When it comes to footwear, there are two types of women: The type that effortlessly glide down the street in four-inch heels, seemingly oblivious to their precarious footwear, and the type that avoid wearing heels unless absolutely necessary.
I belong to the latter group, although I’ve always wanted to be in the former category. For me, it’s not a matter of aesthetics or a political statement — they simply hurt my feet.
So when I heard about a startup called True Gault that makes shoes designed specifically for your feet using 3D scans, I was intrigued. Would it solve my high heel woes? Would I suddenly become confident and comfortable and — best of all — four inches taller?
I decided to give it a try.
For now, True Gault is only available to users with an iPhone 5 or newer. Once you download the app from the App Store, you'll set up your account and tell the company a bit about yourself (like your height, weight, and standard shoe size) and your preferences in terms of colours and styles.
Once you're registered, you can shop True Gault's selection. There are 19 styles to choose from, and many of the styles have the option of a two-inch or four-inch heel. In total, there are more than 70 leathers and fabrics to choose from.
I decided on the Devin, a four-inch lace-up pump that comes in five different materials. I chose a cobalt blue called 'Royal Blue Suede.' Like all the pumps, Devin costs $250 (True Gault's boots cost $350).
While $US250 or $US350 isn't cheap, it's a bargain for customised, genuine leather or suede shoes. Designer brands often retail for double or triple that price, and they're not fitted perfectly to your feet.
Once I picked out my shoes, it was time to scan my feet. The scan takes about 15 minutes and requires six total photos of your feet (two takes of three different angles). While it's possible to take the images yourself, True Gault CEO Sandra Gault was kind enough to lend a hand for my scan.
The scan requires bare feet, a flat, hard surface, and your foot to be placed on a piece of computer paper. The paper is there for scale, so the technology knows how your foot compares to something that's standard in size.
You'll have to turn your phone horizontally and line up your foot within the guides in order for it to scan. Your foot doesn't have to be perfectly aligned, though -- If the lines are green, it's OK to snap the photo.
After my feet were scanned, I placed my order. The app keeps you updated on the status of your order, so you know when the shoes are being made and when they have shipped.
When you scan your feet, you create a serial number that serves as your custom size. True Gault stores that number for you, so once you're ready for a new pair, you don't need to scan your foot again.
True Gault has now scanned more than 2,000 feet, and CEO Sandra Gault says no one has had a right and left foot that's exactly the same size. For that reason alone, Gault says, True Gault's shoes will automatically be more comfortable than a store-bought brand.
My shoes arrived in about three weeks (a bit quicker than True Gault's standard four-week timeline) and came neatly packed in a shoe box with extra heel caps in case mine get worn down over time.
My shoes fit perfectly. As soon as I put them on, they felt snug and comfortable like I'd been wearing them for years. If they're a little tight at first, True Gault says to give it some time -- leather softens over time and will mould to your foot.
The one caveat here is that if you have foot problems that are exacerbated by high heels, these shoes won't be a magical cure-all. They're still high heels, after all.
But if your shoes don't fit well, you can go in the app and let the company know. In the 'Fitting' tab, you can tell the company how each shoe fit and what specific problems you have, if any.
Now that I have my own custom-fitted high heels, I don't know how I'll ever go back to store-bought shoes. The entire experience, from setting up my profile to scanning my feet to receiving my shoes, was seamless. And if I ever want to order another pair, all I have to do is pick out the style and colour and they will arrive at my doorstep, perfectly fitted.
At the end of the day, they are four-inch heels. They will never be completely comfortable by the very nature of the design -- you're putting all your weight on your tiny toe bones while balancing on a narrow spike.
But if you must wear high heels, True Gault is a great option. While they didn't automatically make me a high heel convert, they certainly helped me feel comfortable and confident wearing heels for a long period of time.
Plus, they'll likely last longer than cheap store-bought shoes because they're made from high-quality materials; there are plenty of fashionable colours, styles, and materials to choose from; and -- best of all -- they're made just for you.
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