Perfect Fit Shoes (5525 Magazine St., 504-456-5993; www.perfectfitshoes.net) owner Virginia "Gini" Davis avoids the word "orthopedic" when describing her inventory of comfort-brand shoes. "When you say orthopedic, what comes to people's mind is ugly," she says. But the selection at Perfect Fit is downright fashion-forward — think less bulky taupe lace-ups and more cute Mary Jane clogs — which surprises some shoppers.
"You can wear them with slacks and it doesn't look like 'Oh, God, what's wrong with her?'" Davis says. From people with physical conditions and service industry types to tourists seeking walking shoes, everyone benefits from shoes built with comfort in mind.
A physical therapist and foot and ankle specialist, Davis opened Perfect Fit Shoes in 2006 to address her patients' needs. "Their feet felt really great out of physical therapy, but they had a hard time finding shoes," she says. Shoes start around $69 and go to $530. The majority of the brands are not available anywhere else in Louisiana, and Davis tries on the shoes herself so she can recommend them to customers based on their individual needs.
When bringing new stock into the store, Davis looks for two elements. The shoes need to be comfortable, and they must be stylish. "I don't think women should have to sacrifice one or the other," Davis says. Several lines come in a variety of widths, and the shop also carries a small selection of men's styles up to a size 17. Some shoes feature removable foot beds, which can be replaced, and others accommodate orthotic inserts. Once customers find the perfect shoe, they won't have to toss it after a season of wear.
"I want a shoe that can transition for the next three years," Davis says. "Our shoes wear well; they don't fall apart. We have really good brands that hold up."
When shopping for new shoes, it's important to keep a few key factors in mind. "Buy shoes that feel good in the store," Davis says. Don't buy shoes that aren't immediately comfortable. Often, a customer will try on a snug pair of shoes and think they're going to stretch. Allow toes to spread apart, giving yourself enough room on the sides and lengthwise. A good shoe will have a little bit of give. This step is especially important for people who are on their feet all day and those who do a lot of walking. Davis also suggests shopping later in the day, since feet tend to swell. "Those things really make a difference," she says.