It's no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking. Irish Proverb
April 6, 2010 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Shoe Filter. Cute, affordable, and comfortable. I'm not willing to pick only two. Metafilter, I want to be cute and summery this summer, and my small shoe wardrobe does not support that. Also, I am a special snowflake with slightly weird feet.

The tl;dr is: My shoe size is a 9narrow (2A) I've been wearing these shoes for 2+ years. My budget is $40-50. And I need summer shoes that are flat, cute, and ok for walking.

They look great with jeans, but since I bought them in a size 9M, I have to wear socks with them. And they're still too wide. So, they're not great for walking, which now that my bike has been stolen again, is how I get around. And I won't wear them with skirts because I won't wear socks with skirts.

So, my cutest pair of shoes is
1. Not that cute - a little chunkier than I'd like. (But too slim a shoe and it looks like I'm walking around in canoes.)
2. Not comfortable
3. Suffering internally from old age and over use (I wear them 3-4 times a week)
4. Inhibiting my clothing choices

These mythical shoes do need to be closed toes. I'd rather not wear socks with them, but I do have some of those tan, low cut fake sock things.

Why am I asking you this? I have been to,,, famous footwear, aldo, DSW,, and and I have overloaded myself with shoe information in the past three month. (Yes, I have been dreaming about shoes all this time, and saving up for this moment, plus I just got a bunch of extra hours at work.) Some of these places do not let you search for narrow shoes.

My ADHD makes it hard for me to assess the merits of a shoe, in a sea of other shoes online, or in person. My budget makes me really sad when I see a super cute $90 shoe. My lack of fashion sense makes me question whether the $90 shoe is even, in fact, cute. So, one of those websites above may have the perfect shoe for me. But I can't see it right now because I'm frustrated.

So. Tell me about some shoes for a 28 year old woman who wears mostly jeans and tee shirts, wants to wear plain skirts with tee-shirts, and hopes to eventually find some shorts that fit.
posted by bilabial to Shopping (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
You can definitely search Zappos for narrow shoes. Here's 9 AA with no heel.

Do you want Mary Jane style again? Or flats? Can you direct us to some that you like?
posted by barnone at 11:50 AM on April 6, 2010

OK: Go back to In the sidebar, choose 9, 2A, (leave colors unchecked), and then drag the little bar from $525 down to $50.

Voila, all those shoes are in your size and price range! If that isn't helpful enough, I'm sure if you link to some pictures of shoes you like, someone will be an internet hero for you and find a matching pair.
posted by shownomercy at 11:56 AM on April 6, 2010

Duo Boots makes shoes fit to your width. (And boots fit to your calf-width, too).
posted by nat at 12:00 PM on April 6, 2010

Best answer: Here are some examples - some are a bit over your budget but if we can narrow down your style, price is a bit easier to figure out. For example, there are probably some 25% off coupons floating around out there for shoe sites.
- Kernsy Naturalizers
- Cadwell
- Olive Mary Jane
- Kalhouse Loafer
- Clark's Dynamic (very solid walking shoe)
posted by barnone at 12:02 PM on April 6, 2010

I got some of these Sketchers a few years ago and I totally love them. In fact I need a new pair. They are as comfy as a pair of sneakers, but look nicer. The side strap should help with the width issues, but you'll want to go down to a store and try some on. My pair lasted me two and a half years of solid wear, nine months of which I was pregnant. They aren't as dressy as the ones you have. I did wear mine with denim skirts, but mostly pants and shorts. I got mine at Famous Footwear for half off when hubby got his sneakers. If you're getting more than one pair I really recommend them.

You might like some wedge sandals too. I know you said flats, but wedges are really easy to walk in (compared to other heels) and in my experience make larger feet look smaller. If you can find a pair with buckles across the toe and arches then you'll be able to adjust them for your width.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:03 PM on April 6, 2010

posted by raisingsand at 12:06 PM on April 6, 2010

If you don't want to wear socks, I recommend ballet flats. Ballet flats seem to often be praised for those with narrow feet, in that they are apparently cut a bit more narrowly than regular shoes. As such, a medium width in a ballet flat may fit you. Furthermore, many ballet flats I own have bits of elastic in the back and a soft fit, meaning they cling to the foot a bit more than other flats. Ballet flats have the following additional advantages:

- Wearable with jeans or skirts, no socks needed,
- Available in a range of styles and colors, from more 'sensible' to very girly,
- Being fairly on trend, they are also available in a wide range of prices. Once could buy two cheaper pairs or one very expensive pair, depending on one's preference,
- Nice for summer because material is often less heavy than a thick leather shoe,

Certainly I would not recommend them for serious hiking, but in just doing some Googling around I was able to find various brands that have improved arch support. A more structured, thick-soled ballet flat may be more comfortable for long walking than a very simple, elastic, cloth ballet flat. I won't presume to suggest specific shoes for you because I don't know your style, but if you wear a lot of color and bright clothing go for a neutral or black with some zing (I have a pair of muted bronze ballet flats with a metal, shiny buckle on which I get many compliments). If you wear more muted, neutral clothes, your style can really pop with a bright, jewel-toned shoe.

The above assumes that even though you want something comfy to walk in, you are more in the market for a work/date/cute shoe rather than a sneaker substitute. If it is tl;dr, my suggestion is that you get a ballet flat that either has arch support or in which you can put an insole, that you get one that has some pretty detailing in some way, and that you play up whatever needs emphasis in your personal style: either neutrals, or a pop of color.
posted by bunnycup at 12:08 PM on April 6, 2010

nthing the ballet flats suggestion. I got some from Privo(clarks) for about $35, true they don't have as much arch support as some of my more $$ shoes, but I just got back from a weekend in SF where I walked all day long in them w/out issue. I don't have narrow feet but i do have narrow heels which cause me trouble with shoes. These seemed ok, I think b/c of the elastic in back. A lot Privo shoes are often a cross between a ballet flat and a sporty sneaker. They would be cute w/skirts as well as jeans since they have a narrow profile and aren't clunky. YMMV
posted by snowymorninblues at 12:29 PM on April 6, 2010

Get these or these or these or these. They are all cute and fashionable and will go well with skirts and will (hopefully) be comfy to walk in. If you really walk a ton and want something that's going to be uber comfy for walking, consider birkenstocks, which come in narrow widths.
posted by Kololo at 12:32 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: Of all the shoes listed above, the Cadwells are the cutest.

Maude is cute. But maybe too officey? For those of you who know about shoes, is this something one could walk a mile in (not much more than a mile, thankfully.)

Referee. These are cute-ish. But I'm not wild about them. has one pair of shoes in a 9narrow. Sad, because they have a 20% sitewide deal right now.

Ballet flats in regular width not narrow enough. But I would love to be able to wear them! Size 9 narrow ballet flats that are not covered in ribbons, flowers, fake zippers, or zebra print would be great. If I can afford them.

Mary Janes would be ok (a sullen, adolscent ok), but I think they're more autumn-y than summery. Is that weird? Are they summery?

Tom's is a little tooooo casual for the flirty/sexy/summery 4 times a week shoe I seek. Though I love them.
posted by bilabial at 12:35 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: From Eddie Bauer Not available in a 9AA but, man. Cute.
posted by bilabial at 12:46 PM on April 6, 2010

My budget makes me really sad when I see a super cute $90 shoe.

Since I've got kinda the opposite feet of yours, I can't speak to a specific style. But as for price - once you find what you're looking for, check eBay and Amazon. Yes, Amazon - the last place I'd have thought to look for shoes, but I've gotten some of my best deals there.
posted by chez shoes at 12:46 PM on April 6, 2010

Sure you can definitely consider Mary Janes for summer. But for the casual looking flat you are describing, I think this pair:

is a better choice. It's under 50 bucks, available in your size, looks summery and easy to wear.
posted by mmf at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2010

Land's End has cute ballet shoes too but they don't seem to have narrow fits. Maybe call them to ask if they fit normally or towards the narrow end!
posted by barnone at 12:59 PM on April 6, 2010 has 423 pairs of shoes that are a 9AA and under $100. Half of those are under $55.

Now granted, I am currently embroiled in a battle with 6pm and I'm not entirely happy with their customer service, but they carry a LOT of weird widths at cheap prices.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:01 PM on April 6, 2010

Have you considered wearing "no show socks" like peds? I have them in both nylon (slightly icky) and cotton (nice and cushy.) If you can wear a 9 medium with socks, that'll increase your selection. Plus, it cuts down on stinky shoes.
posted by vespabelle at 1:03 PM on April 6, 2010

Macy's usually has a decent shoe selection, both in-store and online, including some of the brands linked to above, and if you get a Macy's card you will be barraged with 20% off coupons and notification of their ubiquitous sales. I've found ridiculous bargains this way.

If I were you, though, I might re-think the affordability requirement a bit considering that you have numerous requirements for your shoes, including non-standard sizing. If it were me (and I also have shoe issues) I'd be willing to go slightly higher in price for just the right pair. Chances are the quality would be better and they'd last longer. Just something to consider...
posted by widdershins at 1:32 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: My ADHD makes it really hard for me to sort through 423 pairs of anything. I have cried as a result of trying to wade through the enormous variety of shoes.

Those nylon 'no show' socks do not make up for the width issue. And the cotton socks that are 'no show' aren't end up bunched together under my arch about 45 minutes into a day.

I called Land's End. They asked the product department and the woman there said she's a narrow, and even going down a size the shoes were too wide.

Trust me, I'd be willing to go higher in price. But I've been saving toward these shoes for three months. I've got medical bills, student loans, and credit card debt. An extra ten dollars I just do not have right now. I got a second job, but lost it after two days because of transportation plus rain.
posted by bilabial at 1:46 PM on April 6, 2010

Try Bernardo's. While they are best known for their sandals, they do make some cute ballet and other style flats. Generally they are out of your price range, but they do have great sales. Right now they the sale shoes range from $9.99 (for those from their lower priced B2 line) to $99.99. In between there were a few ballerina style and mary janes in the 29.99 to 49.99 range. Here's a link to their sale page (where you'll have the choice between sandals or flats). Also people complain that they run narrow, and most of their styles are also available to order in narrow or medium. Of course you'll be more limited in the sales section as to what is available.

I have a pair of sandals from them and love them. A woman at work turned me on to the brand. She used to work at a boutique that stocks them and she's got about 5 or 6 pairs. They seem well made and they wear well. They are pretty comfortable, but maybe not as comfortable as "comfort brand" shoes with thick rubber insoles. You might need to add an insole if you need more cushioning.
posted by kaybdc at 2:13 PM on April 6, 2010

On preview, after reviewing the Bernardo's sale site, there's not much in your size and price range (and a lot of the shoes in your price range are far from their cutest styles) but they do update the sale shoes after each season, so it might be worth book marking for the future.
posted by kaybdc at 2:20 PM on April 6, 2010

I have ADHD as well. This is how I shop for shoes on massive websites.

1. Click on "Sort by lowest price" and if I want a specific color of shoe, I click on the color in the organizer bar at the top. Sometimes if I want a specfic type of shoe, I will narrow that down in the organizer bar too.

2. I look at the little pictures. Does the shoe look like something I'd like to wear? Open it in a new tab and take a look.

3. If it sucks, I close the tab. If it's a possibility, keep the tab open.

4. Keep doing this until I get out of my price range. I will probably have about 5-10 pairs open in tabs, which is a much more reasonable number.

5. I read the reviews about fit, materials, and general impression. The ones that have bad reviews get their tabs closed.

6. Of the few pairs I like that are left, I make a decision. Then I order the shoes.

7. If I have purchased from they send me the wrong size and I engage in e-mail battle with them.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:22 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks internet friends for narrowing the field down for me.

I'm glad it wasn't my imagination that the cutest shoes are more expensive. I'm going to wait a few weeks, and get the Cadwells.

I'm glad to be done sifting through enormous amounts of information about shoes. I cannot express my gratitude enough, since shopping is really unpleasant for me.
posted by bilabial at 2:23 PM on April 6, 2010

From the Zappo's link above (the one sorted by 9AA), these would be my picks:

Clark's Book Pump - simple black ballet flat with clean lines, not too chunky or sporty. The rubber sole is great for walking.

Cole Haan Dana - A little more expensive, but so cute if you need something a bit dressier.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 3:16 PM on April 6, 2010

Best answer: More shoes!

Naturalizer Women's Hold Up
and not the prettiest things I've ever seen but...
Easy Street Audrey

I didn't seen any of these up there, hopefully I'm not duplicating anyone else's effort.
posted by inmediasres at 3:55 PM on April 6, 2010

Are you against ebay?
- Cole Haan 9AA - $8.99
- Naturalizer sandal, $7.99 - new in box
- Cole Haan flat - pre-owned but in good condition, $0.99 at the moment!

At that rate, you could buy a few pairs -- even with shipping.
posted by barnone at 4:14 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: Inmediasres! I could kiss you on the lips I'm so happy.

I just bought the last 9a taupe hold ups. And I'm on the bus, which is running 30 minutes behind. You have just improved my day so much.

Thank you. (also, they were $30!)
posted by bilabial at 4:16 PM on April 6, 2010

You should get these Ferragamo white ballet flats too. Seriously!
posted by barnone at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2010

I have the same Sketchers mentioned previously, and they really did not work well for me (they wore unevenly and did not have enough support for my job when I was on my feet 8+ hours a day)

I know people who swear by Merrells. I keep meaning to get a pair.
posted by inertia at 8:19 PM on April 6, 2010

I have narrow feet too, and I have actually found myself (to my surprise) pretty much living in $10 H&M ballet flats lately. I wouldn't want to walk more than a couple miles in them in a day, but they're great for most days. The nice thing about $10 shoes is you can get them in weird colors and not think twice.
posted by little light-giver at 9:13 PM on April 6, 2010

My ADHD makes it hard for me to assess the merits of a shoe, in a sea of other shoes online, or in person.
My ADHD makes it really hard for me to sort through 423 pairs of anything. I have cried as a result of trying to wade through the enormous variety of shoes.

OK, but why do you think shoe shopping is so much easier for anyone else? I would suggest you go to a store that has service, explain exactly what you are/are not looking for, try some brands on and get an idea of what works. (You don't have to buy anything there.) Then you can narrow your choices down and go from there.

I don't have ADHD but I'm not sorting through FOUR HUNDRED PLUS pairs of shoes! Please, that's just silly and has nothing to do with your diagnosis.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:09 PM on April 6, 2010

Yay!! I'm late to respond, but I'm so glad you liked them! :D I hope they're as good once you put them on.
posted by inmediasres at 1:52 PM on April 8, 2010

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