A small shoe shopping rant

Actually, I should correct myself. It’s a large shoe shopping rant – in some people’s opinions, an exceedingly large shoe shopping rant. For clarification purposes, it’s the shoes that are large, as opposed to the rant…

I have big feet. I was a size 8 by the time I was 14 – thank goodness that’s also when they stopped growing! To put this into context, the average size for British women is a 5. Fortunately, I’ve never felt too much of a freak in this respect, as I seem to be gifted at making friends with girls who are similarly blessed. In my gospel choir alone, there have been at least four others with size 8 (if not 9) footsies.

Having large feet can be a trial, for a number of reasons, including:

  • Certain shoe styles only serve to make your feet look freakishly huge. Pointy shoes would be a classic example of this – the pointy bit at the front not being wide enough for any flesh, thus simply adding length to an already long foot. I like to call such things “canoes”.
  • Shoe shops rarely stock many pairs in their biggest sizes, thus they are often out of stock. (Though it has to be said that this is an improvement upon days when shoes stopped at a size 7.) 

Having big feet makes it exceptionally annoying when shop assistants do the classic “I’m sorry, we don’t have it in a [insert your shoes size] but we do have it in a [insert size below], so I brought a pair so you could try it on.” When you’re an 8, it’s often the biggest size available, so it’s unlikely that they’ll have brought a bigger size for you to try – it’ll always be the smaller one. Thing is, I know I’m an 8, that’s why I ask for it. I know my feet are big, that they won’t fit into a 7 (except in Birkenstocks) and therefore do not ask “please could you bring me this in a 7 and an 8?”. It’s exceptionally disappointing when you see the assistant coming back with a box, you’ve got your shoes off in readiness, and then discover that they’re not in your size. Perhaps the former shoe shop workers amongst my readers will criticise me for this, but it really is a pet peeve of mine.

On Thursday, I had an hour in which to do some emergency shoe shopping. ‘Emergency shoe shopping – how can such a thing exist?’ I hear you muttering to yourselves. Let me explain… 
Monday was an exceedingly wet day in London town. Before I was half way to the tube, I sensed that my left foot was exceedingly wet. Closer inspection revealed a crack along the sole, going right through the rubber and leather (Dr Marten soles – so this is an impressive feat). These boots are my winter stand-bys, I practically live in them from October to March. Since 2005 I’ve had two pairs and couldn’t be without them. Thus, replacing them became an urgent task for which I had little time. 
New boots were identified (these ones) and on Thursday afternoon I dashed to Covent Garden to acquire them. To my distress, the exact scenario I described above took place – the shop assistant insisted I ought to try on the 7’s, even though I’ve worn the 8’s in the same style consistently for five years and hadn’t noticed my feet having acres of extra space, I was deeply forlorn and feared that my toes would remain damp for several days to come – not a good thing given the weather forecast. 
Fortunately, though the weather god was against me, the shoe god was for me. Down the road I found another DM retailer where not only did they have the ones I wanted in the correct size and colour, but for £10 less than their RRP. Happy days. 
The observant amongst you will realise that it’s only three weeks since my last boot purchase. I normally wouldn’t spend so much money on footwear in such a short amount of time, but I’m sure that you’ll appreciate that the latter purchase truly was an emergency! 


  1. No criticism… that’s not what you asked for, so you don’t want it! That’s why I liked Faith so much… we had that nifty gadget that would tell you before going into the stock room whether we had any in stock. Then, we could offer a different size or style… not just bring it out in hope!

  2. Nice boots.

    I took Daughter to a shop last week for a pair of walking shoes. She tried on the 39 but they were a bit tight so we asked for the 40. The assistant disappeared for ages, finally reappearing with a box. She started to unpack them when we notice they were a 42. We said ’42?’ She said ‘yes, we don’t have 40.’


  3. Exactly!

    Re-reading the post, I realised I’d missed out a particularly random moment of the shopping experience. Another woman was trying on boots, who, like me, was replacing a dead pair of the same brand. She was also an 8, but was finding one style a little too big – so the assistant used this logic to suggest that I’d be ok in a 7!

    Rather surprised they were able to find you a 42 in Bangkok though. A friend of mine who’s an 8/9 lived in Hong Kong for years & struggled to find shoes big enough.

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