I can't really remember a time in my life when I was happy about having large feet. Growing up, I had an incredibly hard time finding shoes that not only fit me but also looked cute. Even in high school, I distinctly remember having to buy my gym sneakers from the men's department, where the shoes fit better than the hot pink ones I really wanted from the women's section.
In attempts to cheer me up about my size 12s, my mother would say things like, "You'd look so silly with tiny feet! You need them to big enough to support you!" True, at 6'2'', my proportions probably make sense, but that certainly didn't make finding footwear any easier. Fortunately, I've learned a few things along the years that've made shoe shopping less of a struggle.
If you have wide feet, then perhaps you can relate to me. But don't loose faith in finding both stylish and comfortable footwear. There are plenty of great options out there for you. It just may be that you're not looking in the right places. In that spirit, here are eight tips — all from women with wide feet — on how to shop for shoes that'll make your feet look and feel great.
1. The Wide Section Is A Good Place To Start
The first (and perhaps most obvious) way to find comfortable shoes is to start by looking in the wide section. "I always shop this category first, that way if I find a pair I like, I won't be as tempted by the other cute, non-wide pair I find later in the general section," says Amanda Kerzman, creator of the blog Amanda K. by the Bay. "If I'm shopping at an actual store and there is somebody who can help me, I will ask them if they have any wide shoes in the style I'm looking for."
2. There's Value In Vintage
Vintage shops are a great place to look for wide shoes. "Look out for unisex-style men’s brogues in vintage shops as they should fit your wide feet to perfection," recommends Lela London on her eponymous blog. Not having luck in vintage shops but love that old-timey style? "Try a lace-up oxford," Catherine Belte recommends on Lucky. "Regular width closed-toed flats tend to run wider and the structured sole and closed toe will keep your foot snug but comfortable."
These leather oxfords, which come in nine different colors, offer a more supportive fit that open sandals.
3. Keep Straps Simple
A shoe with too many straps can be constricting for wide feet. Instead, look for shoes with only one or two straps, like T-strap styles. "Beautiful dainty straps are lovely until they start digging into your feet," writes the Alice Bow blog. "A smooth, unstitched piece of leather will mould to your foot better than any sort of stitched strap or edge."
I have these shoes in a nude color and I won't be lying if I told you that I've worn them every day this summer. They're comfortable, stylish, and let your feet breath.
4. Look For Adjustable Features
The Alice Bow blog also suggests looking for shoes that can adapt to your feet, whether that means with a bit of extra elastic on the sides or an adjustable buckle.
These sandals have two adjustable straps, allowing you to tighten or loosen them accordingly.
5. Focus On The Heels and Toes
A pointed toe can be constricting but a wide, round toe will allow more wiggle room for your toes. When it comes to heels, thicker could be better. "Make sure you choose a wider, stacked heel to help with balance and support," says Belte. "A wide foot will push more against the sides of a shoe, which can cause you to roll in or out."
Simple strap: check. Round toe: check. Supportive heel: check. Supple fabric: check. These shoes hit all of the marks. Plus, they're adorable, work appropriate, and very reasonably priced. And you thought wide-friendly shoes were hard to find?
6. Know The Designers And Brands To Look For
Sites like Zappos, Payless, and Avenue.com have huge selections of wide-fitting shoes. You'll definitely have more options online than in stores. But if you do find yourself in a mall or shopping hub such as NYC, then there are a few stores that'd be worth popping into. The Budget Fashionista recommends brands like NineWest and Stuart Weitzman, which carry styles for women with larger feet. The Huffington Post also suggests shopping for shoes at Nordstrom, Dillard's, Piperlime, and Net-A-Porter.
7. Don't Depend On "Breaking Them In"
We're all guilty of having bought a pair of shoes that are either too small, too big, too tight, or just generally uncomfortable. They say that beauty is pain, right? But when you're in the market for a new pair of shoes that you, you know, want to actually wear — be honest with yourself. Are you really going to put up with the pain of breaking them in? "It's true that most shoes stretch and become more comfortable, but this can take months," says Kerzman. "If you're in pain for more than a few days, I'm betting you are not going to wear them for a few months...If you think they are gonna hurt, they probably will."
8. Some Fabrics Are Better Than Others
Not all fabrics are created equal and some are better than other when you have wide feet. "Suede and soft leathers will mould to your feet better than patent leathers. This is because the coating applied to patent leather stops it from stretching as much," says the Alice Bow blog. If you're still having trouble getting your shoes to stretch a bit, then try a shoe stretching spray. "Always patch test first to check that it won’t change the color of your shoes. Spray, pop the shoes on, and wear them around the house for a couple of hours." Don't feel like doing the work yourself? Then head over to your local shoe repair store and ask what they might be able to do for you. Chances are that they'll have a shoe stretching machine.
For the perfect fit, it's best to wear your shoes after spraying them with this product, but investing in a personal wooden shoe stretcher is also an option.