Shoe Shopping? Don’t Mind If I Do

Retha Sisler
Written by
Retha Sisler

After exploring Italy last year almost entirely on foot, I now understand the meaning of “If the shoe fits, wear it.” There are certain places one can only visit and appreciate if you walk and walk (and walk some more). Living with multiple sclerosis can be tough. If you throw blisters and sore feet due to the wrong shoes into the mix, one’s romantic trip to Italy can quickly turn into a total disaster. Because of that, buying and packing both correct and comfortable shoes is an important item to check off on your packing list. Here are my top tips for making sure your feet are comfortable and blister-free!

Shopping by occasion

When shopping for shoes, whether for special occasions like a formal function or for a specific purpose like exploring an ancient city, you really want to have more than fashion and beauty in mind; you will also want to consider comfort and keeping your feet in good shape as well. For this trip in particular, I chose at least 3 pairs of shoes to take with because I found that it is better for my feet to change shoes at least twice a day.

Finding the right size

I shop for shoes during the afternoon because feet naturally expand during the day, especially during summer. I found that shoes that I have bought during the morning might often feel tight and uncomfortable the next time I wear it. Nobody wants that!

I also take a tracing of my foot with me on my trips and place any shoe I consider buying on top of the tracing. If the shoe is shorter or narrower than the tracing, I don’t even try it on – no need to struggle or pinch my toes for no reason!

Selecting a style

If you’re looking for closed toe shoes – pumps, sneakers or boots, I would recommend taking the same type of socks to the store that you intend to wear with the shoes and try it on with those to ensure the proper fit.

I always feel the inside of the shoes to see if they have anything like stitching, that might irritate or hurt my feet throughout the day.

When shopping for shoes, I also like to stand in them before making a purchase. I press gently on the top of the shoe to make sure I have about a centimetre of space between my longest toe and the end of the shoe to provide enough room for my foot to press forward as I walk. I also make sure that the shoes are wide enough. Beware of too narrow shoes as they can really hurt and cause nasty blisters.

Quality over quantity

Before I buy a pair of shoes, I always walk around a little in them to determine how they feel – they have to fit comfortable from the start, otherwise I won’t even consider buying it.I also examine the soles to see if they strong enough to provide sufficient protection. Feeling stones through the soles of my shoes is really not my idea of fun. I also recommend trying to walk on tiles as well as carpets to see how the shoes feel on both surfaces before buying them. Slippery soles are definitely out!

If I am shopping for high heels, look for shoes with heels that are directly underneath the centre of your heel. If the heel is too far forward or at the back of the shoe, you will definitely experience balance problems.

In terms of fabric choices, I prefer shoes with leather, fabric or suede uppers because it helps to prevent chafing and blistering. I also recommend looking for leather or rubber soles for optimum shock absorption.

I have to admit having said all that - I do have a pair or more ridiculously expensive, totally uncomfortable, absolutely beautiful shoes - which I consider as my just sit down all evening and look and feel pretty shoes. Everybody needs at least one pair of those!

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