Oh my god, I literally only just remembered I had wide feet. No joke. I forgot about it for 14 years and have been squishing my hugely wide feet into little skinny shoes ever since my mother stopped taking me to the Clarks, getting my feet measured and then kitting me out ONLY in 'wide fit' shoes.
How had I forgotten those trips to Clarks?! How had I forgotten my mother's words 'You should be thrilled! You wouldn't be able to balance that head if you had little dainty feet' (???!!) What eventually reminded me was the fact that I have developed bunionettes. That's right folks – not bunions but bunionettes. That's when your foot extends (width wise) out of your little toe rather than your big toe. Sexy yeah?
Oh boo. Had I paid attention/just remembered that I had wider feet that the usual normal-footed woman, I could have avoided this foot deformation – and I wanted to share this with you… because NO ONE EVER TALKS ABOUT IT! Shop assistants just don't check to see if you have plate feet these days.
You might be scoffing at my plight, thinking your foot is a normal, dainty width, but in the same way as you might think your bra size is a 34C when actually you are a 32D, it's possible that you haven't been measuring your feet properly. Because who properly measures their feet?! ANSWER: YOU, now that you've read this – because this is footcare 101 babezez. This is the shit that will determine what state your spine is in when you're 65. You can't mess with that stuff.
Always measure your foot in the evening. During waking hours it expands and – unlike when you weigh yourself – you want to measure yourself at your widest, so your shoes you buy don't constrict you at any point during the day. Wear the socks you would be wearing with the shoe.
Like boobs, one of your feet will be bigger than the other so repeat this for both feet:
Stand on a piece of paper, with your weight on the foot you are measuring then draw a line, using a pencil, at your toe, heel and both widest points of the sides.
Then measure length + width (in inches,OBVS) and use this handy chart to figure out your actual width.
As unglamorous as this is, it is vital you avoid wearing heels as much as possible. Increased pressure on the widest part of your foot will increase swelling and in turn increase a) rubbing on the sides of your shoes and b) likelihood of your bones YES YOUR BONES actually moving to accommodate the pressure. This is how bunions/bunionettes form – it's not like a poppable wart growth.. it's bone deformity. And the only way back is bone shaving... Not pretty kids. Who wants their bones shaved?!
Always walk to work in trainers. Try to keep, at least day heels in the office, to a kitten heel. Pain in later life isn't worth passing vanities. This applies for non-wide-footed females too. Still not convinced? Check out these brogues (available in wide fit), which could very easily be worn with dresses or skirts.
It's hard to rule heels out completely, so when you do hanker for some lift, be super strict with yourself. Old-school stilettos and pointed toes are no-go-zone for you, sadly. Look for round-toed and thick heels to even out the balance, preventing your broad ball from rolling from side to side, making you look like an elephant on stilts. Wedges and wide front platforms work well too.
Summer is a gift for the wide footed. In flip flops your toes can reign free. Really make the most out of this and avoid sandals with loads of strappy bits which will hold you in just as much as normal shoes. Keep straps to a minimum and look out for adjustable straps too. These can still look stylish. VIP: Invest time finding good soles that give you some support and avoid impact. Cheap summer sandals on long shopping trips can leave you with wobbly knees after slapping about on hard floors in plastic soles.
Soft. Soft. Soft. Stiff leathers are a big no. Patent leather also gets a cross on the list. They may ease up years down the line after some determined wearing-in but the process to reach that soft-shoe state is doing you too much damage. Start how you meant to go on: with flexible soft materials that won't constrict your poor ole plates of meat. Perhaps consider some greener options like fish leather (!) or cork fabric. And don't forget that shoe horns and shoe stretch spray are good little investments.
Don't bum out about the selection available to you. If you search specifically for wide-fit shoes online, there are hundreds of shops globally that offer wide/extra-wide selections. Alternatively, you can get your shoes made to measure and totally customised which is more fun that you would have had just wandering aimlessly around Dune, eh?
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Follow Madeleine on Twitter @MissmadeleineK
Picture: Eylul Aslan
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.