Tortured soles: The price of fashionable feet

We're all about comfort, right? But do you have to look bad to feel good? Most certainly not. Answer Angel to the rescue — again.

Dear Answer Angel: My feet are killing me. In my job I'm on my feet almost all day every day. I need a professional look so athletic shoes are not feasible. Heels are out because they kill me and every pair of cute flats that I've bought to try and ease my woes winds up rubbing my heels raw, cutting into the top of my foot or the soles are so flimsy that I can feel every crack in the sidewalk. The comfortable shoes I've located are hideous. Suggestions?

— Dogs are Barking

Dear Woof: I hate the idea of you (or me) having to wear ugly shoes just because they're comfortable. Until now, that has seemed to be the only alternative. I've visited stores that specialize in shoes designed for walking and comfort and found nothing even remotely attractive. Not long ago I happened to stroll by an Eileen Fisher display at Bloomingdale's and discovered that besides the flowy comfortable clothes Eileen Fisher is known for (I'm not a big fan), the company also makes shoes. Now, I'm addicted. I bought the "Ramble" low boot and two pairs of shoes that look like ballet flats but have an interior one-inch wedge. Podiatrists insist that the slight elevation is more comfortable and better for your feet than the traditional flat. Love them. They're walk-around-all-day comfortable. The bad news is that they were a big investment. The cheapest ones were $195. I'm not happy about the price but my feet thank me every day.

Dear Answer Angel: What's a hater of control top hose to do? It's gotten almost impossible to find regular non-control top hose. I've bought queen size, though I wear a size 6 dress. I've hung on to ratty pairs of pantyhose for their blessedly stretched-out waist bands. Am I the only woman in America who doesn't like her middle pinched?

— BB

Dear BB: You absolutely are not the only woman in America who wants her mid-section unfettered by these modern torture devices! I am totally with you on this. I too was fed up with the tourniquet squeeze of control tops. Ouch! Furthermore, if you need control, these don't really do the job anyhow. But, enough complaining. I've found the answer. Go Commando. No, not naked, though I guess that would eliminate the squeeze problem. I mean, try Commando "dig-free" brand tights and pantyhose. This leg wear speaks to your exact situation. The top has a wide, loosened waistband. The tights themselves are conventionally tight — in fact, the black opaques are a little snug if you like a little give in the tush. But the waistband is delightfully comfy. You can see the whole line and order them online at Nordstrom, among others, also carries a selection. I regret to have to tell you that they're awfully expensive, starting at $30 per.

Dear Answer Angel: I've decided it's folly to shop for the right graduation gift so I'm going with that old-fashioned classic: money. What is the appropriate amount for a cash gift for college graduations? High school graduations? Do you give more if it is a relative (niece/nephew)? My niece and nephew are both graduating from college this year and I must admit I'm stumped as to how much to give. The issue is not about being able to afford it but rather what is deemed appropriate. And, while we're at it, how much is appropriate for a cash wedding gift?

— D.S.W.

Dear D.: I put your question to etiquette expert Patricia O'Brien (her website is "Your relationship with the person plays a big role," she says. "There is not a set amount for each occasion. If you are very close to your niece/nephew you may want to give them a little more than someone you rarely see. A monetary gift between $50 and $100 would be suitable for graduations. For a cash wedding gift, $100 to $150 from you but if attending with your spouse $200 to $250, again depending on your relationship with the couple."

Meanwhile, Anna Post, co-author of the updated edition of the good manners bible, "Emily Post's Etiquette" (and great-great-granddaughter of Emily herself) says the amount really depends on a number of factors. "Consider your budget, your relationship to the person, and what you feel comfortable with (high or low). That's it," she says. "There are no set amounts for different events, given how different people's circumstances (both financial and relationship-wise) are."

Dear Answer Angel: I wear sunglasses all the time but I'm getting to the age where I'm starting to need optical help with reading. I don't want to buy an expensive pair of prescription sunglasses when I just need some occasional help with reading or seeing something small. Oh, what can I do beloved Answer Angel?

— Tommy

Dear Tommy: That woman over there, the one wearing reading glasses on top of her sunglasses and looking ridiculous? That was me. So, I completely understand your problem. There are three relatively inexpensive ways to resolve your problem. Online you'll find reading sunglasses either bifocal (with the bottom half magnified) or full lens magnification. Some drugstores stock these. Online and at craft stores, you can buy flip-up-and-down magnifiers that clip on to regular glasses or sunglasses. They look a little silly but they do the job. Finally, there's stick-on magnifiers that adhere to your own sunglasses. I've tried all of these options ( is a good place to start) and they do work. Costs range up to about $30, which is, as you know, lots cheaper than investing in prescription glasses which, inevitably, you'll lose. Or is that just me?

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