go shoe shopping.
‘Alternatively bring your own pop socks or (as a last resort) use the ugly pop socks the shop staff offer you. When I’m on a serious shoe shopping mission, I make sure my feet are accessible and bring a couple of hosiery options in my bag.
‘Look out for heel slip. If the shoe does anything except grip your heel in a loving embrace, it doesn’t fit you. Any up and down movement at the heel is likely to cause blisters.’
If you’ve ordered shoes online, follow the same rules, but you also have a little more time to walk around indoors and get a feel for the shoe.
Try them on on a carpet so you don’t cause any marks and try them at different times of day to make sure they are comfortable even if your feet are swollen.
Susannah also advises being realistic when you are shopping for new shoes.
‘Just because you can get the shoe on your foot, it doesn’t mean it fits,’ she says.
‘Stand up in the shoes, and your feet will spread. If you can feel shoe at the tip of your toes, on top of your big toenail, or squashing your little toe; they are too small.
‘Shoes never “give” in length, and they are not guaranteed to stretch across their width either.
‘Trying to stretch your leather shoes with stretching sprays or shoe stretchers probably won’t work. If it does, the leather will be weakened and won’t last as long.’
No matter how hard you try, some shoes will just not suit your feet, in the same way clothes don’t fit all body shapes.
‘Not all shoes are foot-shaped, and every foot is different,’ Susannah says.
‘No matter how much you love a shoe, you might need to accept that it wasn’t built with your foot in mind.
‘The number one reason why women have unworn shoes in our wardrobes is because they aren’t comfortable. Probably because they don’t fit.’
What’s the deal with Feet Week?
Feet Week is a week dedicated entirely to feet… as the name probably gives away.
We figured we could all do with something unrelated to coronavirus to occupy our minds during the pandemic – and what better topic than feet?
From 4 May to 10 May you can find articles on everything feet, from what it actually takes to be a foot model to what it’s like to be a pro toe wrestler.