Shoe Shopping That Finally Makes Me Excited!

I have something embarrassing but important (I feel, anyhow) to share. I'm not one that is brought to tears easily. I watch emotional movies and don't cry. I hear sad news and while it affects me, I don't cry. But one thing pretty much guaranteed to make me cry has been something else that brings people much joy.
Shoe shopping.
Yes, shoe shopping consistently makes me cry. Trying to find the best sneakers for women in my size was tricky. Even writing this post, my eyes are tearing up. Shoe shopping is a very emotional topic for me.

Growing up, I had larger shoes than my older sister by first grade. By fourth or fifth I already surpassed my mother in size. They jokingly called me Big Foot, because my feet are... well, huge. Size 12.

I knew my feet were large but I never realized how 'strange' or problematic that would be, because I grew up in a predominantly African American area, who on average have larger feet, and we shopped for shoes in Payless shoes who always had a very large selection of shoes in my size. I never minded shoe shopping, in fact, I loved it, until I moved abroad.

And since then, shoe shopping had made me cry.

Locally we use European shoe sizes, and at first I thought my shoe size was 42. I saw so many shops boasting that they sell large sizes... And they went up to size 41. Thanks, but no thanks. They tried to convince me the shoes would stretch. No. Finally I eventually found and I bought size 42 shoes and after purchase realized they were too small. So I ordered a pair of expensive running shoes online in size 43. And they hurt my feet. And I realized they were too small. I was so excited when I found a local shoe store that had size 44 shoes and I bought such a cute pair of flats... That hurt my foot. I had to come to term with the fact eventually that I'm size 45. And the store that carried size 44 did not carry 45.

But even before I realized that, even when I was thinking I could wear size 42 or 43, shoe shopping made me cry. Because the once in a very long time that I found a store that carried (what I thought was) my size, it wasn't in styles I liked. And they were expensive. Oh so expensive. Stores would carry up to size 41 in a style for one price, but the second you went to size 42, that same style shoe was now nearly 50% more.

I can't even count how many times I cried about shoe shopping. I cried because I couldn't find anything my size, let alone something that I liked. I cried that I had to wear shoes I didn't like and spend a fortune on them. It would have been bad enough wearing shoes I didn't like, but it was even worse to need to pay a hefty sum to make myself look ugly.

But I needed shoes desperately, and hence I cried.

Out of frustration and defeat mostly. Because I knew I would pay $100+ a pair for shoes I hated because what choice did I have?

And while I also have frustrations when clothing shopping and I can't find anything that fits because of my large size, at least then I tell myself that if I lost weight I'd be able to find clothes more easily. But I know nothing I can do can make my feet smaller, short of cutting off my toes, which obviously is not something any sane person would do. But it just made me feel hopeless and nothing makes me cry like feeling hopeless and helpless.

Before anyone says 'what about online shopping' I'll tell you that I tried it. Numerous times. I can't count how many pairs of shoes I had people bring me back from the States that didn't work for me, because not only am I an extremely large shoe size, I'm also sort of in between sizes and I really need to try on shoes so I can know if I need a 44 or 45. (I officially am a size 11.5 women, which they don't make, so I wear either large 11s or small 12s, or 12s with straps that keep my feet in place.) And finding shoes in a style I like, even online, has not been easy. I like block heels that are not too high. And not ones that are too open on the top. I finally found a pair of gorgeous shoes exactly my taste that I paid through the nose for and ordered online, and when they arrived, despite saying they were the right size, were too small. But I haven't had the heart to get rid of them...

So what have I been wearing?
Men's shoes.
I've decided if I can't find shoes in my size that I like, I'm not paying a lot for them. I'd rather pay a little for shoes I can tolerate. And so I go shopping at a discount shoe chain and shop in the men's section which fortunately had shoes that aren't completely masculine but can pass as women's shoes. Mainly loafers or similar. I look for the most gender neutral shoes that are inexpensive and go with those. And I tolerate them.

Fortunately last winter I found an online shoe store and took a chance and ordered myself a pair of stylish women's boots in my size that I desperately hoped would fit me because I was so sick of having ugly men's boots. And they've been great and fortunately fit! First pair of shoes in literally 11 years that I liked.

But I still had nothing to wear when I need something fancy. I wear my loafers but feel icky in them when trying to dress up. But what choice do I have?

I had heard from people that in another city in my country there were shoes for women in larger sizes, but I wasn't able to just go to another city and hope I'd find shoes there. But I kept that filed in the back of my mind. And today I ended up traveling to that city for another reason and scoured the internet to find a shoe store with larger sizes for women, and I must say I struck gold.

The proprietress of this lovely shoe store, entirely women's nice shoes, from size 41 to 46

Do you know how nice it is to walk into a store and see so many pairs of nice shoes, and all in your size? If you have normal sized feet you probably take this for granted, but I really don't. After so many shoe shopping trips that I left crying, this time I left with a huge smile on my face.

Because I finally bought myself a pair of nice dress shoes in a style that I like! I don't even care that these shoes are expensive. I knew going on that I'd be paying more for shoes my size if I wanted to have things I liked. But it's not that I'm opposed to spending money in general or on clothes.
What I'm opposed to is spending money on things that don't make me happy. I want my money spent in ways that improve my life. And not wasting it on things that I don't care about. And that's why it was so hard for me to go shoe shopping all those other times. Because I was spending money in a way that didn't align with my values and feelings. I didn't believe that spending money on things that made me feel ugly was a good use of my resources.

 So yes. I spent $115 on this pair of shoes I bought today. But they make me happy and make me feel good about myself, so I have no regrets whatsoever spending this money.

There was another pair of shoes that I tried on and also really liked other than their color. I wanted black but they black ones would only be arriving in 2 weeks. I got put on their list to be notified when there are new arrivals and now I know that if I want to shoe shop and leave happy and not crying, I found a place. Even if it means traveling to another city for them. It's still worth it.

I'm worth it.

I deserve to feel good in what I wear.

And I'm glad I finally found a way that I can do that.

Anyone else relate to my shoe shopping frustrations? What size shoes do you wear? What do you do to find shoes your size?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.

  1. Yes! This is me! But I've been at it for over 50 years!
    I'm going to try that place.

  2. Good for you, Penny. I am so glad you found shoes that you like that make you feel good when you wear them. They are worth every cent you paid.

    I have average size feet, so buying shoes isn't a problem for me. But I am rather short (5 feet tall) and curvy, and spent over a decade in a country where the women are very tall and not particularly curvy. It was so difficult to find anything that fit. Even the smallest size was often huge on me, and there was no concept of petite sizing. I would look in the kid's department, but kids' clothes aren't sized for women with hips. I ended up altering and shortening almost every item of clothing. It was very frustrating. Now I am back in the US, and at least I can find things that fit.
    - Tina

  3. I live in Europe and I have never seen size 45 shoes. You’re lucky to have found such a shop.
    I am an average 38.5 so I don’t really have any issues with my shoes, but in high school a friend of mine was a size 43 and she had the hardest time finding shoes that looked feminine and that fit. But the same thing goes for tiny feet. I have a coworker who wears a size 34 and if she wants decently priced shoes she has to buy shoes meant for children. Only the most expensive shoe shops sell shoes that size styled for adults in my city.

  4. You deserve to have nicely fitting, attractive shoes that are made for your (women's) feet. Women's shoes also go along with women's clothes and are quite different from mens. They are NOT the same. I've tried wearing mens shoes before and I can barely stand it, the shape just feels wrong to me - too wide at the toes, arches in the wrong spots.... I'm so glad you found good quality footwear, congratulations!

  5. Oh my goodness, as a size 11, I so relate. I live in New Zealand where most shoes are sourced from Asia, which run small. I usually have to source my shoes online and pay upwards from $200. Ugh.

  6. Gorgeous shoes! May you wear them in good health

    I also have large feet - size 41 and wide. Often very hard to find shoes that are not sneakers...
    would love to know where the store is located.

    1. email me at and I will give you details of the store.

  7. Your new shoes are *adorable*!!! Wear them in good health.

  8. What makes me cry shopping- there are no real industry standards for size. Every brand is different and sometimes even within the brand the size varies. So frustrating!

  9. I also have a size 11 shoe and have trouble buying shoes. Can you give me the exact location of the store. Next time I am there I will go shopping for shoes !

    1. email me at and I will give you details of the store.

  10. I HATE shoe shopping. I have always hated it. I would rather just be barefoot all the time. I am a relatively common size, which in my area means by the time shoes get to the discount rack or on clearance, there are none in my size. Or as soon as I find a shoe brand/style I really like, it gets discountinued. I am so happy you found shoes that make you feel good and are comfortable and are what you need.

  11. Those black shoes with the buttons are super-cute, by the way!

  12. Enjoy your shoes. Everyone deserves a good looking and feeling pair (or three) of great shoes.

  13. You know I had just read an article about feet getting larger and here is the link:

    That said, when I lived in Italy the shoe sizes always confused me. Also, I never knew African Americans have larger feet! I am
    African American and all the women in my family wear a size 8 except for one who is the exception with a wider foot.

  14. Both styles are gorgeous! That is money well spent because feeling good about yourself and having good self-esteem are priceless!

  15. CUTE!!! I love the shoes! I have that issue with finding modest skirts and pants. My heritage is African American and I'm well built lol. In a country of tiny white's pretty tiring. My parents send me pants and skirts while I'm over here because it's just depressing. If you do find something usually it's not modest either. If you feel great, it's worth the money!!! :)

  16. I love the black sassy! Glad you found a store that works for you. I have square Fred Flintstone feet. I might only wear an 8 but finding wide is a challenge. Plus I have these buttons in my ankles from surgery that hit the top of my sneakers when I walk so I have to find inserts to lift my foot higher to avoid them. So for me, it's Crocs most of the time, but sneakers for work.

  17. Hello Penny, it sounds like you've solved your problem, but here is some information you might find useful. In the US there is an incredible online shoe shopping site called Zappos. You can buy any number of pairs of shoes and it's free shipping and free returns. I did a search for size 11.5 and got more than 3000 hits. There is no time limit on returns, so you could have someone who's coming form the US bring you several pairs of shoes and if you don't want them, the person can take them back. Another tip is the company called Gabor. If you go to Europe you can buy them there. I wear a 10.5 and bought several pairs in Amsterdam. Good luck.

Previous Post Next Post