Myth: With so many exceptions, real shoes are not necessary.
Truth: They are necessary.
Yes, I know that sneakers and other non-real shoes are comfortable. They’re so much easier on our feet. But are they really appropriate? Most of the time, the answer is no.
From me, you get the truth.
Last week, I mentioned the exceptions to the rule. I stand by those. If you’re doing planned exercise, sneakers are a must. If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, then sturdy walking shoes are a must. If you have serious foot issues, then orthopedic shoes are a must (if your podiatrist says so). And if your health doesn’t allow you to walk regularly and you need sturdy shoes for safety, then sturdy shoes are a must.
Baruch Hashem, most of us do not have the kind of health issues that require special shoes all the time. And many situations do not require sturdy shoes that are otherwise not attractive. Quite the opposite. Most situations do require attractive shoes. Heels are not always required in those situations, but real shoes are.
In most work situations, you need shoes that make you look professional and attractive. In most dressy-casual situations, you need shoes that make you look and feel attractive. On Shabbos and Yom Tov, you need shoes that are attractive and appropriate for the holiness of the day. For special events, you need shoes that match the formality and make you look and feel extra special.
Heels may not be required but they’re a good thing. When they’re narrow but not needle-thin and not too high, they visually lengthen the legs and feet. That makes your legs appear slimmer and it makes you appear taller and slimmer overall. That’s never a bad thing. Even if you’re already tall, you should be celebrating your height. And if you’re tall and plus-size, extra height will keep you looking proportionate.
Having said that, there are real shoes out there that are flat. Those work just fine in all of the above situations. However, they work best if they have about one inch of lift in the heel. They would still be considered flat but that lift would give you just a little extra height, which is always a good thing.
Most women shy away from real shoes, especially heels, because they think they’re uncomfortable. The truth is that some real shoes are uncomfortable. And even good shoes with heels, which might be fine otherwise, can get uncomfortable if you wear them for hours on end. But if you handle this just right, you can wear real shoes that are comfortable enough to get you through the situations that call for them.
In general, try not to buy shoes without trying them on. I know people buy shoes online sometimes, and I won’t say no, but it’s best to buy them at a store and try them first. When you do try them, make sure to walk around in them and feel them. Walk around on a hard surface so that you can feel the shoes and not the carpet that may be in the store. At certain points, try to close your eyes as you move so that you can concentrate on how the shoes feel.
Look for shoes with good cushioning inside. Feel around with your fingers. If you love the shoes but they don’t have enough cushioning, consider buying them one half-size larger and adding cushion pads.
Make sure the shoes fit properly. If need be, ask a salesperson to use a measuring device. If the shoes feel too tight, go up a half-size. You must have wiggle room in the toe box and a comfortable fit on the sides and back. But too big is just as bad – the shoes will rub and give you blisters. Even if you plan to add cushion pads, you need the shoes to fit with those pads.
In general, try to avoid shoes with no backs. Slingbacks and pumps are good because they “secure” your shoes on at the back. But make sure those shoes fit properly and don’t rub.
I know this sounds a bit daunting, but it’s not. There are plenty of real shoes out there that you can wear that won’t kill your feet but that will make you look and feel your best. All you have to do is find them.