What kind of shoes are best for your feet? The answer might surprise you.
Not everyone knows how to pick good shoes. We’re all guilty of worrying more about choosing the right shoes for an outfit than whether or not they’re comfortable or if they fit.
But it’s possible to have comfortable footwear that’s fashionable. Keep reading to learn how to choose the right shoes for your feet.
Follow these steps:
- Measure both feet at the end of the day
- Consider the shape of the shoe including the depth and width
- Match the shoes to the activity where you’ll be wearing them
These are just three recommendations for choosing the right pair of shoes.
If you can shop in-person, it’s easier. But it’s possible to choose the right shoes for your feet online, too. Let’s talk about that.
- 1 How to measure your feet for the perfect fit
- 2 How much space should be in the front of your shoe?
- 3 What are shoes that are good for your feet and posture?
- 4 Match the shoe to the activity
- 5 When to replace shoes?
- 6 Summary
How to measure your feet for the perfect fit
If you’re at the shoe store, let them measure your feet with a Brannock device. It checks the length and the width. Notice I said “feet” not “foot” because most people have one foot that’s larger than the other.
Otherwise, you can do this at home in two different ways:
The most straightforward is to use a measuring tape, ruler, or yardstick. Stand on your measuring device and take note of what it says. The length is between the tip of your heel to the tip of your longest toe (which might not be your big toe). Turn the tape sideways and measure the width of the widest part of your foot, too.
Another way is to use paper. Stand on a sheet or two and trace around your feet. It’s easier if your heels are flush against a wall and if you have another person to do the tracing for you. Then use the measuring tape to get your size from the drawings.
When you shop for shoes, use the brand’s size chart to translate the measurements into a shoe size.
Pro tip: when you measure your feet, wear the same type of socks you’ll be using with the shoes. This is crucial when it comes to hiking shoes, winter boots, or work shoes with steel toes.
Another pro tip: do the measurements at the end of the day when your feet have swollen. It might be as much as a half or full size difference.
How much space should be in the front of your shoe?
Is it true that you should leave space in the toe of your shoe? Yes, you need to leave a little wiggle room unless you’re buying rock climbing shoes or ballet slippers.
Other than those 2 exceptions, your toes should not touch the front of the shoe.
Leave about half an inch toward the width of your finger between the longest toe and the front.
Be careful when it comes to pointed shoes with tapered tips. Make sure they don’t rub your other toes, either.
This is when shopping in person is easier. You can try on the shoes and walk around to make sure they don’t chafe or pinch and your heel doesn’t slide.
What are shoes that are good for your feet and posture?
When you stand barefoot with your shoulders back and your head level, how does it feel? Make sure it’s with both feet planted on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
Chances are that in that position you have good posture. So, what shoes re-create this experience?
I’m a fan of zero-drop athletic shoes and minimalist footwear. Still, I understand that not everyone is comfortable with little to no arch support and cushioning. In general, it’s best if your shoes are comfortable so that you will want to have good posture.
Start by choosing shoes that don’t require breaking in. Don’t bet on them stretching unless that’s an expected feature of the shoe. (Some professional dance shoes made of thin leather are like this).
If possible, wear shoes with enough room in the front for you to wiggle your toes.
Make sure they aren’t too tight across the top of the foot or too loose on the heel to where your foot slides up and down.
When you walk, how are the cushioning and the arch support?
When you stand while wearing them, can you stand naturally?
Once you’ve checked all the boxes, it’s time to make sure they fit the things you’ll be doing with them.
Match the shoe to the activity
Cycling shoes are great for long-distance rides and not much else. Running shoes cushion the impact of your strides but may not have enough balance for basketball. Walking shoes are wonderful for city strolls but aren’t rugged enough for going off-trail.
It may seem expensive to own different shoes for different activities, but sometimes there’s no help for it. If you only ride your bike casually around town, you might not need cycling shoes. But folks doing the Tour de France won’t perform well wearing dress shoes or even cross-trainers.
Dress shoes, by the way, don’t have to be uncomfortable to be fashionable. Choose a low heel, a wide platform, and footwear with cushioning especially if you’ll be walking in them.
When to replace shoes?
Sometimes it’s obvious – you can look at the wear and tear and know right away it’s time for a new pair. Other times, especially with gym shoes, you can’t see from the outside how worn down they are. That’s because the internal cushioning breaks down after a time.
As a rule of thumb, athletic shoes should be replaced every 500 miles or 6 months to a year.
Dress shoes and hiking boots may be re-soled. However, you may have to replace the insole with an aftermarket model.
In summary, if the heel of your shoe is significantly worn down, you need to replace it. If you’re not sure, lay a flat object across the sole and look at the difference between it and the tread.
If you’re thinking about an upgrade, here are the right shoes for various activities:
HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7 Shoes
It seems like a lot of podiatrists are recommending Hoka shoes to their patients. Not only are they comfy for running, but they are also lovely for all-day wear.
I have a soft spot for the Bondi 7 and I’m not the only one. They feel like walking on clouds even if you have foot and joint trouble.
They provide excellent support and maximum cushioning without feeling sloppy. (They also make me a bit taller).
What makes them so great? Instead of all the flowery descriptions and made-up terms some brands use to describe their shoes, Hoka keeps it simple. The description of the Bondi 7 explains that it has a rubber outsole, EVA midsole, and a memory foam collar. The breathable lining is encased in a mesh upper with seamless overlays. Everything is synthetic – no leather – so they are vegan.
Happily, they come in regular and wide widths in a variety of colors.
Brooks Ghost 14 Neutral Running Shoe
If you love running, you’ve got to try the Brooks Ghost shoes. They come in both women’s and men’s sizes, wide widths, and various colors. Moreover, this model is a certified diabetic shoe with the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
What’s interesting is that the brand uses 3D printing for the uppers to make a shoe that moves with the foot like a second skin.
Then, the blown rubber sole features a segmented crash pad with shock-absorbing material. It not only absorbs impacts but also returns energy by the time you push off again. Part of the magic also comes from DNA Loft cushioning throughout the midsole.
If you’ve had trouble finding athletic shoes because of problems like plantar fasciitis or bunions, give Brooks a try.
Skechers for Work Felton Shoe
If your job has you walking miles every day, you deserve supportive, cushioned shoes to protect your feet, legs, and back. This pair gets rave reviews from hard-working individuals who really put on the mileage.
Restaurant workers like them because they don’t slip on wet or oily floors. That’s not surprising as they have an OSHA-compliant nitrile outsole that’s certified slip-resistant.
They also meet ASTM standards for electrical hazard footwear.
Since they are Skechers, they are well-cushioned with memory foam.
There are only 2 downsides: they aren’t as well-ventilated as some options and the soles wear out within a few months.
Crocs Unisex-Adult Bistro Clog
They are more fashionable than they used to be, that’s for sure. Even though Crocs look kind of clunky, they are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. This professional version is a little firmer and more durable than the regular retail model.
The thermoplastic elastomer is molded with healthcare workers and food service employees in mind. It provides arch support and cushioning for long hours on your feet. Think how good your posture and mood will be if you don’t have so much pressure on your feet, hips, and back.
Plus, these are very lightweight clogs that are straightforward to clean. You can literally wipe them down with soap and water and let them dry. They have ASTM-certified non-slip soles and a protective toe design to guard against stubs and spills.
Cole Haan Tucker Venetian Slip-On Loafer
Sexy doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable. These loafers come with either waxy leather or suede uppers. Either way you roll, they have both a padded collar and padded sockliner for maximum comfort. The rubber outsole is durable and comfy for business and pleasure.
ECCO New Jersey Slip-On Loafer
Whether you’re in jeans or a suit, these full-grain leather loafers are ready to go with you. Obviously, as they are slip-on shoes, there are no laces. Instead, the shoes have elastic goring at the sides for the perfect fit.
What’s more, the interior fabric lining with micro-perforations helps keep the feet cool and dry while preventing socks from being discolored by the leather.
Speaking of leather, ECCO has its own tanneries to produce it.
Lastly, the insoles are padded for comfort while the direct-injected polyurethane outsole provides extra cushioning and stability. Did you know that polyurethane lasts up to 3 times longer than rubber? And this pair has a nylon shank, not metal. That means you can wear your shoes through certain types of security checkpoints.
LifeStride Adley Boot
This brand makes regular and wide widths for all sorts of dressy footwear. These boots are a fine example of what they offer.
They have faux leather uppers with side zippers. Inside you’ll find a fabric lining that keeps your feet from getting too sweaty. But what you’ll love more is the memory foam cushioning with extra arch and heel support.
Even the outsole has great traction and stability.
Cole Haan Grand Ambition Slip-on Loafer
If you have flat feet, dress shoes can be really uncomfortable. But this pair offers support while looking good. You can dress them up or down so they can go with you everywhere.
The rubber sole has a low heel complemented by lightweight EVA foam for cushioning. Inside is a molded footbed to absorb impacts and cradle your foot.
The first step to choosing the right shoes is to start with the right size. Measure your feet at the end of the day and compare the measurements to the brand’s size chart. Don’t go off the label in your old pair because things change. As we age, our feet grow. Furthermore, brands update their styles and use different lasts. Just take a few minutes to do the measurement and double-check. It saves on having to ship back returns.
Next, look at the shoe with a critical eye. Is it going to pinch your toes? Is it going to slide up and down on your heel? Is it going to rub your ankles or feel too tight across the top? Don’t sacrifice comfort for style. You can have both.
Lastly, get the right shoes for the job.