- For the best fit and selection, go to specialty sneaker and dress shoe stores.
- For the best deals, visit department stores, wholesalers and outlet malls. Don't shy away from buying shoes or sneakers on clearance, either. The only thing these shoes are usually guilty of is being a season or two "out of style." Trust me, when you get out on the street, nobody can honestly tell the difference between a 2003 Kenneth Cole Oxford and a 2005 Kenneth Cole Oxford, so long as they're clean and worn with the right pants.
- If you are going to buy shoes online, a good trick is to try on the same pair in a store to ensure a comfortable fit, and then go online for the best deal. But if you have previous experience with a particular brand, then there's no need to worry about purchasing shoes online without trying them on first. In any case, most online retailers offer full refunds.
- Visit shoe stores on Sunday mornings, or late on weeknights. Chances are you will be the only customer in the store, and the salesperson will be able to give you his full attention. The result? Knowledgeable, one-on-one service.
- Check out whether there are any good cobblers in your area. Sure, they're not going to churn out a Nike Zoom LeBron II, but they can produce business and dress shoes that are perfectly sized, and designed to match your feet and style.
There's no such thing as "breaking in a shoe" — that goes for all types, from sneakers to boots. It's therefore a good idea to measure your foot each time you buy a pair of shoes or sneakers. Different brands have different sizes; just because you're a 12 when it comes to your sneakers, you're not necessarily a 12 in your loafers.
Furthermore, your feet tend to slightly swell up over the course of the day, due to the hours of walking and standing that they endure. As a result, you should try on shoes at the end of the day in order to ensure that they will be comfortable throughout.
The socks you wear when trying on a pair of shoes should be the type you would regularly wear with them. This is particularly true when trying on athletic sneakers.
Get a salesperson's advice, but don't let them talk you into buying uncomfortable shoes...
Don't just try on one shoe. Put both on your feet and walk around the store — individual feet tend to be different sizes.
Here's a quick guide to the sometimes confusing terminology used to denote shoe width
- 6E: Extra, Extra-Wide
- 4E: Extra-Wide
- 2E : Wide
- D: Standard Width
- B: Narrow
- 2A: Extra-Narrow
If you have high arches (and therefore, inflexible feet), seek out well-cushioned, flexible shoes and a shoe with a curved instep.
People with no arch (a condition known as flat-footedness) may notice that their feet lean inward. This condition requires a shoe with a straight instep to keep it stable during walking or running.
People with regular foot arches are best off with a slightly curved instep. This will provide an optimum mix of stability and flexibility.
And when all else fails, head out to the local drugstore. There's an enormous range of inexpensive arch braces and orthotic supports out there that can be used to prevent discomfort.
Dealing with stores and salespeople is never fun. Moreover, remembering the fashion rules for socks and pants can be downright taxing. But ultimately, buying shoes is all about finding the best fit. So long as you leave the shoe store with a comfortable pair of shoes on your feet, you'll be walking tall for months to come.