Although you should always aim to buy only shoes that fit perfectly right out of the box, sometimes you just can't resist the siren song of a slightly pinch-y pair of heels, or boots that are just a tad too big.
Let's talk about ways to make your shoes fit better and hurt less.
Most people know about these but aren't aware of how many types there are. In addition to the typical cut-to-fit styles, there are sandal/high heel versions and super cushy gel styles.
If you've got a delicate or expensive pair, it's best to take them to a shoe repair shop for stretching. But more durable pairs can be stretched at home. A kit costs $30 - $50 and can be used to make shoes a bit wider or longer. Some also come with inserts for bunions.
Heel snugs and ball of foot pads
Both of these are helpful for shoes that are a bit too big but can't take inserts. Heel snugs fit at the back of the shoe to keep your foot from slipping upward, and ball of foot pads keep your foot from slipping down.
This product can be cut to fit any shape, so it's ideal for placing on straps that cut or tiny places inside shoes that rub against your feet.
This product won't actually improve fit, but can be a lifesaver if you're stuck outside the house in a pair of shoes that are rubbing. Apply to the area of your foot that's getting painful to reduce friction.