Friday, April 4, 2008

Those boots aren't made for walking

No posts for a week because I was (a) up in Auckland and (b) pounding the pavements there and here in Wellington trying to find boots I could walk in.

Except for a brief fling with stilettos when I left school, I've worn relatively sane shoes all my life. I like being able to walk around without torturing myself, and I don't see why I should have to submit to a Western version of foot-binding to look good.

But nobody warned me of what lay waiting to pounce on me as I got older, despite my sane shoes. The bad news is that while bunions and hammer toes can be caused by frightful footwear, they can also be inherited. My mother has had them for years, and now I've got them too.

It's never been easy to find shoes that feel comfortable AND look nice. But ever since my podiatrist welcomed me into the wonderful world of orthotics, it's become almost impossible.

When I'm wearing jeans, I can get away with clumpy shoes. Black trousers aren't too bad either - black shoes sort of disappear under them. But skirts are a real problem. They look ghastly with great clodhoppers.

So I set out to find some boots. They had to be soft, with no seams in the wrong places, because of my bunion (I do have only one, which is some consolation). They had to have rubber soles thick enough to cope with long walks through city streets. They had to be flat - I can no longer cope with any heels at all. And they had to have deep toecaps - those elegant flat chisel toes don't leave enough room for the orthotics, let alone the hammer toe.

By the time I'd been to dozens of shops and endured scores of encounters with shop assistants who were either scornful or pitying, I felt like Quasimodo. But I finally found some cheap boots that worked perfectly well and looked fine (though they'll probably fall apart the first time they get wet).

The trick, I've discovered, is to buy at least one whole size bigger than usual. I don't know if this is because they're cheap or because they're made in China, where Western feet, like Western bodies, are all inconceivably enormous.

But this trick only works with boots, not shoes. I'm already dreading the next Great Footwear Hunt. There must be hundreds of other women out there with feet like mine. So why does it have to be so difficult?

1 comment:

  1. Like you I am a big fan of "sensible" (read: not painful to walk in) shoes. But they are getting harder and harder to find. Well done on getting some boots - I had to look for two winters to find some that were a) flat b) dressy enough for work and c) under $200. In the end I got some from Max of all places. It's not even a shoe store! Kumfs have some good stuff (and fit orthotics), but it is expensive for me, and sometimes their shoes just aren't a good fit on me for some reason.

    You know everytime someone tells me that capitalism is great and "the market is providing" I think about the difficulties of finding shoes and clothes...