5 Common Shoe Problems, Solved

As much as we will suffer for fashion, there comes a point where we just can't take the pain any longer. Our feet know all about this. Those guys have endured them all: tightness, blisters, heel cuts, toe jams, unstable wobbles, and more. Just like how certain clothing items don't suit your body type, there are styles of shoes that work better on your feet than others. We had to hear this from three footwear experts — shoe doctor-repair wizard David Mesquita at NYC-based Leather Spa, Jessie Randall, President and Creative Director at Loeffler Randall, and Beth Kanfer, Fashion Director of Women’s Footwear at Nordstrom — to believe it.

All our shoe aficionados agree that it's crucial to get your foot fitted professionally to understand how long and wide your feet actually are. (We suggest asking a shoe sales associate at a department store like Nordstrom for a comprehensive foot fitting on a Brannock device — you know, that measurement contraption you see at shoe retailers.) Once you find out your width and length, you may find that certain designers or brands are better suited for your feet than others. If you can't make it to a fitting for a while, and you're looking for instant foot relief, we have 20 summer shoe solutions ahead, all based on five common problems that women face on a daily basis. It's time to take a step in the right direction.

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Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Problem: Feet Are Narrow

If every shoe feels like it's a bit too big (even if the length is the right size), look into a narrower width. It seems like a no-brainer, but it's surprising how many people overlook the width of shoes.

"Most brands have a standard B width, but there are slight variances," says Jessie Randall, President and Creative Director of Loeffler Randall. "Brands that are more widely available tend to have a slightly wider fit, while more high-end and designer lines tend to fit slightly more narrow."

In terms of shoe styles, be on the lookout for lower heels and flats "because your heel will tend to slide out of higher heels," says David Mesquita, VP of Leather Spa. Now, let's find shoes that fit.
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"Shoes are made on hard forms called lasts. Once you find a last or construction you like from a particular line, you can usually keep buying shoes made on that same equipment that will have the same fit," says Randall.

A flat and pointed shoe is ideal for the narrow foot. It's structured, less likely to stretch, and will maintain its shape even through many wears.
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"Recommended styles for people with narrow feet include anything that holds the foot in — from gladiator sandals to open-toe booties to Maryjanes," says Beth Kanfer, Nordstrom Fashion Director, Women’s Footwear.

Look for styles with laces that allow you to adjust and tighten the shoe to keep your foot snug.
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If you're concerned about your shoes stretching too much over time, opt for a shoe that has a thicker, harder sole with a bit of platform. A strong base is more likely to hold shape.
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There are also plenty of narrow shoe options if you're looking for a softer sneaker to live in this summer. Look for a pointed-toe to keep your foot comfortably in place.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Problem: Feet Are Wide

You already know if your feet are on the wider side because you'll feel severe tightness throughout the day if your shoes aren't accommodating. Just like how folks with narrow feet need to be mindful of their shoe widths, wide-feet gals should also get in the habit of finding shoes that are offered in both wide and medium widths.

For the summer, look for softer, leather sandals with adjustable straps that will let your foot breathe. One tip for shoe-shopping is trying on styles at the end of the day "once your feet have swelled a little bit from walking around," says Mesquita. "It can be life-changing to find the perfect brand that works with your feet."
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"Certain materials will give better to the foot when you’re breaking them in," says Mesquita. "Soft leather or a suede exterior will also have a soft lining, which will help. Avoid materials like patent leather and other harder materials, like plastic."
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"If it’s still a tad tight after you try to break in your shoes, know you can always get them professionally stretched out to give your foot more room," continues Mesquita. "We prefer not to stretch shoes made from materials like lace, nylon, and plastic because they won’t really stretch, and it may damage the shoe. A flat will be more successful than a pump — you can’t stretch the length, you can only stretch the width."
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"Styles I recommend for people with wider feet include anything that slips on the foot; espadrilles, sporty sandals, sneakers, and skate shoes are great options," says Kanfer.
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Softness is also absolute key if you generally have a harder time breaking in shoes for your wider feet. Look for malleable soles like espadrilles. The softer foot bedding will make your feet very happy.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Problem: Cuts On Heels

Oh, that moment when you realize your heels are bleeding from ill-fitting shoes. It's frustrating and defeating, and despite how rad the shoes look, if they're creating cuts on your feet you've gotta chuck 'em.

"If someone has cuts or blisters on their heels, the shoe is most likely too wide or long in the front resulting in back slippage," says Kanfer. If the fit isn't great to begin with, cut heels will strike any kind of foot, both narrow and wide.

"Rubbing and chafing is caused by the shoe being too small or too big — you can get cuts both ways," says Mesquita. "In addition, shoes that are not fitting correctly are causing misalignment in the back and can contribute to additional problems," continues Kanfer. What a strong case to wear shoes that properly fit!
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If you've already got heels that are badly suffering, go for a backless mule to let your heels relax. "My recommendation is to buy shoes with very soft, high-quality leather. This is where buying high-quality shoes is important," says Randall. Suede, anyone?
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Just like Goldilocks, your feet should be in shoes that fit just right. Luckily, there tends to be more wiggle room (quite literally) with mules because of easy slippage. It's why some people also find clog-like, wooden soles to be so comfortable.
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"You can also put a bit of padding around the heels and balls of your feet to prevent rubbing," says Mesquita. Having your heel placed differently can help tremendously. Figuring out the sweet spot of how your foot fits inside is everything — you may want to experiment with a criss-cross style if you've got more height.
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A mule with a platform sole is probably the most comfortable style you can wear because it gives you height while keeping your foot as flat as possible.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Problem: Blisters Everywhere

Ugh, blisters — they're gross, super painful, and no matter what you do, they always seem to come up.

"If you’re getting blisters, there’s too much rubbing, so the shoe may be too tight," says Mesquita. "Our skin is layered, so when you have the rubbing, the top layer of the skin loosens from the middle layer below it and air gets in between, creating blisters."

The only way to combat this problem is to break in a pair of shoes the old-fashioned way. If you need assistance, buy a bottle of shoe-stretch spray or liquid.

"Wear the shoes when it's a little wet, and this will help with the break-in process," says Mesquita. "As your foot perspires, the inside of the shoe collects all that heat to help soften and break in the shoe to mold to your feet."
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Your first order of business if you keep getting blisters? Keep things loose. Let your feet flatten out like a pancake if it's on the wider side. Opt for flat, open-toed sandals that will allow for plenty of wiggling room.
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"Synthetic materials are not always comfortable, and we suggest investing in shoes made from leather or suede," says Kanfer. "Give leather time — sometimes they need to be slightly worn in. Leather softeners also help."

The adjustable straps of this slingback are also key to widening the shoe as needed.
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"That first day you wear new shoes, it’s a good idea to proactively place band-aids anywhere you think your feet might have rubbing," advises Randall. "Everyone’s feet are different, and there are pressure points or bones that jut out differently."

For a shoe like this one, take preventative measures by placing bandage tape on your heel and big toe if they're prone to pain. A little padding goes a long way.
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A simple flat with a slingback is the kind of shoe you might want to wear to give your feet a break from blisters. The back strap will hold the foot in place, but your toes won't feel jammed with an open-toed sandal.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Problem: Wobbly Heels

If every time you wear heels, you feel like you could be easily knocked off balance, it's time to rethink the kind of heel you're wearing. "If you are experiencing wobbly heels, your foot’s just not working with the shoe — it's not that the shoe is defective," says Mesquita.

Your alternative? Go chunky, go shorter, or go for more platform — all of these components will help you stabilize.
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"Sometimes people wear away the rubber lift on the bottom of their heels based on how they walk," says Randall. "When that happens it’s a good idea to take your shoes to the cobbler to prevent wobbling and also to prevent leather being scraped off the heel."
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A T-strap and an adjustable buckle will keep your foot secure when you're going for height.
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A wedge heel is an easy silhouette to adds height and comfort — and it never goes out of style.
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A strong, mid-heel provides a nice foundation, and tie-up laces are essential if you need to tighten or loosen up your shoes throughout the day (or night). Bring on the dance parties!
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