Your local drugstore or Shoe Repair stocks an array of supplemental products to help rehabilitate uncomfortable shoes. While they cannot work miracles, they can certainly make life a lot more pleasant.
It’s Not You, It’s The Shoe
A shoe is poorly designed or simply does not fit if:
- you can see the shoe’s heel poking out behind your foot heel (your weight is sliding forward too much into the toe box)
- your toes hang over the edge of the shoe (same problem as above)
- your foot heel lifts up and out of the heel cup with every step
- your toes feel pinched on the side when you stand in them (toe box is too narrow)
- ankle strap/buckle touches the ankle bone, either above or below (this will rub like hell as the ankle bone moves against it with every step)
Put it back on the shelf, darlin’ and keep looking. It’s not you, it’s the shoe.
If shoes in general never seem to fit in one area (i.e. you have skinny calves so knee-high boots never fit, or a narrow heel, so there’s a gap between your heel and the shoe) you can remedy this in three ways: 1) have your shoes custom made to fit for $200 to $500, 2) before you buy the shoes buy the padding from your nearest drugstore and take it with you when you go shoe-shopping, or 3) in the shoe store, take a photo of the shoes on your feet clearly showing the gap and the interior of the shoe, discuss the plan with a shoemaker or cobbler and then go back and buy the shoes. Much cheaper than the other way around, especially if it doesn’t work. Shoes that are loose in one area or too tight will result in rubbing.
Padded insoles act as shock absorbers and will put a bounce in your step. The most durable insoles are made of leather and are designed to replace the insole that came with your shoe. However, for the cushiest ride possible, Dr Scholl for Her makes a range of insoles for high heels that come in a variety of colors and patterns in foam, as well as a clear (i.e. invisible) kind in gel. Slim enough to fit in a pump, they redistribute your weight along the sole rather than forcing it all into the ball of your foot. Try the 16-hour Insoles if you’re on your feet all day or on hard surfaces. For your high-heeled Fall boots, look for athletic-grade insoles (Foot Locker stocks them). Like the padding in your office chair, inserts lose their spring and resilience with time. Note: if you wear sheepskin Ugg boots in winter, replace the fluffy insole at the beginning of each winter season; any shop that sells Uggs sells these insoles. As the wool packs down over time and the boot gets loose, add an athletic foam insole beneath the fluffy wool insole.
Preventing Rubbing, Blisters, etc
Rule #1: if you’re wearing a pair of new shoes, or a pair that have rubbed in the past (why oh why are these still in your wardrobe??) always carry some moleskin with you. Best applied to the shoe (not your foot) at least 24 hours before for best adhesion. But it can also be used on the spot if necessary. So, cut it to size before you leave the house (trust me, no-one has scissors when you need them) and stash it with your lipstick. It takes up less room than a tampon and is just as appreciated (by you or a friend) when the need arises. It can seriously make or break your day/night. No moleskin? Pack 2 bandaids—not as good, but much better than nothing.
As soon as you become aware of a constant rubbing or pinching, immediately (not 10 minutes later) excuse yourself to the nearest Ladies’ Room and whip out that moleskin. Or ask the restaurant/club/whatever for a bandaid: most of them carry a first aid kit. The sooner you stop the friction, the less likely you are to develop a sore red spot or a blister that lasts a week. There’s nothing comfy or chic about a blister.
For Summer sandals with straps or a buckle that rubs, you may want to apply some clear Rub Relief onto your foot before you put your shoes on. It rolls on like deodorant and instantly stops the rubbing. I have no idea what’s in it, it feels like a super moisturizer, (and may well be) but it is dry and soft within seconds. However, you will have to reapply it periodically, and it will not prevent blisters; for that you need the cushioned moleskin or tape. If you’re sitting down, discreetly take your heels off. If you’re out dancing, act like a free spirit and dance barefoot. Or swap them for a pair of chic foldable, rollable gold flats like these from Footzyrolls.
How a Cobbler Can Help
Cobblers, or Shoe Repair Experts are one of the most under-appreciated professionals today and are a dying breed, thanks to cheap mass-produced footwear. Besides fixing shoes, a good cobbler can:
- stretch and/or soften your leather shoes (gently, without damaging the leather) so that they are generally more comfortable (see video demo)
- stretch a specific point to accommodate a bunion or bone spur (or sell you a shoe stretcher for about $30 if this is a chronic issue)
- replace the rubber tip on your heel that has worn down to a nail so that you no longer make a racket walking down the hallway
- waterproof and stainproof your boots and shoes (without changing the color)
- dye shoes a different color
- replace worn buckles and laces
- repair small nicks and scratches (including scuff marks off patent leather)
- recondition and shine leather (even old salt-hardened boots) to a mirror finish so your shoes look brand new
- add a strap around the ankle or vamp for extra support
- fix other leather items like bags, wallets, belts, dog leashes, etc
If you find a good, reliable cobbler, tell your friends. They need all the business they can get in this era of disposable plastic shoes.
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