Why It's Hard to Find Shoes that Fit YOU!:
They Manufacture for Average Size Women's Shoes:
It's complicated enough buying shoes when some shoes are measured in USA sizes (by the way - this is one of the only size systems that considers the width as well as the length of the foot), some in EURO sizes and some in sizes unique to specific countries (Great Britain, Japan and Australia have their own sizing). But wait, there's more! Those measurement standards can be interpreted differently by the manufacturer. Are they measuring the last (the frame the shoe is build on), the inside of the shoe or the inside of the shoe minus the 0.6 inches typically allowed for extra room beyond the toes?
If that isn't complicated enough.... some shoes are designed to fit with less toe room or more toe room - not always considered in the sizing. And those big machines that stamp out the leather in shoe shapes for uppers and soles.... they aren't necessarily perfectly calibrated to exact standards for adjusting to up to 60 different sizes for EACH style of shoe they cut.
You Wear Extra Small or Extra Large Size Women's Shoes:
No matter how the shoes are sized when they are manufactured, the challenge is making sure they fit your feet. Shoe measurements, even the shape of shoes, are based on "AVERAGE" proportions. While half the population may have close to average sized and shaped feet, the other half of the population does not! You may have exceptionally short toes (we're sure they are adorable!) or exceptionally thin, flat, top to sole, feet. Then you are no longer average and can't trust the manufacturer's sizing even if it were perfectly correct.
Shoes are designed to curve out around the "ball" or widest part of your foot, then curve in or go straight along the toes. If your toes are shorter or longer than average and if the shoe is shaped for the average foot, then either the shoe will fit at the ball of your foot and your toes will bump the end of the shoe OR the shoe will fit at the ball of the foot but there will be so much room at the toe that your foot will keep sliding forward.
If Your Foot is Not Average - What Do You Do?
Most professional shoe fitters determine your size by the length between your heel and the ball of your foot. The "Brannock Device" that is used to measure foot size is based on this principle. But if you aren't average, you have to compromise. You may buy a longer shoe to make room for long toes. The "ball" of the shoe doesn't hit your foot right and so the shoe doesn't fit quite right. Sometimes the shape of your foot in relation to the shoe will make some shoes gap out around the inner arch. Over time you've probably figured out that certain styles work better than others - mary janes vs. flats; slingbacks vs. pumps, for example.
You Are Not Alone!
See the "Ask The Shoe Lady" column with questions from women all over the world who have a hard time finding shoes that fit their longer feet. Our resident Shoe Lady expert provides answers.
Longer Feet Have a Harder Time
If you have longer feet, size 9 or more, you have even more difficulty finding shoes that fit. Buying big shoes in ladies large sizes is a real challenge. First, the shoe industry has been incredibly slow in understanding that size 7 is no longer "average". The average shoe size for women in the USA in 2009 is size 9. If size 9 is average then shoe manufacturers should be making as many woman's shoe size 10's, 11's and 12's as they are making sizes 6, 7 and 8. This isn't happening! We can only hope that the very not average Michelle Obama will influence an increase in production of larger size fashion shoes for women. It is astonishing that the fashion industry loves those willowy 6 ft+ tall models but has no consideration for their large size feet.
Longer feet have still another disadvantage. The size 12, 13, 14, 15 foot is considered a statistical "outlier" by manufacturers. They not only lack both the experience and the equipment to make these sizes well, but when they do make them, the tolerance for error in the sizing is greater. So the error in measurement for a size 7 shoe might be a centimeter. The error in measurement for a size 14 shoe might be 10 centimeters.
Given the additional complications of getting and fitting shoes for longer feet, it is no wonder that most shoe retailers have no interest in carrying and selling these larger sizes! Why go to all that extra trouble if you can sell your shoes to customers with feet that are an average size and shape?
Of course, if you happen to not have average size woman's feet to begin with, then you might be motivated.... VERY motivated! .... to find and sell women's fashion shoes in larger shoe sizes! That's the mission of DesignerShoes.com. That's how we got started. We will never carry a shoe style unless it comes AT LEAST to size 12!
Here are some brands we recommend for longer, larger size ladies' shoes:
For large, long size women's dress shoes we recommend: