Written by Mariem ELTagoury
Good day to you all. Last month, we talked about how to walk in heels and now, we will be focusing on how to buy the right heels. In this feature, I’ll talk to you about what a typical shoe should look like, how to know if it’s of good quality or not, perfectly made or not and I’ll take you through the process of trying them on and what to look out for. That way the next time you go on our favorite past time, shoe shopping, you’ll have somewhat of an expert eye for the best!
The Anatomy of the Heel
Let’s start from the beginning; every girl wants to find that comfortable pair of heels that won’t leave her feet sore. Unfortunately, not all heels are made alike. The quality of a heel can differ from brand to brand and from store to store. Knowing your shoes’ anatomy will not only help you spot good quality heels worth your money but also keep your back and feet pain free. Using the following diagram, I will only discuss the major features in the shoe that we as buyers need to identify a good quality heel.
- The sole & heel tip: both should be lined with a layer of rubber to add grip to the shoe and avoid slippage. Shoes that lack rubber on the soles or lack rubber all together leave you vulnerable to slipping especially on marble or ceramic floors; quite dangerous.
- The sole: check the quality of the finish. If it is, as in most cases, glued, check for residue and/or spaces around the edges. Finding either is proof of a bad quality shoe; the sole might peel off by time (something you don’t want happening in the middle of the street). Same goes for stitching; make sure the stitches are even and secure. Keep an eye out for shoes that look seamless, you need a secure sole to get you through the day.
- The toe box: in some designs, the toe box is slightly tipped up and sometimes the tipping gets slightly too high. In order to make sure that the tipping is ideal, try placing a pencil under it; the space between the ground and the shoe should not be thicker than that of an average pencil. More will cause your toes pain, and even the most professional heel wearer will not stand in it for more than a couple of hours, a time lap which will suffice neither at work nor at a party.
- The heel:
- It should be present! Yes, extremely high heels might cause back problems but lacking the heel all together doesn’t help either! Even the flattest of shoes should have a tiny bit of heel. This offers your back support, relieves you from back pain, and maintains your normal stride – UGG wearers eventually get extreme back pain and somehow end up dragging their feet instead of actually walking!
- It should have the right dimensions and strength to hold you up. You will have to try the shoe to figure this one out. Walk in a straight line; the heel should not wobble under your weight. Now walk around quickly with wide strides; if you feel like your heel is about to snap backwards or that your weight is falling on your shank rather than your heel and sole, this is an indication of either a weak heel, or the shanks dimensions are not accurate. Either way it is not a durable, comfortable shoe.
- The insole lining: a good quality shoe will have lining that goes all the way around the shoe. If it has lining under the foot only, it will be less comfortable. For every day shoes, the best lining is leather. With Cairo’s weather, I strongly vote against synthetic linings. Leather allows more room for your feet to breathe while some synthetic materials actually absorb heat! Imagine wearing that in summer! (done that, it felt like walking on burning charcoal) For winter shoes, good quality boots will be lined with extremely comfortable faux fur or fleece or similar fabrics; their purpose is not comfort as much as to add warmth.
- The vamp: the wider the vamp, the more the grip the shoe has on your leg. The skinnier the vamp, the longer your legs look!
- Re-measure your size in different stores/brands: as I mentioned before, nothing is constant when it comes to shoe-land’s different brands and stores so it might be a good idea to have your feet measured in different stores – or just try on different sizes, just don’t stick to the one size that you think is yours.
- Do not buy a shoe that is not your size! This might sound obvious but I’ve seen young ladies who have a tendency to buying a shoe or mostly sandals that might be a bit smaller or bigger than their size. Buying smaller shoe sizes happens mostly with sandals thinking no one will notice. Young ladies tend to buy bigger shoe sizes with the hope of filling the space with fiber or cotton, all for the sake of buying that adorable last piece shoe. Here’s the thing; no matter how fabulous it is, it won’t look good if it’s a bad fit & it will cause your feet to sore. Just face it, some things are just not meant to be.
- Keep that receipt! Most stores allow 10-15 day refunding. Try the shoe out for size when you get home, move around, act normally and let your routine and lifestyle test the shoe. No matter how cautious you are as a shopper, some things don’t surface until you get to actually use the shoe, that’s why refunding was made!
- Go for a walk before shopping! Remember that long, sweltering day when it felt like your feet were about to burst out of your shoes, or perhaps you took them off and couldn’t get them back on again? That’s because our feet change sizes throughout the day and with seasonal changes. The increase of blood flow and heat causes your feet to slightly swell. So to find the right size, walk around for a while, best if shopped in summer!
- Take those shoes for a spin before paying! As I mentioned before, walking around in the shoes before buying could reveal crucial flaws. Remember if it is not comfortable now, then it will not be comfortable later. Myth buster; shoes don’t magically become more comfortable over night, and even if they do –never seen it – they’ll take a hell lot of pain and sores out of your feet before they do.
• Defy gravity, do a squat! Let’s face it no matter how much we want to will ourselves to wearing those trendy 12 inch heels; it’s simply not for everyone. As a strong believer in comfortable, healthy style I strongly advocate for wearing the heel height that you can bear to walk in, which might be more than you think you’re capable of if you apply the previous tips. But how to figure that out, simply try to squat and stretch yourself back up while wearing the heel, if it’s a good fit & height you’ll find that doable; if you don’t then that is simply not the heel for you. Our weight and muscle strength vary, heels need the right balance; find a heel that is good for you.
That’s it for today’s second feature on “How to wear heels?”. Stay tuned for the third and final feature concerning heels where I discuss how to pick the right shoes to flatter different body shapes and tips on when to splurge and save on shoes.
Your thoughts? Where are your favorite places to shop for heels? Have you found these tips useful? Would you like to add some more tips of your own? Please tell us what you think in the comments section below or via our email [email protected]