Are there cute, comfortable shoes for women with larger feet?
August 29, 2008 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Comfortable-and-cute-shoes-filter: can my wife find a pair of shoes that don't blister her feet?

My wife and I live in the United States, and she wears size 11 shoes. Unfortunately, in all of the years that I have known her, she hasn't been able to find a comfortable pair of shoes that isn't an athletic sneaker. She has a few pairs of them and they fit fine, but they're standard-looking running shoes and they absolutely don't go with anything else besides an athletic outfit (rawr! for sure, but not always appropriate for the occasion).

Mrs. Burnfirewalls has tried Earth shoes (blisters), Terra Plana shoes (run small in the footbed, sent back before she got blisters because she couldn't even stand in them), and Sofft shoes which, while not giving her blisters, had a heel at an awkward height. Add in a wide variety of other shoes that I just can't recall.

She also says that she doesn't even know how a shoe is supposed to fit, so this has obviously been a chronic problem.

She is reduced to wearing Crocs, Mario Batali be damned! Help us have a nice night on the town, with her in cute shoes and me a happy man!

Hivemind: do you have any advice on particular brand/shoe combinations? Good brands? Manufacturers that realize that not all women have tiny, postage-stamp sized feet?
posted by burnfirewalls to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I swear by Mephisto, especially the sandals.
posted by bunji at 5:56 PM on August 29, 2008

I also have very large feet. I posted a similar question ... and what I actually ended up with, after a certain amount of trial and error, is a pair of Keen men's shoes. (Similar in style to these - they don't seem to make the exact same style any more.)

I love 'em. I can walk all day in them. They're the only shoes I've actually been complimented on!

Most of their women's shoes do go up to an 11, actually...
posted by Jeanne at 6:03 PM on August 29, 2008

I can't help with the size issue (my feet are a comparatively diminutive size 9) but I also have trouble with fit and have a hard time finding comfy shoes, let alone cute ones. I will second the Mephistos, but they run a bit narrow -- great for me, but not for everyone.

I think the secret is...there is no secret. She just has to try, try, try on tons of shoes. Definitely look for a shoe store (Walking Company) or department store (Nordstrom) where the salespeople might have a clue about how shoes should fit.

Good luck!
posted by missuswayne at 6:15 PM on August 29, 2008

I'm a size 8 shoe, but am just as concerned about comfort. I can personally recommend these brands: Born, Ecco, Clarks, and Camper (although with Camper shoes I usually need an insole because they're kind of *flat* flat - but the width and heel is always "realistic"). I've also worn some of the Birkenstock "proper shoes". And I have girly shoes that really hurt my feet, but I wear them anyway -sigh-.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2008

This sounds like a shoe width issue, more than a shoe size issue. I suffered from years of blisters before I realized this. Seconding missuswayne's suggestion to find a competent shoe salesperson who can measure her feet. Or, see Find Your Shoe Size - Step by Step Guide to Measuring Your Feet, which has some excellent information on how to determine your correct shoe width.
Some brands I have had good luck with, in wider sizes (at size 9) are:
- Prop├ęt (very comfortable width and fit - have wider sizes in size 11)
- Hush Puppies (great business/casual, comfy fit)
- Softwalk (some styles can come small, but again comfy fit and wide size range)
None of these are particularly high end, so you will find them at stores like Sears or JC Penney. But they may not have many styles in larger or wide sizes. Once she has had her feet measured reliably, I would suggest buying shoes online, from Zappos or Shoebuy, both of which carry a very wide range of sizes. Re styles, I find that smart shoes with a strap across (the style called a Mary Jane) is often more comfortable (fewer blisters) than styles without.
posted by Susurration at 6:45 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I also don't have a size issue, but I do do a whole lot of walking in dress shoes, and by far the most comfortable I've found have been LifeStrides. Some of their styles are hella dowdy, but they invariably put out at least a couple of very cute styles each season; they're also reasonably priced (at full-price, try zappos; for last season's shoes at half-price, try 6pm). AND they carry wide and double-wide in most shoes, AND they go up to size 11. All my Lifestrides have 2-3" heels, and yet I've been able to walk (honestly!) for 2+ miles at a time with nary a blister or sore spot. Definitely highly recommended.
posted by Bardolph at 6:52 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

My sister (I think she's a size 10, and has foot/joint issues that make most brands hell for her) also swears by Mephisto.
posted by scody at 7:03 PM on August 29, 2008

Size 10 here, and I have had good luck with Cole Haan Nike Air and Taryn Rose shoes. Both are pricey, but the comfort is worth it. Try Zappo's for a better price.
posted by mmf at 7:06 PM on August 29, 2008

Do you have a Nordstrom nearby? They're an absolute mecca for those of us with Peggy Hill sized feet! They can help with sizing and fit, too.
posted by Addlepated at 7:18 PM on August 29, 2008

I recommend the Josef Siebel brand - "the European comfort shoe." I have bunions, and have always had trouble finding shoes I like that won't give me blisters. Recently I found a pair of Josef Siebel shoes that fit me perfectly right out of the box, and they're professional-looking enough to wear to the office, too. I can't praise them highly enough!

Check out the reviews at Zappos - many people love them.
posted by velvet winter at 7:21 PM on August 29, 2008

I'm a size 10 with just about wide width, very flat feet and a wrecked ankle that rules out a lot of heels. Mephistos and Clarks are usually too narrow for me. Believe it or not, I've had a fair amount of luck with relatively inexpensive Aerosoles. The footbeds are soft and usually pliable, which cuts down on chafing big time.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:39 PM on August 29, 2008

I have a pair of these Clarks Unstructured shoes. I wear a size 10, and I'd say I have normal width feet. I tried on many pairs in this brand and they are all really great for arch support and comfiness. They rubbed on my heels a bit until they were broken in, but the leather really stretched to accommodate my feet after a week or so of wearing.

I live in my Keen and Birkenstock sandals all summer. Birks are cute, and Keens can be cute but mine are kind of ...uh...grungy :)
posted by sararah at 7:39 PM on August 29, 2008

I have a size 11 foot that's wide at the toebox (and hey fellas, THIS sexy lady is available!) and after oh, about 29 years of suffering in any shoe that wasn't a sneaker, I discovered two things: shoe stretching and Hush Puppies. Hush Puppies are incredibly comfortable just on principle, and a stretcher has helped IMMENSELY in further loosening up the shoe in just those couple of areas I need it. For example, if I were to get an 11W, it would clunk around and fall off my foot because my heel is actually narrow. But getting an 11M and stretching it right at the toebox makes a blissful difference.
posted by tyrantkitty at 7:58 PM on August 29, 2008

My mom has terrible problems finding shoes that are comfortable, and she loves the Footprints by Birkinstock Mary Jane styles - Annapolis and Eden.
posted by radioamy at 8:53 PM on August 29, 2008

Whoa when did Hush Puppies get so cute?!? Maybe when I'm in San Antonio evacuated from Gustav I'll have to go shopping!
posted by radioamy at 8:56 PM on August 29, 2008

Try Soft Spots or S.A.S.
Good luck!
posted by peace_love_hope at 9:19 PM on August 29, 2008

I wear an 11, my feet are narrowish. I wear a lot of John Fluevog shoes (some are so comfortable I can hardly stand it), Stuart Weitzman (comfortable for 3/4" heels), Frye, Aerosoles, Born, Bolo, Indigo by Clarks, Sorel winter boots (cheap on Amazon often, such great boots), and tretorn rain boots. Those are my main brands. I am a shoe whoor. Also, women's dress shoes are usually fairly stiff. Get her to coat her toes/ankles with bodyglideanti-chaffing/blister stuff - it is made for runners, looks like a deodorant stick. Get her to carry it in her purse to use through the day while her feet toughen up a little, right now they are being sissy baby feet.

You get what you pay for with dress shoes, especially larger sizes - it is either payless or $300 a lot of the time. Stalk sales. Go to Nordstrom Rack to get designer shoes. Aerosoles and Fluevog have blowout sales at the end of the season - right now, in fact.

If there is a certain problem area, like around her toes is too tight, or the heel isn't shaped right, while she is wearing them she can blast that spot with hot air from a hairdryer - preferably while wearing bulky socks - if she wears the shoes around for a few hours after this, that area will conform much better to her foot.

Heels slipping out? Get the old school dr. scholl's heel grips. Stick it in and don't wear it immediately, let it get really stuck for about a day. The ones you want are gray and look sort of like putty. All the newfangled silicone things are crappy. If her arches hurt, or she loves a pair of shoes that don't have much arch support, just add it in with insoles.

That is all I've got right now.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 9:43 PM on August 29, 2008

btw - zappos is an awesome way to try different brands out, free shipping and free returns.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 9:43 PM on August 29, 2008

definitely dedicate a day to try on shoes. go to DSW if there is one in your area, just because they have a bazillion shoes in lots of sizes. try sizing up or down by a half, or trying wider or narrower widths.

in the young, hip department, i find blowfish and rocketdog shoes tend to be soft and comfortable. she can probably find, at the very least, a flexible pair of ballet-style slippers, which are surprisingly versatile. aerosoles, easy spirit, and naturalizer have all revamped their branding lately and have some nice stuff.

finally: blisters do happen, especially if you don't break the shoes in or wear socks or hose. i fnd that with shoes that initially give me blisters, toughing it out for a few wearings with those silicone blister bandages helps quite a bit. also, bodyglide, which is used by athletes to eliminate chafing in shoes and everywhere else, may come in handy.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:51 PM on August 29, 2008

I wear a women's size 12-13, depending on the brand. Since I'm not a woman, and have therefore never had to wear anything but comfortable shoes all my life, I'm extremely sensitive to the discomfort of wearing heels and other cute shoes (although the longer feet do mean that a higher heel is less of an incline). I've had a lot of success with Easy Spirit shoes: not only are they several grades more comfortable than other women's shoes I've worn, but they're available in styles that don't have tip jars built into the platforms.
posted by darksasami at 9:57 PM on August 29, 2008

Hello, my fellow size 11!

I started out as a size 10, but what with one thing & another, I wear a 10 1/2 - 11 shoe. My favorite work shoe is the Franco Sarto Bocca loafer, which I currently have in 3 different colors. Other dress-up shoes currently in rotation include a super-comfortable pair of Bare Traps sandals, which I got at DSW, a pair of LifeStrides pumps, and also a pair of Franco Sarto Bocca-style pumps, for when I need a slightly higher heel.

Nthing the recommendation for DSW or other shoe warehouses, as well as Bodyglide (that stuff may be the greatest thing since sliced bread). I haven't had much luck at the Nordstrom Rack, but YMMV. My local Nordstrom has an occasional event for those of us who are either large of foot or small; check with your local store to see if they do a similar event.

Good luck!
posted by mogget at 10:20 PM on August 29, 2008

Oh how I love Privo brand shoes, wearing these stopped all of the heel problems I was having. it is a brand made by Clarks. They have them at Zappos or Piperlime. I checked Piperlime and lots in size 11. I wear size ten and have big ole' wide and flat Fred Flintstone feet but the Privos seem to run wide and are super comfy. A lot are sorta sporty styles but not like sneakers.

If I need something a little more professional, like for a work event, I can usually find a Naturalizer or Rockport shoe that will work.
posted by Miastar at 10:45 PM on August 29, 2008

My shoes were always uncomfortable and my feet were covered with blisters until I saw a podiatrist and got orthotics. Now my feet are in tip-top shape. Your wife might want to rule out correctable problems by seeing a podiatrist. (Don't go to one of those orthotics places where they are convinced everyone needs orthotics.)
posted by acoutu at 11:22 PM on August 29, 2008

I wear a size 10 wide to extra wide, so my advice is geared more towards wide shoes than long. I've successfully worn Propet, Hush Puppies, Clarks (the Artisan line) and Naturalizer. I like Naturalizer the best for dressier types, although I've also had a pair of Trotters that were good, and a pair of Ros Hommerson that were amazing. Those who recommended Zappos are right on...if you can handle the hit to the credit card, then order a few pairs at a time and send back the ones you don't like. Another online place to find some good options is Coward Shoes. The website isn't the greatest, and they send out a catalog that always reminds me of my grandmother, but they carry a great range of classic "comfort" shoes.
posted by cabingirl at 11:33 PM on August 29, 2008

No brand recommendations because I have no clue about what is available on the other side of the pond, but I had an epiphany the other day:

My feet will only remain blister-free if I wear very cheap shoes (wonderful leatherette - think stores in Chinatown and Ebay shoe sellers) or very very expensive shoes (calfskin). Anything in the middle kills me, including athletic shoes.

Have a look at Foot Petals, I've hacked quite a few in my time!
posted by Andorinha at 7:14 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have lots of problems with my feet due to arthritis. My sister breaks shoes in for me, which has helped tremendously.
posted by theora55 at 8:34 AM on August 30, 2008

I swear by Dansko. I've had my clogs for nine years and my ankle boots for eight and they're the most comfortable shoes I own. Worth every penny.
posted by Heretic at 8:39 AM on August 30, 2008

Dansko! I started wearing Dansko clogs for work because I had to have black leather shoes and I was standing on my feet for 9hrs a day. They were so awesomely comfortable, I also bought a pair of Mary Janes for non-work purposes. Awesome, awesome shoes. And yes, they go up to size 11.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:53 AM on August 30, 2008

Size 10 3/4 here. I've had good luck with Clarks (for dressier shoes) and Merrell (for winter shoes). I have received many compliments on a pair of Timberland Mary Janes and some Keen water sandals; I can't find the particular models online, but I believe I bought them both at REI.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:18 PM on August 30, 2008

If your budget is generous, your wife could try Taryn Rose shoes. I have terrible feet, and if I ever strike it rich, I'm going to one of their stores, pronto :-)
posted by pinky at 7:27 PM on August 30, 2008

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