Women's flats for a very non-flat toenail
September 2, 2015 9:09 PM   Subscribe

I love wearing flats but have never found a pair that is actually comfortable.

...And it's all because my big toe on my right foot gets smashed down too much, which eventually causes pain. That toe, for some reason, has a nail that curves upward instead of being flat. So when I'm wearing flats, you can literally see a bump in the shoe from where my big nail is desperately trying to break free. Does anyone have a weirdly prominent toenail who has found flats with a forgiving toe box?
posted by madonna of the unloved to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Rocket Dog brand has very roomy toe areas overall, though I'm sure just how roomy varies by style so you may need to try a couple different kinds.
posted by phunniemee at 9:13 PM on September 2, 2015

Would you consider a shoe that is flat but raised -- like a Dansko or Sanita clog? Those usually have roomy toe areas.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:23 PM on September 2, 2015

Response by poster: Yeah, I think I could consider a clog. I've never really worn them before, but as long as they're flat and don't require socks, those are my two favorite things about wearing flats. But I always had the impression that clogs are made of a hard material, and I like to wear soft, stretchy shoes.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 9:47 PM on September 2, 2015

I have the same exact problem as you and let me just give an anti-recommendation for Tieks and Frye flats. Just don't do it.

I am hopeful you will receive some good suggestions here so I may steal them.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:54 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: No promises, but these flats from Target are $20 and are made of a very soft material, so they should be able to stretch enough to be comfortable. If you end up in a Target, try them on. Really cute — they won't last forever, but they're awfully cheap and look pretty nice in person. Most flats give me horrible blisters and have painful tight points, but these were comfortable instantly.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:22 PM on September 2, 2015

Best answer: I found a cheap pair of AK-Anne Klein shoes at (I think) Ross, and they were similar to this. I've kinda got bunions, so my big toes take up more room than other people's, and these are super comfortable with no socks.

Also, not the same, but I've found Keens to be SOO comfortable. They are made for my wide feet, and just feel amazing. This is one example that I think might work well. But best to find a Shoe Mill or the Keen Garage to try them on.
posted by hydra77 at 10:28 PM on September 2, 2015

Best answer: Indigo by Clarks Plush Dot was my one true shoe for this and all other shoe woes, but I wore through two pairs and then they stopped making them. I offer you this information in the hope that you wear a different size than me, and will not interfere with my obsessive scouring of eBay.
posted by babelfish at 10:31 PM on September 2, 2015

Best answer: The ONA flats from Target ($16.99) are amazing but only after you break them in with socks. I will be honest and say that my first pair were too big so I got tailor's bunions on both feet, but now that I've worn all my pairs in it's fine. I also have curved nails and toes and I wreck TOMS within a week. The ONA flats have survived a year so far which is awesome.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:47 PM on September 2, 2015

My mom has a tall big toe problem and it's a total crapshoot for her as to what shoes do and do not fit. Her best bet is always marathoning shoe try-on sessions at outlet malls and related places because this varies so much within brands and even between sizes. She used to swear by a lot of Clarks shoes but a few years ago they switched manufacturing practices and their shoes have been terrible ever since. She also has been known to like Keens, but again, highly variable, and some Hush Puppies. I would suggest that you try something like Bass' penny loafer, which should have a higher toe box, but will require breaking in because they're leather, but then they'll last forever.
posted by Mizu at 11:58 PM on September 2, 2015

If you're willing to consider clogs, another one to try is Haflinger --- I LOVE how comfortable my Haflingers are.

Also, are you sure you're wearing the right size? Possibly a half size longer and/or a wider shoe width could help.
posted by easily confused at 1:43 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh wow! You and I are foot twins. I have this exact problem and I find it frustrating to find shoes that fit. My big toes have actually gone numb from the toe box of the shoe pressing on the upcurved toenail too hard.

Basically I have resigned myself to going to a good shoe store (unfortunately, the shoes that fit me well are anything but cheap) and trying on every single pair of shoes that looks even somewhat likely. Once I find a pair that fits, I buy it, in multiple colours if possible. Also, the Barking Dog Shoes blog is a good resource. There's a whole category called "roomy toe box shoes" that is a good place to start.

I've had some good luck with Eccos--not all of them have a high enough toe box, but many styles do, and some are surprisingly cute. That one--the Ecco Bouillon--looks like it would not have enough room in the toe box, but I can attest that it does. I've also had luck with El Naturalista Mary Janes.

On preview: Just saw easily confused's comment--I am wearing Halflinger felted house shoes right now and my upcurved big toes and I LOVE them.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:56 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have this problem too (the top of some shoes press down on my big toenail and it HURTS) and have been wearing these Marco Tozzi mary janes with no problems at all. I am surprised by how comfortable these are to wear every day. I also have a pair of Shelleys of London flats that are perfect but I haven't managed to find another pair, but I would buy that brand again too.
posted by Polychrome at 2:34 AM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: Seconding phunniemee, I have the same toe (we ought to form a club and have badges) and Rocket Dog have always been really comfy, also Blowfish
posted by runincircles at 2:47 AM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: I have this problem!

I have two pairs of Vionic Mary Jane slip-ons like this and I love them. Besides being super comfortable because of the arch support, the toe box is structured enough that it holds its shape but not so hard that it presses against the nail. They have lots of similar styles, both slip-on and regular, and while they're not they most fashionable shoe out there they have enough styles that there's probably one that works for you. (I wear them sockless and they are soft inside.)

I'm also going to mention this product which is designed for ingrown toenails but has successfully worked on flattening my nails. I could see the difference the very next day and it doesn't hurt at all. It was difficult to attach the strips because the nails were so curved, but It really works. Left toe is almost normal now and the right toe just needs to grow out. Me ail me if you have questions.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:06 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

You may want to specifically look at shoes that are made to be worn with orthotics. They will be made with a wider and higher toe box. I just got a pair of vionics which I LOVE; for what it's worth, though I have other foot problems, but not yours. ;)
posted by bookworm4125 at 4:35 AM on September 3, 2015

I too suffer from a tall toe. I have never found a traditional ballet flat that met my needs (but, full disclosure, I also have bunions and narrow heels, so I have a lot going on in the foot area). Flat-like shoes that are very comfortable for me are Minnetonka moccasins and a few styles by dolce vita that are more like oxfords than ballet slippers. I hope this helps!
posted by telegraph at 4:45 AM on September 3, 2015

I too need a roomy toe box in my shoes. Birkenstocks are my favorites because they fit that and several other criteria, but I've found that, when I'm looking around for other brands with roomy toe boxes, it helps to pretend I have bunions. The Barking Dogs site that hurdy gurdy girl linked to is a good one, but you can sometimes find other recommendations, too, just by adding bunions to your search terms.

I really liked my Haflinger's clogs, too, for the record.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:40 AM on September 3, 2015

Good suggestions, but it's probably worth a visit to the podiatrist in case you have a fungal problem or something that can be straightened manually--lots of "how to fix a curved toenail" tutorials online that might be able to help you.
posted by Bassariscus at 10:58 AM on September 3, 2015

I have similar to what telegraph describes.
Toms are the only flats that don't cause me big toe - nail related pain.
posted by slothhog at 11:24 AM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: HELLO TOE BUDDY!!! I love knowing someone else has the same mutant toe. I really like Merrells and also have a pair of Earthies flats that I love.
posted by augustimagination at 11:42 AM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: I have the same problem, along with many others - I guess I have delicate snowflake feet. It took me years and years of searching and dozens of painful "least bad choice" shoes (previously) but this spring I was so thrilled to finally find the first legitimately comfortable flats I've ever worn. Check out Bernie Mev - I have the Catwalk, but they have a bunch of similar styles. They're unfortunately all on the casual-looking side, but would be OK with most dresses etc if your dress code isn't strict. They aren't my exact preference looks-wise, but they're so amazingly comfortable that I love them anyway. Try to fit them in-person if you can since they're very elastic and the effective size can vary a lot shoe-to-shoe.
posted by randomnity at 12:06 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

augustimagination already mentioned Earthies, but I have to second the motion...I found a boring black pair of these at a thrift store and am now seriously considering buying a second pair because the toe box is perfectly roomy while not being ridiculously raised, and also...I'm a sucker for red shoes.
posted by squasha at 1:39 AM on September 8, 2015

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