WHAT style shoe should I wear? Is this my correct size? How can I tell if the shoes are really well made? These questions and many more must be answered each time a pair of shoes is selected and bought.
It is important to answer these questions wisely, for the purchase of a new pair of shoes can have a profound effect on a person's overall health and happiness. Ill-fitting footwear can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort, even leading to headaches, backaches and leg cramps. To a large degree, painful foot ailments such as corns, nail troubles, toe deformities and flat feet can be avoided by a careful selection of footwear.
A person may walk over 75,000 miles in a lifetime. 'Why not walk those miles in comfort?
Do Not Sacrifice Comfort for Style
How, then, should one go about buying shoes? Unfortunately, many choose shoes for style rather than for comfort. More often than not, this type of buying leads to considerable pain. Further, the owner will probably cast off the shoes, being no longer able to endure this form of self-torture in the interest of fashion.
In some cases serious problems and foot deformities can result if fashion is the primary factor in selecting one's shoes. For example, some years ago the style was pointed toes, and in this regard a letter was printed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer under the heading "What Price Style? Girl Paid Too Much--Loss of Two Toes." The letter said:
"Like most girls I wanted to be in fashion and bought the shoes that everyone was wearing. The pointed toes and high heels were uncomfortable, but I thought that this was the price of style. You can realize how shocked I was when I went to a doctor because of painful feet and was told that I would have to have two toes amputated. This was a year ago, and since then I have heard of many other girls who have lost one or two toes."
So, in buying shoes, do not sacrifice comfort for style. Select appropriate shoes for 'the purpose for which they will be used: walking, working, casual, special occasions, or constant wear.
Be Sure of the Right Fit
You can buy good shoes but still end up with painful feet if you are not careful to get a good fit. Helpful in this regard is checking the time of day before you buy a pair of shoes. Why? Because if it is very early in the morning, you may not get the right fit. Since feet tend to swell somewhat as the day wears on, it is wise to buy shoes in the late afternoon. Remember, too, that hot weather will cause one's feet to expand.
Many persons find it desirable to have their feet measured when purchasing new shoes. For one thing, sizes may vary with different makes of shoes. Some have found, too, that it is wise to stand while their feet are being measured. The foot will expand, and one is more likely to get a better all-round fit. Further, since one foot is likely to be slightly larger than the other, have both feet measured and pick a size to fit the larger foot.
Heels should be snug but not tight. Also the height and shape of the heel need to be considered, especially in women's shoes. Women generally have four times as much foot trouble as men, largely because of high-heeled shoes. The higher the heel, the more the body is projected forward, and to maintain balance the body is bent backward at the hips. This is unnatural and results in a variety of leg and back problems if unreasonably high heels are worn over an extended period of time. Generally speaking, heels should not be higher than one and a half inches and should produce a good broad base on which to stand. Almost naillike or so-called "spike" heels are not conducive to good foot care and posture.
The widest part of your foot should spread easily across the widest part of the shoe. There should be enough room for the toes to lie straight, and the shoe should be a little longer than the longest toe. If you cannot wiggle your toes to some extent, the shoe is too small. When shoes are too tight or too short, toes may be forced back into an inverted V position called hammertoe, a common deformity. A shoe ought to be comfortable when you buy it; it is unwise to rely on a "breaking in" process to ensure comfort.
After buying a pair of shoes, you can try them on again at home, but walk only on a rug. If you have doubts about the fit, you may be able to exchange your purchase.
Special care should be given to the selection of children's shoes. Ill-fitting shoes are the most common cause of foot trouble among children and teen-agers. The problem often is that they outgrow their shoes. In this regard, The World Book Encyclopedia points out:
"In children from 2 to 6 years old, shoe sizes change every 4 to 8 weeks. From 6 to 10 years, sizes change every 2 or 3 months. Children from 12 to 15 should have their shoe sizes checked every 4 months. Children over 15 years old should have shoe sizes checked about every 6 months until their feet are fully developed."
Many parents who have children that rapidly outgrow their shoes rather than wearing them out find that an inexpensive brand of shoes serves the purpose. When buying them, one can feel inside the shoes and check for rough edges that could cause discomfort.
The feet of children are growing and need careful attention to prevent deformities in later life. In the United States the American Medical Association estimates that 50 to 80 percent of children have some foot defects. So it is good to leave some "growing room" when selecting children's shoes, possibly three quarters of an inch of space in the toe area. Watch for signs of wear developing in one place consistently, for this may indicate that the shoes are too small or poorly fitted and could produce foot abnormalities. It usually is not a good policy to pass shoes down from one child to the next, for shoes mold themselves to the characteristics of the wearer's foot.
Look for Quality and Workmanship
Especially when shoes are for adults, quality and good workmanship are important, because you want them to last. Examine carefully the shoes you plan to buy. Be on the watch for signs of poor and careless construction. On the uppers, loose threads, seams with rough edges and excess bulk, enlarged needle holes and noticeable traces of adhesives are all things to watch for when buying shoes. Also check the sole stitch; if it is uneven and runs off the edge, it is a sign of poor workmanship.
Is the shoe lined? It should be, at least at the top opening, to prevent stretching and friction and to absorb perspiration.
Low-priced shoes are not always a bargain when it comes to durability, appearance and comfort. Really comfortable shoes usually cost more. Do not judge the durability of a shoe by mere thickness of outer soles. Durability depends more on the quality of workmanship and of the leather.
Important to the shoe's life is proper care. Yet shoes are often one of the most neglected articles in a person's wardrobe. When you buy a new pair of shoes, it is wise to lubricate them with a good polish before wearing them; this will protect the finish.
The first few times that you wear new shoes it is good to be sure that the tongues and laces are smooth and straight. Then they are likely to stay that way for the life of the shoe, but if they are started off crooked, they may stay that way.
A shoehorn helps in putting on shoes, and it is good to loosen the laces when removing them. This prevents seams from ripping and the back from breaking down.
If you have more than one pair of shoes, you can considerably lengthen their life by wearing one pair one day, and a different pair the next day. The airing between wearings helps to prevent perspiration from rotting the leather. As for the shoes not in use, many persons find it beneficial to put a form or shoe tree in them. This prevents curling and wrinkling. However, the type of form used should not cut off the free circulation of air and thus prevent the shoe from airing properly.
From time to time shoes should receive a cleaning. Wash with a moist cloth, sponge or brush, preferably using leather soap. This removes encrusted foreign matter and permits the polish to be worked in more freely. Do not neglect the edge of the sole and heel in the cleaning process. A brisk rub with a cloth warms the leather, making it more receptive to the polish.
Apply a moderate amount of shoe polish and work it in well with an applicator. A powder puff does a fine job as applicator and can often be kept inside a can of polish. Rub the shoe briskly with a polishing cloth. This works the wax into the leather, producing a dry, hard finish and leaving no excess wax. The luster will last for some time and can be renewed by a brisk wiping. To maintain good appearance, repeat this process as often as necessary, possibly once a week if the shoes are worn consistently.
Do not neglect to have heels and soles replaced as needed. Besides looking shabby, run-over heels and shoes out of shape place a strain on the feet.
The shoes you wear definitely have a great effect on your health and your enjoyment of life. Therefore, you are wise if you choose your footwear carefully, avoiding the excesses of fashion, keeping in mind the need for comfort, durability and a pleasing appearance.