It's a small thing.
Actually, it's two small things. Two small things that are way too easy to lose!
I'd never given much thought to footies, those liner things you put on your feet in the warm weather to keep you from — let's just say it — sweating up your shoes.
Sweat isn't my primary foot problem but, because just about every pair of summer shoes I own rub my feet raw, I buy a ton of footies to try to prevent blisters. Sometimes they work. Not always.
Anyhow, I hadn't really thought much about the pluses and minuses of various footie fabric and design. I'd just grab some at the drugstore whenever the dryer swallowed my last pair.
Then a reader asked me to help her find some decent footies that do the job, don't show all over the place when she's wearing her cute flats and don't slip off and bunch up around the arch of her foot.
Anybody who has ever worn these things knows what she's talking about.
So I set out to test an array of readily available footies at prices ranging from under $3 to $14 a pair.
The first thing I learned is that there's been a revolution in the footie world. It's this little sticky gel pad at the heel that keeps them from sliding off your feet. Not all brands have them, but it's a nice feature.
Second: They come in a daunting array of flesh tones, and it really doesn't matter if they match your skin since when they peek out of your shoes they look awful. (The ones that look least bad when they show are black with black shoes.)
Third: If you pay $14 for a pair of footies you're out of your mind.
See our footie comparison above -- click "captions" to read the information, or see below!
Smartwool, lifestyle, $12.95, Nordstrom, nordstrom.com; smartwool.com
The claim: "Moisture management … Perfect for ballet silhouettes and other flat shoes."
The facts: The thickest in our test; they showed a lot in every pair of my flats — the opposite of hidden. There was no no-slip gel dot, but they still stayed in place.
Buy them if … your feet really sweat; you bought your shoes too big and you want to tighten them up a little; you don't plan to wear them with traditional flats; you're willing to keep track of them in the wash since they're expensive.
Hue, hidden cotton liner, $6.50 (3 for $16), Nordstrom, nordstrom.com; hue.com
The claim: "Soft, breathable cotton liner that has a sleek silhouette that stays hidden in your shoes."
The facts: They really did stay hidden in all my flats; excellent in every way (although they're only 45 percent cotton); gel dot at heel keeps them in place.
Buy them if … you want a truly hidden liner. These were my favorites, although I wish they cost half as much.
Hotsox, originals, foot liners, 6 for $16, Macy's, macys.com; hotsox.com
The claim: There is none on the website or packaging.
The facts: No natural fibers, 97 percent nylon; six pack includes two shades of beige; one black. One pair had a snag even before I wore it; not hidden at all in any of my flats; gel pad prevents slippage.
Buy them if … you're on a strict budget and don't care if they show. These were the cheapest in my test.
Charter Club (Macy's house brand), color match liners, 3 for $12.98, Macy's, macys.com
The claim: "Match your skin tone. … Silicone patch inside heel helps liners stay on."
The facts: No natural fibers; various shades of beige won't make them less obvious; they still show lots in all my flats.
Buy them if … you want the same thing as the Hotsox but would like to pay $1.66 more per pair.
Wolford, footsies 15, $14, Wolford, wolford.com
The claim: "Completely seamless knitted footsies that disappear into all closed summer shoes."
The facts: Flimsy, slippery, hosiery-type fabric (75 percent nylon) snags easily. They are no-show with my flats. They stay on fine without a heel gel pad. Care instructions to "wash separately in a wash bag" signal way too much trouble.
Buy them if … you like to spend frivolously. Vastly overpriced.