More and more people are turning to online shopping for everything from electronics to clothing. Shoes, however, can be a problematic.
One of the biggest reasons is that our feet change as we age.
Parents commonly complain about their kids’ feet growing, but forget theirs can change with weight gain or loss, job changes (going from sitting to standing), illness or injury.
If you have wide feet, it just compounds the issue.
According to a study done by the College of Podiatry in the UK, the average shoe size has increased by two sizes*.
These “extended sizes” or wide fitting footwear as they are generally considered to be anything larger than a size 10 (US) for women or a size 12.5 (US) for men.
Even high end retailers, such as Nordstrom’s, are now carrying bigger sizes and online stores, such as Long Tall Sally, continue to see growth in the extended size category.
Shoes do more than just add to outward appearance. They help maintain stability, balance and provide protection.
Shoes need to fit properly to prevent foot problems or other complications such as knee or back pain.
Men and women have separate needs when finding the right fit.
Basic Shoe Types
Women have so many more choices than men when it comes to shoes; pumps, flats, stilettos, sandals. The list goes on and on. However, not all of the choices are good for your feet.
Ideally, women should opt for shoes that have a square box for the toes with heels that are no more than 2 inches high**.
Shoes with higher heel and pointed toes, while fashionable, can cause bunions, knee and lower back pain and put incredible stress on the balls of your feet, which can wear down the fat pad.
Women who feel that high heels are a must have should look for shoes with a platform under the toes and ball which decreases the stress on your foot**.
Men, who generally have fewer choices in footwear than women, should purchase shoes that follow the shape of their feet. Soles should be leather or some other soft sole material.
Both men and women love flip flops, and why not. They’re comfy, fit just about any foot size and come in a range of colours and materials.
They also have a down-side. They don’t provide much stability for your feet.
And while you get to show off your toes, they get really stressed in flip flops since the toes are responsible for gripping the shoe so your foot doesn’t fall out**.
If you must wear sandals, those made for hiking are a good alternative. The straps allow you to match them to the width of your foot.
Getting the Right Fit
When buying shoes, they need to meet the needs of what you’re purchasing them for. Athletic shoes should be supportive and flexible.
Work shoes should provide stability and protection. Dress shoes should be stylish and comfortable.
- Your foot can swell up to 8 percent each day**, so buy your shoes late in the day when your foot is at its largest.
- Feet change with age, so it’s a good idea to get them measured every year*. You need to stand, not sit, when you get your feet measured since your feet expand when carrying your full body weight.
- NEVER buy shoes based solely on the size. Each manufacturer is different and sizes can vary between styles of the same manufacturer. Try them on and buy the pair that fits. This is not the time for vanity.
- Wear the type of socks or other leg wear when you shop for shoes. If you’re shopping for athletic shoes, wear the same type of socks. When shopping for dress shoes, wear dress socks. This ensures you get the best fit.
- When checking the size, you should have a half inch of space between the tip of the shoe and your longest toe**. Too much space means your foot can slide inside the shoe causing blisters and pain.
- Walk (or run if purchasing athletic shoes) on different surfaces prior to buying to ensure their comfort.
- When your foot is too wide, going a size up isn’t necessarily the answer (see the aforementioned toe space rules). Finding a different shoe that you like is a better idea.
- Your toes are happiest when they can lay flat in the toe box of the shoe. Choose box or rounded toes.
- NEVER buy shoes with the intention of stretching them. It doesn’t work and you’re throwing your money away.
- Shop at a store with a wide selection and don’t buy the cheapest. A great pair of well-made shoes can last a long time.
Buying Shoes Online
With the upswing in online purchasing, companies such as Shoefitr can make the process easier.
Purchased in 2015 by Amazon, Shoefitr is a software that uses 3-D imaging to take hundreds of measurements of a single style of shoe.
Amazon say that it has drastically helped them reduce shoe returns
The software then makes a detailed 3-D drawing showing where the shoe may be tighter or wider than the average shoe of that size, as well as information on the arch.
Shoppers then answer questions about their usual size and look over the drawings. Shoefitr then helps the shopper choose a shoe that will best fit them*.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, Shoefitr has worked with over 1,200 brands and measured over 100,000 shoes.
Its now much easier to find wider fitting footwear on the high street and online.
With a little bit of research you can find attractive comfortable styles for all seasons.