Save yourself from uncomfortable shoes and unhappy feet with these 10 essential tips for buying and wearing shoes from I Want Those Shoes! by journalist and “shoe obsessive” Paola Jacobbi.
Even Naomi Campbell, who has the bearing of a panther, once stumbled and fell on a catwalk because of a pair of shoes that were too high. You need to know how to walk in certain shoes and if you wear these shoes too often, you can risk more than the occasional tumble.
Some experts in podiatry maintain that a “May Damage Your Health” sign, like the warning on cigarette packets, should appear on heels over three and a half inches high.
An exaggeration? Not really. Artificially compressing the extremities causes harm. Chinese women whose feet were bound to stop them from growing suffered severe skeletal problems from osteoporosis to arthritis, as is the case with elderly Western women who spent the 1950s tottering around on the stilettos that were the fashion of the day.
What fate, therefore, lies in store for the bones of this generation who are slaves to even more killer heels? Osteopaths claim it is still too early to tell, but they admit that the construction of today’s shoes (softer materials, more care devoted to the anatomical shape of the inner sole) would appear to be less harmful.
In the meantime, however, in order to be able to wear certain kinds of terribly narrow, pointed shoes, many women will do anything, including going under the surgeon’s knife.
In New York, in her luxurious Park Avenue clinic, the podiatrist Suzanne Levine operates on six pairs of feet a week at fifty thousand dollars a pop. The most popular operation is the “filing” or, in more severe cases, the elimination, of bunions. Even the Italian TV presenter Paola Barale has admitted to undergoing a similar operation, claiming, “I didn’t use to like my toes, but now I can wear any sandals I like.”
As for other mini-operations in demand so that one looks better in shoes, these range from ankle and calf liposuction to subcutaneous injections of silicone gel to soften up areas in the foot that rub against shoes that are either too high or too tight. These are the ridiculous excesses of times in which we can’t stomach the slightest physical imperfection, or do without the latest fashion. Without being too alarmist, it is still possible to pick up some useful advice from this state of affairs:
10 Rules for Happy Feet
- Know that as you get older, feet tend to get longer and wider. It’s useless trying to squeeze into your usual size 6M; probably, after the age of forty, you’ll be a 7M.
- Remember that, whatever your age, Audrey Hepburn advised buying shoes half a size bigger than necessary, as comfort is integral to elegance.
- For the same reason, it is a good idea to buy shoes in the evening, when feet are at their biggest, and never in the morning.
- Whether you’re buying heels or flats, never get shoes that aren’t instantly comfortable: the “breaking in” myth needs debunking.
- Try not to wear the same pair of shoes for too many days in a row. In fact, ideally you should change them every day so as to avoid the shoes losing their shape, and the feet getting used to a single contour.
- Whenever you get the chance — at home or on the beach — try to walk around barefoot.
- After an evening of walking around on heels, massage the soles of your feet with a tennis ball.
- Look at the feet of your mother and grandmother. Many small deformations are hereditary, and therefore preventable.
- If your feet ache or are often reddened on the sides, find a good podiatrist and visit as often as you would the dentist.
- Whatever kind of shoes you wear and whatever the shape of your feet, accept and love them, pampering them with love and pedicures. Your feet are a pedestal from which arises your beautiful soul.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paola Jacobbi, author of I Want Those Shoes! (Copyright © 2007 by Sperling & Kupfer Editori S.p.A.; Translation copyright © Simoneta Winkert) is a journalist and special correspondent for Italian Vanity Fair. She lives in Milan.