When I was 15/16 years old I started my first real job, working for Russell and Bromley, a high-end (but still high street) shoe retailers in the UK. It was honestly a huge part of me becoming the style seeking woman I am today. That sounds hokey, but it's true. Whilst I already had an interest in fashion, finely honed by reading teenage magazines (!), working at Russell and Bromley encouraged me to look deeper into seasonal trends and personal style. Personal style that didn't involve my huge flared jeans, worn low on my skinny hips with a baby tee from my favourite band – damn I miss being 15 and actually having skinny hips…
Anyhow. I learned a lot more than how to evolve my personal style whilst working at Russell and Bromley. I worked for the company until for just over 5 years on and off and spent time working in all departments, I learned how to fit shoes in the children's department, learned how to adjust shoes in the womens department and how to care for shoes in all finishes.
Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing with you what I learned, as whilst I thought much of what I know was common knowledge – it's not – so I'm happy to impart wisdom where I can – ha! I'll be discussing fit, comfort, and care.
I'm going to start with fit – because it's the first part of any relationship you'll have with any pair of shoes. Feet, like bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and unfortunately shoes don't. Finding the perfect fit, is not easy and for some of us it's nay impossible, I have a half a size difference between my feet, and I'm not about to buy two pairs of shoes to accommodate but there are many tricks to making the shoes work for you – and I'm happy to share them.
Problem: The shoe is slightly too large, but the size down is too small!
Solution: A half insole. (pictured above: $8.30 via Amazon.com)
A half insole is a magic, magic trick. Slip them into your shoes and the the slight angle that the insole produces, removes the extra 1/4-1/2 an inch that's causing you problems. It works better than a full insole because of the angle it creates, whereas a full insole can take up too much room.
Problem: Your shoes are creased or cracking at the flex point and digging into the top of your foot.
Solution: A full insole. (Pictured above: $18.95 via Foot Petals)
A full insole will not only help a shoe feel more comfortable but it will elevate your foot within the shoe, taking away the extra space that's causing the creasing. Foot Petals sent me their 'Sexy Soles' ($18.95 – pictured above) to try out and they really are the perfect solution for this, they're soft, customisable and what's unique about them is the arch support – especially for flat shoes. They also make 'Killer Kushions' (available in a variety of colours from $6.50) for open toe shoes!
Problem: Your shoes cut into your ankle bone.
Solution: A heel lift.
I have pretty bony feet and often shoes that are cut too high, rub and cut my ankle bone. The solution is simple but requires a little DIY. You can buy a heel lift or you can cut your own ideally using orthopedic foam (if you can't get any – craft store foam sheets with adhesive backing would do the trick) if you're cutting your own you can use the heel end of an insole as a template or just eyeball it, but it basically needs to be the shape of a heel of a shoe. Sticking it straight into the shoe is an option, but you could be creating another problem. To keep the sole smooth, pull up the shoes inner sole, stick the heel lift underneath it and then just stick the inner sole back down. Seamless finish and no sore ankles!
Solution: A heel grip/cushion. (Pictured above – from $3 at Foot Petals)
A simple bit of padding in the form of a heel grip will alleviate this problem, padding your heel and filling the space – preventing slipping and blisters – yay. Foot Petals sent me their 'Heavenly Heelz' ($3) which have the same function as a heel grip (they call it a 'back of heel cushion') they're made with a special fabric that help reduce friction – perfect for the back of heel area.
Problem: You can't lace up up your shoes tight enough as the 'faces' overlap.
Solution: Orthopedic foam.
This is another DIY trick from my shoe retail days – I'm not sure a product even exists to solve this problem – hence the DIY (but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.) All you have to do is cut a shape of your shoes 'tongue' out of the orthopedic foam and stick it on the inside of the 'tongue'. This creates that extra bit of room – allowing you to tighten your shoes as much as necessary with no ugly crossover.
Problem: Your shoes are too small – but you still love them.
Solution: Shoe Stretcher. (Pictured above: $19.99 – Footsmart)
Sometimes it happens, if I buy vintage shoes, online, it happens a lot. They just don't fit quite right but you desperately want them too. This is where your cobbler can help. For under $10 they can stretch shoes up to about a half a size bigger.
By Kelsi Smith