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Most days of the week someone will ask me this question and the answer is never the same because ultimately the shoes we use will be dependent on our activity, foot type and personal philosophies.

So why is the decision so tricky?  There are some basic requirements for a shoe to work, be practical and fit. These requirements will often clash with what we want, what we need and what we desire. So how to find the middle ground?

If I could wave my magic wand we would want a shoe to have a good strong heel counter, a fastening system to hold the shoe on (with laces, velcro or a strap), adequate depth to accommodate your foot and all its bumpy bits and a good sole for the activity it’s to be used in.


School Shoes

When it comes to school shoes, a laced up school shoe will always be better than a slip on or ballet flat, a buckle shoe with a strap or velcro closures. The lace provides greater adjustment to personally fit but only if the laces are done up properly. For a child unable to tie laces in this situation a Velcro strap would be a better option than a lace.

For anyone, a slip on or a ballet flat is little more than a container covering the foot with an out sole protecting you from the ground you are walking on. A shoe to sit in rather than walk in really! The toes will have to work hard to keep the shoe on, placing increased stress on the plantar foot structures – not good!

Then we have the dilemma of colour fashion and teenage trends. There is a range of canvas shoes –Volleys and Vans to name 2 that have become quite fashionable as a choice of school shoe. Should my child be wearing them as a school shoe? This style of shoe is a lace up and has a rubberized sole, both good qualities for a shoe. However they are shallow with minimal stability on the heel counter so will distort easily. With little to no heel elevation, these shoes will not be as comfortable as a traditional school shoe.

There is something toxic about teenage perspiration and it’s associated with the hormonal changes they are going through. Consequently all teenage shoes smell and from my experience, the canvas shoe will smell way more than a leather shoe. A canvas shoe will then wear out quicker, smell more and be less stable for your teenager. It’s also “not cool” to use the laces in a traditional way (they generally tuck them in) so the benefit of laces are lost completely.  My advice.. I’d recommend leather lace up’s over canvas shoes as a school shoe any day. In saying that, canvas shoes are great for weekend wear, just not for long periods of time.

How have you gone with the back to school shoe purchasing? Have you won this battle or are you looking to win another war. Remember, give kids the information on why a particular shoe will be better for them in the short and the long term. If you do buckle to their demands, it could just be a learning curve for you both if the cards were put on the table in the first place. It’s just another opportunity for opening the lines of communication, which can’t be a bad thing with teenagers.


7 tips for a great shoe fit

  1. Know what you are using your shoes for – school, sports, dress shoe for sitting etc.
  2. Get sized and fitted – don’t compromise when it comes to fit
  3. Make sure the shoes are comfortable at the time of fitting – don’t rely on greater comfort after ‘wearing in’
  4. There should be a thumbs width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe
  5. If a style or brand has been uncomfortable, change directions and look for stable shoe features
  6. Identify when your feet are working and use a utility or ideal shoe for this purpose
  7. Look for a shoe that has good lacing/fastening, strong heel counter, depth in to toe area, and a non slip sole which flexes in the forefoot


If you’re struggling to get a proper shoe fitting or need some shoe advice, feel free to give us a call on 02 9418 6502.

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