If the shoe fits…then I'm probably not wearing it.

December 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm 2 comments

You may remember my previous kvetching about finding the right hairstylist for me.  Today, let’s go from the top to the bottom and talk about something that provides even more fodder for frustration: finding the right pair of shoes.

I have horrid feet.  They are long, they are bony, they are skinny, and they are inherited from my father.  My toes double as fingers.  My husband has requested that I never – under any circumstances – wear flip flops.  I feel sorry for the technicians at the nail salons, and wonder if I should tip them a bit more for the extra work they have to do to make my talons respectable.

For most of my life, I wore a size 10.  Covering my ugly feet was not a problem, for a 10 – in dress shoes, casual shoes, athletic shoes, etc. – fit me fine.  Unfortunately, when I got pregnant with Alissa, my feet grew in conjunction with my stomach.  During the pregnancy, I chalked my small-feeling shoes up to water retention and pregnancy weight.  Imagine my horror six months post-partum when I discovered my feet had grown an entire half size in length.

So now I’m a 10.5 shoe size.  And do you know what?  Shoe manufacturers and retailers – in their omnipotent wisdom – do not produce and carry women’s shoe size 10.5.  They carry a 10.  They carry an 11.  For some reason, shoe manufacturers figure once you get to a 10, your foot is already big, and going up one more half size won’t matter.

But for me, that half size makes all the difference.  A 10 is too snug.  An 11 flops around.  And to make matters worse, I’m really a 10.5 NARROW, especially on my left foot.  Medium-width shoes are too wide.  Finding a 10.5N is about as common as finding a sober frat boy at a party.  It just doesn’t happen.

I have found a few online retailers, like zappos.com, that sell 10.5N shoes.  However, my experience with ordering shoes online has been more miss than hit.  I really need to try shoes on before I buy, because every brand and even every shoe is different in terms of cut and support and styling.

Two years ago, I was in the market for a new pair of workout shoes.  Acting on a tip, I headed over to Head’s shoe store @ Douglas & Oliver, which carries a wide variety of brands and sizes.  Like Cinderella at the ball, I found my perfect slipper: a pair of Ecco cross-trainers.  Since UK brands tend to run a half-size smaller than US brands, the 11 fit me perfectly.  And these were not only an 11 NARROW, they were lightweight, they were supportive, and they felt as if they had been made for me.

Sadly, those Eccos are showing their age and wear, and it’s time for a new pair of shoes.  They should have been replaced six months ago, but I’ve been delaying the inevitable as long as I could.  So this morning – armed with birthday money and burning with optimism – I headed out with my daughters.  Destination: Head’s shoe store.  Mission: Buy myself a new pair of workout shoes, and also see if I can score some casual shoes.

We walked in the front door.  The saleslady at least let us catch our breaths before she pounced on us at the front door.  “Good morning!” she said.  “Is there something I can help you find today?”  Okay, generally I start with the “I’m just looking” line, but I figured today I would skip that formality and put her straight to work.  So I told her what I was looking for.  I also explained that I was looking for something VERY similar to what I was wearing, which were Eccos, size 11N.

“Let’s measure your foot,” she said.  Although I know the size I need, I complied, because I figured it couldn’t hurt to see if anything had changed.  What do you know?  Measuring my foot told me that I needed a size 10.5N.  Amazing.

As I cooled my stockinged-heels in the chair with Ashley & Alissa, SalesLady walked around the store pulling three or four shoes from the shelves.  She brought one pair of Eccos and two pairs of New Balances, along with a pair of Clark casual shoes that were the ugliest old-lady things I have ever laid eyes on.  “You said you were also looking for casual shoes,” she said.  “How about something like these?”  Mmmm, I think not.

I tried the Eccos first.  They looked a lot like my old pair, but something felt wide about them.  “Are these narrows?”  I asked as I strode around the store.

“Ecco doesn’t make their shoes in widths,” SalesLady replied.  “They only come in mediums.”

“Really?”  I asked.  “I could swear my old shoes are narrows.  They fit me a lot more snugly than this.”

She shrugged.  “They may have produced them in the past, but they don’t anymore.  We could special order them if you like.”

I debated.  “Let’s try the other pairs on first.  Then we’ll see about ordering them.”

The New Balances were next.  On the first pair, she brought me a size 12, claiming that “they run small, so I thought this would fit you better.”  Um, no.  Way too big.  Didn’t we just measure my feet?  Please bring me the 10.5 or size 11.

I think we may have been having a communication problem.

The second pair of New Balances were ugly.  And still too big.  So she went in for a second try, bringing over three or four more pairs and another pair of casual shoes for the Golden Girls set.  “You know, I think I’ll do a quick lap of the store,” I told her.  “See if I can find what I’m looking for in a casual shoe.  Let’s see what else you brought me first.”

No, no, no, no, no.  Too big, the heel slips, they are ugly.  I swear I am the most low maintenance person on earth, but SalesLady was probably at her wit’s end with me.  To make matters worse, I was trying to corral energetic Alissa and comfort sleepy Ashley while trying on shoes.  SalesLady went to check on special ordering the other shoes.  She discovered they’d been discontinued.  Of course.

I finally settled on a pair of New Balances (size 11), but buyer’s remorse set in instantly.  I’m not convinced they fit me properly and I’m going to try them on again this afternoon.  I think I may have just been done with the shopping experience and frustrated by how difficult it is for me to find what I want and need.  I never did find a casual shoe, but I’ll keep looking.   I keep hoping that someday I’ll wake up and have normal feet.  Then I can waltz into a regular store, pluck the cutest shoes off the shelf, and have them fit me perfectly.  <Sigh>  Dare to dream.


Entry filed under: Life in general.

Free books to good homes. Will 2010 be the year I get it all together?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anne Burris  |  December 29, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    I have to say, as I was reading about the sales lady I was becoming unnerved. Doesn’t she know that any woman walking into a shoe store with two children in tow is on a mission and doesn’t need every shoe offered in the wrong size and wrong style? Please lady!

  • 2. Michelle  |  January 5, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I hate to break it to you, but even with an 8N shoe size, I’ve never been able to waltz into a shoe store and pluck a cute AND comfortable shoe off of the shelf. It just doesn’t happen. But, I wanted to punch your sales lady just reading about her!!


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