Beautiful shoes on store rack
How do you decide which shoes to buy?

I Like My Shoes to Be Comfortable and Stylish

I have a pair of everyday shoes that need to be replaced. Like many contemporary shoes (even athletic ones) the heel of my old pair is a almost an inch higher than the front.

Despite this I’ve found these shoes to be quite comfortable, that is, until I went on a 2-hour walk with them. Boy, did my feet and hips complain afterward!

I’m glad I made this discovery before going shoe shopping.

Improve Your Shoe-Shopping Odds

Here are some tips to help you figure out whether that beautiful pair of shoes you try at the store are ones you’ll love or hate after bringing them home.

Before Shoe Shopping, Get to Know Your Feet

Bare feet standing
First, get to know your feet as they are

Take a few moments to stand barefoot and…

  • Notice which parts of your feet make contact with the floor and which are lifted. Where is the majority of weight in each foot—toward the front or back, the inside or outside? Then pay attention to your toes. Are they resting on or gripping the floor? Which toes are snug with their neighbors and which have space between?
  • Next, shift your weight from foot to foot, then a little forward and back on both feet. What’s the quality of movement like in your feet and ankles? What about in your knees, hips, back and neck? Are you breathing? What’s your sense of balance like?
  • Finally, walk around. Vary your speed, change directions and look around. Pay attention to the overall comfort of your walk, as well as specific aspects such as the length of your strides, how your weight rolls through each foot, whether one ankle bends easier than the other, and what your balance is like?

When Out Shoe Shopping, Try This

Notice how your feet and body feel in the shoes

Put on the pair of shoes and…

  • Start by noticing the contact your feet make with the shoe. Is the toe-bed of the shoe big enough that your toes can retain the natural width and length of when you were barefoot? Do any parts of the shoe rub or press into your foot?
  • Continue to repeat the same explorations you did before: shifting your weight and walking. What feels different—in your feet and in the rest of you? Are your ankles able to bend and straighten similarly to when you walked barefoot? Is there any change in your balance, breathing or muscular tension?
  • If you plan to wear these shoes for a particular activity, simulate it. For example, if you’ll be dancing, bust a few moves. If you’ll be standing for long periods, take time to stand in place for several minutes. If you’ll be gardening, kneel or sit on the floor. Pay attention to the amount of ease/effort in your feet, hips, back and elsewhere.
Take off shoes
Are your feet happier in or out of the shoes?

When you take the shoes off…

  • Notice if any place in you relaxes or feels more comfortable. Often it’s not until removing an item of clothing that you realize it was constraining. For example, breathing more fully after taking off a bra you had no idea was interfering with your breath.

Taking the time to sense the effects of shoes like this can uncover potential problems you otherwise might miss. This will make your buying decision a snap and help ensure you’re taking home new shoes you’ll love wearing! And, if you opt for fashion over comfort, at least it will be by choice rather than surprise.

I invite you to report how using these tips goes. And if you have tips of your own for successful shoe shopping, please share them in the comments below.