Certain characteristics distinguish quality footwear from lesser pairs.
· Heels that are stacked leather with a rubber top lift (the second layer from the bottom) will provide greater comfort and will not squeak.
· Goodyear welted construction (when the upper is sewn to a welt and the welt is sewn to the sole, creating two levels of stitching) is superior for retaining the shape of the shoe. Another quality option is Blake construction, where the sole is stitched directly to the upper. Least desirable are shoes with glued-on soles.
· Look for stitching that is both consistent and parallel.
· Insist on full leather linings and midsoles (the piece between your foot and the sole), particularly those made of goatskin or pigskin with deep, open pores to absorb moisture.
· The fit should be immediately comfortable—the heel should fit snugly but not tight, and toes should allow for wiggle room. Contrary to popular belief, fine footwear does not require breaking in.