Shopping for shoes I know is challenging, with so many different foot issues there is not a one size fits all solution. It takes time and patience to find the right fit. But before you embark on finding the right pair, here are my top tips for shopping for shoes successfully…
1. Buy the best quality you can - I know this goes without saying but it really is worth it. Shoe designers spend a lot of time getting the balance of the shoe just right to ensure equal distribution of weight. The quality of the materials has a huge influence on how comfortable the shoe is - always opt for a quality leather inner as when your feet sweat a synthetic will cause the foot to rub. Also pay close attention to the finish on the inside, if they are not finished properly they will rub. If your budget is limited I recommend Whistles (men), M&S (men), Next (men), & other stories, J Crew (men) and Uterque for affordable quality and fashionable design.
2. Vary the shoe heights - don't wear the same shoes two days in a row. The best way to extend the life of your shoes is to rotate them and use quality shoe trees after each wear. This will extend the life of the shoe but also help your feet stay healthy by ensuring you are not always putting pressure and impact on the same area of your foot and gives your calves a welcome break.
3. Fit - Shoes will naturally mould to your foot for greater comfort but never buy a shoe that is too small expecting it to stretch a whole size. Medipaq sells a brilliant shoe stretcher with little bumps for stretching certain areas of the shoe to reflect problem areas on the feet like bunions. Suede is the best fabrics if you have wider feet as it will stretch the most but make sure you protect them first with a suede protector.
4. Maintenance - If you invest money into your shoes make sure you look after them. Your local cobbler can re-heel, remove marks, re-stitch, add a new buckle, stretch, add a non-slip sole and add a padded front.
5. Wide feet - This is probably the most common foot issue I deal with. But fortunately there are brands that are addressing this problem. Here are my favourites…
Best for work wear - Sargasso and Grey
Best for high street - M&S (men) and Next (men) Clarks (men)
Best designer - Jil Sander, Cole Haan (men)
Best online - V by Very, Nordstrom (men)
Best bespoke - Shoes of Prey, The Left Shoe Company (men)
How to flatter your feet - the shape of a shoe determines how flattering it will be. Choose a style that works for your foot, ankle and calf shape. Here are my top tips…
1. Wide feet - avoid styles that have a strap over the widest part of your foot. Look for styles with a T bar style strap to elongate the foot. Lace up styles that allow you to adjust the width work really well as this means you don’t have to opt for wide fit brands. Cross over straps are also flattering.
2. Thicker ankles - avoid ankle straps unless they are in a nude colour. Opt for wedges or platforms for extra height and to elongate the ankle. Block heels will be more flattering than stiletto heels as it balances the calf.
3. Big feet - if you have big feet and want to make them look ‘shorter’ opt for Chanel style two tone toes caps that shorten the foot. Avoid low cut shoes that will elongate the foot.
If you are having difficulty finding the right shoes, I can help you find the right brands and styles to help you to remove the pain from shoe shopping.
Penny Bennett is a Personal Stylist, Personal Shopper and Wardrobe Consultant working with successful men and women in London, UK.