A few weeks ago I walked into Steven Madden to see if there were any affordable shoes that I actually liked–a pretty difficult task since I hate thin heels and unnecessary embellishments, both of which seem to be the only thing available at most shoe stores.
After an irritating few minutes browsing the underwhelming selection in a crowded store, I saw a pair of simple mahogany colored oxfords that I loved. I immediately asked one of the salesmen if it came in my size. He stared at the shoes for a minute before shaking his head.
“No, it’s not in that size,” he said.
I was a little disappointed, but not deterred from my mission. I immediately spotted another cute pair of shoes on the display table.
“What about these?” I asked, probably looking really desperate at this point.
“Sorry,” he said with an apologetic smile.
I gazed at all the other shoes on this table and asked, “Are any of these shoes in my size?”
At this point he was practically wincing. “No,” he said. “I don’t think so. Sorry.”
The sad thing about all of this is that none of this surprised me. This disappointment is a regular occurrence for me when it comes to shoe shopping.
Why? I’m a size 11 in shoes.
Yeah, it sucks.
I can’t walk into the average clothing retailer and expect to find a pair of shoes in my size. I can’t even go to a store like Steve Madden without discovering that my size–with its limited stock–is usually only available in a style that I hate or a color that I don’t want. On Aldo’s website, size 11 is considered a “special size” along with its much smaller counterpart, size 5. It’s tough when the only shoes that I can rely on to carry my size without making me feel like an alien are Doc Martens. But as much as I love my Docs, they cannot be the only shoes I wear.
I don’t exactly hate my feet. I actually think that big feet look pretty graceful, despite their reputation of being clumsy and unsightly. As far as feet go, mine are pretty cute. But wow, I sure hate my shoe size.
And before anyone with a size 10 says they feel my pain, listen: I get it, it can be tough to find your size too, but most shoes go up to a size 10 these days. I used to be a 10, so I know that is a hell of a lot easier to find shoes in that size than an 11.
I think the worst part of being a size 11 is knowing that I’m just past the cusp. It’s like watching the train leave the second you arrive on the platform. It’s like the person in front of you taking the last everything bagel. It’s like being in the middle of buying concert tickets and discovering that they sold out in the time it took you to fill in your credit card information. It’s all of those feelings wrapped into one every time I go shoe shopping. It’s particularly soul crushing as a lover of vintage clothes too because it is nearly impossible to find vintage shoes in my size.
Is it true that your feet get bigger when you’re pregnant? If so, I’m screwed whenever that happens.
I wish that I could offer words of wisdom to my fellow big footed fashionistas out there, but I don’t think I can without coming across as super contrived. So I’m gonna be honest: There really isn’t much of a silver lining here unless retailers start making more shoes in our size, which I don’t see happening anytime soon.
Okay, scratch that, maybe there is one good thing about this: Nobody can borrow your shoes…but I don’t really think that that’s a very common practice anyway.
All we can do for now is support each other because we share that shoe shopping struggle. We know how it feels to delude ourselves into trying a size 10 shoe just to see if it might fit and barely getting our foot inside. We know how crappy it is to walk into a store and already know that none of the shoes are in our size. We know how irritating it is to rely on the internet for most of our shoe shopping and just hope that the shoes don’t pinch and don’t slide and don’t come with an awful return policy.
The only advice I have is to check out sites like Barefootess or Zappos for a wide variety of shoes in sizes above size 10. While limited, I have managed to find shoes in a size 11 at stores like Steve Madden, Aldo and American Apparel, but you’re out of luck if you’re a 12 or larger. Also, find out if your nearest department store has special sales especially for larger shoes. I know that back home in Los Angeles, my local Nordstrom’s Rack has this sale every year summer and it’s great for stocking up on sandals.
If worse comes to worse, you can wear nothing but Doc Martens for the rest of your life. Sure, you’ll be miserable about not finding any shoes in other styles, but at least you’ll end up looking like a totally badass, big footed grandma some day.
And if that doesn’t help…I hear that Paris Hilton has big feet.
Good luck, ladies!
Do you have big feet like I do? Do you have any other suggestions for places to buy shoes for those of us with large–or very small–feet? Tell us in the comments!