A great shoe is about more than gorgeous looks - it's about the sole, too
Tips for Finding a Comfortable Pump
Hold the shoe at the heel and the toe area. 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 one 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.
There are several factors to weigh when deciding to use polishes and waxes on furniture and other wooden objects. One critical factor is that the ingredients in commercial polishes and cleaning products are rarely disclosed. Moreover, these ingredients can be, and frequently are, changed without warning or notification. These ingredients may be harmless or harmful to the furniture (and to you) and you have no way of knowing in advance.
Polishing products are available in three forms: aerosol (spray); liquid; and semisolid. Here is a quick look at their benefits and drawbacks:
AEROSOLS (Spray Polishes): Aerosols are convenient. However, they have been among the worst offenders in introducing silicone oils and other contaminants onto furniture. In addition, they may contain solvents that attack varnishes and lacquers. While some of the "dusting" aerosols appear to be benign when applied to a cloth and not the piece of furniture, the result is similar to using a damp, clean dust cloth.
LIQUIDS: Like aerosols, liquid polishes are easy to use. There are two primary forms of commercial liquid products for "furniture care": emulsion cleaner or polishes and "oil type" polishes. Emulsion polishes are waxes, oils, detergents, organic solvents, and other materials suspended in water for ease of application. These products can be extremely powerful cleaners that leave a desirable sheen on the surface. However, the visual effect usually diminishes as the liquid dries. Moreover, like aerosols, emulsion polishes can introduce contaminants onto the furniture, but because they are liquids they place much more volume than sprays on the furniture surface.
Oil polishes are even more troublesome. Much like emulsion polishes, oil polishes can be a complex blend of ingredients including oils, waxes, perfumes, colorants, "cleaners," and organic solvents. They can render extremely pleasing surfaces and are used frequently as final finishes by themselves. However, oils used as polishes or cleaners can be very damaging.
- Nondrying oils (paraffin, mineral, and "lemon oil," which is usually mineral oil with colorants and perfumes added) tend to be more benign than drying oils, but even so some oil remains as a liquid on (or in) the object. Dust and other airborne contaminants readily stick to wet surfaces, especially oils. But nondrying oils don't undergo chemical reactions or directly damage the furniture.
- Drying oils, on the other hand, such as linseed, tung, or walnut oil, are a different matter altogether. These materials solidify, or "dry" through a chemical reaction with the air called oxidation. Over time this reaction makes them increasingly difficult to remove. Their permanence is fine if the oil is employed as the finish, but not good if it is used as a maintenance polish. By itself, having a polish that is difficult to remove would be an irritating but not an insurmountable problem. Unfortunately, as drying oils age they tend to yellow and in the presence of acids they are chromogenic (become Colored), turning a dark, muddy brown or opaque black.
- Traditionally, cleaning and polishing concoctions comprised of linseed oil, turpentine, beeswax, and vinegar (acetic acid) were widely used even in the museum field until recently. They turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen. The results of their use are readily apparent to even the casual observer: a thick incrustation of chocolate-colored goo that is neither hard enough to be durable nor soft enough to wipe off easily. The furniture is left with an unsightly coating that is very difficult to remove without damaging the underlying surface.
SEMISOLIDS: By virtually any measure semisolid polishes are the least damaging to wooden objects. Frequently called "paste waxes," these products are actually a very concentrated solution of waxes. Provided the ingredients do not include undesirable contaminants like silicone or high concentrations of damaging organic solvents such as alcohol, xylene, or toluene, paste waxes are an excellent polish for the surfaces of most wooden objets. Because waxes are exceedingly stable and don't cause many of the problems inherent in the previously mentioned polishes, they are the material of choice for furniture conservators and other caretakers of furniture and wooden objects. But paste waxes have their faults too: unfortunately, they require the most active contact with the surface of the furniture, and also need the most physical labor for proper application. Buffing out a wax polish can be very hard work, and in general, the better quality the wax, the harder the buffing that is needed. However, the results and benefits to the furniture are worth the extra effort. Fortunately, as the most durable and stable polishing material, paste wax needs to be applied much less often than aerosols or liquids. Ideally, wax polishing should be conducted no more than twice a year for areas of extremely heavy wear (desktops, chair arms, etc.) and once every three or four years for table and chair legs, cabinets, and similar areas. If a surface can no longer be buffed to the sheen appropriate for a waxed surface, it is likely that the wax has worn off. In that case, apply another light coat of wax to the affected area in accordance with the product instructions. Wax that is applied too frequently or improperly can build-up and cause an unsightly surface. When the wax is used correctly, however, the solvent content of the new wax will "clean off" any previous wax remaining on the surface and will simply integrate the old into the new.
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