So it is another themed week here at the Code of the Gentleman – Shoe Week. There is so much to write about shoes everything from choosing a pair, taking care of them, working out which pair is best for each occasion and more. My thoughts about shoes always start with, “Can I find a pair that will fit?”
I have big feet, UK size 12/13 (USA 14/15; Euro 47/48). Though not as big as some, they are above the average, which for men in the UK is 9 (USA 10.5). Most manufacturers stop making shoes above size 11 (UK).
It has been an issue since my teenage years, especially if you do not want to wear mainly trainers, which I didn’t and still don’t. When I was in my teens, the only shoes I could find that were in my size and reasonably priced, generally, were Cowboy boots. I know, very strange that in London, the only things I could find was American regional footwear! I could find some casual shoes, a bunch of trainers and if I wanted to spend a large amount of money, a pair of bespoke shoes, which was a little difficult with my limited funds at the time.
I lived in cowboy boots and when I could find a pair of normal shoes in my size I would scoop them up, it was the same in Europe and it wasn’t until I went to the USA when I was 19 that I discovered shoes in my size could be found in more stores. It was a miracle! Though one can’t fly to the States to pick up shoes.
Back in the UK, my routine for going into stores was as follows –
Enter Shoe Store/Department
Ask Assistant for Shoes that maybe in my size
They reply with “pick a style”, I reply with “it would be easier for you to tell me what you have in my style.”
I eventually give in and hand over 5-8 different shoes (much to the annoyance of the Assistant)
Assistant goes to backroom
Assistant returns and informs me that only 1 pair of shoes is in my size
I explain once again that it would be easier if they told me what was in my size
Assistant gives in – goes into Backroom
Assistant comes back and points out that the store has only 3 shoe styles in my size.
Mostly the shoes shown are casual or trainers
I move onto next store for repetition of above until success strikes, which takes at least a day.
Nothing much has changed in the ensuing 2 decades; shoes in my size are still difficult to come by and stores are still as generally unhelpful. I can now afford to pay for better shoes, but still my size is hard to come by and you can never find a sale pair!
Yes, the internet has made the purchase of many things better and easier, though shoes are still an item of clothing that require you to try them on and see how they fit as every shoe style is different in the construction. Having shoes sent out and trying them on and returning them is a lengthy and tedious process and I am not sure if it is even more fruitful than my tour of shoes stores!
Until the nations feet size increases on average to UK 10, I will still struggle and my yearly shoe shopping routine remains.
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