Two Different Foot Sizes

Dear Shoe Lady,
I am a parent of a child with hemi hypertrophy of the lower left extremity. Our problem is finding shoes, we can generally find a new balance that will accommodate her feet, but as far as finding little girl shoes to go with her uniform, and or girly flat boots for the winter, it is virtually impossible, just because of the width. Do she wears about a 7 on her regular sized foot, and the left she wears somewhere around an 11 or 12, but maybe even a 10 if we can get the width correct. My question is do you make those type of shoes, and if so, would I half to purchase 2 pair of shoes (like i normally do) or since it is special made would you charge me for one?

Dear Mom-

Many years ago when the internet was young there was a company that tried to bring together a clearinghouse for people who needed two different sizes of shoes. Unfortunately, it never worked and is gone. The only way to manage this is to buy two pairs of shoes, same style, different sizes.

As for price, there is no discount. But you can always watch for sales!

As for style advice, I don’t know enough about the age and style preferences of your daughter to venture a recommendation, however we do offer over 200 pairs of flats that range in sizes from 7 – 15. Below is one (I think) cute example.

Barefoot Tess Tuscany Blue at

Tuscany by Barefoot Tess is a Low Heel Dressy Flat

I do hope this problem resolves itself so she can get back to more normal shoe shopping soon.

Best to you and your daughter.

The Shoe Lady

Shoes for Swollen Feet

Dear Shoe Lady,
I can not find a shoe to fit my foot. The measurements are 11 inches long, 4.5 inches wide but the circumference of my foot is 1 ft 1 inch due to swelling. So the top of the shoe never fits over my foot… not even strappy kinds. I have tried to go up in sizes but nothing seems to help. Any suggestions?

Ms Clarissa-
Your question is above my pay grade, I’m afraid. Substantial swelling in your feet can be do to a number of reasons but it is definitely something you need to discuss with your doctor. And I’ll bet you have had that discussion.

Your length and width measurements suggest a 12WW. But as you so correctly recognize, this really isn’t enough information to determine if the shoe will fit. A shoe really requires a measure of volume and shape. That is higher math and also above my pay grade. But you need shoes and I want to help.
Until you can address the swelling, I suggest you look at some of the soft moccasin style loafers you’ll find in the Tamarac Collection.

Tamarac Highlander Rootbeer

Highlander by Tamarac is a Low Heel Casual Slipper

Straps will bind but if you can find a shoe that is soft around the throat line, (where you put your foot into the shoe) you will be more comfortable. You may also want to look in the Lace Up Style Collection

Aerosoles Tempire State Black Combo at

Tempire State by Aerosoles is a Mid Heel Casual Laceup

Do see your doctor, watch your salt intake and don’t try to squeeze into an uncomfortable style. Hopefully this is a temporary situation. Could you be pregnant? That is a leading cause of swollen feet!

Best to you,
The Shoe Lady

Painful Thong Sandals

Dear Shoe Lady,
What can I do to ease the pain my feet endure trying to wear thong sandals? All the cute sandals are thong type. I have tried using a bandage, but it does not help, just hurts.

Hi Gloria,
I understand the frustration of loving a style that has been less than kind to your precious feet. Before ruling out thongs completely I suggest going to the podiatrist to see if your toes are aligning properly, and there isn’t an underlying foot problem, such as a bunion. Discomfort can appear to be magnified if your big toe is pressing too hard against the second toe. You could also be sensitive to the friction of the material, and might consider looking for one that is closer to satin. If you find that your foot health is not a concern, then seeking another type of sandal will be your best bet. The good news is those alternatives exist! Search for sandals that are similar to thongs, but that cause less friction to your toes.

Annie Bejeweled Silver at

Bejeweled by Annie is a Mid Heel Dressy Sandal

Bejeweled by Annie has a tapered front that suggests a thong, but has coverage over the toebox, for a more evenly distributed secure hold.

Good luck on your search,
The Shoe Lady

Hammer Toe Tips

Q: My elderly aunt has very painful and difficult feet to fit.  She wears a size 11.5 and needs a wider rounded toe to accommodate her hammer toes, but has a narrow heel.  Also, she does better with her heel slightly higher than her toes, but not more than 1 inch.

Can you recommend any shoe styles for me to look at for her??

Thank you so much.

A: Dear Kristen-

Aren’t you the perfect grand daughter!  Were you trained or do you come by this compassion naturally?  A well brought up young lady is such a treasure!

I am in total sympathy with your grandmother, who I am imagining as an otherwise spry, relatively young 70.  Hammertoes are ….. well they are the pits.  Surgery doesn’t really work well.  Those little Dr. Scholls cushions are helpful but annoying because they slip around.  The hammertoes get corns and that is painful.  So keep that compassion flowing.

Yours truly, the Shoe Lady, is a size 11.5 with a narrow heel and with hammertoes.  So I bring more than the usual amount of expertise to this shoe question.

I recommend the big toe box, for sure.  When you can’t find a big toe box in shoes, shoes for a dressy occasion for example, get shoes that are either soft leather or fabric (like dyeables) and take them to a shoe repair shop to have the toe box stretched upward to accommodate those hammertoes.

Look at’s SoftWalk brand styles:

For example, Jupiter style:

Softwalk Jupiter Navy at

Jupiter by Softwalk is a Low Heel Casual Flat

Mary Jane straps are a great design feature when you want a wider toe box but have narrow heels.  It keeps the shoe on your foot!

Look at’s Trotter’s brand styles:

For example, Heloise style:

Trotters Heloise Pewter Metal at

Heloise by Trotters is a Mid Heel Dressy Loafer

A woven leather will give more flexibility on the top vamp.  The vamp comes higher up your foot so it stays on your foot better.  The texture makes any “toe bumps” less noticeable.

Whatever you do, do NOT buy styles that have reinforced leather, or toe cap seams across the top of the vamp where those hammer toes will hit.  That makes me wince just thinking about it!  A seam or a thicker piece of leather will be like steel or a rod against those poor defenseless toes.

Best to your Grams!

The Shoe Lady

Flat Arches are a Challenge

Dear Amber,

Your feet are closer to average in length and width than you think. By those two dimensions, you are a size 9.5W, not even an extra wide. The flat arches and the orthotics are the challenges. There are several brands that make styles with removeable inner soles which allows your orthotics to take up the space designed for the inner sole and makes a better fit. Soft Spots and some Naturalizers offer this feature, for example.

But let’s assume you don’t remove the inner soles. Women with flat arches tend to find that the edges, the “throatline” of their shoes gap. I recommend, for this reason and so you can test different widths, wide or extra wide, that you look at “Mary Jane” style pumps. These shoes designed to have a strap over the top of your arch.

Take a look at some of these Mary Jane shoe styles. They come in wide and extra wide widths.

Studio, black suede a Mary Jane style pump by Soft Spots

Studio, black suede a Mary Jane style pump by Soft Spots

The Shoe Lady

Shoes for Walking

Dear Shoe Lady,

I like to walk and like to take the opportunity during the day to get out for a longish stroll.  Or I’ll get off the subway a stop early and walk the extra distance.  I do not like to have to change my shoes to official “walking shoes” everytime I want to walk.  I like to wear the same pair of shoes all day and I don’t want them to look clunky and orthopedic.  What do you recommend?

T.B., Boston

Dear T,

A woman after my own heart.  Did you know that when you walk, you put three times your regular weight on your forefeet?  And when you run, it is up to 8 times the pressure.  That said, shop with this criteria in mind:  1.  a slight wedge heel;  2.  an arch support;  3.  a cushioned sole under the front of the foot;  4.  a flexible shoe that will bend and move with your foot.

Here are some styles to consider:

Viani by Naturalizer

Legacy by Naturalizer

Helen by Soft Spots

Billie by Walking Cradles

Of course, your best bet for walking is a performance shoe like those from New Balance.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  And if you buy the featured shoes from New Balance, you’ll also be contributing to support breast cancer research!

Happy Trails!

The Shoe Lady

Foot Surgery to Make Shoes Fit?

Dear Ask the Shoe Lady Readers,

What a choice facing women who want to be fashionable: cut the shoes to fit the feet? Or Cut the feet to fit the shoes? Recent news reports suggest many fashionistas are choosing to cut their feet. Surgery to shorten toe bones to better fit current shoe styles is on the rise.

Couldn’t women just wear bigger size shoes?

It’s not enough to just get a shoe long enough. Women are influenced by the media and peer pressure. They are looking for 4 inch heels, according to Dr. Sharon Dreeben, and orthopedic surgeon in LaJolla, California. “In the 16 th century Venice women felt fashion required them to hobble around on 10 inch cylinders under their feet. But they also had a man on each side to support them.” “When wearing higher heels, 70% of our weight is shifted to our metatarsals. The ball of our foot is not designed for this weight”, she said.

According to Dr. Rock Positano, Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, there is an “amazing naivete” among the public – most women don’t know what their real shoe size is when they buy these shoes. He advises women to measure their feet periodically just like they have a periodic eye exam.   A study by the Foot and Ankle Society done around 1996 found that 90% of women wear shoes one to two sizes too small because they do not know their correct size. George Tzamaras, American Podiatric Medicine Association, says “Women’s feet grow larger with age and pregnancy. Ligaments release and fatty tissue breaks down making feet both wider and longer. It’s not uncommon for a woman’s foot to grow one to two sizes between the ages of 20 and 45 years old.”

This “Cinderella complex”, women wearing shoes too small, means muscles, tendons, tissues and bones can’t function properly so women get bunions, hammertoes, etc “Women can wear these higher heel fashion shoes if they have accurately assessed the size of their foot and if they don’t have Achilles tendon problems” says Positano. “Going out to a party for two or three hours is great. But don’t expect to walk several blocks or stay on your feet all day. That’s ridiculous. Everything in moderation.”

Few people in the fashion industry or the footwear industry appreciate just how fast these feet are growing according to Barbara Thornton, President,, an e-commerce site store that caters ONLY to fashion oriented “women who leave a larger footprint”. “In 1987 only about 11% of all women needed size 9 and above. By 2000 over 37% of women need these larger sizes. Size 12 medium is the core in her business, with sizes ranging from 4 extra wide to 15 medium. “Women find us when they are searching for a combination of great fashion and good fit that makes the look stylish and the feel tolerably comfortable.

Width is important too. According to Tzamaras, “There is no real uniformity in sizing among brands.” A medium, wide or extra wide designation means pretty much what the manufacturer wants it to mean. Thornton says women are looking for greater width as well as length in fashion shoes. For every customer looking to her site for a narrow size, 250 customers are looking for a wider size.

Not only does provide a huge selection of brand name styles similar to those seen in top fashion magazines, the business is dedicated to the now acceptable idea that healthy feet are going to carry women further than aching and abused feet tortured by improper size and style. “The idea that women are having foot operations to be able to wear the fashion dictators’ styles is unacceptable here” says Thornton. Positano emphasizes, “To take a perfectly functioning healthy foot and change the architecture and then have something go wrong is a terrible thing!” Thornton agrees. She does sell some 3 and 4 inch heels but warns, “These are to be worn for a few hours a day, sitting in a café or on a bar stool. And an escort to lean on is highly recommended!”


About is the premiere provider of contemporary, fashion and designer couture shoes in narrow, wide and extra wide in sizes 4 to 14, and medium in sizes 4 to 15. Founded in 1997 by Harvard Business School graduate, Barbara Thornton, and distinguished as the destination for women who leave a larger footprint, offers over 1500 styles in size 12, alone.  For more information call  , and outside Massachusetts at  (7463). Log on to shop at .