How to Make Your Sexy Shoes Less of a Pain
Goodbye sore soles, blistered heels, and wobbly walking. We asked footwear expert Meghan Cleary — who's even written a book on the subject of shoes — to share her advice for achieving what many consider the impossible: 1. Picking out gorgeous shoes that you can actually walk in. 2. Figuring out how to give the hottest heels in your closet a comfort makeover so you're not cursing your painful pumps an hour into your day. Yes, it can be done ...
"My whole theory is that you really need to tailor the inside of a shoe the same way you tailor a suit jacket," Cleary tells Yahoo Shine. "Everyone has different feet. And if you do small little adjustments, using insoles, padding, tape in strategic areas, you really can transform even the craziest, most difficult heel into something wearable — if not crazy walkable."
What’s the biggest mistake women make when buying shoes?
People get really vigilant about their size. Unfortunately, sizes often mean squat. Each shoe line has its own “last” — a foot mannequin model that they fit each strap sole and platform on before mass-producing them. That’s the reason why some lines just don’t work, or why you’re a 9 in one brand, and a 10 in another.
Is there anything you can tell just from looking at a shoe in the store?
Look at the build: The architecture of a shoe is really important. The more space there is between the heel and the sole — aka negative space — the harder it will be to walk in. That’s why wedges and platforms, with little to no negative space, are so much more comfortable to wear no matter how tall they are.
Why are flat shoes, which we all think of as a comfortable alternative, sometimes just the opposite?
A totally flat soled construction, be it a sneaker, sandal, skimmer, or boot, is not good for your feet, no matter how easy those first few steps feel. Even the most utilitarian shoe, like an Ugg or a hunter boot or a sneaker can become uncomfortable when the sole gets worn down and too flat. Sometimes casual light sneakers feel terrible because of all the stitching and seaming inside, which they don’t bother to line.
What can you do to make an uncomfortable shoe you love comfortable?
Pimp out the inside! Whenever you buy a new pair of shoes, take them home and wear them around the house. Give them a couple of hours. Wherever you feel even a tiny bit of pressure is a signpost for where there’s going to be a blister. Anywhere you feel pressure, add a patch of padding by cutting bits of moleskin and applying it either to the shoe or to the foot — whatever’s easiest. Also, smush the heel cup down and in to make it flexible and soften it up a little, just to break it in before you first wear it.
How can I stop my shoes from slipping on super-smooth surfaces?
A classic trick models use before they walk down the runway in brand new, slippery soled heels is they score the soles with keys of a razor blade to create instant traction. But that doesn’t look very nice. The best way to do this — and the secret trick used by many a socialite who seemingly live in spindly high heels — is to have a thin rubber sole applied to the sole and to the heel, ending about an eighth of an inch from the edge, so it’s not that noticeable. This is something; unfortunately, a shoe service is going to have to do. This thin bouncy layer is naked to the eye, but adds a ton of cushiony bounce for the foot and grippy traction.
What's the best material for comfort?
Leather. It's by far the softest and cushiest on the foot. Plus it really molds to your foot shape. I have a pair of leather shoes that are tight, so I put them on and lightly spritz them all over with water. Then I keep them on until they dry so they’ll mold and fit to my foot better.
So what’s the “perfect” shoe?
A cowboy boot. The perfect heel is a sturdy wide one with a height of one and a half inches, sometimes called a Cuban heel. The cowboy boot is what a lot of those cowboy-style ankle booties that are popular now based are based on, and they're popular for a reason. They’re incredibly comfortable and have that perfect heel height. For high heels, if you want to truly walk all night, I wouldn't go above two and half or three inches, tops.
Want to put together your own shoe transformation kit? Here's what Cleary recommends:
Foot Pedals Heavenly Heelz, $6.95 I have these in every single pair of my shoes, because why not? They just work.
Foot Pedals Strappy Strips, $7.49: You can cut those up and stick them inside your shoe anywhere there's pressure. They're thin, clear gel strips that fit on to any strap, edge, or insole. They're practically invisible and absolute lifesavers.
Band-Aid Advanced Healing Blister, $5.90: If you already have a blister these literally will save your life. They protect and allow the blister to heal while completely buffering it from any friction or pain.
Now, spruce up those shoes and get walking ...