Duck Feet? What to Do?

Dear Shoe Lady,

Every pair of shoes I own are too tight in the toes and too loose in the heels. This is a real problem if I want to dress up and wear pumps as the shoes with actually fall off my feet at the back yet be causing me such pain in the toes. I have bought heel grips and they changed nothing. I have doubled them up with thick tissue and still they won’t stay on my feet. I would like to dress up for a wedding and wear classic pumps. Is it possible? What can I do to my shoes to make them fit? I try different sizes in the store and I think I get one that works but 10 minutes into wearing it, it slips! argh!



Dear Ducky!

Takes one to know one!  And I do sympathize!  Here’s the deal.  It is not about your shoe SIZE, it is about learning to pick a style that matches the shape of your foot!

Heel grips are worthless.  I’ve tried them hundreds of times before I learned about fit.  I have definitely “been in your shoes”!

You say you want pumps.  You must get them wide enough at the forefoot for those web shaped toes.  Look for styles that have a wider toe box.   Also consider slingbacks, which adjust better to a narrower heel.  And, of course, mary janes which have a strap over the vamp of your foot to hold the darn shoes on!

Once you understand the physics and geometry of your situation, you will learn to choose styles with a wider toe box for toe room and a higher vamp to anchor the shoes onto your feet.  Boots, T-Strap shoes, ankle straps, etc.

Here are some styles to give you an idea.  You can definitely look glamorous at that wedding!

Best Wishes,

The Shoe Lady

Sofft Ravenna Gold at

Ravenna by Sofft is a Low Heel Dressy Sandal

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

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

Sofft Reiko Caramel Suede at

Reiko by Sofft is a High Heel Dressy Bootie

Bella Vita Athena Multi Snake Leather at

Athena by Bella Vita is a Mid Heel Dressy Pump

Naturalizer Beauty Coral at

Naturalizer Beauty Coral is a 3 Inch Wedge High Heel Casual Sandal


I have a size 5.5 wide, possibly extra wide foot. I also have hardly any arches on my feet, a skinny heel and a high instep. Any thoughts on where I can find shoes that fit?



Dear Keara-

Mary Jane style shoes are your new BFF, Best Feet Friend!  There are lots of styles and heel heights.  You want a shoe that will stay on your feet.

I also suggest you try on size 5WW shoes.  You may be buying shoes too long just to get the width your feet need.  With a narrow heel, this will make your feet more likely to slip out of the heel.   Donna brown patent mary jane style by Samanta
PUHLEEZ!  Read my article on wide size shoes:
The Shoe Lady



Flat Foot that’s NOT a Medium

Dear Ms. S. Lady,

When I measure my longer foot it comes out as a 9 M, but I’ve never had an arch since I was a child (neither did my Mom) and my foot hardly narrows at all toward the ankle (3.75 ” at the ball of the foot 3.5o” at the ankle) so I end up wearing 9 1/2 W and 10 W to try and have enough shoe to accommodate the depth of my foot. I’ve actually had shoe sales associates advise me to buy men’s shoes because they felt the anatomy of my foot was more masculine. I also have an issue with how narrow my heel is , most shoes are huge at the heel, I can step right out of them, I leave slip on shoes in the well of cars and on stair steps. I’m constantly trying to find gel inserts to put inside heels to snug them up. Any suggestions for brands that might fight without so much fussing



Dear Rosie-

Such an excellent question.  And so interesting that you’ve been getting such perverse advice from shoe stores, telling you to buy men’s shoes.  Granted, I do not have the pleasure of seeing your feet first hand and seeing how they fit into shoes.  But based on my years of experience, I’m going to make some assumptions and offer my recommendations.Iggy, tan & black mary jane by Naturalizer
Flat feet do cause shoes to fit differently even though the length measurements can be correct.  One of the signs of “different fit” is gapping at the sides when you wear ballet flats, for example.  You do need to narrow your options by style to Mary Jane type shoes or to shoes that have a vamp that goes up toward your ankle…. loafers for example.  This may be what the shoe store attendants were thinking.  “Get Rosie to wear men’s loafers or oxfords and it will be fine.”  Loafers, oxfords and Mary Janes, fortunately for you, can also be found in great abundance and in very feminine styles, or at least in styles and colors that would never be available in the men’s department!.
Here are some examples of Mary Janes:  Soft Drink blue multi loafer by Aerosoles brand

High heel Mary Jane style pump

Here are some examples of loafers:
Here are some examples of oxfords or laceups:
Heel snugness is an issue for you because you are wearing shoes that are too wide.  I’m assuming here that your feet are about 9.8 inches long?  That would make them a size 9.  Try sticking to the style types I’ve recommended in a size 9M.  In my long career in this business, I’ve never encountered anything that will successfully “snug” a loose heel.  And, believe me, I’ve tried.  If you go to a large store like Walgreen’s that has a foot care section, they will often have a hanging rack of sticky backed gizmos of various thickness that will go into the upper back of the heel .  They work if the problem is very minor.  If your heel is seriously narrow, even after you go back to a medium width, you may need to explore slingback options that also have the high vamp or Mary Jane strap.  I know this limits your fashion options.  But you will definitely want to find some shoes that you can wear comfortably without worrying about throughout the day!
In the olden days, shoemakers made “combination lasts”.  You could actually buy a shoe that was a size 9 in length, a wide at the front and a narrow at the heel.  This doesn’t happen anymore.  The last company I know that did this was Ferragamo.
Best wishes,
The Shoe Lady