Shoe shopping

Steve Vandivort, right, assists Casey Sizemore with finding the best shoe for comfort and fit.

Shopping for a nice pair of dress shoes does not have to be as dreary of an experience as Al Bundy, of “Married With Children,” would have you believe it to be.

However, in order for the experience to be a good one there are a few ideas to consider prior to stepping into, pardon the pun, the shoe store.

My thoughts are: First it is essential to consider your budget, as there are many options that do not require you to break the bank. Nice shoes not only come in many different styles but price ranges as well, and this thought process can keep your feet and your wallet happy. When making this choice consider the durability of the shoes and whether or not they are repairable. Leather soled shoes are typically repairable in most cases, and though they are more expensive in the short-term they can actually save you a lot of money over the years, rendering a more sound investment.

“Leather soles can be replaced and you can do that as many times you want or need,” said Steve Vandivort, the owner and manager of Brown’s Shoe Fit in Lufkin. “With a double-leather soled shoe, you pretty much never have to stop replacing them. Which means the only way the shoe would ever wear out is if you physically broke the shoe itself. If the stitching came undone, they can re-stitch it and if the sole came off they can re-stitch that as well. If the bottom of the sole wears down, which it eventually will, they can take off the stitching, peel off the sole, flip on a new piece of leather, stitch it back up and you are ready to go again. It is actually quite normal for people to have this type of shoe for 25 or so years.”

Vandivort recommends Angelina Shoe and Boot Repair for all your cobbler needs.  

If durability is not a concern, a rubber soled shoe can most certainly meet your needs and is a bit cheaper as well, according to Vandivort. However, when the sole wears down, you are again in the market for a new pair of shoes.

Second, you should consider what type of shoe are you looking for. This is something that should be decided before you go shopping, as it tends narrow your scope by not allowing you to get side-tracked by something, that may seem fabulous, but in reality defeats the principal need of the shoes you were originally searching for. When I am shopping, I ask myself, “Is this what I need, or am I truly going to succumb to impulse shopping?”  Perhaps boots will suffice or maybe you need a pair of black or brown leathers, maybe something with some pizazz such as nice shine or just flat in tone. Whatever it is, know what you are looking for and stick to your guns.

And finally, always bear in mind comfort is vital and mustn’t be overlooked. Unless, that is you happen to enjoy chronic foot pain.

Vandivort advises that every time you go shopping for shoes you should measure your feet, and that is precisely the service he will offer when you first enter his store. He does this by using that little foot measurement gadget, which believe it or not actually has a name, the brannock device.

“It measures the arch length, the toe length and a rough estimation of the width of your foot, because it cannot take into account how high your instep is,” Vandivort said.

In case you are like me and not aware of what an instep is, Merriam Webster defines it as “the arched middle portion of the human foot in front of the ankle joint.”

Vandivort will then have you stand on an Aetrex iStep machine, which at first glance appears as though it may be the byproduct of some sci-fi movie about feet.

“This will give us a better idea of how long the arch of each foot is,” Vandivort said. “It will show us where you are putting, more or less, pressure. It will show us how high and long the arch is and recommend what type of support is better for your feet. This gives me a better idea of what types of shoes will work better for you and which wont work as well, based on where you’re putting more pressure. It will even recommend what type of orthopedic insert your foot requires for extra comfort and support.”

The reason you should measure your foot each time you go shopping, is the adult foot can appear to grow longer. That is not to say your feet are actually growing, but more so the arch of the foot is essentially collapsing from constant pressure, and in doing so the foot stretches in length, according to Vandivort.

With all this in mind, don’t think Al Bundy when shopping; instead, think Steve Vandivort and happy feet.