If you’ve ever thought you have difficult feet to buy shoes for, hopefully this blog could help. I aim to cover:
- small or large ladies shoes;
- wide and narrow feet;
- chunky ankles or calves;
- high bridge;
- keeping shoes on;
- being on your feet a lot, needing comfort and practical shoes;
- what is right for you, in terms of colour, style, height of heel, sparkle or plain (in other words, what suits your “clothing personality”); and
- some other tips.
Firstly, let me tell you that most people have two different feet! They will be different in some way as in one could be longer than the other, or maybe wider. So, don’t panic if that’s you! You now know you’re normal!
Wearing the correct fitting shoes is important, to look after your feet, as they have an important and big job to do!
What criteria do you have when buying shoes? What’s around (as in choice, that may involve what’s currently in fashion)? Comfort? Cost? Colour? Just getting some that fit? The time you have to look, or before you wish to wear them …?
These would be most people’s considerations, but some people also have other considerations, like finding shoes that are made in their size.
I have met people who have a size 2 foot in UK sizing. If that’s you, you know that most ladies shoes begin at size 3. In case you haven’t found it, there’s a website that will help you find quite a choice of footwear to fit: www.smallfeet.co.uk
Larger sizes for ladies shoes
Larger sizes are becoming a little more common these days, For example, I noticed Clarks offer size 9s and found other websites for size 9, 10 & 11 for the UK market. Websites that particularly feature shoes for larger size ladies’ feet in the UK are:
Tip: higher heels can make your feet appear a smaller length, and a semi-wedge can also have that effect.
Wide feet can be the product of genetics, flat feet, ageing or weight gain.
The average shoe width in the UK I thought – from my shoe-selling days – was a “C”, but I see on the Clarks website that they describe this as “narrow fit”, and D as “standard fit”. Maybe this has changed in the last 40 years like the average woman’s clothing size (see my previous blog)!
Anyway, if you find the average fit too tight, you might prefer an E or EE. You may already know you can get a wider fit in some shoes at M&S (I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re an E fit though), Hotter, Clarks, Vionic, Ecco, or view these specialist websites such as https://www.widerfitshoes.co.uk or widefitshoes.co.uk for more choice.
You may already know that a softer leather will give more ease, whilst you “wear them in”, and lace-ups can give ease if you loosen the laces, but that’s not normally across the widest part of your foot, but can help a high arch.
Dune Flinch wide fit suede Brogues from John Lewis (were £75)
Measuring your feet
I noted with interest the directions to measure your foot (seen in several places on the internet), to draw round your foot, then measure it. Here was a good blog about how to do this yourself without needing someone else necessarily to help: https://sargassoandgrey.com/blogs/blog/easy-way-measure-feet.
It was interesting to me that my current length, doing it that way, was for a shoe size that I have worn for years and is still apparently my current size, but I have found latterly that the next size up is more comfortable these days (whilst still wearing high heels). It was a bit more difficult to sort the width myself, though, and I have checked with the Clarks shop in Romsey – they definitely can measure adult length and width, so you could go there (or check with your nearest reputable shoe retailer) if you would prefer to get the experts to do it.
Your feet can narrow if you lose a lot of weight. The bone structure will remain the same, but you can reduce fat cells. However, if you already have narrow feet, you will know the problem.
Did you know you can get narrow fit shoes from Hotter too? In doing some research for this blog I had another surprise find … Narrowfitshoes.com – based in Horsefair Mews, Romsey!
And, they have free postage on all orders before 30th September 2020. They will help you with fitting from 9am to 3.30pm Mon to Fri. (They’ve been going since 1985 and sell American shoes that fit AA or B width feet in UK terms, from size 5 UK to 11.)
If you have chunky ankles or calves, you will be better off wearing a chunky heel or wedge to (a) give you support and (b) to reduce the obviousness of the difference.
Also, you can slim your ankles by not having a T-bar or ankle strap varieties of shoe, however, you may then reduce support or the ability to keep the shoe on (for example if you choose a slingback or mule – see below).
From Boden Collection, Nadine Slingback Heels £110
River Island, £38, sizes 2 to 9
Be aware of the effect of the heel height on chunky calves – it might make your calves look fuller, so you might consider the length of your skirt or dress (try not to get the ending of the garment on your widest point of the calf), or wear trousers if you want to wear heels and are conscious of your calves.
Keeping shoes on/high bridge
Comfort is often a trade-off for looks, but it is possible to combine some features if you know what you need to look for to keep shoes on your feet.
I’ve experienced walking out of slingbacks more times than I care to remember, so these days I go a bit more for sensible shoes (lace-ups like brogues, which look stylish), or ones with a higher coverage (like the Boden Laurie T-Bar Heels £130 or these Shrewsbury shoe boots for £150)! However, if you have a high arch, this can be a problem. Laces can be eased but these shoe types may not be so accommodating.
Boden Laurie T-Bar Heels £130
Boden Shrewsbury Shoe Boots: £150
If you find it difficult to keep your shoes on, do they have a low rise across the toes (see these Dune shoes below)? This may cause you to grip more with your toes, which may affect the way your walk.
Dune Black Suede “Ashen T” Mid block heel court shoes, from Debenhams £42 when I looked this week (they were £85)
Consider higher rise shoes like these loafers from Boden, which may help instead.
Boden Betty Platform Loafers £120
Being on your feet a lot/comfort/practicality
Now, I have heard some people say they’re used to wearing high heels, and when they move to lower heels or flats, it actually hurts their back. This may be because tendons or muscles are used to being stretched or constrained in a certain way, (well, I’m no physiotherapist or chiropractor), but I wonder if when you go against this regular pose stretching things in one way, that is why it hurts, until you get used to the muscles or ligaments being used differently. However, if you do have back, hip, thigh or knee problems which you now wonder is because of your shoe collection, I suggest you should consult a professional.
If you’re on your feet a lot, it’s even more important that your shoes serve you well, as in being comfortable but not being too sloppy. Of course, the current trend is to wear trainers with dresses etc. Yes, they’re comfortable, but most fashion brands are not designed to give your feet as much support as a shoe for all-day wear, so I’d urge against this, unless you know they are for that purpose. (Check out Foot Health First’s supportive footwear for indoors and outdoors, which also ensure comfort. Lorna, being a foot health practitioner, has chosen the footwear she sells because of her knowledge from treating people’s feet and foot problems over many years. I am delighted to be interviewing Lorna on 22nd October 2020 at 7pm about some of the problems she finds and the solutions she can recommend, so do get in touch if you would like to hear what she has to say, or have questions you’d like Lorna to address.
Your choice of shoes can affect your gait too, but that’s a whole other topic!
What shoes are right for me?
Rounded or pointed toes? That depends on what I call your “Clothing Personality”! You can sign up for my new two hour Clothing Personalities Workshop if you want to know more about that! Again, though, if comfort is paramount you may decide the shape of the shoe tip for your “clothing personality” isn’t as crucial!
One way to find different shoes is when you go abroad. It’s always worth having a look, but remember to try shoes on later in the day (as your feet can swell up throughout the day), and with the socks or hosiery that you would wear them with to get the best idea of a true fit. And remember, heat can make your feet swell too.
Beware leather soles! They become very slippery, especially when it’s wet under foot! My advice is to take your new shoes directly to a cobbler and have a rubber sole attached immediately, before you get caught out, like I did a couple of times.
Of course, if you have really difficult feet to find “off the shelf” shoes for, you may consider having shoes specially made. I had a pair made in the Far East, and posted on to me which were perfect, but you can find someone in the UK who can make a last (mould for shoe-making) for you (check out a list of UK shoemakers here: www.shoefitters-uk.org.) It does cost hundreds of pounds to have a “last” made, and each pair of shoes will be much more expensive than an off-the-shelf pair, plus it will take a longer time to receive your shoes, but they should be absolutely perfect in every way if you have chosen exactly what you want and they’re made from a mould for your feet alone. If you need orthopaedic shoes made, I found a website to check out: www.thecordwainer.co.uk.
Look after your shoes – keep them clean, soled and heeled, and waterproofed if leather. Your shoes do say so much about you, but you also need to look after your feet. I would say, choose wisely. It is possible to get what you want and need, if you search carefully and are mindful of your feet, what you need your shoes to do, and where you are in your life journey.
If you want help determining good shoes for your lifestyle, whilst taking your “clothing personality” into account, please give me a call. Shoes are my favourite accessory!