How to avoid buying shoes that will leave you in agony.

Every woman has done it. You found a gorgeous pair of shoes, they look amazing, they make your feet look amazing, you can’t wait to wear them.

Then, moments into leaving the house for the first time with them on, you realise what a horrible mistake you’ve made.

Within minutes, you’re in agony, seriously contemplating amputating your feet to relieve the pain – or, you know, going barefoot at least.

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While walking around a race course or city street barefoot with high heels in hand is pretty much a rite-of-passage for any woman, it shouldn’t have to be this way.

That’s why we’ve pulled together the best shoe-shopping advice to ensure you never make another regretful footwear purchase again.

Don’t just go with your regular shoe size.

In store, very few people buy shoes without trying them on. But how many times do you try a pair on, toss up between two sizes and then go with one just because it’s your regular size? The people at explain that your foot size can change over time and different brands have different sizing, so it’s not wise to make that final call based on the number on the sole.

The time of day counts.

Going shoe shopping after work? Perfect. Your feet tend to swell as the day wears on and so late afternoon is the best time to try on shoes to ensure they’re not going to be perfect in-store and too-tight the next day.

You know you’re obsessed when you’ve lusted after fictional shoes. (Post continues after gallery.)


Leave room for your largest toe.

That old adage that you should leave a thumb distance between your big toe and the end of the shoe wasn’t just the best way to make sure you didn’t grow out of them too quickly as a kid. No, experts like podiatrist Dr. Steve Rosenberg advise you continue to do this with every pair of shoes. He writes in the Huffington Post that if your second toe is bigger than your ‘big toe’ (yes, we exist, don’t tease us) then make sure that’s the toe you measure the thumb-width wiggle room from.


Walk around the store – and again at home.

Walking around with your feet in both shoes is a given for trying them on, but it’s a good idea to take more than a few steps in the pair, shoe designer Niki Taestensen recommends. Cut at least one lap around the store – on carpet and a hard surface – and if you notice any discomfort at all – go for another lap.

Then, when you’ve picked the pair try them on again at home and walk around on your own floor. Five minutes later you should know if the shoes are the perfect fit or a bad buy. Most stores will let you return them the next day and exchange for another size.

high heel injury
Avoid slip-induced blisters with these simple tips. (Image via iStock.)

Use the shoe salesperson.

Ask that sales person for advice - they're there to help you (and sell shoes in the process). They can tell you if the material of your shoe is going to stretch or not and help you measure that thumb gap.

Pay attention to the shape of your feet.

Not all size 6 feet are the same. Your foot's length and width will determine your shoe size. According to Taestensen, you know the shoe isn't too narrow if your foots fit comfortably without stretching the upper part of the shoe. The designer told Fox in Flats to check the width of the shoe by standing up, then squeezing the sides of the shoe together.

You also might find that certain styles, like pointed-toed shoes, will always leave you in agony. That all comes down to the shape of your feet. Unfortunately, it means that unless you're considering foot-bounding, this style of footwear is best avoided.


Avoid slipping and look for possible blister points.

If you notice any slipping during the try-on, you'll likely end up paying for it later. Slipping often causes rubbing and rubbing leads to blisters. There's also design features in shoes that are all-but-guaranteed to give you blisters if they don't fit perfectly - basically any shoe without a top strap to keep your foot in place. If you still really, really want the shoes, put Band-Aid on your feet before you wear the shoes for the first time. And if your heels aren't made from leather or satin, you could also slick on some Vaseline.

Combat ball pressure.

Obviously, the height of the shoe's heel will determine the pressure on the balls of your feet. Sadly, there's no way of getting around the fact that stilettos will put a lot of pressure on that area. For this reason, wedges are a better bet - all of the height, none of the pain. And if nothing but cigarette-thin heels will do? Invest in a couple of gel cushions to put under the balls of your feet. You will notice the difference, we promise.

Stuck between sizes? Larger is better.

If the size 8 is too small, but the size 9 is too large - do NOT go for the size 8. Try the larger size shoe with insoles instead, recommends Dr Rosenberg. Many shoe stores have them for sale, but you can pick them up from chemists if not. Again, the shoe store should allow you to try the shoes on at home with the insoles in place and return them if they still don't fit.

Happy shoe shopping!