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No, Really, I Just Want Something to Wear on My Feet | Manolo for the Big Girl

No, Really, I Just Want Something to Wear on My Feet

Newsflash: I am neither an angel of mercy nor a bargain basement prostitute.

I just thought I’d get that right out there for everyone to see off the bat. Now I’ll proceed to explain why I feel it important for the general public to know this about me: shoes.

Last weekend was a frustrating one for me. The Manolosphere was blacked out by server troubles, the temperature rose some thirty or so degrees literally overnight, and my sandals chose that moment to die an irreversible death, leaving me with a choice of fleece-lined clogs or mid-calf boots to wear.

Now it’s a grim confession for a Manolosphere writer to admit such a tiny collection of footwear. It’s also damn uncomfortable to go out in  ninety-odd degree weather in fleece-lined shoes. I bit the bullet and informed Mr. Twistie that we were on a Mission From God to find me a pair of sandals.

Mr. Twistie has been known to quake in his shoes at such a pronouncement. Why? Because my feet are notoriously difficult to fit coupled with the fact that my sense of style is extremely particular. My arch is ridiculously high, and my sense of balance is…well…I’ve been known to fall off my heels in flats.

Nevertheless, Mr. Twistie knows an implacable Twistie when he sees one and dutifully drove me to a large mall. Said mall contains approximately eighty-five gazillion shoe stores, give or take a couple. It also contains three – count ’em, three – department stores. I trudged through every single one of them in a desperate search for a pair of flat sandals I could stick on my feet right then and there and wear home. You’d think with that many sources there would be a fighting chance of finding one damn pair of shoes I liked that fit.

You would, apparently, be wrong.

Okay, I admit I didn’t try out the ‘sensible’ shoe store. It’s not even (forgive me, Manolo!) that I have a problem with wearing Birkenstocks. I’ve done it before, and I’ll no doubt do it again. They fit. I don’t fall off them. They last for freaking ever. It’s just that for once in my life, I wanted a pair of at least marginally fashionable sandals. Just once. Is that really so much to ask?

I started out at Payless Shoes. This is not because of high quality or even their generally very low prices. It was because I’ve seen them stock reasonable looking shoes in wide sizes before, so it struck me as a good place to start looking. I headed for the row with my size and began the hunt, fairly certain I could at least find a pair of sandals I could wear while looking for a sturdier pair to last me longer.

No dice.

There was one, single pair of shoes in my size. They were hot pink metallic patent leather platform stiletto hooker sandals. Let us count the ways in which these are Not Twistie Shoes. We begin with ‘pink’ and end with ‘hooker.’ The only two words from that list I wanted in my footwear were ‘hot sandals.’

Still, that was one store. There was an entire mall full of shoes just waiting for someone to buy them. Besides, while Payless carries wide widths, they don’t exactly specialize in them. Perhaps they were just low on stock that day. Nothing daunted, I headed for a store that had a lovely selection of attractive flat sandals in real leather colors. Some had pretty beadwork, others decorative stitching that caught my Ren-Fairy eye. Some were simple while others were elaborate. The thing they all had in common was that they looked like something I wanted on my feet.

Wiping away the unladylike drool from my chin, I proceeded in and took a closer look. Good materials, decent workmanship, reasonable prices…I was in Shoe Heaven! Then I asked the fateful question: do you carry wide widths?

The girl looked at me as though I’d just asked for permission to park my spaceship on the premises. She then informed me that, no, she was sorry to be unable to help me, but her store didn’t carry wide shoes at all.

The next store was worse. The shoes – while less inspirational than in the previous one – were quite nice. The saleswoman was not. She didn’t just look confused, but outright disgusted to have been asked a simple question about the sizes available. She then sneeringly directed me to the ‘sensible’ shoe store.

On and on it went. Store after store, I got one of the above reactions. There was either polite befuddlement or outright contempt that I might think I had any right to put something pretty on my disgusting fat feet.

My last ditch effort was Sears. Their shoe section had nobody to ask for assistance or other sizes. It had gone self serve. There were helpful signs all around the department informing me that more styles and sizes were available at their website. Great. That didn’t help me when I was searching high and low all over the department looking for a pair of shoes I could try on AND WEAR HOME IN THE SCORCHING HEAT INSTEAD OF THE DAMN CLOGS.

After some minutes of diligent searching, I found one, single pair of wide width shoes in the whole of the Sears shoe department. They were a pair of sensible white bucks clearly meant for someone in the medical profession. I’m glad they recognized that, say, a nurse who stands on her feet all day might need shoes for work, and that they might even need a wide width. I’m in favor of that. I, however, am not a nurse. Even if I were one, I would still need something to wear on my feet in my off hours. And when I need sandals, I really don’t need bucks.

Oh, and some of us need a bit more from a shoe than simple width. I, for example, need to know that my freakishly high arch will fit into a shoe before I buy it. Purchasing shoes over the internet is simply not a practical option for some of us, aside from the fact that sometimes you just need a shoe immediately because you don’t have anything functional and appropriate to the season.

So, stiletto hooker shoes or angel of mercy white bucks. I wound up swinging through a Target on the way home. No, they didn’t have wide shoes, either, but we had a gift card and I found a pair of kind of cute sandals that weren’t all that uncomfortable to wear for less than twenty dollars. They will have to do for me until I find someplace where I can get a pair of sandals that actually fits and that I actually like.

In fact, if they just came in my actual size, I’d be content with the sandals I bought.

28 Responses to “No, Really, I Just Want Something to Wear on My Feet”

  1. bethG April 25, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    Don’t completely discount the “sensible” shoe store. I pretty much exclusively wear Dansko and I got a great pair of sandals that are cute and adjust to fit my fat rectangles – I mean feet. Hopefully this link works: http://www.dansko.com/#detail,Ceres,Capri,2

    If not, go to the Dansko site and look for the Ceres sandal. And check out the others while you’re there. There are at least 2 more cute pair I’d love to have!

  2. Pamela April 25, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    Do you have an Avenue near you? They aren’t exactly high fashion, but I have found some pretty cute shoes there before in both W and WW widths.

  3. Wendy April 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    Oh Twistie, you’re playing my song, that familiar chorus! I so hear you on the matter of ‘hard to fit’ feets – sign me 10EEE, and add to that the necessity for flat, sturdy shoes caused by that enemy of fashionable footwear: plantar fasciitis. Even though I don’t think much of the quality of most of their shoes, I miss being able to actually look through the half an aisle with my size for the six boxes that include the magic W beside the 10.

    I am fairly fortunate in that there is a store that specializes in wide shoes in my city. Sadly, their prices are not what you might call competitive. But I’m not even allowed to wear heels these days (damn you, my podiatrist!), so I haven’t shopped there in a good long while either.

    Comfortable, sensible shoes lose their appeal pretty darn fast when they’re all you can wear. *sniff*

  4. Fabrisse April 25, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    Size 4 WW (or EEE or G depending on your sizing convention) here. There are times when I’ll just settle for finding something without a Disney princess on them.

    Like you, I have a high arch, so china flats aren’t my best choice, but I do keep a couple of pair on hand for emergencies like you described. They’re cool, at least physically, and keep my feet covered so as to avoid the embarrassing “no shoes, no service” types. I was even able to find a pair in a summery yellow for under five dollars last year.

    Maryland Square does hard to fit shoes. Some of them are even pretty. I got a great pair of low heeled size 5 extra wide boots that fit extra wide calves.

  5. Bree April 25, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    Payless is notorious for carrying only stiletto hooker heels in wide widths and larger sizes. I wear 12 W – 13 W depending on the cut, and you’d think with my Sasquatch feet all Payless would carry is sensible shoes, but no. In sizes 7-11, you get anything you want. Size 12 and up, it’s heels, heels, and more heels. I can’t wear heels. I have no arch, so they are painful for me. They must have a large drag queen population that shops there.

    I would definitely try Avenue. While they don’t have a lot of variety, at least they realize there’s a need for wide widths.

  6. Twistie April 25, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    One quick addition: the reason I didn’t go to the ‘sensible’ store wasn’t just because of the sensibleness of it. It was also because if I do go that route (which I’ll probably wind up doing) I’ll go to the one here in town where the owner gives me a ten percent discount because he took a liking to me the fist time I walked into the store. OTOH, as Wendy so wisely says, sensible loses its appeal when it’s your only option.

    There is an Avenue in town, but our branch doesn’t stock much in the way of shoes. There’s no selection and I can get a greater variety of similar styles at the sensible store in town.

    But dammit, even though Plumcake will probably get the vapors from the horror, I have to admit that what I really, really want is a pair of Gladiator sandals because I freaking rock those puppies and they’re the only sandal style I know that offers ankle support. Having somewhat weak ankles makes a girl appreciate that.

  7. emmme April 25, 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    Sounds like the sensible store in town w/ the discount should’ve been the first stop. But sometimes you luck up…

  8. klee April 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    I share your pain: My feet are super sensitive, a little wide, and I have bad knees.
    i have the worst time finding shoes that don’t make SOMETHING hurt, whether it is the knees or the feet. I have been searching for 2 months now for closed toed flats that I could walk for miles in, in a neutral color (maybe metallic, but not too shiny). I think I have tried on, no exaggeration, 400 pair.

    As for sandals, I got a pair of Fitflops in bronze last year, and have worn them to death. They are the best, most comfiest sandals ever, and I can wear them with summer dresses.
    Also, have you tried Zappos? If you live at the end of the world like I do, Zappos will have stuff no mall nearby carries. Super fast delivery and great return policy.

  9. Krista April 25, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    I wear WW shoes and have square feet. I can sometimes get away with W’s if I buy a size up. I have had good luck with Torrid, the Woman Within catalog and Zappos. We had a Wide Shoe Store here that I shopped exclusively (Cute Sandals, Sensible work pumps, adorable loafers, and WW Keds!!!!!) but they closed down in Dec due to economic issues. I used to wear Easy Spirit a lot, but I have found that they have cut waaay down on the WW widths they offer, and the shoes are getting uglier.
    I swear my holy grail of shoes is cute strappy summer dress sandals. They are the hardest to find in WW.

  10. Sabayon April 25, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    Have you tried Foot Petals Amazing Arches ( http://www.footpetals.com/cgi-bin/footpetals/Amazing%20Arches.html ) for your arch problem. You can add them into any shoe and they do not really affect fit and are not noticeable, even in sandals. I actually have flat feet and so I need arch support in every shoe I wear or, well, my orthopedist used words like “grating”, “total knee replacement” and “before you’re 40”, and so I put these in every pair of non-sensible shoes I own and they are fabulous. They really give excellent arch support, look great, and don’t change the fit. I keep a few pair on hand should I urgently need new shoes.

  11. Twistie April 26, 2009 at 12:26 am #

    Actually, Sabayon, the arch support isn’t the problem. I can get by in shoes without great arch support. It’s more a matter of getting them over the tops of my feet.

  12. emily April 26, 2009 at 1:00 am #

    I can totally sympathize with this problem — my feet aren’t as wide as some mentioned. So what I do is buy leather and avoid manmade materials – that way my fat little feet can stretch them out. I am going to check out avenue, though! Learn something new everyday!

  13. Leah April 26, 2009 at 2:06 am #

    For those needing more arch support, I know they aren’t “pretty,” but I do love my chaco’s all year long when I need to do some serious walking. Don’t remember if they come in wide widths (I think they do) but the straps are adjustable all the way through the shoe so they definitely are more accommodating than most shoes. No, not the most fashionable option, but I think a step up from Birkenstocks (which I don’t find all that comfortable) as they at least let you show off a cute pedicure and DEFINITELY a step up from the sort of shoes that will not be named in look and comfort, even if you’re just mucking about in the garden.

    Oh, and someone mentioned plantar fasciitis… my mom started wearing chaco’s because she had PF (that’s how I got started on them) and they helped a lot, but what helped even more was when she won a gift certificate in a charity auction for acupuncture. She thought that it probably wouldn’t work, but she had tried everything else short of surgery so for $20 it was worth a shot. She hasn’t had any pain since; she went back once more for trouble with her knee and hasn’t been back in over two years–pain free. Don’t know why it works, but all I need to know is that we can go on vacations where we have to walk a long ways again. Good enough for me!

  14. Margo April 26, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    Twistie, I love you. And I feel your pain. Literally, right now, with my plantar fascitis.

  15. Cat April 26, 2009 at 8:06 pm #

    Twistie, a friend of mine just bought a pair of Piper sandals — http://www.pipersandals.com/ — and is raving about them. I noticed on their website that they can do custom sizing based on tracings of your feet. It might be worth looking into.

  16. that redhead April 27, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    Twistie, my darling…I live on the Peninsula…not far from The Republic. The great thing about ordering from Zappos, is that they always (at least for me) upgrade my regular shipping order to overnight.

    BTW, I have a horrible bunion from wearing too narrow shoes for too many years…and now I’ve been advised to wear only wide widths. I’ve had great luck with Zappos, and when I’ve had a problem with fit, zappos has been great about returns.

    Give it a try…you can find something other than Birkies… or try “Footwear Etc.”…I know they have them in Berzerkely…and they have some cute, cute, cute sandals…not as cheap as Payless, but cute, comfy and they’ll wear forever.

  17. La Petite Acadiene April 28, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    I’ve usually had success at Naturalizer. I just looked on their website, and some of their sandals come in up to a size 10 in wide widths.

  18. a meg April 28, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    Oh, Twistie, we’re foot twins! I thought I must be the only one with the “tall foot” problem, given how difficult it is for me to find shoes that go over the top of my feet.

    I find myself in a lot of ballet flats, lace-up sneakers, and flip-flops. Sigh. I love comfortable shoes. I love superfantastic pretty shoes. And yet, mostly, I wear not-too-ugly-not-too-comfy shoes.

    My one complaint about Mr Meg is that he is not the cobbler I always swore I would marry in exchange for custom-fitted shoes. . .

  19. Twistie April 29, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    a meg, we really are twins! I, too, dreamed of marrying a talented cobbler. In the end, though, I fell head over sore heels for a rock musician. What’s a girl to do?

    I still dream of comfortable, fashionable shoes that I can try on instead of ordering and sending back when they don’t fit over my arches.

  20. Amy K. April 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    The “sensible” brands have some really cute styles these days. Even though I like Dansko a lot, I think most of them look the same. But Clarks and Sofft are both great brands with wide widths and a variety of choices that are a lot more comfortable than they look.

  21. Geogrrl April 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

    Ah, Twistie, I understand your problem regarding the very high arch. I have the same problem, which also makes me hesitate about buying shoes online. I’ve tried on so many pairs of shoes which otherwise fit, but simply cannot accommodate my very high instep. It’s difficult to tell from looking at them which shoes will work and which will not.

    I don’t have a particularly wide foot, but I have what my friend calls “duck feet”. Very narrow heels and wider at the front. Most of my dress shoes have heel pads in them to keep me from walking out of the shoes.

    And what IS it with the hooker pumps? When I was younger, I would wear a 3″ heel at most. Now that I’m older (and supposedly more sensible) I wear heel heights of 1″ to 2″. Yet when I go shoe shopping every cute shoe has a 4″ heel.

  22. Violet April 29, 2009 at 6:09 pm #

    I gots the tall feet too. Even with a regular B width it rules out one hell of a lot of shoes. I second Clarks and Naturalizer and perhaps Anne Klein for basic-looking pairs that aren’t completely all the way over into frankly hideous Birk/MBT land, not that I don’t have some MBTs, because I certainly do, but Lord.

  23. CyndiF April 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    Zappos for the win.

  24. Kai Jones May 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    I suddenly realize how blessed I am to have a shoe store in town that *specializes* in wide widths. Even though I don’t always like their choices and the prices are painful, at least I have a place where I can try things on before buying them.

  25. Eowyn May 2, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    SERIOUSLY. Why does Payless (and almost every other store that bothers to carry a size 11-12) assume that you must be tasteless or a nurse if you have feet that big?!?

  26. Jared Nuessen February 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    I just now read this post and know the tribulations associated with finding wide-width shoes in department stores…it’s tough!! Since I do most of my shopping online, there are quite a few that have wide-widths. Shoes.com, Famous Footwear and Walking Cradles are a few. Like you, I normally like to try the shoes on to make sure they’re comfortable and have a sufficient arch for my apparently freakish foot.