Playing footie

The thin liners that protect your feet from the ravages of summer shoes aren't created equal

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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,;

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,;

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.

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