Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Continuing Battle with Shoes

There is an envy amongst millions of women across the world... an envy of other women who can find comfortable shoes with seemingly little effort!

Shoes have been a personal enemy of mine since I was a teenager. Endless hours of traipsing around shops trying to find a pair that looked right, even though the likely outcome was that they wouldn't have the right size. If they did have the right size, it wouldn't be a comfortable fit. And in the unlikely event it was comfortable when first trying them on, you could guarantee that after 2 hours of continued use, they would cause me as much pain as childbirth.

A constant struggle
I dread to think how much money I've wasted on shoes. And the number of plasters, fabric soles and gel pads I've bought in an effort to make shoes comfortable by protecting my feet better. Sometimes this actually makes matters worse by making more things rub in the wrong places and coming loose and being a general pain. A lot of people have said 'well, you must have really wide or narrow feet'. I don't. There's nothing wrong with my feet, and I've often come to the conclusion some women must have some sort of in-built psychic power for finding exactly the right kind of shoes for them in super quick time.

Of course, that's really silly. Everyone is built differently, and not everyone is going to have just the right shape of feet and ankles to pull off wearing most shoes they find. But I do believe that part of problem is that the shoe industry has been surprisingly male orientated, and many manufacturers create shoes which are completely unsuitable for women, as they don't understand women's feet properly. Things are changing now, but it's still hard to come by shoe brands which are, genuinely, comfortable for women.

Do any comfortable shoe brands exist?
Crocs are an obvious brand that comes to mind, but unfortunately the 'style', if they ever had any, completely counteracts the comfort benefits. There's not much point dressing up nicely, only to shove a couple a smurf shoes on your feet and lose all dignity. There is a relatively new brand called 'Heavenly Feet' that focuses on comfort first and foremost, but also spends a decent amount of time creating an attractive style. They are referred to as 'anti-fatigue footwear'.

There are also some general styles you can look out for, if you can't find any specific brands that are suitable. Firstly (and rather obviously), avoid high heels completely. But also (and not so obviously), avoid completely flat shoes - whether they're boots or pumps, totally flat styles are really a recipe for disaster, forcing your feet and legs to position in an unnaturally sharp angle as you walk. The best thing to look out for is boots and shoes with just a small gradient. This happy medium works much better, even though it will still be a struggle to find the perfect pair.

But it would be true to say that searches online for 'comfortable shoes' are more likely to bring up enormous walking boots than the kind of style you'd want to wear with dresses. Although things are changing a little, the battle of women vs shoes will continue for a fair while yet.

Rainbow's End is a retailer of women's fashion including clothes, bags and footwear such as Heavenly Feet shoes.