Dear Shoe Lady,
I have narrow feet (size 7.5) and a longer big toe. Also, as I have very thin skin, I need a lot of extra cushioning for the ball of my feet.
I find it virtually impossible to buy comfortable high heeled office pumps. Any suggestion to brands I may try or getting custom made shoes?
You were born with narrow feet, toes of disproportionate length and thin skin so the nerve endings are near the surface and very sensitive. Mother Nature is trying to tell you something! Why oh WHY are you trying to find high heel office pumps!?!
Good grief. The challenges The Shoe Lady must rise to.
First, re-think the high heel part of the shoes you are seeking. I’m sure you can find a way to look like an executive, leader, office diva without high heels.
But The Shoe Lady is here to help. I will provide you with some “tips” that may shed light on a solution.
First, fit for your longer big toes. I generally ask people to measure their feet from heel to toe. And it works fine unless the toes are shorter or longer than average. Truth is, shoes are made assuming a standard toe width and the key measure is the length from your heel to the widest part of your foot, the ball of your foot. You should measure your feet on a Brannock device. This will tell you your shoe size if your longer toes were not an issue. Why is this important? If you are buying size 7.5 shoes because of your longer toes, but your heel-to-ball size is really a 6.5, then the shape of the shoe will not accommodate the ball of your foot correctly. The ball of your foot will hit a narrower part of the shoe and in high heel pumps, this will be painful, even for thicker skinned folks. Once you know the Brannock size and the full foot size, you will need to learn about shoe last shapes. You will need a shoe shape that does not have a pronounced inward curve at the arch and outward curve for the ball of the foot. An extreme example to consider might be a “D’Orsay” style pump.
Second, high heels. If you are going to insist on high heels, let’s determine how high. Studies of foot biomechanics suggest that women should not exceed heels of about 2.5 inches if they are going to wear them for most of the day. But I hear you say you want to wear a 3 inch heel. Then look for a pump that has a half inch platform sole. You can have the heel if you raise the front of the shoe too. What? You want a 4 inch heel with no platform? OK. Here’s the deal. Wear a reasonable 1-2 inch comfortable heel to work, on the way home, going to get lunch, etc. Slip into the 4 inch heel while you are at your desk and walking to and from meetings. Do not stand or walk in them for more than two hours a day.
Third, finding comfort. There are a couple of options on the market that you may want to try. Cole-Haan, part of the Nike shoe family, has used Nike’s technology for adding gas filled pillows under the balls of the feet. You could find such pillows at a big drug store, but these are more permanent. Look into the Insolia (http://insolia.com/
) product to see if this will help. Some shoe manufacturers incorporate it into their shoes. But you can buy the inserts and add them to your shoes.
Fourth, staying healthy. Too much time in high heels will change your natural walking gait, even when you walk in flats or barefoot. And it isn’t a good change. It effects your posture, your ankle movement, your foot flexibility and the calves and tendons in your lower legs. Of course all of this also effects your hip joints and back. But I’m going to assume you are under 30 and don’t care about that. If you do wear high heels a lot, then daily you must stretch out the backs of your legs, the tendons. You must do foot exercises to keep those 27 bones, and all their related tendons and muscles, in each foot lively and moving. Pick things up with your toes. Role your feet over a golf ball. Note. If you are over 30, all that nice padding under the balls of your feet has started to slide forward toward your toes, or just disappear. This means it is “bone on ground” time. And the higher the heel, the more weight on the ball of your foot!
Fifth, brands to try. Cole Haan, but they may not carry narrows. Naturalizer, has comfort features and platforms. Ros Hommerson, has been off market but is re-launching this Fall and I expect will bring good design and comfort features in narrow sizes. Other brands that offer great “career wear” styles in your size include Bella Vita, Sofft, Soft Spots, Soft Walk, Trotters. Try this link to get some options in your size: http://www.designershoes.com/all-products?collections=267&heel=51&p=2&sizewidth=140
Best to you,
The Shoe Lady
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