Dr. Taryn Rose knows a good deal about shoes. She is not only an orthopedic surgeon, but she is also the founder of two extremely cool lines of shoes, the eponymous Taryn Rose brand and the new Dresr, which features sky-high Italian leather stilettos that are still *gasp* totally wearable. She’s also one of our keynote speakers at this year’s Re:Make 2015 in San Francisco (get your tickets here!) Naturally, we had to get her professional advice on what we should consider before buying. Use this as your guide the next time you plan on investing in some footwear.
1. Try a memory cushion: “Only 20 percent of your foot is in contact with the shoe in a heel, so most of the pressure is loaded on the forefoot. In fact, three times your body weight of pressure is on the ball of your foot in a three-inch heel,” Dr. Rose tells us. “The most important feature to look for is something to relieve this pressure. A memory cushion is great, but few designers use any cushioning.”
2. Watch the incline: “The other thing to look for in a heel is the pitch or inclination,” she advises. When your shoes are too steep, you get foot pain. “Many designers add a platform in the front to decrease the pitch. Around three inches or less is tolerable in a pitch of a shoe.”
3. It’s all about proportions: “The third thing is more technical, but the heel should not be too tall or short for the last,” Taryn says, “or you will find it difficult to balance on a heel.” A last is the mannequin form of a human foot that shoes are built around, btw. In other words, make sure the heel is at a good proportion to your foot.
4. Get support: Don’t think that it’s only heels you need to deeply consider before buying. “For flats, I also look for support since ballerinas can be just as uncomfortable as a heel for different reasons,” she says. “This is important because the wear and tear on your foot starts on the outside arch and progresses inside,” she tells us. “Your foot feels fatigue at first but after many years it can lead to a collapsed arch as you age.” Yikes!
5. Look for flexibility: Test out a flat’s bendability before you buy. Does it curve with your foot when you walk or is it flatter and stiffer than a plank? “I like flexibility in a flat,” Dr. Rose recommends, “since you typically wear flats on days you need to move faster.”
6. Check the lining: Think of your shoes’ interior as a cradle for your feet. You want to make sure your foot has a nice bed. “A good soft leather lining is also important for the breathability of the shoe in both heels and flats,” she says.
7. Look for quality… which sometimes comes with price: “Save money by making your own cappuccino,” she jokes. “After four months you have enough to buy a good quality shoe!” she says. “Spend the most money you can afford on a heel since most quality, high-end shoe designers take care to build their shoes correctly instead of taking shortcuts,” she adds.
8. Make sure they fit properly: “[Many] women buy shoes that are too long for them because they need to fit the forefoot. Most shoes are made with a smaller circumference so that they look more attractive,” she tells us. “I see most women think they are a half size to one size larger than they actually are. There is not much that can be done other than to make sure the styles they choose have straps to keep the shoe on their feet.”
9. Add insoles for shoes that are too big: But what do you do when you’re at the annual Barney’s sample sale and there’s one pair of Isabel Marant boots left… and they’re a half size too big? “If your dream pair of shoes is too large, you can try to add an insole to take up some of the volume,” she advises.
10. Stretch them out if they’re a bit too small: Same scenario as above, but it’s just tad too snug? “You should never have to ‘break in’ new shoes with a good quality shoe,” Taryn says. But in case you find something too small, you can try this: “Find good leather shoes that can be stretched,” she suggests. “A shoe repair or a good shoe store will have the tools to stretch out your shoes for you.”
Will you be trying Taryn’s advice? Tell us in the comments below!