I have a sort of love-hate relationship with shoes. Because I have really large feet, it’s really really hard to find shoes in my size. And it’s even harder to find them in the UK. I’m also tall, so I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect heel that’s not too high but still super cute.
But because I can’t just buy any High Street shoe I fancy, I’ve become slightly obsessed. We always want what we can’t have, right? I even occasionally find myself filling online baskets of dream shoes from places like Zara, ASOS and Aldo. And then closing the window and crying into my glass of Malbec. Just kidding… sort of.
When I do find shoes in my size, they’re not always the epitome of cutting-edge style. I’ve had to slightly lower my standards in the name of not leaving the house in bare feet. I now get inappropriately excited over mildly non-ugly footwear… if it won’t cut off circulation to my toes. It’s like those health freaks who swear black bean brownies are soo tasty. Or city-dwellers (myself included) who, when seeing a friend’s tiny flat for the first time, exclaim, “OMG, it’s huge! You have so much space in here!”
The actual translation is: considering the situation, this is pretty okay. And that’s how I feel about the majority of my shoes.
Sadly, finding even these mildly non-ugly shoes is a challenge. However, being the determined, wily strategist that I am, I have developed a few approaches – which I thought I’d share just in case there are any other giant-footed ladies suffering in silence. Also, in the spirit of sharing I may as well share my actual shoe size – a number I typically guard more ferociously than my weight. JK… I’m definitely not sharing my weight. But I will say in shoes I’m a US 12, UK 10.
I know, right? Anyway, here are my four strategies for procuring size gigantic shoes.
- Outsource to the US
While size US12 is pretty hard to come by, it’s much easier than finding a UK10. I have especially good luck at Nine West and Nordstrom, which is where I bought these… and these… and these. So I’ve started my own shoe smuggling business. Whenever friends or family visit London I load them up with a couple pairs of shoes to bring over in their suitcases. And when I go back home, I always leave extra room in my suitcase to bring some back. This method is particularly nice considering how much cheaper it is to shop in the US. (**I also really LOVED Sole Society, which is wear I bought these cute leopard guys… until the customer service rep told me they had decided to stop making size 12. Rude.)
- Design your own
I’ve discovered a few websites that let you design your own shoes in any size. I was lucky enough to test out three of these places for a feature I wrote for Marie Claire. The short version is… it’s a really cool thing to do and the shoes are beautiful. But the designs are limited and they are super pricey.
- Embrace trainers
The fashionization of trainers/athletic shoes/sneakers has been a pretty huge thing in my life – and the reasons are plentiful: they look awesome, they’re flat, they’re comfortable, they go with everything… and, best of all, they come in big-girl sizes. Props to Nike and Adidas for this accomplishment. (Also, can someone please buy me the green Stan Smiths for Christmas, already?)
- Drop all preconceived notions about Long Tall Sally
When I first heard about this specialty big-lady shoes shop, I immediately thought: Not For Me. I think my judginess was mostly around the name. Seriously, there’s nothing good about the branding here. But, once I actually took some time to see what they have, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure some stuff is “big ladyish”… but some is really cute. I snagged this pair of pointy-toed patent ankle boots and a the monochrome flats above and I couldn’t be happier. I’m officially a convert.
If you know of any other stores that I should check out, please let me know. I always need more ways to feed my shoe addiction!