Before you consider following Megan Markle’s lead to avoid foot pain by wearing shoes a bit too big, think again. Buying shoes that don’t fit properly can cause foot issues down the road, whether they’re too small or too big.
Katie Owen, founder of U.K. brand Sargasso & Grey, which offers trend-right shoes with a wider fitting toe box to avoid toe squeeze, has some warnings for Markle and others.
“If you’re on your feet for much of the day you will soon find that your feet have swollen so that your initially perfect fitting shoes have now become too tight,” said Owen. “If your shoes become too tight, then it is likely you will soon be suffering from sore feet and painful blisters.” However, explained Owen, wearing a shoe with excess room can also cause problems since feet can slip out, forcing the wearer to grip the insoles with their toes. Prolonged tension in the toes, she continued, can be painful and lead to a deformity such as hammer toes. Another result of ill-fitting shoes, she warned, is jamming toes into the toe box to keep shoes on the foot, also contributing to the deformity.
According to Owen, the brand is worn by another member of the royal family, although she prefers to keep the association discreet.
Dr. Ramona Brooks, a podiatric surgeon on the communications committee for the American Podiatric Medical Association, has added to the list of issues that can occur from ill-fitting footwear. “If you have a shoe that is flipping around it could be a fall hazard,” she said, a common injury that can result from simply walking or climbing stairs.
Added to this, she noted, as the foot moves about in a shoe that’s too big, it creates friction that often results in blisters and eventually calluses. And, as toes continually jam up against the front of the shoe, nails can be injured.
Now, don’t think you have to give up wearing a pair of 4-inch heels. While designer brands such as Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin may shy away from silhouettes with wider toes, there are a range of brands that can offer alternatives to tapered toes. It’s important to note, however, that just because you might need a style with a wider toe box doesn’t mean you need a wide-width shoe that offers a more generous fit heel to heel.
To get started, consider Israeli brand Beautifeel, which offers shoes with a more anatomical toe shape. There’s also L’Amour des Pieds, a comfort line with a generous fit, as well as Gentle Souls. For the more adventurous, Camper and John Fluevog offer some avant-garde takes on pumps.
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