When the reviews are wrong

With my perennial preppy gene, I've always been attracted to loafers but I more or less swore off them years ago because they are one of the hardest styles for me to fit. Flats are hard on (and for) my feet, period. And slip on styles are by far the worst.  I mean, I put orthotics in my sneakers to make them wearable and to prevent myself from another case of plantar fasciitis. Even then, sneakers, like any true flat, are less comfortable for me than shoes that have a slight lift or heel (about 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches); I'm most comfortable in boots or sandals as a rule.  And most loafers, I find, are too wide in the mid foot and the heel if they fit me in the forefoot. My feet are not wide (just average) but my mid foot is a bit narrow, my arch quite high, and my heel shaped in such a way that flats without straps almost always flip off, leading to awful toe cramps if I try to wear them. 

Still, I really loved the look of the Franco Sarto platform loafer and it is BLUE, which is a key neutral in my closet. Blue footwear can be hard to source, so a transitional blue shoe was HEWI for me. 

I read the reviews, which are mixed, at best, and many complain explicitly about the fit problem that plagues me most. This was a case where if Nordstrom's did not have such generous return policies I might not have ordered.

And yet these shoes are working for me! 

Admittedly, they required careful breaking in, but I can now wear with and without socks. I would not try to walk barefoot in them for long in hot weather (that would definitely lead to blisters) but with careful monitoring they are super comfortable and easy for me to wear.  

I think it is the platform/ lug sole and extra interior padding that make them wearable for me. Like others, I can't wear this shoe in cold like we are having today here -- so from this point on, they will be my "indoor" loafer until spring. (I only wore them briefly outdoors and the bottoms are all clean.) I'm delighted to have a shoe that makes me feel more fab than slippers but is just as easy on and off. 

How do you know when or whether to trust the reviews? I usually pay close attention to them and they have, in the past, helped me to rule in (or out) various items. But this time, I simply would not have ordered if I hadn't known I could return them for free after an in-home try out period. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

24 Comments

  • Helena replied 3 months ago

    Suz, so glad these shoes are working for you - they are very cool, and definitely a great fit for your style!

    I hear you on the reviews, and it's not just clothing ... I find with everything, reviews have to be taken with a large pinch of salt, not least because often the people most motivated to review are those who are unhappy. 

    At the end of the day I think reviews are just one more tool in the toolkit, along with personal experience, what we have found with particular brands/styles/stores, etc. Similar to price point, reviews are an indicator but not definitive. And then there is a large gob of luck thrown in just to keep things interesting! (and like you said, the return policy helps too)

    So not much help but some commiseration for the difficulty and happiness that this chance paid off!

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 3 months ago

    These look so good on you, Suz. It's great that they are working out! Reviews are so tricky. I rely on return policy, too. If I can't return it without difficulty or extra expense, I usually won't order.

  • Cardiff girl replied 3 months ago

    Nice looking shoes!
    Reviews are tricky.l think that it requires a lot of reading between the lines and of course fit issues are so individual.They can only ever be a guide in my opinion.

  • Angie replied 3 months ago

    LOVE that these are working out! Good job trying them anyway :)

    YES TO INDOOR LOAFERS, Suz!!! 

    What Cardiff girl said.

    Reviews can be soooo right! And soooo wrong. Helpful at times, but I keep an open mind. 

    Sometimes when I read the bad reviews after I've bought something that I think is stellar (and vice versa) - I think we're on different planets. Or reviewing different items. 

    I like to get reviews from people I trust, and use good judgement. I am happy to take a chance on an item that I think might work when reviews give them a thumbs down. 

  • Dee replied 3 months ago

    Getting great loafers that work is a challenge but getting great  “blue” loafers no less, now that is a miracle HEWI.
    It is a real challenge trying to figure out if the reviews are helpful or not. Yes, a free return policy would be key in giving an item a chance, all the better if it can be returned in person. I also look at the date of the review, and if the review is sponsored or not, also if the person’s age range is indicated, and what country the review is from because there can be a difference with the product. Then I cipher through the issues in the bad reviews to see if they’re applicable to me and check to see if the good reviews far out number the bad ones. After that I cross my fingers and hope for the best.

  • slim cat replied 3 months ago

    Great new shoes! Lucky you to find the style that works for high arch ( I have high arch/ high instep - no flats as well in my shoe collection).
    Reviews are helpful up to the point - especially if I’m shopping for my daughter- always low success rate .

  • rachylou replied 3 months ago

    They look really good. Glad to hear they work. I pay most attention to rules where people describe themselves and the item, but everyone is so unique, it’s pretty hard to tell if what worked for someone will work for me - from words. I prefer in-person shopping vastly.

  • Irina replied 3 months ago

    Great loafers, Suz. 

    I carefully “review “ reviews, looking for people who are either close to my fit requirements or completely opposite. E.g. when a number of women says that a swimsuit is short in the body, it piques my interest as it my work for my short torso. Mostly, reviews are useful but the 30 day full refund is even more so. 

  • LJP replied 3 months ago

    I read reviews sometimes , but admit I don’t always think of it unless they are posted / linked right there where I’m looking at something . Fit reviews don’t mean much to me but overall quality judgments do .

  • LJP replied 3 months ago

    Btw I had these very same shoes in their first iteration : the flatform rubber sole . I ended up passing them along after a season or two because the tassel annoyed me aesthetically and I couldn’t cut it off without it damaging the shoe . It made them too preppy for my preferences , but I admit now I wish I had hung on to them and just worn them . Sigh .

  • chouette22 replied 3 months ago

    We are shoe twins (I got them during NAS as well) and they are working for me as well! I cannot pass up on a good pair of blue shoes, it seems, as I have several, and they all get worn. I was skeptical regarding comfort too because patent leather doesn't give much, but they really are surprising me! 

  • Runcarla replied 3 months ago

    Agreeing with Cardiff girl, and others who mention ‘reading between the lines’ on reviews.  On the other hand, when things get 4-5 stars over many reviews, I feel more confidence.  Definitely will take a risk on an item if there’s a good return policy.  


    The one that gives me the greatest pause is when a popular item that seems to have been around for a long time, gets reviews something like: ‘used to be great, but new fabric/cut/whatever, is a disappointment.  Not what it used to be.  Etc.’

  • JAileen replied 3 months ago

    Congratulations on finding loafers that fit!  I returned two pairs from NAS that didn’t work.  


    Reviews - yeah, some are weird.  I read one recently where the person complained about non-functioning pockets, which were just sewn shut, and another because they were sent the wrong size.

    We might be past loafers, too - we woke to a dusting of snow the past two days.

  • Kathie replied 3 months ago

    I ignore a lot of reviews, unless multiple reviews mention the same problem. The one type of review that I pay attention to is fit issues that are the opposite of what I need. For example, Boden tends to run too large in the bust for me. But, if a bunch of reviewers of Boden items write, "Loved it, but tight in the bust," then there's a high likelihood it will be a slam dunk. YLF members and Angie have also saved me from ordering loads of shoes that won't fit.

  • Jaime replied 3 months ago

    Apropos of nothing, I just commented on Angie's blog post that my first loafers were Franco Sarto (in the 90s) and here you are in Franco Sarto loafers today. Have already mentioned that I love these on you. Anyway, regarding reviews, I do consider them but also take into account who tends to write reviews (the unsatisfied) and read very critically. 

  • Suz replied 3 months ago

    Thank you all; this is really interesting and helpful. Reading between the lines seems to be a common theme for those of us who do read reviews. And based on the responses it also looks like those of us who shop a lot online rely on teviews perhaps more than those who shop in person -- which makes sense! 

    I do what several of you said -- if people complain that pants or sleeves are "too short" I take note; it may well work for me, since i'm shorter. And so on. But in this case, people complained of the exact problem I typically have so I am wondering why it didn't occur for me. Mind you, Sarto shoes have fit me quite well in the past, so it could be that the basic fit model or last of their shoes is a pretty good match for my foot. 

    Jaime, good point that the unsatisfied often write reviews. One hilarious thing I've noticed, for instance -- sometimes an item is deliberately oversized...and half the reviewers say "huge" and "boxy." They want it to fit snug, but, um...that's not how it is intended to fit! 

    Kathie, that is hilarious, and clever! I know just what you mean. Once you know how a brand tends to fit you, you can get really precise with your calculations about specific items based on who the "boos" are from! 

    Lisa, interesting. I have held off on ordering the Sam Edelman Laguna boot despite actually wanting a boot like that, mainly because this year, in particular, people are complaining about the boots falling apart. Hmmm. 

    Irina, I laughed out loud. Useful, but the 30 day return window even more so. Truer words never spoken. 

    Rachy, that's key, right? The person has to describe their own body type, what type of fit they like, etc. And even their climate. 

    Slim cat, yes..."up to a point" is pretty much where I land, too. 

    Dee, I loved that very precise and thoughtful list of considerations followed by the "cross my fingers." So true and so funny!

    Angie, I have taken chances on items that you recommended even if other reviews are negative. I will rarely do so if I don't have a recommendation from a friend or I haven't seen it in person. That's probably partly down to the less generous return policies for most stores in Canada. 

    Cardiff girl, so true -- we are each our own little snowflakes when it comes to fit! So just because it does not work for someone else does not mean it won' t work for you. 

    Sharan, yes a generous return policy is a gift in more ways than one!

    Helena, ah yes, add the gob of luck -- it makes the difference between a total flop and a surprising workhorse! 

  • Angie replied 3 months ago

    Suz and Irina, you both hit on a crucial variable - the return policy! When it's lenient and shipping is free or cheap - I am game to take a risk. 

  • Star replied 3 months ago

    Suz how did you break them in?  I have a very similar pair, a red patent synthetic material, and they are giving me blisters on the back heel.  Yes it was a long walk of over 2kms but now I am reluctant to wear them.  I thought because they are not genuine leather there was no hope...

  • RobinF replied 3 months ago

    I love these on you!

    I find reviews frustrating. One reviewer says too small, the very next might say too large. More details on the "why" helps but still no guarantee of course. I do read them though and find if the overall is positive then I might also have good luck.

  • Suz replied 3 months ago

    Star, first, mine are (or say they are!) genuine leather. So that's the first important factor. The bottoms are not leather, of course. 

    First, I wore them with bare feet in the house for maybe 20 minutes at a time. I walked up and down stairs, felt for the places they were rubbing (at the ankle bone, on the heel). I noticed how, when I wore them, the leather warmed up and adjusted to my foot and where that wasn't happening as much. 

    When I wanted to wear them out the first time, I put on copious amounts of body glide in the "trouble" spots and I made sure I wasn't going more than a couple of blocks. Ditto the next few times I wore them. From the parking lot to the restaurant sort of thing. 

    Then I dared a bit further. I did well for the walk, but on return I did notice blisters coming up. Out came the blister bandages which I use even before I get blisters on my heels as protective. So I had a blister on one foot and an incipient blister on the other and those bandages stayed on, while I added body glide to the less problematic foot parts. 

    THEN, I wore them with thin socks. This was a risk -- I feared they would just start flopping around on my foot (as often happens with this type of shoe) but so far, so good! It seemed to loosen them up just enough. Now I can wear them comfortably both ways. 

    What I have not tried yet is with slippery sheer hose. That will be the real test and I'm betting these won't pass it. But since I have two possible ways to wear them now, I am ok with it. 

  • Jonesy replied 3 months ago

    I love that you took a chance, proceeded very slowly, and now these are workhorses for you! Wearing them as your indoor shoes is a great idea, vs. tucking them away until those dry spring days arrive so many months from now. 

    I get really annoyed at reviews when they complain about the sizing of a garment when that particular company (e.g., Uniqlo or Everlane) actually provides garment measurements online for every garment! C'mon, people. Like many others in this thread, I read between lines. If people complain about too-long sleeves, I perk up, because I have very long arms and am always searching for shirts, coats, jackets that have long-enough sleeves for me. I also love a cropped, boxy look in a sweater or shirt, so when people complain about that, I get interested :).

  • Star replied 3 months ago

    Thanks Suz for your detailed response.  I checked your Find and it says synthetic upper so that was why I asked, sorry about that.  If it is leather it will obviously get better over time whereas mine won't.  Going to try some of your tips though!

  • Zaeobi replied 3 months ago

    I'm glad they work for you - I'd even suggest buying a backup pair, since they're a HEWI!

    My pet peeve with reviews are those that SEEM useful until you realise key info is missing. Like they tell you the skirt hits 'just below the knee' on them but then don't share their height! I prefer websites that allow you to click a category for that sort of information (instead of asking you to type it all out) because they then usually offer an option to filter the reviews so you just focus on the ones closest to your own stats.

  • Suz replied 3 months ago

    Star, wow, you might be right! The box said leather...will check the shoe. There is a synthetic lining on the footbed for sure, so maybe that is what they mean...

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