Hold the shoe at the heel and toe areas. The sole should be flexible and bend at the front of the arch but have a stiff bottom through the arch.
Choose a pump with a high heel that is directly underneath the center of your heel. If it is too far forward or at the back of the shoe, you'll have balance problems.
Look for false fronts. "A pointy-toe shoe with an area that is much longer than your toes has a false front. It keeps your toes from being squished," says Suzanne Levine, a podiatric surgeon in New York City.
Make sure the toe area is wide enough through the ball of your foot.
Note that a wedge shoe distributes your weight more evenly and offers support all the way through the foot. Be aware, however, that the limited sole flexibility of a wedge increases the risk of rolling your ankle over the side.
Test a shoe for cushioning by pressing a finger into the ball area. It should have a little give or a slightly padded feel.
Avoid synthetics. Wear shoes with leather, suede, or fabric uppers. These materials breathe, which lessens the chance of blistering.
Tips for Finding a Comfortable Flat
Look for sturdy construction. "Try to push in the area around the heel," says Meghan Cleary, author of The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You (Chronicle Books, $13, amazon.com). "If the heel collapses enough to touch the insole, the shoe is not supportive."
Hold each end of a shoe and try to twist it. If the shoe bends too much, it won't be supportive.
Look for flats with a little bit of a heel if you have high arches. Heels provide relief from foot pain.
Buy shoes with leather or rubber soles for optimum shock absorption.
Wear only shoes that have leather or suede insoles. Breathable and pliable, they help prevent chafing and blistering, and they mold to the feet.
Search for round-toe flats. They follow the shape of the foot and allow the toes to move.
Avoid slippage and cuts on your heel by finding a shoe with a back that fits snugly and holds your foot securely.
Tips for Finding a Blister-Proof Sandal
Avoid wobbly shoes. Examine a shoe's quality by looking at how it sits on a table. A well-built shoe will be balanced and look stable when standing on its own.
Find stack heels that have a broad heel tap (base), which allows for better shock absorption. You will also be steadier on your feet.
"Stay away from backless shoes, such as thongs and slides, because they cause pain in the balls of the feet," says Suzanne Levine. Instead, look for a sandal with straps that hit just below the ankle (not encircling it). These will help stabilize the foot and hold it securely.
Wear only sandals that have leather or suede-lined straps to prevent chafing.
Make sure the toe-box area is wide enough for the broadest part of your foot.
Look for platform shoes that give the illusion of a higher heel without the feel of it.
Examine the insides of straps for seams and other construction details that might dig into feet.