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How to buy high heel shoes that fit better. Is your foot type Greek, Egyptian or Square?

How to buy high heels shoes in the correct size for you

Ballet shoes must fit as perfectly as possible so that dancing in them will be comfortable. A ballet dancers' foot is under a lot of pressure downwards and the toes get most of the stress while dancing therefore it is crucial to get the right fit in the shoe.   Ballet dancers use a chart of foot types (see chart) to compare their own particular foot to various foot shapes and use this information to ensure that they buy ballet shoes that are optimally matched to their foot type for the best fitting ballet shoes.

The chart shows five distinct foot shapes. There are  two variations of the Greek type, and two variations of the Egyptian type and a Square type of foot. Ballet shoes are made to fit a variety of foot types and a choice is made from the available styles of shoe for the best fit.

Even after the ballet shoes are chosen to be as close as possible to be the correct shoe the dancer will work the shoes over for a better fit by stiffening or softening the shoe, ripping, crushing, sewing and burning. The foot may be prepared for a performance by taping, and the toes may be prepared by putting cushioning in between the toes to keep all the toes together in a single stronger unit, which is then covered with a cap before the foot is put inside the ballet shoe.   


When buying high heels it is also important to buy shoes according to the type of foot you have. You can't skip this step even if you are buying high heeled sandals or you may end up looking like the lady at the bottom of the picture.  Although the actress was probably comfortable because her sandals do allow sufficient room to have her toes stick out the sides and have her toes overhang the front, this is probably not the look that she intended to have in her lovely silver high heeled sandals on the red carpet !  

The three lovely ladies at the top of the collage fare somewhat better in their high heels. At the top right of the photo Beyoncè has narrow toed shoes in bright pink that fit well and appear to be long enough for her feet to be comfortable, while Sara Jessica Parker top left has similarly narrow floral t strap shoes but her shoes appear to be too tight on her feet causing her shoe on her left foot to bulge out. Her foot is being forced forward into the front of the narrowing toe box where there is too little room.  A little bit longer shoes plus inserts to keep her feet in place and stop them from being pushed into the narrow toe box would be helpful for her, or she could switch to shoes with a more rounded toe box that would better accommodate her forefoot.  Rihanna, in the centre, also has narrow toed shoes that are very tight at the front due to her foot being pushed forward as can be seen from the gap at the heel end of the shoes. Her shoes seem to be the correct size and shape for her foot but gravity is forcing her foot to be too tightly pushed in the narrow toe box, while gaps form at the shoes' heel end.  Inserts to hold her heel in place inside the shoe would make her lovely high heel shoes more comfortable and stable. All three ladies are wearing Manolo Blahnik high heeled shoes.  

The most difficult high heel toe shape to buy is the narrow tapered closed toe shoe. If you look closely at the foot types in the chart at the bottom of the photo, the Greek Type with tapered toe is the only foot type that is a 'natural fit' for a narrow toe box high heel shoe.

If you have any other foot type you should buy a shoe that is a half size larger if the shoe has a very narrow toe box. A foot type called Greek Type wide toe would be more comfortable in a shoe with a rounded toe as would the person with a Square type foot.   

The Egyptian types of feet, either with tapered toes or wide toes - where the foot has a significantly longer big toe than the rest of the toes - needs a shoe that has sufficient length for the longest toe.  There should be at least 1/2" space in front of the big toe. 

If you buy a shoe that comfortably fits your foot length of your longest toe you will have extra wiggle room in all the other parts of the toe box. To ensure that your foot will stay in it's proper position and not slide forward into the extra wiggle room you will need inserts to keep the foot stable and in it's correct place. This will help to maintain sufficient wiggle room for your toes and keep your foot from sliding forward into the front of the shoe.

A common mistake that people make who have one extra long toe - either the big toe or one in the middle of the foot that is out of line  - is to buy as shoe to fit the majority of toes and disregard the longest toe. This is a big mistake that will lead to toe pain. This will lead to toe pain because the long second or third toe will bend and develop toe pain from a callus or blister on top from rubbing inside the shoe. If the longest toe is the big toe and you ignore it and buy shoes that are too short, the big toe will become very sore from bumping straight into the toe box because it does not readily bend at the knuckle or from bending sideways and developing into a painful bunion.  

High heel shoes and inserts or insoles should be fitted for type of foot, width of foot and length of foot. Feet configurations differ greatly. Toes can also have very different lengths in the same shoe sized foot.  The distance from the heel to the ball of the foot can be of varying lengths also. These variations will make the same size shoe or 3/4 gel insole fit very differently from one person to the next. For example the heel area of a gel insole is at a fixed distance from the ball of foot cushion part. This may not be the same distance that you have in your foot. Problems can also occur if the gel insole has a hump in the middle of it that is either too high or too low for you, as you will either feel an uncomfortable lump under your arch or your foot will not feel supported at all.

Shoe inserts, and especially high heel shoe inserts are optimally effective for making your shoes feel comfortable if they can be customized to the length of your foot, the configuration of your foot, and the angle of your transverse arch. Shoe inserts for flat shoes that are not sports shoes can be put in loose, but all high heel shoe insoles or inserts should be attached permanently so they can hold back hundreds of pounds of pressure to stabilize your foot inside your high heels.    


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