These shoes may be made for walking, but are they made for duck walking?
October 26, 2011 5:55 AM   Subscribe

What is an acceptable level of gape for a pair of flats?

I just bought these shoes.

I bought a 9, though I often end up with 8.5s these days (vanity sizing, I suppose). Anyway, I tried the 8.5s, but they were quite tight. The 9s were great -- fit my toes comfortably and did not slip in the heel! All good, right?

The thing is, I find that the 9s gape in the sides when I walk and I don't know if I want to keep them. For some reason, gaping is a major pet peeve of mine. I usually end up going a size smaller to avoid this problem, but then I am inevitably crippled by my too-small flats. But with a flat like this, should I just expect some gaping? Is that just a necessary consequence of a shoe like this?

Advice is most welcome.
posted by Mrs. Rattery to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total)
It just depends on the cut. I wear lots of flats, and some that I try on gape, others don't. I personally hate it too, so I don't buy shoes that gape (or return them if they do). Since I generally buy most of my shoes online, I usually buy three or four pairs at a time in the style I'm looking for, and hopefully, one will be a winner. The rest go back.
posted by kimdog at 6:00 AM on October 26, 2011

Whether or not it's "acceptable" doesn't matter so much as whether it's acceptable to you. You don't like it, so there you go. But don't get a size smaller either, and suffer through pinched toes; that sucks too. I do realize this means you may have to return these shoes; but if you never wear them because they either pinch your toes (because you got the smaller size) or they gape and you don't like that (becuase you got the bigger size), then what's the point of having them?

I also realize that this eliminates 90% of all shoes out there. Welcome to my world (size 9, narrow width; I was a TRIPLE A width when I was in college). If you decide you may want to suffer through some gaping on the side, maybe make "not so much gaping that I could literally walk out of them" your rubicon. (I always do a quick jog in shoe stores when I'm trying on shoes. I get weird looks, but it's the only way to tell whether my shoes are going to fall off if I'm running to catch a bus.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 AM on October 26, 2011

I'm also a 9AA and let me tell you, it makes a world of difference, not cramming my toes into too short shoes.

My answer used to be, 'a lot of gaping,' but now (for me) it's 'none.' gripping too wide shoes with my toe muscles messes up my back!

Check online for the same shoes in your proper size.

Brands I have luck with are Hush Puppies, Naturalizer, and Clarks, as well as Srewart Weitzman (oh to have budget for a closet full of those! I found a brand new pair of 9AA in a thrift store once for $ life has never been the same since.)
posted by bilabial at 6:49 AM on October 26, 2011

I've seen shoes with an elastic band that was clear plastic. If you really like them, you might be able to add a strap to reduce the gaping.
posted by theora55 at 7:40 AM on October 26, 2011

Have you gotten your feet actually fitted - by a good shoe fitter - for your size and width lately? I think that's something adults need to do more often, as feet change size and shape with pregnancy, weight gain or loss, and aging, to name a few. And once they're past childhood, few people get a fitting, and instead rely on what they think their size is or what they've worn all their adult life.

Get fitted! Nordstrom has fitters, as do most athletic shoe stores. You might need an ultra-narrow size or something like that. When you do find your width and size, then Zappo's and DSW online are your friends, as they are the ones that stock widths other than plain "medium." Order several pairs you like from, say, Zappo's, try them on, and return the ones that don't fit. Most of us with hard-to-fit feet need to find a particular brand and/or style in addition to our proper size. You will probably find that one brand or cut of ballet slipper fits you better than others. Once you've found a brand and size that work for you, then you can stock up in all the colors available!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:11 AM on October 26, 2011

Thanks for the advice so far. I'm glad to know I'm not alone. As a former shoe saleswoman, I know that fittings are helpful, but I also know that few shoe brands actually adhere to standard measurements.

Anyway, I suppose my real problem is that while my heels/instep are narrow, AA shoes don't fit the "toe end" of my feet (at least the ones I've tried). I will continue my search for the perfect flat! (And envy those of you who can purchase from Zappos, because that would certainly make my life easier.)
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 10:26 AM on October 26, 2011

It might not help with the instep gapping, but I have duck feet myself - I buy wides for the front of my feet and then my heels I cushion with Dr. Scholl's heel inserts - a gel cushion I stick on the insides of the shoes. That way my feet are not strangled but my narrower heels are accommodated.

Dr. Scholl's has a lot of different kinds of inserts that might help make your feet happier!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:33 PM on October 26, 2011

I find that flats with a more solid sole gape less than those with a more flexible sole. The only way to tell is to walk / jog around the shop before buying.
posted by finding.perdita at 5:58 PM on October 26, 2011

« Older Easy online assessments?   |   Who are the love children of Helen Reddy and Linda... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.