Monday, 11 February 2013

Step on my old size nines...

Having size 9 (EUR43) feet has long been the bane of my life. From the age of about 13, my feet were already a size 9 and back in those good old days it was impossible to get nice shoes. My school shoes were flat, clumpy, boys' lace-ups and my leisure shoes were unattractive trainers. As I got older, and more fashion conscious, I'd buy size 8 high heels to fit in with my peers and simply force my feet into them, to hell with the consequences.

Many of us women seem predisposed to be obsessed with shoes, and I always wondered if it was more so in my case, since I just couldn't get them. When I was at University, which was *gulp* 10 years ago, I'd have trouble finding nice shoes in my size. One experience in Next really got to me. I'd seen a pair in store which would have been perfect for our May Ball, and a notice said they were available in my size, so I asked if they could order them in for me to try on. They told me I'd need to pay for them to be ordered in, which I thought was completely unfair, if I was a 'normal' size, I'd be able to waltz into any shoe shop and try every pair on with no intention of buying any, yet I had to pay in advance for the privilege of trying them on? I declined out of sheer stubbornness and bought a pair from Barratts who had a limited Tall and Small range at the time.

Shops like Long Tall Sally always did size 9 shoes, I think they even go up to a size 11, but the assumption was made that if you had big feet, you must be tall, and wouldn't want anything resembling a heel. I am 5'7.3" so although reasonably tall, I still want to be able to wear heels sometimes. And they were far more expensive than the average school girl or university student could afford. N.B, their overall range looks a lot better now but still on the pricer side. Evans also did larger sizes, but only in extra wide fittings, so boots always sagged around my legs. I wanted to be able to buy pumps in every colour of the rainbow in cheaper high street shops, like my peers could.

There's also the "what's a nine" debate. Some stores maintain its a EUR42 which means most of their stock is redundant to me, and usually even brands that make 9s, most of their department store concessions don't carry them. However, I do get the odd sale mega bargain, like these statement shoes from Faith at Debenhams, which I got for less than £15 when they closed their doors.

Things have got much better over the years. Now New Look do a great range of size 9/EUR43 shoes and wide-fit shoes. So do Next although I don't know what their in-store stock is like now,  whether you still have to pay in advance just for trying them on. I am amazed that Marks and Spencer still don't go above an 8 when budget favourite Primark can manage it. Topshop goes up to a 42, but generally I don't find their styles as wearable. Here are some of my current favourites from New Look, who are now doing half sizes too, amazing progress!

Blue Metal Trim Bow Pumps £15.99

Navy Cut Out Peep Toe Heels £19.99
Tan Cut Out Wedge Sandals £29.99
Lastly, Upper Street is a store in North London which makes made-to-measure shoes to your design. I heard about it when my friend, who at the opposite end of the spectrum is a tiny size 2 told me she'd made an appointment there. They make shoes from size 1.5 to 10 (although their 10 is a EUR43 so there seems to be a discrepancy across the board about continental sizing). Their prices are pretty high, starting at £195, but they are making shoes from your design so it's to be expected! I'm thinking of using them for my wedding shoes if there's enough left in the budget. You ca design your own shoes on the website, so go on...have fun!