I have big feet. How big you ask? Size 11½ women’s. I stopped growing late in high school, but my feet kept going, long and skinny, through my twenties from size 9 to 10 to what they are now. Trying to find nice shoes became an exercise in futility.
I am also cursed — or blessed — with second toes longer than the big ones so they stick out. I believe I could fit into a size 11 if they were regular size, but they aren’t. It’s also called Morton’s toe, Greek toe, turkey toe, and royal toe. People have tried to make me feel better by saying it’s a sign I am descended from royalty and that I am a leader. I read that the Vikings believe a long second toe predicts a long life.
All of that is interesting, but it doesn’t make it easier for me to find shoes that fit.
For years I was forced to wear men’s shoes and sneakers, but as my feet are also narrow, they never fit well. I recall a shoe salesman smirking when I asked for a men’s black dress shoe in 10½ narrow. He made a stupid remark. I walked out.
Once in Boston’s Chinatown, I tried to buy black, cotton shoes and was told “no woman should have feet that big.” Ouch.
So, buying shoes became a dreaded purchase. Stores would claim they had shoes size 11 and over but they weren’t designed well. I was better off with men’s.
Ah, but things turned around a bit when I found shoes made in Europe. I remember the grand feeling of walking out of a store wearing comfortable shoes made for women that were pretty. They’re awfully pricy but worth it. Plus they last years, so, thank goodness, I don’t have to go through this experience very often. I also once found 11½ women’s sneakers, narrow, and sandals in a sporting goods store.
When we lived in Taos, New Mexico, I decided to treat myself to vintage cowboy boots. Well, they would have to be cowboy and not cowgirl boots because I doubted I would find a women’s size I could wear.
I told Lindsey at Horse Feathers in Taos, when that store was still in business, about my long, skinny feet. I tried several pairs but most were too wide and floppy. With his wry, Western humor, Lindsey kept going through the store’s selection collected from around the country until he found a pair of Lucchese boots with brown tooled leather. Nice heel. A 9½ D. Who would have thought?
The fit wasn’t perfect but it was pretty good. Lindsey said to take the boots home for two days, wear them with thick socks — I had on thin dress socks that day — and then come back. I did as he said and also added an arch support insert.
I went back Horse Feathers to happily complete the purchase and that night, I gave those boots a good polish. That’s them in the photo above.