Shoe shopping isn’t always as easy as pointing to a pair on a shelf and coming home to a magical fit. There’s a science to finding the best pair, and a strategy to getting your money’s worth. After all, shoes aren’t supposed to be just an afterthought — they’re the cherry on top of every outfit. Without a doubt, settling for an ill-fitting pair will only set you up for aching soles. That said, keep these tips in mind when buying your next pair.
Get the right fit
Too often, people go on with their lives getting their own foot size wrong. It’s important not to limit yourself to a single number, because sizes can vary per country and manufacturer. A 7 in Euro sizing is a 6.5 in American sizing. Likewise, other brands might run their sizes a little bigger or smaller, so it’s best to make sure double check and read through their product descriptions.
In the same way, there are many different kinds of foot shapes, varying in height, length, and width. Live About outlines how to get the proper measurements of your feet, step by step. You don’t want your new shoes to be too tight nor too loose or else you’ll end up with callused and blistered feet. And while those might be fun to peel, Pretty Me warns that they’re not as fun to have when you’re walking and going about your day. You might even end up with minor infections and added pain — quite a price to pay for shoes. Though calluses can easily be treated, it’s best to avoid them entirely with shoes that are comfortable.
Consider the time of day
Think growing feet stops at puberty? Not at all. Throughout the day, your feet can naturally swell and size up. Health writer Michael King recommends shopping for shoes in the late afternoon to evening, because that’s when your feet are at their largest size. This will ensure you have enough allowance whatever time of day you wear your pair. Don’t forget to ask the salesperson to measure your feet while standing up, since they tend to expand even more due to the pressure from your body weight.
Choose timeless, not trendy
Trends come and go, and trying to keep up with them isn’t the most sustainable practice. Sure, the Balenciaga Triple S or Nike fanny pack slides might make you the talk of town for now, but if you really want a pair that will age well, then invest in a timeless design that can cut through generations and hype. Insider Picks writer Amir Ismael recommends the Adidas Stan Smith and Converse Chuck Taylor, among other silhouettes that have stood the test of time.
Take them for a walk
Before you leave the store, try to walk in the shoes and see how they feel. Is there an annoying pinching anywhere? Do the soles feel slippery and insecure when you glide them on the ground? Are you leaving some wiggle room for your toes? Consider every angle, and don’t bother rationalizing that they’ll fit better once broken in. From the get-go, they have to hug your feet the right way.
Flexibility is important
We often think shoes will get softer with more wear, especially with hard materials like leather. But remember that leather can be soft and flexible, too — all without compromising quality. Be choosy with the material and make sure it can move with your feet, instead of against it. What you can do is try to bend the shoe with the heel and toe pointing towards each other. This bending test should show you how elastic a pair is.