1. Beware of your budget.
Already own three pairs of black heels? Remember: just because they’re on sale, doesn’t mean you need them. “Don’t impulse buy,” warns on-air fashion stylist and author Dawn Del Russo. “Instead, keep a list of the shoes that you’re actually looking for on hand and stick to it.”
2. Shop at the end of the day.
Believe it or not, your hands and feet swell throughout the day, so purchasing a pair of shoes in the morning could cause you major pain later on, explains Rebecca Raleigh, an LA fashion stylist, educator and costume designer. To get a “true size,” Jacqui Stafford, style expert and author of “The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget,” recommends shopping at the end of the day. “Once your feet have been moving, your shoes will fit better and be more comfortable.”
3. Know your arch type.
If tracking down a pair of comfy athletic shoes is more like mission impossible, a high or flat arch may be to blame. To find out for sure, Erica Lynn Stanley, Design Director of …me Too shoes, says to wet the bottom of your foot and step on a piece of white paper. Based on the wet parts of the paper, you should be able to determine your arch type. For example, if you have a flat arch, you’ll see most of your footprint. If you have a high arch, the middle part of your footprint (your arch) will be missing. And if you have a normal arch, about half of it will wet the paper. Armed with this knowledge, you can then shop for the right shoe for you.
4. Try on three sizes before you buy.
Better safe than sorry, right!? First, suggests women’s footwear designer Anyi Lu of ANYI LU International, try on the shoe size that you typically wear. “Then try on a half size smaller and a half size larger. Many people are stuck on the numbers,” she notes, “but different brands—and even different shoes within a brand—vary. Your feet will tell you what size to buy.”
Podiatrist Dr. Steven L. Rosenberg, DPM, adds that if you’re unsure, to always go with the half size bigger. “You can doctor it up by placing an insole or Instant Arches in the shoe, which prevent foot slippage,” he says.
5. If you can’t walk in it, don’t buy it.
This is what Baroness Monica von Neumann, owner and founder of Baroness von Neumann Candles (she was most recently featured in the documentary God Save My Shoes), calls a “sitting pretty shoe.” In other words, it looks fab, but realistically, you can’t wear it. Save your money, and purchase something practical instead.
6. Befriend the sales associate.
For the best deals, become besties with the sales associate! Okay, not literally, but you know what we mean… “They’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for within your price range. Sometimes they’ll even give you an extra little discount if you really hit it off,” says Raleigh. As an insider, they can also alert you to upcoming sales. “Yes, the associate wants that commission, but the most important thing to them (or it should be) is building a relationship with you so you’ll become a repeat customer.” Hey, loyalty pays!
7. Wear something cute.
Everyone feels good when they look good, so yeah…trying on an amazing pair of heels while sporting yoga pants? Probably not the smartest idea ever, warns Karen Parker O’Brien, President of Style Room Shopping Tour Experiences.
8. Consider wedges.
According to midtown Manhattan podiatrist, Dr. Jacqueline M. Sutera, DPM, high heels can cause or make worse conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, blisters, bone spurs, neuromas (pinched nerves of the foot), sprains, stress fractures and tendonitis/tendon injuries. Eek!
“While the American Podiatric Medical Association recommends a heel height of 2 inches or less,” notes Jacqueline, “for people seeking a bigger boost, a wedge can be a great option! If the shoe has a platform, the front height will basically make it so you’re wearing a shorter heel. Plus, wedges have a larger surface area to distribute your body weight across, giving you that much more support.”
9. Forget trends.
If the shoe doesn’t work for your body, put it back and keep on shopping! For instance, an ankle bootie or shoe with an ankle strap can cut off your leg, making it appear shorter,” says Accessories Stylist at Monique Custom Shoes. “That’s not a good look for someone who already has short legs, even though it may be the trend.”