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A Guide: Shoes for Flatter Feet, Narrow Heels, etc.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by david3558, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. fritzl

    fritzl Well-Known Member

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    Gmunden, Salzkammergut, Austria
    

    i always thought the U.S.A is the country of unlimited possibilities. the land of the free, the home of the brave.
     
  2. herrmj

    herrmj Well-Known Member

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    Nov 26, 2011
    Location:
    seattle
    After trying barrie, trubalance, and hampton, I've found modified is the best fitting alden last for the narrow heel/flat arched foot, providing you can deal with the higher arch. I haven't had much luck in the 1,5, or 7 lasts from AE. 5 last seems to be the closest fit out of those.

    3/4 insoles with arch support help support the arch, which will help bring it up to normal instep height. Tongue pads help quite a bit too. I've tried quite a few 3/4 insoles, and prefer powerstep and superfeet (the full length black with the toes trimmed off). I'm going to try the birkenstock insole soon, lots of people seem to recommend that as well.

    I think flat feet/pronation generally tend to cause the pinky toe to splay out, which can also be problematic. Wood shoe stretchers with the bunion attachment can help widen the toe box. The only stretcher that seems to fit in a dress/work boot is made out of aluminum and quite costly. It might be better to take boots to the cobbler for toe box stretching. That said, they only go so far. I've learned how to make the go/no go call on pinky toe tightness with some experience.
     
  3. Louis XIV

    Louis XIV Well-Known Member

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    Any new information over here?
    I have a pair of Vass F last on the way to me and will report back if it works for feet with a low volume forefoot like mine.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  4. easy_golfing

    easy_golfing Well-Known Member

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    This. I never could figure out why my pinky toe always feels pressed upon.

    Are there certain shoes, materials, etc... that are better for flat feet with narrow heels? Boots vs non boots? Calf vs suede vs shell? I usually wear the Superfeet black inserts, but will give the birkenstocks a try.
     
  5. atia2

    atia2 Well-Known Member

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    Great idea for a thread. I have a low arch + low instep = low volume foot and I often end up with acres of empty space below the vamp. Not only does this not look good (facings meet) but it also gets uncomfortable. However, I don't have a particularly narrow foot (UK E) so choosing a C or D to reduce the volume is not an option.

    So far I have purchased two pairs of Cleverleys on what I suspect are the C&J 337 and 348 lasts (not confirmed with them) and a pair of Lobb Chambords on the 8695 last. All are beautiful but none of them fit and I'll probably have to sell them.

    Better fits are my Grenson Masterpieces on the 17 last and a pair of as-yet unidentified New & Lingwood wholecuts. I have also tried on the EG 88 last in Foster & Son which was the best fit of them all: snug in the vamp and a high and supportive arch. However, I couldn't justify the £500 price tag.
     
  6. easy_golfing

    easy_golfing Well-Known Member

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    ^ have you tried inserts? They don't fix the problem 100% but help in resolving some issues to an extent - filling the volume of the shoe, less space under the vamp, raising the arch, etc...

    I use the full length black Superfeet and although they don't resolve the pronation 100%, they are better than nothing.
     
  7. atia2

    atia2 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I tried 3/4 leather insoles (Pedag Holiday) but they didn't do enough. I was considering tongue pads in addition, but then I decided this was too much messing around and I'd be better off buying shoes that actually fit me. Also didn't like the idea of spending big money (for me) on elegant shoes and then sticking a fluffy white felt pad on them!

    Expensive lesson (the price of inexperience!) but at least I know a bit more about lasts and how a shoe ought to fit now...
     
  8. BubblyMasquerade

    BubblyMasquerade Well-Known Member

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    my feet are completely flat to the ground.

    the most comfortable boots i own are alden indy's.

    i do have custom orthotics though.

    its still hard to wear dress shoes though because the orthotic pushes my foot to high up and my heel slips out the back of the shoe. I suppose I can get dress orthotics that are slimmer. Any thoughts on how to fix this issue?
     
  9. Distorbiant

    Distorbiant Well-Known Member

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    Great thread. I hate the dreaded "mid-foot bulge" that flat feet give when wearing shoes. There's nothing more soul crushing than getting a brand new pair of shoes, trying them on, and looking down only to see them bulging out like pancakes.
     
  10. easy_golfing

    easy_golfing Well-Known Member

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    Do you stick to boots mostly?
     
  11. comrade

    comrade Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Menlo Park, CA
    

    Molded Shoe very ptrofessional. They couldn't fit me in Alden.
    What might have worked for me from Alden was very orthopedic
    looking- No thanks. They did try to sell me$1200.00 orthodics.
    I didn't bite.
     
  12. easy_golfing

    easy_golfing Well-Known Member

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    Do / can custom orthotics help with the pronation and allow the feet to fit properly into the shoe?
     
  13. Bortelli

    Bortelli Well-Known Member

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    will a shoe insert do the job?
     
  14. Angeland

    Angeland Active Member

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    Nov 28, 2011
    Great thread.

    May I recommend that contributors to it state at the outset their Brannock Device measurement? In a similar thread on a similar forum, the discussion was somewhat sidetracked by people with wide feet weighing in, which invariably leads to Allen-Edmonds as the answer to all questions (i.e., because they are so good about making shoes available in just about any width). The problem is not the availability of widths but the width of the HEEL relative to the width of the BALL.

    By Brannock I am a confusing 12.5 to 13 D. Confusing because from heel to ball I am actually a 14 narrow, but my toes do not extend that far. Even the best shoe fitters "do their best" with no great optimism.

    The problem I almost always face is that a shoes that fit well in the heel and tie snugly and evenly across the instep will be too tight in the toes or, worse (to my mind), "okay" in the toes but subject to unsightly distortion caused by he pinky toe bulging and creasing the material and causing a dent in the toe box. The shoes we are discussing here are expensive, and they are not worth buying or keeping if they are not a pleasure to look at. The unsightly bulge and dent phenomenon is a deal breaker for me.

    The solution of sizing wide is no solution for it causes the heel to slip and also results in an equally ugly misalignment of the facings when tied. Either the facings close shut and do not allow a snug fit and/or they misalign dramatically as I attempt to pull them tight. Contrary to popular belief, the crooked facings problem is not usually a result of factory error but of the foot with insufficient volume for the "cone" of the shoe (i.e., the instep, facings, and heel complex--the parts that are supposed to wrap around your heel and instep). I can stomach some misalignment if the shoe fits well, more or less, but if you find yourself experimenting with seven different tongue pads and other modifications it just isn't worth it.

    Here is what works for me. Again, 12.5-13 D on Brannock. Ratings are 1-5 stars.

    Allen Edmonds 5 Last in size 12EEE. 5 STARS!. A very, very nice fit. This last is supposed to be for a long narrow foot, but try dropping a whole size and going all the way out on the width. Good fit. No pinching. Very little bulge/dent problem. Facings close snugly. No heel slip. DRAWBACK: Used exclusively in balmorals, I believe.

    Church's 103 Last in UK 12G. 4.5 STARS! Church's run narrow, as we know, and their 173 last in G is a FAIL because its taper causes a severe bulge/dent problem. The 103 is a very rounded last, however, which mitigates this problem. In G they fit much better with with a thin 3/4 length arch support. If you do not have the pinky toe bulge and dent problem, try them in fitting F. DRAWBACK: Used only in the Shannon consistently, although other less dressy shoes occasionally come out on it.

    Tricker's 4444 Last in UK 11.5 fitting 5. 4.5 STARS! Nice fit in the heel. Minimal distortion of toe box. A good fit but still a little too much volume. Very wearable. If you normally wear (or struggle with) a US 9D and normally wear (or struggle with) a UK 8.5F, try an 8 on this last.

    Loake 024 Last in UK 12 fitting F. 4 STARS. A narrow last but long. Like the AE 5 last in many respects. One challenges its narrowness in the toes, yes, but the shape of the last minimizes distortion, and the heel and instep are perfect.

    Cheaney 175 Last in UK 12 fitting F. 4 STARS. Nice fit in the heel and instep, but the toe box gets a bit narrow. Distortion a small problem.

    Tricker's W2298 Last in UK 12.5 fitting F. 4 STARS. This is Tricker's narrower and shorter version of its English country lasts (4444 and 4497) and the preferred one used by US retailers like Sierra Trading Post. Size up half a size from your usual UK fit, and it fits rather well, but the heels, are just a bit too roomy.

    Crockett and Jones 325 in UK 12 fitting E. 3.5 STARS. Fits like the Cheaney 175, but the instep is rather voluminous. This is the last the Ralph Lauren Marlow wingtip is made on, and it is barely wearable for feet like ours--but wearable. I would NOT buy a shell cordovan shoe on this last because the extra give would make the closing too loose, and the light "blooming" of shell at pressure points exaggerates bulges and dents.

    Alfred Sargent last 7WK in 11.5. 3 STARS. Great fit in the heel and instep, but the bulge/dent is pronounced. In a forgiving material like suede or pebbled calf, it is wearable, but I would stay away from smooth calf and especially lighter colors where distortions cannot hide.

    Sanders Stet last in 12 G. I wish I had more time to spend with this last. It is a short last, and for this reason the 12 G did not work all that well for me, but my hunch is that a UK 12.5 G would work, but I don't know that.

    Allen-Edmonds 1 last in 13E. 3 STARS. Works. Sort of. I don't care for the distortion in the toe box, but it is a decent fit in the instep and heel.

    ALMOST WEARABLE BUT NOT QUITE.

    Allen-Edmonds 7 last in 13E. 2.5 STARS. The toe is so low on this last it is far too cramped for a wide ball, but when you increase the width, the instep becomes too high too fast. 13D pinches and bulges, but in 13 E the closing are completely misaligned and the heel gapes.

    Alden Barrie last in any size. 2.5 STARS. I have tried 12.5, 12.5E, and 13. The heel and instep are decent in 12.5 but that taper of the toe box causes an unsightly distortion. Minimized in the 13, but that shoe is just too big. Has anyone tried sizing a whole size down on this last? Please share your thoughts.

    Alden True Balance last in any size. Same as above.

    Barker last 29. 2.5 STARS. Enormous cone makes it almost possible to tie shoes snugly on this rather short last, but not possible enough.

    Tricker's 4497. 2.5 STARS. It is low across the the instep but still somewhat big in the heel and long in the toes. Bulging and pinching become too much to accept.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  15. 100 yrs

    100 yrs Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    A Blues Igloo
    ^great post. keeping this thread alive with hopes of someone having some good luck

    do any shoemakers actually use a combination last where you can choose the combination outside of mtm or bespoke, i.e. an A/D instead of a B/D? i think alden used to, but won't anymore.

    my foot measures a 9D on the bannock heel to toe, but almost a 10D heel to ball, with narrow heels and a low volume - so similar to others here. tongue pads help, but not greatly. inserts usually don't as they only serve to lift my heel out of the shoe exacerbating the slippage.i haven't found an oxford that fits me well, but haven't tried any english shoes outside of grenson (did not work see sig).

    alden barrie - works ok as a boot in 8.5D. the best fit i've had in a barrie last shoe is a pair of 8.5C unlined ptbs, but i do get the pinky toe bulge in one foot. also have a pair of chukkas in 8.5D that i had an extra eyelet to which helps a lot, but still get some heel slip. i've tried an 8E which was gargantuan in the heel. i suspect an 8.5A/D would fit really well.

    alden plaza - again, the boot in 9D fits really well, but i get heel slip in a shoe of the same size and an 8.5D was too narrow in the forefoot, 8.5E too wide in the heel

    allen edmonds park aves - 65 last according to the website. the size 9D is too roomy in the heel, 8.5D was to tight. did not have access to widths and i only wear these sparingly so it's manageable.
     
  16. easy_golfing

    easy_golfing Well-Known Member

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    798
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    Jan 30, 2011
    

    Great post!

    Do you wear insoles?
     
  17. Gauss17

    Gauss17 Well-Known Member

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    Nov 3, 2010
    

    I have a similar problem and the 5 last in EEE also worked for me. Another last the seems to work well for me is the Vass 3636.
     
  18. Chanklebury

    Chanklebury Well-Known Member

    Messages:
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    Feb 27, 2014
    Location:
    England
    I'll add to this, suffering from the similar issue of having a relatively slimmer heel to wider forefoot. Actually, to be more precise a somewhat broad metatarsal spread - not to mention large first metatarsal head - and very square forefoot and toe splay.

    Angeland's mention of the Church 103 last is a good one, in my opinion it offers a comfortable round toe, maintaining reasonable straight medial line and offering good toe box height. For my foot, neither Church 81 (Burwood) nor 173 (Grafton) lasts in a G width worked - despite the generous width at the ball of the foot, the taper was too constrictive into the toe box, or 'nose' of the last - resulting in pinching of the toes on both sides.

    Cheaney 12508 is better (than the Church 81 and 173), even in an F. A more rounded toe box and acceptable width. In my experience, true to size and perhaps the most comfortable of the Cheaney lasts for fellows of our predicament.

    Sanders M265 (e.g. the Robbie) and 4831 (e.g. the Olly); similar, with the 4831 having slightly more volume notably across the instep*. 'True to size' - as in the size I am most usually comfortable in and how I measure on a UK calibrated Brannock - both are just a shade generous. Both offer good toe box height and similar round toe that eliminates any pinching.

    Not so the Sanders Stet last in a G width (e.g. the Belgrade long wing) - despite the additional volume felt across the breadth, the taper again is too constrictive for a broad toe splay. Width at the ball is significant however! Overly so in my case.

    *Note; not necessarily a fair comparison however, with the Olly being a derby/gibson while the Bruno is a closed throat oxford/balmoral.

    The Alfred Sargent 7WK - as per my currently sole remaining shoe, the Dalham - quite frankly is awful. Large heel volume, broad at the ball (it is an FX fitting) yet toe crushing toe box height and narrow taper to the toe tips. Fail.

    Perhaps the best last for foot comfort and natural fit is the Munson. The problem however is its inelegance, scarcity in 'contemporary' footwear, non-existence in Europe and ultimately abject unsuitability for a formal or dress shoe.

    I must have tried two dozen shoes in various lasts to date, and yet the search continues for the elusive acceptable RTW fit.

    Interesting that there are three threads that I can see, this one and also http://www.styleforum.net/t/201019/shoe-recommendation-wide-forefoot-narrow-heel and http://www.styleforum.net/t/324716/derby-for-wide-fore-foot-and-narrow-heel

    There a many among us!
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  19. jmonroestyle

    jmonroestyle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
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    Nov 15, 2006
    It's been some time since I posted about shoes here on SF. I have just the sort of feet being discussed, and require the type of last being sought after here.

    My Brannock size is about 10 (measuring to the end of my big toe, and 11.5 using the arch length slider to the ball of my foot. The 10 measurement is really useless, as I have long toes, and a size 10 or even 10.5 shoe would mean very squashed toes. Most shoe fitters are inclined to think this should be my size. However, the reality is I haven't worn anything close to a size 10 in many years. I spent years with uncomfortable toes, until I realized I needed longer length shoes.

    Fast forward to today...the only American made shoes I own are Aldens, made on the Plaza and Copley lasts, in a size 11.5. D. Since these lasts run longer than a true to size American last, they are really closer in fit to a US size 12. D These shoes are rather low volume, have a good fitting heel, and are wide enough in the ball through toe area, that they don't crush my toes.

    The Grenson 96 last, used for the old Rose collection shoes, fits almost the same as the Alden Plaza last. A UK size 11 F is a good fit for me. However, I don't believe Grenson is currently making any shoes on this last in UK sizes, and branded under the Grenson name. Paul Stuart sells Grenson shoes on the 96 last. However, those shoes are built in American sizes, and I could not find a proper fit. A US 12 D was too small in the toe box, and too narrow overall, and a US 12 E was too wide.

    Fortunately, I now have lots of Alden and Grenson shoes, including my own custom designed Alden shoe going back into production for 2014...

    http://www.alden-of-carmel.com/Shoes-Kudu_Plain_Toe_308.htm

    Since I live in a rainy climate, for the past few years, my focus has been on shoes that I can wear in wet weather, and that can accommodate a Superfeet black orthotic full length innersole (the black Superfeet is their thinnest innersole, with the least amount of foot correction).

    The Heschung Crocus and Houx shoes (don't know the last number) are perfect, as they have a rubber sole, are waterproof, and have a fit that is narrower in the heel, and very generous up front. With the Superfeet insert, a European (UK) size 11 are an excellent fit (they only come in one width), and an excellent choice for someone like me with flat feet.

    There are not many other options that I know about that would work. I don't want to buy cheaper shoes with removable innersoles (a path taken by many to accommodate the Superfeet) and buying wider width shoes, or a size larger, results in a shoe that is too large in the heel, or too long in the arch length. Thus, I am focusing my search on shoes that are built on lasts that just run fuller fitting than normal, such as the Heschung Crocus and Houx. I tried an Alden Barrie last, but I had to go to a size 12 to have enough toe room, and at that size, the shoe was just too long in the arch length, and overall to much volume.

    I recently bought a pair of Trickers Bourtons, made on the 4444 last, size 11 UK, 5 width. I have read that some people size down an extra 1/2 size in this last from their normal UK size. I didn't. The UK size 11 is long enough for my toes (a UK10.5 would have been too short) and the Superfeet insert takes up the extra volume of this high volume last very nicely.

    In May I will be taking a trip to New York City, and will try some C&J shoes once again. A number of years ago, I tried the C&J Grasmere on the 325 last, and found it too wide. However, I am looking forward to trying in again with a Superfeet innersole. If the 325 last fits, then the C&J Pembroke, and Onslow are also options. Also looking to try the Cardigan 4 on the 335 last, and the Bangor on the 365 last (I understand that this is a very wide fitting last). I owned a C&J Radstock (341 last) a number of years ago. However, I ended up selling them, as they were too narrow in the toe box, and too narrow in the instep area...

    I am hoping that these wider C&J lasts will work with the Superfeet, and not be too short, or narrow in the toe box. Usually the biggest deal killer for me is not enough toe room.

    Jess
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  20. jmonroestyle

    jmonroestyle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
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    Nov 15, 2006
    Yesterday I visited the C&J store in New York City, and tried on some shoes. The Pembroke on the 325 last, and Cardigan 4, on the 335 last didn't have enough toe room for me, thus making the shoes unwearable. I ended up buying the Bangor, made on the 365 last.

    http://www.crockettandjones.com/product/bangor-darkbrown#.U3LcTCi9bXw

    I tried a few other shoes made on different lasts also. However, the Bangor was the only C&J shoe that fit me properly, with the addition of a black Superfeet orthotic. Overall, I would say this shoe is a better fit for me than the Trickers, Bourton. The fit in the heel is just right, and they have a very comfortable toe box. I am very impressed with the quality of the Scotch Grain leather, as well as the workmanship. I know I will enjoy these shoes for many years...
     

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