You can buy the world’s chicest shoe, the priciest shoe or the sexiest shoe in the universe, but it won’t do you any good whatsoever if it doesn’t fit. So the first thing you should know before buying shoes online is your size.
Now, if like me, you can’t pass a shoe department without at least trying on a pair, you probably know your size pretty well. But if you’re the sort of person who hates to shop, for shoes or anything else, you’ve got to get your feet measured. Because the sad fact is that your feet continue to grow long after the rest of you stops–by as much as half a size a year. And your foot size is also affected by weight gain or loss and pregnancy, which can change the shape of your foot completely. So get yourself to a shoe store and have the salesperson measure you.
(If you’re an extreme agoraphobe, you can measure your own feet using this method and this conversion chart, but it’s really much simpler to do it at a shoe store.)
And do it in the afternoon, when your feet are fattest. (By gosh, feet are tricky.) And while you’re there, if you see a pair or two that strike your fancy, try them on. Note the brand names of the shoes that fit you best because chances are those brands will fit you well in other models. Also note the styles that fit you well. I have a wide foot and some shoes just cut across my foot in the wrong place. I’ve also had trouble with certain rounded toe styles, but pointy toes generally work great on my foot. My sister with the 10 1/2 size foot, however, hates the way most pointy shoes make her feet look. And my mother claims she can’t wear certain pumps because the back of her feet are too narrow. Yet the three of us each have more than the 30 pairs of shoes owned by the average American woman, so we somehow manage to muddle through.
Also keep the chart below handy: It shows what size your feet are across the world.
|US / Canada||China||Australia||Europe||Mexico||Japan||UK|
So, now that you know what size you wear, what brands fit you best and what styles are good for you, it’s time to get shopping.
First things first, check out a site’s return policy. Because life isn’t perfect and some shoes just don’t fit. So you need to know whether you can return the shoes and how long you have to return them. Are you a chronic proscrastinator? If so, a two-week return policy likely isn’t enough time for you to get your act together and bring the shoes to the post office. But Zappos.com’s generous 365-day return policy should give you plenty of time.
Next, find out if you have to pay to return shoes. Frankly, I’d be hesitant to buy anything from a place that made me pay for return shipping, but you may feel otherwise. In fact, I hate paying for shipping altogether and more and more sites offer free shipping as a matter of course (Zappo’s and heels.com, for example). Keep yourself informed about free shipping promotions at other sites by signing up for a site’s newsletters or email alerts.
Those caveats aside, buying online has a few advantages over buying in person:
- The largest selection of styles in the universe: No matter how big a brick and mortar store is, it’s only going to have a limited number of red patent leather sandals, or whatever style you’re currently hankering. Online, there are no such limits. Punch in your search terms at a site like shopzilla or froogle and you’ll find the shoes of your dreams in no time.
- Hard-to-find sizes are no longer hard to find: DesignerShoes, for example offers women’s sizes up to size 15 in widths to WW and sizes up to 13 in AAA.
- You can shop in your underwear: Or late at night, or early in the morning. The point is: When you shop online you shop at your convenience, not a store owner’s.
Here are a few sites to get started on:
- Zappos.com carries everything from sneakers to high-end designers in women’s sizes 3 1/2 to 18 with widths ranging from AAAA to 7E. You can search by brand, color, width, size, heel height or price.
- DesignerShoes specializes in hard-to-find sizes and widths. They also have a number of unique categories to browse: Couture, Bridal/Dyeable, Vegan, Prom Styles, Evening Dressy, Fashion Fun and Teen.
- Heels.com offers free overnight shipping and returns in a variety of styles. You can check out all the styles, search by brand or style or browse their unique categories–everyday girl, working girl, party girl or fancy girl.
- Shoes.com offers a 115 percent price guarantee on the styles it carries. That is, if you order a shoe from their site and find it cheaper somewhere else on the web, they’ll refund you 115 percent of the difference. There are some caveats attached to the guarantee, but it’s still worth checking out.