Let’s face it, when your feet hurt, everything seems to hurt. The bad news is, we all too often sacrifice comfort for style. The good news? Foot fashion doesn’t have be painful—a little knowledge can go a long way toward keeping those happy feet.
We’re not just talking shoes here, but let’s start with them. Pretty much everyone knows that buying the wrong size shoes is an invitation to trouble, so getting your feet measured is a no-brainer. But did you know you should be measured at the end of the day, because that’s when your feet are biggest? Here’s another lesser-known footwear buying nugget: shoe sizes differ, depending on brand. In other words, that size 6 that fits so well in Brand a may be too small in Brand B.
Size matters in socks, as well. As a matter of fact, ill-fitting socks are notorious blister makers. In other words, you should try on socks before you buy them, preferably with the corresponding shoes—i.e., running socks with running shoes, dress socks with dress shoes. Other pointers to remember: If you’ve got narrow feet, you don’t want socks that are too big or bulky. Tight socks, on the other hand, can restrict circulation and cause other foot problems.
It’s a Material World
What is your shoe or sock made of? Some materials are kinder to feet than others. Podiatrists recommend shoes with soft, flexible uppers that match the shape of your foot. Leather is a favorite for a reason, namely, it’s unlikely to cause skin irritations. Popular athletic shoes are often manufactured using synthetic leather for stability and mesh for breathability, with cushioned innersoles and treaded outsoles. The trick is to choose the materials that are right for you, and that involves asking the right questions. Is water resistance important? How about temperature—do your feet sweat, or are they often cold? Do you need something lightweight for running, or something with a bit more support?
Sock material is equally important, but you’ve probably guessed that by now. But let’s run through a few lesser-known facts. Cotton socks, for example are inexpensive and breathe well, but they tend to lose shape quickly, losing the fit. Both wool and cotton absorb moisture, but they hold onto it, and that can irritate your feet. Polypropylene, on the other hand, wicks away moisture like nobody’s business, and is warm to boot. Dress socks are usually made of thin fabrics like cashmere, silk, Lycra, and/or nylon. Bottom line, it pays to do a bit of research before buying socks, so you’ll know which fabric works best for you. Socks can be comfortable and fun, and you can change up your look with a happening sock subscription.
Life in the Construction Zone
Those bargain flats may be cute and hip, but poorly constructed shoes make sore feet. Avoiding aches and pains means paying attention to how your shoes are put together. Basically, you want a cushioned heel and a sole that won’t twist, slip, or bend. The upper should be soft and breathable, preferably adjustable—think laces or straps—and match the shape of your foot. The right style of internal support is important, too.
You Have to Walk the Walk
Believe it or not, you may have to adjust your walk for various shoe styles. Runners and power walkers are familiar with the concept, but if you’re wearing high heels, you may not realize it applies to you, too. Standing up straight and using your core muscles to propel forward with your hips and legs, plus buying heels with leather soles, will take a lot of pressure off your feet.
Happily, fashion doesn’t have to give way for comfort. It’s true, whether you’re into stilettos or sneakers, boots or ballet slippers, you can find fashionable choices that baby your feet.