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Hone Your Craft

The Ultimate Guide to Shopping for Comfy (and Never Frumpy) Shoes

Hone Your Craft 03/07/2018

 

For all the Sex and the City mythology that surrounds it, shopping for shoes is actually less fantasy sequence than often-frustrating exercise in trying to predict if those cute boots you’re eyeing might end up inflicting blisters, pinched toes, or sore soles. And how do you know if they’ll stretch out? Eree Kim has considered every possible burning shoe Q in her quest to make Hopp, her line of supportive-but-stylish footwear and sleek leather goods. So put your feet up and let her show you exactly what to look for.

 

POUND THE PAVEMENT (AND INTERNET) TO FIND BRANDS THAT WORK FOR YOU

“If you have wide or narrow feet, definitely hunt down pairs specifically made for those types. Comfort shoes are an actual shopping category. If you look at Zappos, there’s a whole section devoted to them. You definitely have to sort through them, but you can usually find one or two that you might like. There are also these comfort-shoe stores—like, there’s one in Park Slope in Brooklyn called Good Footing, and there’s one on Manhattan’s Upper West Side called Tip Top Shoes. If you’re in a regular shoe store, pay attention to the outside shape—your first instinct is usually right as to whether it's going to be too narrow or fit comfortably.”

 

LOOK FOR STRETCH AND SMOOTH STITCHING

“Anything that is made out of faux leather won’t stretch very much, whereas with leather, stretching will happen naturally, except for with super thick leather boots such as Doc Martens. And you can always get leather shoes professionally stretched if they feel a little tight. When shopping, also feel out the edges of the shoe opening, like the inside stitching along the edge, to make sure everything is smooth. If something is rough, those areas may cut or rub uncomfortably against the skin.”

 

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GET SOLES THAT WILL MOVE WITH YOU

“Avoid plastic, flimsy soles that you think could crack easily if they bend too much. You can tell a sole is plastic by the sound it makes when stepping on hard floors—it's a higher-pitched tap rather than a more solid tap made by a leather sole, which is higher quality. Soles should be flexible. Wood, cork, or EVA foam soles are stiff and have no flexibility, which makes them awkward, or even dangerous, to walk in. If those materials are in a wedge, your ankles can easily fall sideways and get sprained—it’s happened to me a few times. On the other hand, rubber or polyurethane soles soften the impact of your feet hitting the ground. Thin soles, especially if they’re made of leather, will wear down quickly, so you may want to have a cobbler add a thicker sole if you want them to last. Always check the foundation of the shoe—or how the sole is connected to the upper. Does it look glued together well? Is there any visible dried glue showing?”

 

COZY UP TO ORTHOTICS

“I have a lot of customers who use custom-made inserts that you can put in your shoes. For all of my shoes, the inserts are removable so that anyone with orthotics can put their own padding in, and I would look for that in any shoe you’re buying. Another thing that has helped me are just the gel pads that you can buy at any drugstore. They prevent slippage if the liner of the shoe is made of leather.”

 

SOCK IT TO ‘EM

“The first or second time I wear a shoe, I like to wear socks even if they’re shoes I wouldn’t normally wear socks with. The extra padding helps to wear them in without cutting up your feet and causing too much pain.”

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