You’ve heard the saying ‘beauty is pain’, right?
Well, this couldn’t be truer when it comes to footwear. In fact, a survey of more than 3,000 women across the United States, United Kingdom and Germany revealed last year that 90 percent of women say they own at least one pair of shoes that is 'agony' to wear.
As if this isn’t shocking enough, the poll also found that half the women surveyed knowingly buy shoes a little too tight, simply because they want them!
While the results are shocking, they aren't necessarily surprising. Finding gorgeous footwear that fits perfectly can be a difficult task - particularly when it comes to boots. It's not enough to simply buy them in your size; everybody knows their shoe size - but when we're talking about boots, a whole host of other factors start to come into play.
What height is best for your leg length? And what about the width of your calves?
In this article, we'll be taking a look at some of the things you should keep in mind when shopping online for a pair of boots, as well as some helpful tips and tricks to make your new footwear fit more comfortably. It turns out fashion doesn't have to hurt after all!
image source: The Hunt
Measurements for Boots
First of all, when shopping for a pair of boots you need to get the basics right, which means that, aside from using a sizing guide it's a good idea to take your measurements. Generally, the main measurements you need when shopping for boots is calf width and boot height.
How to Measure Your Calf Width for Boots
1) Sit on a chair in place your feet flat on the floor in front of you.
2) Take a flexible tape measure and then measure around the widest part of your calf, keeping the tape measure in contact with your calf all the way around.
3) Jot down your measurements, and round it up or down to the nearest 1 cm.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a new pair of boots is the boot height. This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re in the market for a pair of knee boots, then you need to know that not all boots are created equally. Some knee boots are higher than others, so you need to make sure that the height of your boots is the most suitable height for you.
How to Measure Your Boot Height
1) Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor
2) Hold the end of the flexible tape measure so it’s touching the floor just behind your heel.
3) Measure up in a straight line at the back of your leg to the point where you would like the top of your boot to sit. Note that it’s not a great idea the boot to sit right in the crease of your knee (as this can cause discomfort when walking or bending your knees).
These are usually the two measurements that you are most likely to need when shopping for a pair of knee boots. Of course, you don’t always need these– but if you want something that fits specifically to your measurements then it’s always a good idea to know what your numbers are.
Which Height is Right?
This is all well and good, of course, if you’re after a pair of knee boots specifically. But this is by no means the limit of your options when it comes to rocking a pair of boots with the aim of comfort in mind. Generally, boot heights come in four different categories
• Ankle Boots: as the name states, these are boots that come right up to or just above your ankle. Wear them with skirts so that you can show off the entire boot, or skinny jeans tucked in at the bottom.
• Mid-calf Boots: again, the clue is in the name here. These boots come up to the midpoint of the calf, and for this reason, they're better worn with skirts, rather than trousers. Try this style with flowing gypsy skirts for a chic boho vibe.
• Knee-high Boots: this style of boots comes right up to the knee, with the back of the boots generally falling just before the crease of the knee. This is a classic, versatile style of boot that can pair with multiple outfits.
• Over-the-knee Boots: this variety comes right up and over the knee, and can vary in height from just above the knee to right up the thigh, depending on the style. They're great worn with skater dresses and mini dresses, giving a flash of leg as the hem of the skirt meets the top of the boot.
The height of the boots you go for can actually impact on your level of comfort - particularly if you opt for a height that does not suit your body shape. For instance, if you have thick calves or are particularly muscular, then mid-calf boots might not be the best option as they can end up being too tight around the opening. The same can be said of over-the-knee boots if you have thick thighs.
This is why it makes sense to take your measurements as suggested above, and then use these as a guide when you check the dimensions of any boots that happen to catch your eye.
How About Heel Height?
When it comes to choosing a pair of boots with comfort in mind, you also need to consider the heel height. This is a no-brainer, as generally the lower the heel, the more comfortable the boots will be.
But another important thing to consider is the 'pitch' of the shoe. This basically refers to the incline of the heel, and determines the space between the heel and the sole of the shoe. Glamour magazine actually have a great tip when it comes to considering the pitch of a shoe when shopping online. They suggest that you:
“…find two different pairs of shoes on the same site with the equal heel height, and measure the distance on your computer screen from the end of the exterior sole to the heel with an actual tape measure. The style with more space between the two points is going to be the comfier bet.”
This is a great tip to keep in mind when shopping for a pair of boots with high heels. But the height of the heel very much depends on the look you are going for.
For example, if you're keeping things casual, then a pair of flat ankle boots is a great option to add a smart edge to everyday outfits. If you're going for more of an edgy, punk rock vibe, then a pair of platforms might be the way to go. The key thing to consider is how much you are willing to compromise when it comes to comfort vs style.
How to Make Your Boots More Comfortable
Okay, so let’s say you have taken your measurements, shopped around for the perfect pair of boots and decided to go ahead and make a purchase. Great!
But what if they’re still uncomfortable? There are so many different things to consider when purchasing the pair of boots, and everybody’s shape and size is different – so the chances are you might still end up with a pair that doesn't feel right.
But don’t fret! There are a few simple hacks you can use to make your footwear fit more comfortably.
image source: Pinterest
Stretch Your Boots If They Are Too Tight
image source About Boot
If you find that your new boots are too tight, then there are a few things you can do to try and stretch them out. Please note that leather boots often respond the best to stretching, and boots made of other materials might not fare as well, so be careful.
Generally though, you can employ a couple of little hacks to try and stretch out most boots. Something as simple as wearing a pair of thick socks underneath your boots can help to stretch them out as you break them in. If your boots need stretching in the calf, wear a pair of knee-high socks and then roll them over before you put on the boots, as this gives you extra thickness in the area where you want the boots to stretch.
Store Your Boots Properly
image source: ThriftDee
Storing your boots properly is also important if you want them to maintain their shape - but you can also use this as an opportunity to stretch them while you aren't wearing them.
Stuff the shafts with balled up socks or rolled up towels; anything that will stretch them out and help them maintain their shape whilst stored in your closet. You can also use this method to stretch around the toes or 'box' of the boots, by packing them tightly with newspaper.
Tape Your Toes if Your Heels Are Too High
image source: Erica's Walk
If you’re getting pain in your feet from your high-heeled boots, then you could try this hack from model Marie Helvin. In an article published by the Daily Mail, Helvin recommends taping together the third and fourth toes of each foot (working down from your big toe) in order to relieve pain. Helvin says that this will “keep the foot muscles aligned, which allows the ball of your foot to be much steadier.”
As a 62-year-old former model, we’d like to think that Helvin knows her stuff when it comes to dealing with the pain of high-heeled shoes. But the only way to test out whether her method will work for you is to simply give it a try!
Substitute Socks for Tights
image source: Lookbook
While a lot of evidence points to wearing thick socks with boots for ultimate comfort, you can actually wear boots with tights if they are a little too snug and you're having trouble stretching them out. Tights and pantyhose are generally thinner than socks, which gives you more wiggle room, but they also help with movement due to the fact that they provide less friction.
Consider some knee-high hosiery if you're wearing knee-boots with jeans or trousers, or opt for some nylon ankle socks if you're wearing ankle boots. Just be aware that it might be an idea to use plasters or bandaids on any areas that can be prone to rub if you're using this method.
Do you have any helpful tips for making boots more comfortable? Please let us know in the comments section!