Ever wondered why one pair of shoes in your size fits like a glove while another squeezes your toes or rubs your heels?
We accept that our bodies come in different shapes and sizes, but often forget our feet are just as individual. And this determines the type of shoe that feels most comfortable: while pointed shoes suit those with a long second toe, for example, a heel (albeit a small one) is better for flat feet that find ‘sensible’ shoes painful.
THE MODEL FEET
Is your big toe longer than your second toe and the rest of your toes descend in height in a perfect downward curve?
You’ll also have a lovely arch and often be complimented on your ‘lovely feet’.
Sound familiar? You are lucky enough to have the ‘rectus’ foot type — the word we use for ‘normal’, by which we mean there are no distinct abnormalities.
You would think this would be quite commonplace but it’s actually quite rare; nearly all of us have inherited some quirk or other.
People with bunions should wear broader shoes and avoid pointy footwear
What is a bunion? They occur on the inside of your foot, generally at the base of the big toe. They are bony, painful lumps, can affect any foot type and are an inherited condition — the shape and structure of feet run in families.
You either get bunions as a child or as an adult in your early 20s. If bunions cause joint pain, you might want to have surgical correction. But most people only get a bit of bump pain because the foot widens.
You just need to wear broader shoes to accommodate that.
IDEAL FIT: H
BIG TOE THAT WON’T BEND
Stiff, straight big toe? This is more common than you’d think — a big toe that does not bend when you walk.
We call this functional hallux limitus (FHL), a fancy way of saying you’ve got a big toe that isn’t doing the job it is meant to. We inherit our foot types from our parents, so people born with the tendency to develop this find walking on hard, flat surfaces makes it worse.
IDEAL FIT: A
If one suffers with this foot type, where shoes that will make hobbit feet appear smaller such as court heels
Do you have Hobbit feet? If you do, you’ll likely think they are too large and broad.
As a podiatrist, I’ve learned that women never go to double figures. She will insist she’s a size 9 and you will never get her to admit she is really a size 10.
But women with big feet must wear shoes that fit them. Don’t cram them into under-sized shoes.
Instead, try a style that makes the foot look smaller.
IDEAL FIT: F
A LONGER SECOND TOE
How to camouflage this foot type? One should wear pointy shoes, when your second toe is longer than your big toe
Is your second toe the longest? This is known as the Greek Foot, or Morton’s Toe. As many as one in five people fall in to this category.
Many don’t like having a longer second toe from a visual point and even consider toe-shortening surgery which can be very painful and isn’t usually recommended for cosmetic purposes.
But a long, strong second toe can help the big toe do its job properly.
IDEAL FIT: D
Unfortunately I suffer with this foot type. So whats a woman supposed to do? If you suffer with this foot type like me, look for shoes which have a strap, laces or buckle.
As anyone with narrow feet will know, the bugbear is finding shoes that your feet don’t keep falling out of.
Otherwise, there’s a tendency to go about with your toes permanently curled up in a vain effort to keep on your shoes.
This is an incredibly bad habit, which can lead to blisters in the short-term, as well as pain in all those small bones in your toes and feet.
And then, of course, there’s the danger of losing your shoe while you’re out and about!
IDEAL FIT: E
High arches can place excessive weight on the ball and heel of their foot, she advises wearing shoes with Velcro opening
Do you struggle to get your shoes on and off? If you do, the chances are you have high arches (what we call pes cavus), meaning the middle part of your foot (the bridge) is very high and doesn’t move.
You can often tell you have a high arch just by looking — it was traditionally considered very beautiful to have a dainty high arch rather than a flat clumpy sole.
However, it can mean that an excessive amount of weight is placed on the ball and heel of your foot when walking or standing.
If you’re not sure if this is you, then your footprints will give it away.
If you have high arches, when walking in sand you’ll only see a print of your toes and heel.
IDEAL FIT: C
The dangers of wearing flat shoes with flat feet is that the feet may start to turn outwards, she recommends wearing a kitten heel
Do you tend to waddle a bit as you walk? Then you probably have flat feet (pes planus), or fallen arches.
The suppleness and flexibility of flat feet means you can slip them into any type of shoe with ease, but, contrary to many other types of feet, flat shoes are not for you.
Too flat a shoe matched with too flat a foot on too flat a surface can equal pains and strains in the joints and tendons.
Wearing flat shoes force this foot type to turn outwards and walk at a 10-to-2 position — which will leave you waddling.
Flat feet can lead to health problems, too — although most people are fine, others may suffer pain in the feet, legs or even all the way up to the lower back as muscles tighten up.
You may find your feet roll inwards as you walk, causing uneven wear on your shoes.
IDEAL FIT: B
… AND HERE’S THE STYLE THAT’S THE BEST MATCH FOR YOU
Lace up brogues can be comfortable for those with a big toe that won’t bend
If you can roll the shoe up like a ball, put it back on the shelf — thin-soled shoes are a disaster for this type of foot type, as they will force the big toe to bend, which it does not want to do.
Instead, opt for wedges — these are great because they don’t ask your big toe joint to bend. Lace-ups (above, robinsonsshoes.com) are also good because of their nice stiff sole with a minimum heel height of a quarter of an inch — the optimum to support the foot.
Kitten heels are perfect for people with flat feet to avoid pain and strain
Any shoe with a quarter of an inch heel is best, because it catches the foot as you step, which prevents it from tilting too much. A small heel, such as a kitten heel (above, Boden adelaide kitten heel), is good .
There isn’t a heel that’s too high for flat feet — just use common sense and what feels most comfortable for you.
People with high arches can find comfort from shoes which open easily
Don’t be fooled into opting for slip-on shoes, thinking they’ll be easier to get on. The downside is that you’ll be clawing your foot to keep the shoe on. Instead, go for shoes that open up — so you can get your foot into the shoe — then fasten back up.
Laces are good and the invention of Velcro is also great. Not the most glamorous, you might think, but funky trainers (above, Ash Pharell) are having a style moment.
A pointy shoe is recommended for those with a longer second toe than big toe
Buy shoes to fit this second toe rather than the big toe, as would normally be the case.
Pointy shoes normally pinch but not in your case — they suit your foot shape very well, giving plenty of space to that protruding second toe.
Heel height isn’t an issue — pick whatever feels most comfortable. (above, Aldos)
Super-skinny feet can safely wear buckled shoes without fear that they will fall off
Look for narrow fittings with straps, laces or buckles to keep the shoe safely on the foot (above, Gucci Mary-Janes,).
Wear the heel height that’s most comfortable for you and make sure the shoe is the correct length for your foot. Lots of shoe shops and websites now have ranges that cater for narrow feet — including Clarks and narrowfitshoes.com
Court shoes are recommended for those with hobbit feet to give the illusion of smaller feet
The Duchess of Cambridge’s favoured style of nude shoes (above, Asos, Paris Point High Heels) are your best friend. This is because they make the leg visually merge with the shoe, creating the illusion of smaller feet. Look to such brands as Tory Burch, whose shoes have recognised emblems on the end that act as a visual ‘full stop’.
Model feel can comfortably wear low, sturdy block heels but shoes should be rotated to ease pressure points
There isn’t a ‘best’ type of shoe for the rectus foot, because shoes should be rotated to ease pressure points, but I often recommend a low, sturdy block heel like on a fifties-style pump (above,L K Bennet, Emma Sued Block Heel) as the heel is in the perfect position to support the heel of the foot.
Remember my ‘trouser rule’: wear a flat shoe under trousers and keep the heels for skirts and dresses. It gives the foot a break and will help to make sure you keep your perfect feet all your life.
Feet with bunions can find comfort in open-toed or round-toed styles
Avoid pointy shoes and those with seams that might press against a joint.
But that doesn’t confine you to boring, sensible shoes.
I suggest Strictly Come Dancing shoes: open-toed or round-toed salsa types (above , square Nudist Mid Heel by Stuart Weitzman) They have plenty of room for the toes to wriggle, a lovely heel to encourage the bigger bones in the back of foot to take the weight and are very glamorous.