Updated: July 25, 2013

1. Hit the stores after lunch

This will ensure the best fit, since your feet tend to swell throughout the day.

2. Be sure shoes are comfy from the start

Despite what the salesperson says, you really can't "break in" a pair of too-tight shoes.

3. Test them out

Take a stroll around the store, preferably on both carpeted and tile surfaces.

4. Don't be a slave to size

Focus on the fit rather than the number. Know your arches. If you have a high arch, your shoes should have a cushioned midsole to absorb shock. Flatter feet require a firmer, more supportive midsole.

5. Flex and bend

Opt for a flexible leather or rubber sole over a rigid one, which won't allow your feet to move naturally as you walk.

6. Go online

If you're hard to fit, try a specialty Web site, like designershoes.com, which carries sizes up to a 16, or petiteshoes.com for sizes 4 to 5 1/2. Wide or narrow feet? Piperlime.com and endless.com have plenty of options.

7. Dress the part

Always try on shoes with the pants or jeans you plan to wear them with.

8. Pick the right heel

If you'll be on your feet for more than a few hours, choose a heel with more surface area, like a platform or wedge.

9. Learn your European size

Simply add 31 to your American shoe size if you're a 9 or below and 32 if you're a 10 or above.

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