The Art of Shoe Fitting: Past to Present

The search for a comfortable pair of shoes isn’t new. The first detailed shoe sizing system was introduced in 1688 in England and then in 1880 in America.

By the 1920s, the much talked about (among our more mature clientele), shoe-fitting fluoroscopes were introduced to shoe stores to help shoe-fluoroscopedetermine fit. The customer would place his or her feet in the opening of the fluoroscope, while remaining in a standing position. They then were able to look through a viewing porthole at the top of the device down at the x-ray view of their feet and shoes. To them the bones of the feet were clearly visible, as was the outline of the shoe.

However, the shoe fitting fluoroscope did have its disadvantages, because the fit of a shoe is also very dependent on the flesh size of the foot. Unfortunately a two dimensional device cannot fit a three dimensional foot. For centuries, shoe fitters have sat on fitting stools and palpated the foot. They understood that their attention to the customer’s foot and gait would guide them to the supportive needs of each individual’s foot. Fifty years ago, there was not a shoe store in town that customers could walk into and pick a shoe off the shelf and walk out. All shoe stores had fit experts to help guide customers every step of the way.

Today fitted shoes are a lost art, as people pay little attention to their evolving feet, and many order online. Everyone knows that children’s feet change in size and shape over time, but few note that an adult’s feet do too. You may be unaware that the cells in your feet completely replace themselves every five years. Change is inevitable, so don’t keep squeezing into the same size you have worn for 20 years, take a realistic look at the tangible facts and seek expert advice for your body’s valuable foundation.

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