Yesterday our BR (beloved reader) Tropical Chrome made the following request:
Would it be at all possible if, during shoe month, you could address proper expectations from better shoes? I ask because every time I buy a new pair of good shoes, no matter how well fitted they are for my feet (with experienced sales help at a better name store even!) or how long I test walk them in the store or how comfortable they feel there, I end up with blisters and hot spots when I wear them for real. While I don’t expect heels or dress shoes to be as comfortable as bedroom slippers or sneakers, I don’t expect to be in pain with broken skin after wearing them every time either.Or are all women at this level of pain at the end of every day and no one talks about it? Or do I just have unique feet that change shape after I leave the shoe store?
Solemmetellyou a little story about lasts.
This is a last:
A last is the mold on which shoes are made. This last was most likely used to make this shoe:
Which, while not my favorite shoe in the world, is by no means the worst of the built-in-sock variety of shoe/sock/bootie (shockootie?)
Some lasts are more foot-shaped than others:
but they will not –and I cannot overemphasize this– be YOUR foot shape.
Your feet, like mine, have lumps and bumps and that weird little scar from the time you dropped a glass on your big toe and all sorts of things that make your tooties your own and that means there’s probably going to be some discomfort and you and your shoes get to know each other.
See how I said “some discomfort” and not, I don’t know, “gross oozing pustules of hurtiness“?
That’s because shoes should never do that.
So the first thing we need to do is abandon the idea that we can buy a fancy pair of shoes and wear them for eight hours straight for days on end without repercussions. Which isn’t to say it hasn’t happened, but don’t place your bets that way.
Here are some handy tips and tricks to keep the blisters at bay:
–Go shoe shopping in the afternoon. This is handy because your feet will be about as swollen as they’re likely to get. Double bonus points if you go when you’ve got the ladybloat. I don’t really have medical science behind me on this one, but I like saying ladybloat and I don’t really want to be the one to tell PMSing women NOT to buy shoes.
—Don’t buy shoes that hurt and then be surprised that they do, in fact, hurt. If you find The Best Shoes Ever and they pinch or need to be stretched and you will really and truly have them stretched or fix the pinchy bit (I know some of you say you’ll do this and never do) then buy them, but generally speaking: if they hurt in the store, they’re going to be 10 times worse at home.
—Do not be fooled by the tyranny of footsocks. “But they were so comfortable in the store!” Odds are they were so comfortable in the store because you were wearing those little footies. Use them by all means, but a shoe that feels juuuust fine in a footie might feel sticky and grippy and pinchy without them. Just something to keep in mind.
—Stretch your shoes. Since I stretch almost all my shoes –I am exceedingly fat of foot and the shoes I admire are rarely offered in wide widths– I own my own set of shoe stretchers. For years I made do with the regular wooden ones (seriously, the plastic ones? Useless) and then finally invested a whopping $40 on two high-heeled shoe stretchers that get right down into the pointed nooks and crannies of a high heel. I’ll never go back. Be sure to get ones with the little pressure nubs things so you can stretch out your problem points or open up the throat of the shoe. Skip the stretch spray though. Just use rubbing alcohol. It works just as well.
–Practice, Practice, Practice. If you want to play Mozart, you don’t start out playing his 21st piano concerto. You start with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and work UP to the 21st. Wear your new shoes around the house –you can wear thick athletic socks to protect your baby feets and help get the leather shaped without hurting you. Do an hour at a time, then two or three. Then meet a friend for coffee and wear them. If you need to stretch them out, rub isopropyl alcohol on your feet and the inside of the shoes (do a test area first to make sure the color doesn’t run) and wear them until dry. The night before debuting my famous pink Dior anniversaries, I slept in them, just to get them molded to my feet.
–Pad. I love the Foot Petals products. I’ve found the best value to be the Stiletto Survival Kit or whatever they’re calling it these days. The strappy strips have been dead handy to cut and place wherever I feel some potential pressure. The only thing I DON’T care for is the Heavenly Heelz, which work fine for padding other places –the outside of my babytoe so I don’t get rubbed raw– but for actual back-of-heel slippage I swear by the ugly Stalinist gray bastards you get at Walgreens.
–Footglide Skin Protectant Foot Formula. Full disclosure: The fine folks at BodyGlide sent me some of this a few weeks ago after my chub rub article. I haven’t used the majority of the products yet so I haven’t reported back, but I DID use the Footglide last week when I had a long night out with a pair of blister-prone heels. This stuff is A.MAZ.ING. It looks and kind of felt like applying deodorant to my feet (which will do in a pinch) and although my feet still hurt, I was blister-free at the end of the night. It definitely gets the Plumcake seal of approval. Go get you some.