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Thank you all for your support and advice. There seem to be a lot of possible options for me.
In any case, I need to get away from this whole business of cramming my feet into shoes that crush my toes (option 1 in my first post). This is really the worst option possible and could even cause me more serious problems in the future if I keep that up. Before posting here I was trying to use stretch sprays and that never really made things stretch enough to get rid of the problem….
A quick update: I've decided to try a few different solutions suggested here and then I'll be able to see from experience which one/s work best for me.
As someone pointed out in an earlier post here, there is a little bit of a slippage problem with shoes that are way too long for the sake of my poor pinky toe. Beyond that, I think the creasing in the shoe is kind of overdone. As long as the shoes are too overly long, this works okay, but I think some of the other ideas suggested here are probably better.
Since a couple of you suggested Eccos, I tried on a pair of during lunch break yesterday and they felt really good, like the most comfortable shoes I've ever tried on. The blocky shape seems to fit well to my feet. I'm not crazy about the look, but still they felt SO good that I think I'm going to have to get a pair of Eccos to integrate into my wardrobe somewhere, not for the dressiest occasions, but maybe at least as a walking shoe or something. Maybe I'll take a look at Birkenstock as well.
The idea of going for the central European style is appealing - I really like the look of brown wingtips and am always trying to cram myself into these slim things, but a Budapester with a wider front and bigger toe box could be an alternative quality brogued shoe that might fit better to my feet. I found a shoe store in my region that has Ludwig Reiter and a lot of other shoes in this kind of style, so I plan on going and trying my luck there next week. I think a rounded shoe with a somewhat bulky look instead of a really sharp curve might be a good compromise between totally square toed shoes and really sleek ones.
The idea of going bespoke is enticing... the price is not, however. I'd like to try a few other options first. I'm thinking of trying Adler (http://www.adlershoes.com), which is of course not full bespoke but might get me a good fit for a moderate price. Is that a good idea?
Next on my list is to look into Molded Shoe, orthotics, a podiatrist, maybe Alden again (the picture shown on one post here looked like it could be promising... I don't remember seeing that before)....
Hmmm.... amputation sounds like more than I would be up for. Toe reconstruction doesn't sound like much fun either - I'm envisioning high costs and then walking around with a cast or something for a while afterwards.... but I suppose I probably ought to consider it as it could actually be a great long-term solution, allowing me to fit into lots of RTW shoes for the rest of my life..... I'll think about it.
Has anyone here done this? If so, was it worth doing?
Edited by Kent - 6/8/12 at 7:47am
Hmmm.... Toe reconstruction doesn't sound like much fun either ... but I suppose I probably ought to consider it as it could actually be a great long-term solution, allowing me to fit into lots of RTW shoes for the rest of my life..... I'll think about it.
Has anyone here done this? If so, was it worth doing?
Ignore the pain. You should be willing to sacrifice it all to appease strangers on the web...
Seriously, find a good, honest podiatrist. Mine told me to get custom orthotics, but to first try standard ones. I use Pedags in all my dress shoes and Powerstep Pinnacles in all my casual shoes. It works for me (plantar fasciitis + metatarsalgia), but of course YMMV.
hmmm that is rather boxy in the link, however as you said you are faced with a dilema. I would not advise you to go with number 1 or 2 as even some items of our wardrobe are worth the pain, the extended damage to your feet surely outweigh the momentary "oohs and ahhs" that you would get on the streets. I took into consideration your price range however you are an extreme case so the best option would be to explore bespoke my dear friend. It may put a dent on your wallet but it wont put a dent on your feet.
This is my first post here and I may be really getting off on the wrong foot by asking a question like this.... but, here goes anyway.
This has to do with wierd feet and square-toed shoes, so anyone who gets grossed out or really agressive about these topics be warned. Personally, I don't really care much for the look of square-toed shoes either and much prefer the aethetics of round-toed shoes. However, unfortunately I have abnormally boxy feet - my pinky toe is pretty long (beyond the knucke of my big toe) and a little fat. Beyond that, on my right foot there's a big gap between my big toe and the narrow toes, which point away from the big toe. Any kind of sharp angle curving down crams in my toes and seriously crushes my pinky toe, resulting in considerable foot pain by the end of the day. I've tried lots of shoes and gone for a fitting at AE as well as Alden, and everybody has trouble finding shoes that fit me. Even at both of those shops the salepeople seemed to be a bit baffled by feet. I even bought a pair at AE that the saleman finally insisted would be right fit for me, but still crushes my toes mercilessly.
My options seem to be the following:
1. Wear rounded-toe shoes and just deal with the pain. (only possible with at least a day break in between)
2. Wear rounded-toe shoes that are too long but don't crush my long pinky toe. (i.e. size shoe according to pinky toe instead of according to the longest toe.)
3. Wear square-toed shoes.
In practice, I do all three of these. The third option is a big relief for my feet, so I wear boxy shoes at least for casual wear. Rieker offer the most comfortable shoes for my feet I've found... I'm talking about really boxy stuff like this: http://www.ebay.de/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330457540180&clk_rvr_id=350026099472&item=330457540180&lgeo=1&vectorid=229487
I realize that shoes are supposed to make your feet more elegant, but I'm afraid my feet are naturally so inelegant that there's only so much that can be done. After a lot of doing option number 1 above, I'm finally trying to accept my feet for what they are instead of forcing them to be something they aren't.
If I'm going to wear square-toed shoes - I emphasize for comfort reasons - what is the best I can do? Is this style offered by any of the better shoe makers? It seems to be a trend pushed more by fashion brands, and I haven't come across any Goodyear welted shoes that have a square toe. I'd like to find a higher quality kind of squared toe (very nice leather, welted construction) that I could at least wear for business casual. (Personally, I wear a sports jacket and usually even a tie for business casual.) Perhaps someone here can help. Does anyone else have a similar problem?
For the record: I'm not asking forum members to please vent how much they hate the look of square toed shoes. I am already well aware that most people on these forums hold them for tasteless and ugly.
There's square and then there's square. If by square you mean the monstrosities a few years ago by the likes of Kenneth Cole etc, then no. These lasts are almost a complete rectangle when viewed from top.
But if you mean a slightly square-end last, as in the classic Italian cut seen in most Santonis or the likes of Vass U or K last. Then yes. You should give then a shot.
My feet seem to have a similar issue. The widest point of my right foot is pretty wide. Wider than on the left. Which means many funky shoes would hurt my smallest toe nail. For a few years I suffered the consequences and had a permanently black nail.
That's because the squared lasts have an angle from the widest point of the shoe to the front. My smallest toe usually tends to be pressed behind this angle created by the last.
But I find that instead of going full bespoke or Su Misura, if you choose your size and width wisely you can still wear the best makers without hurting your toes. I usually try shoes on my right foot first. Might have to go a bit wider and one size bigger. Then use insoles that are available in some fantastic formats now -- only on the heel and anti-slip -- so that your front foot is all open inside the larger wider shoe but the heel is snug and the feet feel comfortable.
Let us know your measurements and maybe I'll suggest more specifically.
Just to add, on a highly subjective note, I find round toe shoes a bit stodgy. The mildly squared ending at the front is more fashionable and perhaps euro-classic. As a compromise between the very edgy and the very stodgy you could consider brands such as Magnanni or Johnston Murphy (only JM's Italian made line, otherwise the recent china made stuff is ignorable) because they tend to be wide and comfortable while not being utter uglies.
Any kind of sharp angle curving down crams in my toes and seriously crushes my pinky toe, resulting in considerable foot pain by the end of the day. I've tried lots of shoes and gone for a fitting at AE as well as Alden, and everybody has trouble finding shoes that fit me. Even at both of those shops the salepeople seemed to be a bit baffled by feet. I even bought a pair at AE that the saleman finally insisted would be right fit for me, but still crushes my toes mercilessly.
Did they only try different lengths of the same width for you or also different width length combinations? I also had sales people try different lengths of shoes on my narrow feet insisting that a short length, which cramped in my toes, was right for me because I did not have heel slippage with this length. Of course, this was nonsense and they either were not aware that shoes (of some makers) are available in different widths or they did not want to sell something, which they did not keep in stock.
A solution to your problem could be to buy long and narrow shows, such that you pinky ends before the shoe starts curving in. That might give you some more space in the toe box than you might need, which should not be a massive problem (also many people buy their shoes with too little room in the toe box because this is what they are used to from their athletic shoes).
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