Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

December 18, 2007

You asked for it: Shoe Help

Filed under: Shoes,You Asked For It — Francesca @ 7:47 am

Our internet friend Mel asks a very detailed question:

I am writing to ask for help with shoe advice. I have super wide smallish feet and have a very hard time finding shoes that fit. Due to a recent medical diagnosis I have to take very good care of my feet and need to become more active. I want to start walking to work and walking around town for exercise but the best walking shoes I have are bright white and do not go with anything. I work in a very casual office so I don’t have to wear dress shoes (thank god) but still want to be more stylish than those shoes allow. I could really use some suggestions from you and the readers.

I’d prefer shoes that are cut really wide, have rounded toes and flat with no heel, black and dark grey or bright colors are preferred. I can do mary janes, maybe clogs and if they are in good color actual sneakers. I hope you can help. Any advice on specific styles or brands to check out would be appreciated.

The following are shoes I have and kind of like:

The Tsubo Saiph

Dansko Marcelle

These are my dressy work shoes, unfortunately I think the slight heel
is causing problems. I would really welcome suggestions for something
similar in leather for “dressier” work events.

Thanks for the super fashion advice.

Francesca says: Those Marcelle shoes are darling, and Mel must work in a very fun office environment indeed. And good for Mel for doing what she needs to do to be healthy and fashionable at the same time!

Indeed it is difficult to find shoes which meet all of the Mel’s criteria. To reiterate, they must be available in small, very wide sizes; be more stylish than her bright white walking shoes; have no or very low heel; and preferably be black or grey or in a bright color. They must be comfortable enough for doing much walking. She is open to Mary Janes or walking shoes in a color that will not embarrass her from a fashion perspective.

Francesca would warn Mel to stay away from the clogs, since support for the foot is extremely important if you walk around town. It is important, especially since your feet need especial care, that the heels of your shoes be firmly attached to your feets. Shoes that can slip off will cause Mel many un-superfantastic problems in the long term.

Second, Francesca says: If you are walking for your health, the support and comfort of your shoe is more important than how it looks. Yes, even Francesca says so! It is one thing if Mel has a 15-minute stroll to work. But if the walk is 45 minutes and basically constitutes a low-impact workout, please, for yourself and for Francesca, wear good sneakers, in whatever color you find them!

That having been said, if we are talking about short walks that do not necessarily require sneakers, but the flat comfortable shoe for strolls to the grocery store and such, Francesca would recommend the Gabi-R by Magdesians, a low-heel flat with a cushioned insole, which runs very wide and comes in shades of tan, white, and black:

And since the Dansko shoes are working for you, mostly, Francesca can recommend you try their Diana model, which is ever slightly dressier than Marcelle and has a leather upper:

Good luck to Mel, and happy shopping!




  1. I also have wide feet and do a lot of walking around…I recommend anything by Keen. They are cute and made for walking! You’ll have to try on a few pairs to find the right fit.

    Comment by Kristin — December 18, 2007 @ 9:08 am

  2. I love my Dansko Giselle’s. I can walk all day in them. I wore them everywhere for the first year I had them. Now I have a pair of Dansko heels so I can alternate. The Giselle’s have a wide toe box and are so comfortable.

    Comment by Henny Penny — December 18, 2007 @ 9:16 am

  3. For walking to work and my casual office I really like my Merrell shoes. Nice wide toe area and great treads.

    Comment by Holly — December 18, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  4. If it is a rather long walk to work, the superfantastic Mel might want to protect her feet in the walking shoes of the less attractiveness and carry alternate shoes for the workplace in her bag to change when she gets to the office.

    If you are doing this or have the insoles to help shape to the sensitive feet, you might want to check out the SoftSpots ( Some of their shoes are tragically awful, but some, for the workplace, are great, and they come in wide sizes D & E. They really are quite soft. I wear inserts for arch support, and Ihave a pair of the Odelia Mary Janes in dark brown and the Sana Loafers in black (which have more heel than you want). That website is the one where I bought them and they have a 120 day return policy where you only pay S&H–and for Christmas right now there is no shipping and handling, I think.

    Comment by Leah — December 18, 2007 @ 10:39 am

  5. After ankle surgery a couple of years ago, I became a fan of Munro shoes — they can be somewhat hard to find (though Nordstrom carries them) but they come in a huge range of sizes and widths. Almost all their shoes are orthotic-friendly, which is a plus if you need orthotic inserts.

    You can see the collection generally here:

    Good luck to you!

    Comment by RZA — December 18, 2007 @ 10:43 am

  6. I second Kristin’s suggestion! Here is the link to the Keen Women’s Footwear page. These are absolutely inredible shoes–I wore a pair of pseudo-Mary Jane’s walking all over Germany for two weeks and was probably more comfortable than I’ve even been barefoot.

    Comment by crewbie — December 18, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  7. I have a lot of foot problems and some of the new Earth Shoes work really well for me. Some of them come in wide widths, but the toe box is really wide on most models, so you might be okay with a medium width.

    I like Danskos but I wear a US 12, so I can only wear their open-toed models. No matter what Zappos says, an EU42 is not the same as a US12!

    Comment by T — December 18, 2007 @ 11:52 am

  8. I had an old pair of Danskos similar to the Diana and LOVED them. Still do, but I’ve worn them past the point of repair. Supercomfy, and awfully cute. I might have to try the new ones, now that I see they come in red! Though for a really long walk I’d still probably go with a sneaker – no matter how ugly – and then change shoes at work.

    Comment by cass — December 18, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

  9. Sketchers makes some wide-foot-accommodating, funky-looking mary-jane type Tsubo-ish shoes that can be walked in and get by in a casual office. Try the Biker Sightsee model from their website.

    I am going to secede from the Dansko love -I had their clogs, they ticked me off when they fell apart almost instantly. Unacceptable for $100 shoes.

    Comment by onna monopia — December 18, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  10. I too have the walking commute, the walk-ful lifestyle, and very wide foot that is well-suited to the Dansko Marcelle. I also loathe the way that most mainstream sneakers look, so I have found some other options, that though not as superfantastic as I may like, are nevertheless suitable for both walking several miles a day and my casual office.

    Shoes that work for me that may also be an option for Mel include:
    – some of the Softspots brand n WW sizes: Although, as a commenter above noted, some are very hideous, there are some flat options that are not hideous. If the memory foam is too squishy and not supportive enough, Mel could add some firmer insoles.

    – If Mel hates sneakers, as I do, then she could look into walking shoes from Keen. Some of the women’s styles will probably fit. Some of the boy’s styles may also be an option. I have a pair of the men’s shoes that remind me of a classic Chuck Taylor shoe (except they fit my very wide foot and have better cushioning and shock absorbtion). Keen shoes are all about the dark and bright colors for the active person.

    -I have tried on the very handsome Dansko Diana shoe recommended by Francesca, and was sad to discover they did not fit. That whole collection (dansko calls it “Charlestown”) is constructed around a far narrower last than some of their other offerings (like the Marcelle). I think Mel should still try them ou since her foot is not my foot. However, if she is disappointed by the fit, she might want to try some shoes from Dansko’s Chelsea line. These are more casual than one might prefer, but I can say that the Giselle mary jane, available in both newbuck and smooth leather, look far nicer in person in a foot than they do on the website. They also have really great cushioning and support without any of the sliding around that Mel may experience in the Marcelle. I am sure that the same can be said for the Gracie ballet flat style shoe.

    Best of luck to Mel! It is very tricky to find the right shoe for the superfantastic superwide foot that does a lot of walking!

    Comment by ericaceous — December 18, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

  11. I have these big ol’ wide Fred Flintstone feet, 10.5 WW. Yeah, super fun to find shoes that fit, don’t look grannyish, and can withstand my lots-of-walking lifestyle. Even worse to find a dressier shoe that doesn’t have a ridiculous heel. I refuse to wear a heel any higher than about 1.25″. They’re horrible for every part of your body.

    I’ve had the best luck with Munro shoes. Their newest styles are SUPER cute, and while they are not cheap, I can vouch for their durability. I absolutely kill cheapie shoes, but not my Munros! They last for years. Propét has the widths and a decent selection of shoes for walking, but their styles leave a lot to be desired. I did just buy the Maxigrip Walker, which has a Doc Martenish look, and they’re working out fabulously. Also bought a pair of their sandals this summer, and they were great, too. I’d sworn never to buy any of their products after working for the company and being abruptly laid off after I’d completely revamped the entire office filing system, but fit wins out over principles, alas.

    Use a comparison-shopping website like BizRate or Froogle to find the best pricing online, and always ALWAYS Google for a coupon or pormo code before buying online! Several of the shoe websites offer free shipping, both for the initial purchase and for returns, so you can’t go wrong, really. is one, and they also participate in the program, as does

    Comment by MsChilePepper — December 18, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  12. I have wide feet too. I have a pair of mary jane style shoes from Ecco that I like very much, and have had good luck with some of the Nike G-series shoes (which are sold mostly with Cole Haan, but some are marketed just as g-series).

    Comment by oliviacw — December 18, 2007 @ 6:28 pm

  13. Someone I know has super small, super wide feet and she swears by Kumfs I wear them too (with my average feet) and find them really comfortable as well.

    Comment by Icy — December 18, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  14. T said:
    “No matter what Zappos says, an EU42 is not the same as a US12!”

    oh, hell yes! This drives me crazy all the time. I don’t know where they get these size charts. I wear a 10.5 (when they exist, more often an 11) and I have some Euro sized shoes in a 42 that are actually a bit short (but are open-toed, so it works okay). There is no way a 42 is the same as a 12!
    My New Balance running shoes are marked US11/EU43 which sounds a whole lot more accurate.

    And I’ll add a secondhand +1 to the recommendation for Keens. (second hand because I don’t have any experience with them myself, but a friend of mine who has small and wide feet has wonderful things to say about her Keens)

    Comment by monkey — December 18, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  15. I think Mel is my foot twin! I have the small, wide feets (which match my small, wide body), and I LOATHE buying shoes [/blasphemy]. I will come back and bookmark all of these links, and commit all your superfabulous advice to memory.

    Comment by Margo — December 18, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

  16. I happen to have LARGE, wide feets and have had good luck with Clarks, they come in wide widths and, I would assume, smaller sizes, not having had a chance to shop for anything under a size 12 in years. The point is, they are slightly less expensive than the Danskos and Eccos but are well made and while some of their styles run a bit artsy and wacky, they are now the primary brand in my closet. They can be found on sale if you are lucky and my mom swears by their walking sandals while I have some flat, slip-on sneakers from their Privo! line that I live in. I just spent some time doing a clean and polish on some of my dress shoes and realized they are all Clarks! My point is, they make nice flat dress shoes and cute, comfortable sneakers and are (I think) a good alternative to some of the suggested brands here. That said, part of that is that many of the suggested brands here don’t come in my size so I can’t vouch for the Keens or Merrels except for their mens lines (much less cute, bleah). AND, a EU 42 is more like a US 11, I can only wear a EU 43 and sometimes not even that.

    Comment by Anne (in Reno) — December 18, 2007 @ 10:10 pm

  17. An EU 42 is supposed to be a US 12? In what universe? I think the sizing might be the same in Chile, where I lived for two years. To find boots for my enormous American feet, I had to buy 42s (which were actually small men’s shoes).

    I wear an 8 1/2.

    Comment by class factotum — December 18, 2007 @ 10:17 pm

  18. I just bought a pair of Clarks (Calpurnia) and they were immediately comfortable and have proved great for non-fitness walking, even with the 2″ heel. Clarks will be a go-to brand for me from here on out. Zappos carries a large selection of Clarks, and you can sort there by width as well as heel height.

    By the way, I am lovin your Marcelle’s, and may have to grab a pair myself! Though I agree with the commenters here, my 11+ feets *barely* make it into Dansko’s 42s.

    Good luck with your search, Mel.

    Comment by Shazza — December 18, 2007 @ 10:54 pm

  19. 12-not-42 folks: so it’s not just me! I’ve actually e-mailed Zappos’ customer service about this. European sizes are much more standardized than U.S. sizes, especially on the high end of the range, but a U.S. 12 is generally more like a 44/45. Zappos is usually pretty good about noting when the manufacturer uses European sizing, but I have gotten surprised once or twice with a 42 when I wasn’t expecting it. Disappointing for me, and expensive for them (processing lots of returns).

    Comment by in la — December 19, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

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