Where the hell do I find narrow shoes?
June 12, 2014 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm 27 and wear a size 9 (sometimes 9.5) in women's shoes. I also have very narrow feet and fear I'll be going barefoot soon if I can't find somewhat affordable, narrow shoes that don't look like they were made for little old ladies (no offense, little old ladies of the world). I am literally down to one brand of shoe. Halp.

Being size 9/9.5 means I get a smaller selection of an already small selection of narrow shoes. Naturalizer is really the only shoe brand left that (sometimes) has good looking narrow shoes that fit my feet. I've tried a variety of other brands' narrows (e.g., Clarks) and narrow-looking mediums to no avail. Summer isn't easy, but Naturalizer tends to keep me in sandals. I literally have one pair of winter shoes, a black leather knee-high boot from ALDO that just happened to run narrow in the shoe and calf; all other ALDO shoes have been insanely wide on me. Basically, what, if any, brands consistently run narrow or have good looking narrow shoes? I want to look my age—27—not 80.

Facts about my feet, just to excite the fetishists:

- I have a very narrow heel, a very high arch, and a fairly flat front of my foot (i.e., if a shoe fits in the heel and arch, it's not uncommon for there to be a huge gap between the top of the shoe and the tops of my toes; think "clown shoes" for maximum sexiness).

- My toes are fairly "stair step" in nature. Never been able to decide if that matters.

Various points:

- I would LOVE to wear some ballet flats. Other than that, boots and sandals. Less interested in sneakers.

- Yes, I have tried inserts—so, so many inserts. They are shit. Yes, all of them. Please, please, please do not suggest them. It will drive me crazy.

- Shoes with buckles, straps, and laces work best on me, but that's mainly because the shoes themselves aren't narrow enough.

- Yes, I am willing to shuck out more dolla bills, within reason, if it means I can keep a good looking shoe going for a long time with the help of a cobbler.

- Pointed-toed shoes look/feel/are absurd.

- Mary Janes are a no-go for me. I'm going for comfortable and practical, not naughty schoolgirl, which is what I end up looking like with them on.

- I like the look of heels but rarely wear them because of how bad they are for knees. Also because of how they never fit my foot's width. I am not that interested in heels.

- Not-so-fun (for me) fact: Shoes are getting wider. I used to wear a medium in a lot of brands, such as Skechers, which I can't wear anymore. My weight has not changed.

Various questions:

1. Can a cobbler do much for narrow feet? I know shoes can be widened, but can they be narrowed?

2. Any non-U.S. brands I should know about?
posted by iamfantastikate to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just (last weekend) bought some American Eagle ballet flats at Payless for about $20. My feet are JUST like yours, and these are comfy and don't gape at the sides. I'm on my phone, so me mail me if you want a link.

I've also had good luck with Keen, Merrill, and Bjorn. Especially sandals with lots of adjustable straps (cheating, but at least they got the footbed right). Otherwise it's a bit hit miss as to whether I like any of the current seasons styles... But they're long lasting (esp Bjorn), and I wouldn't hesitate to buy multiples in different colours. I'm 32 - sympathy!

Come to think of it, this is my second pair of American Eagle ballet flats... The last pair fit well too.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:02 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not sure if you have tried these, or if you are into the aesthetic of them, but I have super narrow feet as well (but a smaller shoe size than you at 7.5) and my Tom's shoes fit perfectly, even in the heel! They have a pretty good variety of styles of shoes, so you could have shoes or boots for winter and the classic toms for the summer. Again, it'll only really work if you are into this aesthetic. I would suggest trying them out though, if you have a chance.
I have also had luck with Teva sandals, mostly because they have really adjustable straps that can fit all different types of feet.
posted by ruhroh at 3:04 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Bloch ballet flats run narrow.

Cole Haan also has a decent selection of shoes in narrow sizes.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:14 PM on June 12, 2014

Easy Spirit. Wait! I swear! Some are ugly, but there are def cute ones in there-my mother and grandmother are both 9/9.5 AAA. And I usually go through and eliminate the uggos for my mom. Her shoe choices are limited, yes, but there are some cute ones hidden in there.
posted by atomicstone at 3:26 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can spring for them, Ferragamos are nearly perfect for narrow feet. Not sure what they're offering style-wise at the moment, however. If money is tight look for them at outlets like Last Call and Off 5th.
posted by Anima Mundi at 3:32 PM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've also bought ferragamos via eBay and estate sales. Great for narrow feet!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2014

Check out Nordstrom Rack. They have Narrows.

Ferragamo, Stuart Weizman and Amalfi are brands that carry Slim, Narrows and AAAA width.

Sorry, expensive and matronly.

I liked Van Elis back in the day, but more and more brands are going wider, even in Slims.

It's a hassle and a drag.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:16 PM on June 12, 2014

Here's the Ferragamo Page at Nordstrom.

These are classic shoes, that never go out of style, and will last for decades.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:20 PM on June 12, 2014

Have you looked at the Maryland Square website? They specialize in hard-to-fit-feet. Some of the shoes are hideous but, if you shop every season, you will find some really nice-looking shoes that will fit. I am exactly your size with exactly your problem.

The shoes that feel best on my feet are Enzo Angiolini. They don't have a large selection right now, but they look good, feel great, and are classic styles.

Oh, and once you get in their system, Maryland Square will send catalogs with 20% of coupons.
posted by clarkstonian at 4:43 PM on June 12, 2014

Seconding Easy Spirit. They skew toward matronly but will sometimes have cute shoes to offer.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2014

Fellow long, narrow-footed lady here.

Camper does a nice leather ballet-style flat with an elasticated band across -- I know you said you don't like Mary Janes, but this could work well for narrow feet. Zappos has a range of colors -- here's the black. These are super-comfortable and don't gape, nor do they splay like clown shoes.
posted by vickyverky at 8:29 PM on June 12, 2014

I know I've mentioned this brand on the green before, but Poppy Barley does amazing custom-made, just for you with your measurements shoes, and they make ballet flats. I have a pair of their boots and seriously live in them, they're so perfect. They're not cheap, but they're really nice, and made so that they can be resoled by a cobbler, which is great.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 9:32 PM on June 12, 2014

Ferragamos are great for feet of all sizes (I get my in wide) and tend to run narrow. I can't afford the sticker price, but they're so high quality that I have had great luck buying them used on ebay!
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 5:29 AM on June 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I'll be buying and trying soon, I think. Yay!

Really happy to get the names of a bunch of brands I've never heard of—and some I have heard of but haven't given a try, thinking they'd be way too wide.

By the way, for others in the same boat (or shoe, as it were): I've never had luck at Nordstrom Rack, though everyone recommends it to me. They've never had narrows at my local one. Maybe they get bought up. So it's worth a try if you're like me, but don't get your hopes up, I guess?

Not sure about the Ferragamos, especially for the price and because I'm not sure I'll do used shoes... Some look nice, but a lot look matronly and/or super pointy-toed to me.

Keep any and all replies coming. I'll come back here periodically and give a rundown on these brands!
posted by iamfantastikate at 7:54 AM on June 13, 2014

Oh how I feel your pain! Zappos has been my savior. I have no idea how I ever bought shoes before Zappos. I'm a few years older than you (early 30s), but I have the same aversion to the old lady look most narrow shoes come in.

I too have had the best luck with Naturalizer brand. I wear and love the Naturalize Cadence sandals. They seem to have replaced them with the Catrina this year. You didn't say if you've tried Naturalizer's flats? I have a pair of the Maude flats in AA and they fit very well. They are stiffer than a ballet flat though, which I prefer but I'm not sure if you want that.

Bass sandals used to fit me years ago and they still come in AA, but I haven't tried them in a long time.

If you have trouble with flats being too wide, you can try wearing socks with them. All kinds of brands make these tiny little socks meant to be hidden when you wear them with flats. I find they help.

I have a pair of Trotters Leah in AA width that I wear in the winter. They're ankle boots that look nice under pants. So you might want to check out Trotters.

I also have 2 pairs of knee-high boots, both Etienne Aigner Costas. I love love love these boots and they fit me well even though they aren't narrows. However, I did add a Dr. Scholl's 3/4 insert for heel cushioning/padding, and I usually wear medium weight Smart Wool socks with them.

I know you said you weren't so interested in sneakers, but I'll throw these out there anyway. I find the Sketchers Bikers - Sentinel fit me surprisingly well considering they aren't narrows. In fact, they fit better when I wear thinner socks. And they have real laces (not those bungee type laces) so I can tie them to fit. Asics work for me for running/hiking shoes.
posted by geeky at 8:56 AM on June 13, 2014

Response by poster:
  • Asics were not narrow enough for me at all.
  • Clarks' narrows are consistently too wide.
  • Narrow Cobb Hill boots I tried were actually narrow but didn't look good on me. Dammit.

posted by iamfantastikate at 7:09 PM on December 21, 2014

Response by poster:
  • If you need athletic shoes, New Balance's narrows are actually narrow.
  • Out of desperation, I tried one of Naturalizer's tall boots in a medium. The shoe itself was not too wide, surprisingly, but the shaft was very wide (at least an inch too wide for me). So if you've got narrow feet, but wide calves, these might work for you.

posted by iamfantastikate at 2:36 PM on January 30, 2015

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