Women’s Shoes

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Few items in our wardrobe compare to the joy and excitement of a new pair of shoes. We say you can never have enough! And according to shoe designers and orthopaedic surgeons, shoe shopping requires a little knowledge. Here's what we found out.

The Basics

  • Shoes made from breathable material like leather and canvas last longer than those made of synthetic fabrics, like vinyl or plastic. Plus, synthetic materials tend to get smelly over time.

  • Sewn-on soles are better quality shoes than those with glued-on soles.

  • When trying on shoes, you should be able to wiggle your toes. There should be a thumb’s width between the end of your toe and the end of the shoe.

  • Since most of us have one foot bigger than the other, fit the larger foot.

  • Run your hand inside the shoe to make sure the lining has no seams or bumps that can cause discomfort.

  • Do your shoe shopping toward the end of the day, when your feet are more likely to be swollen.

  • An endless array of styles are available in women’s shoes. Here are a few of the classics that never go out of style:

    • Mules slip on with no laces or straps. Heel styles vary from petite and delicate designs (the Sabrina or kitten heel) to more chunky wedge shapes.

    • Stilettos have a pointy toe and a thin, very high heel. A stiletto can add the final touch to a power suit or be perfect for a night on the town. But be warned: your feet will hurt! What’s a little pain when it comes to a whole lot of style?

    • Mary Janes typically have a rounded toe, a chunky heel and a strap across the ankle. Classics MJs are black patent leather, but they come in all materials and colours. Mary Janes are a comfortable choice for work.

    • Sandals come in a wide range of styles, but they are typically open-toed and open-heeled, providing very little support. There’s nothing like a strappy sandal for a breezy summer evening.

    • Moccasins, also known as driving shoes, are slipper-like, with no laces or straps. They generally don’t have a heel and tend to be rubber-soled.

    • Oxfords are shoes with laces and usually have a flat, low heel. These sensible shoes are good for work, but tend to be less stylish than other options.

    • Classic Pumps have no laces or straps, and a sensible one to two inch heel. This classic work shoe can easily transition to night, with the right outfit, of course!

  • Some fabrics last longer than others. All require different types of care:

    • Basic cowhide leather is what many shoes are made of because it’s durable and lasts for years. Look for shoes with a leather upper for the best quality. Leather should be sprayed with a basic protector, and if you live in a cold and slushy climate, the protector should also shield against salt stains.

    • Suede is a thinner, more delicate type of leather with the feel of velvet. It requires special attention and care, and should avoid wetness. Stains can be removed with an eraser. Be sure to spray your suede with a protector every few months.

    • Patent Leather has a glossy shine and a tendency to crack in cold weather. Rub petroleum jelly on your shoes to protect against cracking.

    • Canvas is a heavy fabric that is a good choice for casual spring/summer shoes, but it doesn’t provide much support. It also can get stinky.

    • Plastic is an inexpensive option, but doesn’t breathe. A bad choice in the summer or in hot climates, creating stinky, sweaty feet!

Other Considerations

  • Thin soles create more pressure on the foot. Insoles can provide added shock absorption.

  • Our podiatrist tells us high heels should be saved for special occasions since they put so much stress on the foot. (We know, we ignore that advice too, but we felt responsible for passing it along.)

Be Aware

  • Over 33% of women wear shoes that are too small or too narrow. Tight shoes can lead to bunions, ladies!


It’s no secret we’re obsessed with great shoes. With so many out there, it’s impossible to choose just one pair. And practicality definitely goes out the window when we go shoe shopping – if they look good, go for it!


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