shoes. *sigh*

I did not understand the whole bit in the Hitchhiker books about the planet whose entire economy was based around shoe stores (at which you could not find shoes that fit) until I visited Wales.

I did not understand the touted female obsession with buying shoes until I moved to Ireland. There are shoe shops all over the place. And I’m not even all that interested in shoes. It’s just the massive numbers of shops. It creates an obsession where there was none previously.

And like in the stores in the Hitchhiker books, none of them fit me.

All right, this is probably not true. I haven’t actually tried on very many shoes. Partly this is because I’m not obsessed with them, partly it’s because I’m not entirely sure what size shoe I wear over here, and partly it’s because I’m overwhelmed with choice and yet rarely see anything I actually want. It’s becoming relevant, though, because I need new walking shoes. And I really *want* a pair or two of good, low-heeled, calf-high boots that look reasonably dressy and I can *walk* in.

There are a multitude of problems with this. The first and foremost for any shoe is that I wear (in US sizes) 8.5 EEEE width shoes. A C width is average. My feet are both broad across the ball and *thick* all the way through the arch (causing me to have developed calcium buildups (which are called something else horrible that I can’t remember the name of right now when they’re on your feet) on the tops of my feet and on the outsides of my big and little toes, which adds to the problem of finding shoes that fit well), yet quite narrow, comparatively, at the heel. So basically, finding shoes that fit the shape of my foot is a real pain in the ass.

It gets worse when I start looking at boots, because I have Significant Calves (as supported in photographic evidence by my icon) and your average cut boot calves just wrinkle pathetically around my lower calves. The ones that do squeeze over my mighty thews operate primarily on the squeeze part, and circulation to my feet (which are usually cold anyway) becomes a thing of distant memory.

I’ve been looking at The Clog and Shoe Workshop in Scotland, where they actually hand-make shoes. None of their shoes are what you’d call fashionable (though they’re a hell of a lot cuter than the average mass-produced shoes for fat feet), but for walking shoes they’re starting to look increasingly appealing. I’m not sure what else to /do/. Argh.

So the shorter version of this is, does anybody have any shoe store recommendations? I’m beginning to not care how much I pay for the #$*& things as long as they *fit*.

ETA: this is aimed mostly at Ireland readers, as shipping things from the States commercially makes you liable for about 50% over cost in taxes. -smiles with gritted teeth- However, if anybody has a really good source for shoes (especially fashionable ones), I will go to the bother of having them shipped somewhere in the States and sent to me non-commercially. PITA, but…


  1. mizkit

    Isn’t it? I know so many people who can’t find shoes that fit. You’d think there’d be a market for attractive, well-made, comfortable, well-fitted shoes. Hah. :)

  2. wyvernfriend

    My work diary translates 8.5 to size 7 UK and 40 in European sizes. I recommend a brand called Rieker which is in a fair few shops, they’re a german manufacturer who make fairly wide fitting shoes (Reiker’s Web Site; I’d also recommend scout shops for good hiking boots at a reasonable price. I have no idea where they are in Cork but there’s a scout shop on Abbey street in Dublin close to Arnotts. Rieker is available in Arnotts and occasionally in their basement.

  3. kirbyk

    Amazon did just launch a high-end shoe store called I have no idea as to quality, or international issues, I just pass along the word from my corporate masters. And I dunno what has these days.

    I am very disappointed to have such a cool geek domain taken up by something whose users are extremely unlikely to have read Sandman, though. What’s next, check your stock portfolio at Get tips on biblical purity at Get a soulless corporate job at

  4. agrimony

    *peeks at her shoes which she got at The Walking Company and which are European brands* Why European? Because Europeans believe that women do not /have/ to have dainty feet! :)

    My sneakers are by ecco and are 8-8.5 US and 39L EU.

    My ‘clogs’ are by Merrell and are 8.5 US, 6 UK, and 39 EU.

    Both are dreadfully comfortable shoes. And it is not unlikely that you would find these brands over there.

  5. ambar

    I find an excellent online source for my wacky wide feet.

    However, you may find made to measure to a) give you better results, and b) be more available over there than over here. (I’ve been looking into custom riding boots lately…)

  6. sionainn

    For boots I’ve always gone with for wider shafts and extra-wide widths. I’ve always been very pleased with the quality of their shoes (and I am hard on my shoes).

    Another online source is They specialize in hard-to-fit sizes and you can search by width as well as shoe type.

    They are both U.S. based so you might have to figure out the shipping thingo but it might be worth it.

  7. velvetpage

    I have an extremely wide foot as well – only a 6.5 in length, but an EEE in width, so I feel your pain quite literally. The only manufacturer I’ve ever found that makes really comfortable shoes is SAS. They’re American, I believe, and the shoes are rather granny-ish. I put up with it because I walk a lot. I’m in front of a classroom all day, and I prefer ugly shoes that fit right to nice-looking ones that give me corns and kill my toes and toenails.

    I have no idea if you can get them in Ireland, though.

  8. janne

    Have you checked the sporting goods stores? Don’t know about Ireland, but over here they seem to have at least half the store area devoted to shoes and clothing, a lot of it pricey and fashionable. But also of the kind you can move in :)

  9. chamois_shimi

    Do you suppose the Clog and Shoe Workshop people ship to the U.S.? I can’t remember the last time I had hiking boots or shoes that fit properly. It doesn’t help that my feet aren’t quite the same length. :P

  10. velvetpage

    Another thought – consider seeing a chiropodist for the corns, bunions, and calluses. Letting them sit there indefinitely can lead to further problems later on. I know one lady who had her baby toe amputated, and another whose toenails have all fallen off, from wearing cheap shoes that didn’t fit for a long time.

  11. genitiggie

    This year’s one pair of boots(indeed winter footwear of any sort) that fit came from the Clarks shop. Odd, because nothing Clarks make had fit me for a decade. They are short enough to not hit the calf proble, while long enough that I don’t feel my feet are going to get cut off at the ankle. Unfortunately they were in the sale before Christmas, so they may not still have this design.

    Scholl shops have very wide shoes also. Some of them don’t even look like they were made for your 102 year old grandma.

    Also, as mentioned above, Reiker and Ecco. I find these days that they aren’t high enough in the instep (except for the ubiquitous ugly Ecco lace-up) and even occasionally (Ecco) for the toes. However, I have had success in the past with them and your feet aren’t mine. Seibel is another German brand and I found one other which almost fit at a Pavers shop. I forget what the name was, I’d never heard of them before.

    Oh, and there exist some Timberland stores in England. My sandals and hiking shoes are from there.

    Damn but I miss Zeeta.

  12. sammywol

    Shoes that fit? Never heard of them. M=I have insanely skinny, narrow, low rise feet and so all shoes are like boats round my feet. I just settle for ones that don’t rub blisters on the spots where the foot moves around most.

    Back in the day I would have suggested Ecco shoes for comfort and walking and even, occasionally, for fashionability but now their shoes are made in the Far East along with everyone else’s and so have to be viewed with as much suspicion as anyone else’s. However they have a shop on Princes St (I think – one of those between Patrick St and Oliver Plunkett St. anyway) and I did get some decent sandals there this summer.

  13. brightglance

    Gabor is a brand carried by the “better” shoe shops and usually by department stores, which does wider shoes and also boots for wider calves. They can be a bit boring, I’ve mostly had them as work shoes but I bought the low heel long boots with 2 side buckles shown first at a few months ago and have hardly taken them off since.

  14. knappenp

    My wife – six feet tall, with feet to match – does much of her shoe shopping at Zappos. One of the things she likes the most is that if the shoes don’t fit they can be returned or exchanged pretty easily.

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