December 4th, 2006

The Librarian

Shoe "blue"s

Shoe shopping has been my bane for most of my life ... mainly because I expect footwear to be well-made and comfortable (and that includes high heels). I'm not helped by the fact that I have a wide instep and narrow heel, plus I'm part of that less than 20% of the population which has the big toe longer than the second toe (according to foot research I have read, in over 80% of humans the second toe is longer), which means the longest part of my foot is slightly out of synch with where shoe manufacturers expect it to be. I also have far less toe curvature/deformity than most people, due to a combination of my shoe-fit-pickiness and only wearing shoes when I absolutely have to ... I much prefer to be barefoot whenever possible.

Even with all that, keeping myself in sneakers, moccasins and sandals for work/casual wear isn't usually much of a problem ... the first two are generally designed for comfort/foot health and the lack of structure in the latter makes finding something that fits relatively easy (especially since I prefer the minimum amount of strap to keep the sole on my foot).

Dressy shoes are a whole other game. I'm speaking as the woman who, about ten years ago, went into an upscale shoe store, was lucky enough to corner the owner/manager, told him I wanted something fancy that wouldn't require toe amputation, and kicked off one of my shoes ... he took one look at my foot and said "Good luck." Yes, this IS a true story ... 'twas in the early days of the current pointy toe. Interestingly, I can wear pointy toed shoes from the 1950s quite comfortably (sadly, anything that's available here is in pretty poor condition) ... today's footwear, unfortunately, starts the outer slant towards the point closer to heelwards than the older shoes did (lets them cut more uppers out of one piece of leather) ... which means at the base of my little toe instead of at the end of it (thus no space in the shoe for that toe to inhabit). Since I refuse to chop toes off or fold them under my foot in a manner similar to that done in the old Chinese footbinding or modern fashion models, I can't/won't wear that style. Ever.

Sometimes I wonder if today's shoe designers have ever had anybody explain to them that the whole point is that a foot is supposed to fit inside. Mebbe they just think they're creating coffeetable ornaments and the internal structure is irrelevant (and I won't even get started on heel shape and position, and how the awkward designs/placements on many shoes may look marvelous, but make the women who wear them walk like herons with sore claws ... most unflattering)

But then, every once in a while, I'm given hope that somebody out there somewhere Collapse )