Campus Life

Happy Feet

Figuring Out Fashion

There is one piece of attire that is so indispensable to our lives that we felt it was necessary to dedicate an entire week’s column to it: our shoes. Certainly, we aren’t encouraging everyone to buy the 400 pairs of shoes that would rival Carrie Bradshaw’s collection. However, after extensive investigation (meaning delirious hours spent in all sorts of shoe stores), we are sure that shoes contribute the most to style, posture, and unique self expression.

First of all, there is the all-important issue of posture. Though MIT doesn’t encourage scores of women to wear high heels every day, there are plenty of issues with foot and body health that plague both guys and girls. Heels are not only uncomfortable, but they put unwanted strain on the lower back. Most people think “flats” are acceptable for long-term wear, but they normally lack arch support. Flats are often the cause of poor posture, back, and foot pain that is only exacerbated by textbook-laden backpacks. For instance, the Converse sneaker (despite its popular aesthetic) can lead to damaged arches if worn for extended periods of time. How do you tell if a shoe will be comfortable enough to handle long walks around Boston? Check for proper support, which means every part of your foot is touching the sole, but without excessive pressure.

Still, never fear, as there are quick fixes on the horizon! Drug stores sell pads and arch supports that can be glued into your shoe, and they are often made of thin foam that you can customize to the shape of your shoe. If you have flat feet or high arches, try going to a podiatrist for custom inserts. Remember to customize all your shoes, though, because once your feet are used to support every day, your special occasion heels will feel even more uncomfortable. High heels come with their own set of problems including lack of ankle support, toe scrunching, and blisters. A comfortable fit and a good sense of your own discomforts can help diagnose these issues, and the solution is often to replace the shoes with a better model. However, if you just can’t bear to throw away those stilettos, try the age-old trick of wearing band-aids over areas like the back of the heel and pinky toe to avoid blisters and to help callous your feet. After a few times of wearing thin band-aids (while of course avoiding bleeding) your skin will be so resilient that you won’t need the bandages anymore.

We won’t go too far into the aesthetics of shoes, since we don’t want to deprive you all the joy of trying on different varieties and finding your favorite styles. We did discover a few helpful suggestions. Unless you have very small feet, avoid excessively pointed or square toes, and try a style with a more natural toe. Also, think very carefully about the context in which you’ll be wearing the shoes. That means ladies, no peep toes in the winter, and for the men, hiking boots don’t count as a casual shoe. Finally, ladies should remember that legs look longer when there is an uninterrupted, long line before the eye hits the shoe. That means that ankle straps and gladiator styles, though trendy, don’t flatter legs that need some added length.

If you want to be a little daring or spend a few extra bucks, there are a few alternative styles that might be fun to try. A British car insurance company found that high heels aren’t the safest driving shoes. They created a pair of shoes, called Sheila’s Heels, that change from stilettos to flats in an instant by tucking the heel discretely into the shoe. Also, a great way to shed extra pounds by walking is with the new FitFlop, which is a leg workout in a cute, summery package. With all these great new choices, there’s a lot to explore in the shoe world. So enjoy, and we’ll be watching those healthy, trendy, and technologically savvy feet of yours walking around the Institute this semester!