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By Lauren Deloach, Editor of Category5Style.com
There’s a lot to be said for wearing fabulous clothes and shoes, but what if the vision you have in your mind is severely limited in reality? When it comes to shoes, this truth is all too common. Yes, those four inch pointed-toe pumps are beyond fabulous to look at, but what if your actual foot is on a completely different page. I can’t count how many times I encounter women who absolutely love the super stylish heels, but are unable to wear them due to physical limitations such as wide or narrow feet. By far one of the biggest issues I see women face when it comes to shoes is what I call FFE, Fashion Foot Exhaustion.
Yes, you may have been able to rock out four inch heels day after day in your 20s and 30s, but honey in your 40s, 50s and 60s your feet may have turned on you! Try to slide into those heels if you want to, your foot has other plans, and will be sure to let you know as soon as you try to take one step. Maybe you didn’t know your feet could talk, until you heard them shout at you “Take one more step and I’ll deliver a pain in your teeth so severe you’ll think you’ve got a cavity.” Not fun, not cute, and not the way to go, stylish or not! All that said, is it possible to find stylish shoes when faced with foot limitations? This is the question I received from a reader, and I think it’s time to set the record straight.
The run of the mill limitations where no medical intervention has typically occurred includes a very small foot (size 5 and under), a larger foot (over size 10), a wide foot, or a very narrow foot. These types of characteristics make it very difficult to walk into a store and ask for your size, because it won’t be there.
For women that fall into this category I recommend locating stores that offer a wide range of sizes. I don’t recommend focusing on a specific group of designers at this point because your issue isn’t centered on actual problems with your feet, but mainly the original “design” of your foot. If you limit your choices based on designers, then there’s a chance you’ll miss new designers who may be at the mid-range level (i.e. reasonable prices) but aren’t focused specifically on comfort, or existing designers that decided to release a bigger range of widths and sizes to test the market. If your hope is to go out and try shoes on, your best bet from a department store perspective are places like Nordstrom, who generally have a wide range of sizes and widths on hand. You can also try to focus on stores that sell mainly shoes, as they try to focus on a wide range of options. What you don’t want to do is go the boutique route, where they mainly sell clothes and have a handful of options for shoes. Waste of time!
Now, if you’re not the chick with the standard limitations, and the issues you face with your feet have escalated to a point where a doctor has told you what you can and can’t wear, then you need to make it your style business to focus on the designer of the shoe. Your strategy has to be different, because your limitations speak to the health of your foot. Your job is to find the designers that work, as unfortunately the choices aren’t necessarily endless, and then get online and let the research begin. The reason I don’t recommend going into a store blindly (even if they carry a wide range of shoes) is because you have a different set of risks. For example, if you’re a size 11 without foot problems and you snag a pair of shoes that turn out to only be four hour shoes (i.e. five hours and your foot begins to literally cry out in pain), then no harm no foul. But if you have genuine foot problems and overestimate the comfort of the shoe, pain for you could mean more damage to your foot and That’s A NO! (T-A-N!). So you have to be more careful about the choices you make to ensure that what you buy is guaranteed to keep your feet healthy.
As for shopping online versus in store, when you’re limited based on designer, you need to have the style world at your fingertips, which can only truly occur online. Going to the store and seeing limited availability can feel like a style tragedy and a heartbreaker, but online there are more options thanks to websites like Shoes.com and 6pm.com. In addition, you’ve got a better shot at a lower price! As you already know the designer will work for your feet from a comfort and health perspective, the risk is pretty much zilch. The designers I end up centering my research on for women who have serious issues with their feet are Dansko, Sofft, and Born.
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Revisiting whether or not you can acquire stylish shoes when faced with foot limitations, the answer is a definite yes! Focus on the shopping strategy outlined and no matter what obstacles come your way, don’t give up on searching for shoes you truly love that will keep your style confidence high.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.