The Truth Comes Out

I have a problem when it comes to buying shoes. Well, it's actually a problem with buying clothing in general. I'm cheap. Very cheap. I tend to have arbitrary price limits in my head and refuse to buy anything that costs more than that. This does come in handy considering our limited funds for things like clothing and shoes, but it also means that I tend to have a wardrobe of odd, non-matching, ill-fitting clothes. While it's true that I have found some great things at thrift stores and on clearance, I definitely have other clothes that are just plain lame. I will often choose to buy things because they are cheap, even sacrificing what I really want because it doesn't fit my predetermined price conventions. I am convincing myself to buy this jacket because it is comfortable, stylish, fits a wardrobe need (I don't have a blazer or jacket), and matches a skirt I already have. Oh and it comes in petite, so I can get a large that won't squeeze my tummy and not have sleeves that hang two inches below my hands. Definitely worth the money. I'll decide tonight.

Back to the shoes. Usually I buy my shoes at thrift stores. I actually used to buy them at Payless, but most of their styles scare me. I don't like heels, I don't like suede, I don't like strappy things (they make my feet look like sausages). For some reason in my head I don't think I should pay more than ten dollars for a pair of shoes. I'm beginning to realize that this is a bad idea. Especially since even Target doesn't sell shoes for less than twenty dollars. Plus I've been having a problem getting shoes that fit well. Like I said, many styles tend to give me sausage foot. I also have the problem of ending up with floppy shoes after I wear them a few times. Especially with tights or thin socks, my heels start popping out of my shoes and I feel like a moron shuffling along trying to keep from losing a shoe at church.

Today I finally looked up how to buy shoes online and measured my feet. Guess what I found out? I have wide feet. Very wide feet. According to one chart, I could possibly require extra-wide shoes. No wonder I love my Birkenstocks so much. Unfortunately I can't wear Birks while I teach. Also, I usually try on 8 1/2s or 9s, but I apparently should be somewhere between 7 1/2 or 8. The main reason why I am having a shoe crisis is that I now spend many hours a week standing up teaching. My feet hurt. Does anyone out there in blog land have some suggestions of where I could go to buy some stylish, comfortable, reasonably priced shoes that won't fall off my feet while I'm walking around the room?

By the way, this is just more evidence that I really am a Hobbit. I have enormous feet, I love to eat, and I'm short and hairy. Just don't ask me to guard the Ring; I'd rather not depart on an epic quest right now.


Jenny said…
I feel you on the wide feet. What I would do, which might take a little longer, is go into a store and try on shoes and write down the size and style etc and then go online and see if they are clearanced at or somewhere else online. I hate to wear uncomfortable shoes, so all my shoes cost a fortune which is why I have like 1 pair. Good luck on your search. Sorry I'm not more help.
Mrs. Hass-Bark said…
I say go for the jacket. Everything I've ever bought from Eddie Bauer has lasted longer than I even wanted to own it.

As for shoes...Have you tried Zappos? They have good customer reviews of many of their shoes. Shipping is free, so that's nice.

If I may so express my opinion, I think shoes are worth spending a bit more on. A good pair of shoes lasts for years and you'll save yourself both foot and back pain. As a teacher, I can't stand for very long at all without wearing proper shoes.

I really like Naturalizer, Clark (I wore them for my whole mission), and Frye (but they're even expensive for my tastes).

Good luck finding good shoes!!
Carina said…
Online shopping is your friend.

I recommend because they not only do free negative overnight shipping (they take $5 off your order and ship it overnight,) but their search and drill-down tools are excellent. You can adjust your price range, select your width, even play around with colors or brands if you are so inclined. The prices are usually pretty good, especially the pairs on clearance.

So, even if your tastes run to these and mine run to these, we can both find something to like. I much prefer them to Zappos (which doesn't have the best sales.)
Kailey said…
Jessie, I always think you look great! I think spending a lot on something that is going to look ridiculous in 6 months is a total waste. A jacket is usually a safe bet though.

As for shoes, try the Shoe Pavillion or Nordstrom Rack... my Precious. I have found that shoes ARE worth spending money on. But you don't have to spend TONS of money to get good ones. And since you aren't trying to get "strappy" or any of that crap, it's a safe bet you can get something comfortable that will look good for quite some time. Good luck, and let me know if you want a shopping buddy sometime!!
Katya said…
I like for my D-width feet, but they tend to carry pretty expensive brands. You might like the shoes at, and they're not as pricey.
Mindy said…
I took a class once where we had to write down the original cost of clothes and shoes and then how many times we wore each item. Then we saw how much things cost per wearing. It can help you feel better about buying something that seems to cost too much but is also practical.
I am the same way. However, when I had a job where I had to stand hours every day, I caved and bought Merrell shoes. They were $70 bucks (on sale I think), but they lasted 3 years and were the most comfortable shoes I'd ever owned. Worth every penny since I wore them almost every day for 3 years.

I've also heard really great things about dansko shoes, though I've never tried them on. They're supposed to be made for people who are on their feet a lot.

I agree with Miss Hass. While it's good to save a buck, it's better to save your knees, arches, and back. Think of buying good shoes as insurance. You don't want to end up with knee and arch problems (which will be super-d-douper expensive) because you have a hard time shelling out a little more on quality shoes.
I'm a wide-foot girl too, and with my new-found love for Goodwill my price limit in my head is getting lower all the time.

Plantboy has no compunction about spending too much money for clothes (I swear he is a NorthFace poster child), but he does wait for sales, only purchase clothes occassionally, and wear them forever. He finally talked me into a pair of Keens.

Oh. I. Love. Them.
Oh, and my kids have feet like little cubes--the same length, width and height. I'm so glad not to have girls. We get Stride Rite sandals in the Spring and an all-purpose pair from the same store in the fall.
Anonymous said…
I second the recommendation for Love it--tons of shoes, tons of search options, great shipping price.
Mama said…
I love love love online shopping and love the sites folks have recommended.

But could I recommend something a little different for shoes first? In your town, there is surely a place where runners shop for shoes. Here, it is the TrackShak (sp?) and they will watch you walk around the room and check out everything about your foot and gait, etc.

It's a little, well, weird at first. Then they measure your feet a hundred ways and bring out some shoes. (athletic shoes.) You canNOT believe the difference it makes to see how shoes are supposed to feel on your feet.

Then, once you know what good athletic shoes should feel like, it might be easier to know what to shop for in other shoes? Also, it helps you want to exercise because your feet don't ache like they usually do in cheap shoes.

My friend was able to run a triathlon on a fractured heel in the shoes that she bought from TrackShak. They were about $50, I believe. She is not an athlete by nature, but had committed to running it and didn't want to drop out. But that is how excellent good shoes feel on your feet- they can really absorb the shock, etc.

Earth Sign Mama said…
Wow! What a lot of great advice! I have Extreme Feet, too, and so I spend what it takes to get something I can live in. But I always find them on sale. Expect to spend at least $50--but you must consider it a necessary cost of teaching. You cannot be in misery over your feet while teaching.

I love my Skechers with the big thick soles (lace up)--got them on sale at Dillards. Naturalizers and Danskos are both very comfy, and I bought some clogs from Keen that are FABULOUS. And Born (with the Swedish O) are also really really comfy. I have found excellent Dr. Scholl's too at Walmart(!)--hence inexpensive--that are very comfortable and supportive.

If your shoes slip off the heel I have found help at a shoe department buying some little stick in shapes that fit into the heel area at the top of your shoe that fill in that gap with a little soft "grabber" that helps them stay on my foot. Plus, I always buy those triangle shaped gel things to put under the ball of my foot to add comfort. You can buy them in Target/Walmart where the shoe accessories are and they provide a lot of extra comfort too. Whew..lots of advice. But there are a lot of things to help.
I too, have a hard time spending a lot of money on shoes, but have found that it is worth it in comfort and durability. I have found it just best to watch for clearance sales. I have to agree with everyone who shops at I have bought some great shoes from that site, Clarks, and ECCO. Another good site is They have really good shoes where all of the shoes are supposed to be good for you feet. You can even shop b your condition. Some of the shoes can be a bit expensive, but if you look at the clearance stuff, like I do,you can find some really good deals on good, well constructed, long lasting, professional shoes.

But they are leather, mostly, so of you are against that... I'm sorry. I can't help you :)
Kristeee said…
Eddie Bauer's petite sizes are wonderful. I think it's dumb, however, that they don't have the sizes in stores.

I had to work on my husband to get him to get more expensive shoes - but even though it costs more up front, it costs less in back and foot pain. I have a hard time with buying shoes online because my arches are weird, I guess. The top of the arch in a lot of shoes hits mine wrong and it gives me nasty headaches. Weird, I know.

Clark, Naturalizer, and basically all European shoes (excepting Docs, which are heavy to wear) are super comfy and last forever.

Good luck! In the meantime, you could just sit on the desk to teach instead.
Christian said…
I don't have any advice about where to buy shoes, but the one thing I will say is that shoes are the most important clothing to spend money on. Others have mentioned it, but buying quality shoes (which often requires spending more money) is essential for foot, leg, and back health.
Rochelle said…
I couldn't agree with you more! I hate shopping for shoes and clothes... and I too have a set limit as to how much I will spend on anything. I enjoy reading your blog! You are such a fantastic writer. I wish I could be so talented! :)
Christian said…
Oh. Now that I think about it, I do have some advice. My mom has a wide foot, and she has found that the best place for her to buy athletic shoes (which I know you're not looking for at this moment, but you may in the future) is New Balance. They carry widths and have better arch support than Nike and Reebok and the others.
Katya said…
Oh, I second the recommendation for New Balance shoes. Soooo comfortable.
My dad has DDDD wide feet and he swears by New Balance as well. I just have regular wide feet and I much prefer Reebok for running shoes. However, you can only really find them at a Reebok specific store and occasionally JC Penny's. New balance's length sizes were just wrong for my feet. The 7's were too small and the next size up were too big.
AmyJane said…
I'm with most of the commenters--I finally learned that you do actually get what you pay for. I have a pair of danskos and a pair of new balance running shoes and that's pretty much all I wear . While the danskos cost me a hundred bucks, I've worn them nearly every single day for two years since then. Well worth it, in my book. I'd rather have less shoes and love them.
AmyJane said…
I meant to say that you do actually get what you pay for when it comes to shoes. Other things, not necessarily! :)
Jenny said…
Once when I was working as a hostess I had to wear black dress shoes and the ones I wore were horribly uncomfortable and I just bought insoles from the store and stuck them in the shoes and that helped a ton.
skyeJ said…
Totally pay for quality. Especially when it comes to shoes. This is coming from a person who loves to buy shoes and pays lots for cuteness and quality, even when they hurt. But I tend to find that the more I pay, even for a three inch stiletto, the more comfortable they are. There's something to be said for a well-made shoe. The thirty dollar stilettos really are harder to walk in and hurt faster than the eighty dollar ones. Both will give you bleeding blisters if you dance for hours in them, however.

I also work on my feet and my work shoes are VERY important. No job is worth your health. No amount of money can ever completely fix back problems!! I work in Crocs, but I admit they aren't cute and might be too casual for teaching. But they are light, and to me that makes the most difference. I have narrow feet and good arches, however. I did have some New Balance sneakers that were amazingly comfortable. Nurses I know are pretty split between Danskos and Crocs if they're picky about work shoes. The money you will save in not buying another pair of good shoes for a long time, plus the savings on medical care later in life will make it worth it. How long have you had those Birks? Are they worth it??
Plantboy has the real Hobbit feet. Complete with hair. I think I'll sneak a picture sometime and post them. It is amazing, really.

I second the New Balance comment--they are nice and wide. Sketchers are comfy, but not for the long haul. I took a pair of Docs and a pair of Borns on mission. The Docs always felt sloppy and heavy; my legs would ache after a day of walking in them. The Borns were beautiful and comfortable but the sole cracked after about two weeks of bike riding and they always leaked through the bottom after that.
TJ said…
you could also try, or most shoe websites actually have free shipping to and from them if you have to return them. and believe it or not, i have bought shoes on ebay. if you know what to look for, and you know your size and brand, you can get some good deals. overstock carries shoes. i have way bigger feet than you do (size 11) and i have a very hard time finding shoes. i usually just shop online for my shoes. and my jeans, but that is a little off subject. (i have a super long inseam, so i have to buy them online because the gap stores do not carry my length. yay for the gap card and free shipping)
I know you already have loads of good advice but I thought I'd add my own. My wide feet love Keens. Most of them are fun/funky with lots of great choices for work, church, and other fun rec stuff. I think my feet look fairly cute in them. That is saying something. Also for a cheaper price often has great deals on keens. In fact that is where I bought my two pairs. Expect to spend at least $50 but I promise they will last much longer then anything you could pick up at Payless. Goodluck!
Anonymous said…
I haven't shopped for shoes for awhile, but I loved Payless because they have a special "wide" section. I have wide feet too, and a 6 1/2 wide was perfect. I don't know if they still have the wide section, but you could check.
Audrey said…
I also recommend Dansko shoes. I have really wide feet and am also on my feet teaching all day, and they are great. I am not kidding when I say I can stand up in front of teenagers from 8am to 3pm in a pair of Danskos and my feet are not tired at the end of all that. I have a pair of Danskos in a maryjane style as well as a pair of sandals and they are both fantastic and well worth the money! Dansko even has an online outlet where you can get them for a pretty significant discount, because normally a pair runs about a hundred bucks. But they will last FOREVER and no re-corking like Birks require.
I'm all for cheap clothes too. I have a 10-dollar limit for shirts, and a 20-dollar limit for pants and sweaters. The only problem is, once I do find something that fits these limits, I totally freeze up on whether I really need it or not. I've done rough fix-ups of pants for years before I bought a new pair . . .

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