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Are dress shoes worth maiming yourself for?

joshuagb

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I don’t think it’s a debate as to whether or not men’s dress shoes are bad for human feet. It’s obvious they are. The human foot is widest at the toes and narrowest at the heel. Any dress shoe or most sneakers come to a point at the toe. Whether it’s a sharp point or not, it’s a point which is not how a human foot is shaped.
I‘m not sure what you mean by “come to a point.” Sneakers are bad for the human foot? What about work boots? Are you simply referring to all closed-toe shoes?

The human foot is not widest at the toes. It’s widest at the ball of the foot.

If you go look at the feet of people who spend their lives barefoot or mostly barefoot, they look nothing like feet spent in shoes someone’s whole life.
Care to provide a photo of this to bolster your claim?
 

Boggis

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So from looking at your tracing of your foot and shoe insole, the shoe appears to be probably 2 sizes too small for the outline of the foot that you included. Who made that shoe for you after you gave them your measurements? Sorry if I missed you talking about it earlier.

Here’s a photo of the Barker 386 last. I drew basically what a foot should look like inside of it. This illustrated fit would not be bunion-producing (which is really when we get down to it, the problem with shoes that are too small).

View attachment 1583924
I don’t get that drawing either, seems way too short for you
I'm reluctant to name the maker yet, as it's the first trial pair and measurements were taken remotely. I'll certainly report back on the final outcome, positive or negative, but I don't want to prematurely put anything out there.

One thing to bare in mind is that this is the tracing of the insole, the upper naturally bows out so the finished shoe has several mm extra of width and length all around when viewed top down, such as the pictured Barker.

I believe your allowance for toe space at the end if the shoe in that drawing is a bit large, and this can cause it's own problems. See a few pages here for an interesting discussion: https://www.styleforum.net/threads/the-bespoke-shoes-thread.445708/page-174

From my reading on the topic:
- Bespoke Shoemaking by Tim Skyrme suggests 10-12 mm allowance from end of longest toe to end of shoe
- An English maker I spoke to said he allows 10-15mm
- John Lobb Paris allow 2.5 full sizes according to the thread linked above. I believe this is approx 21mm
- DWFII on the above thread suggests 3 full sizes for a medium round toe which is about 25mm.

I've remeasured the length on mine, and I have 20mm from toe to end of insole, there's potentially another mm or two gained from the upper bowing out at the end. So the shoes I have, which are plainly too small and completely unwearable, appear to "fit" in terms of classic shoemaking rules of thumb.

This is a recurring theme for me, when I try to buy shoes from people more knowledgable than me they continually steer me towards shoes that are too tight in the toes. This includes:
- the guys in the Cheaney & C&J shops that measured my feet, got a length somewhere between a UK 10 &10.5 (my longer foot is between these sizes) both tried to get me in a UK size 9.
- A UK maker who I recounted my sizing woes and provided measurements to also suggested a UK size 9.
- The maker who produced the trial pair above, despite having in their presence tracings and measurements of my feet believed that toe shape and size to be perfectly appropriate.

Then I come on here and people think I'm just an idiot that buys too small shoes!
 

clee1982

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All of this was done in person or remote?
 

Boggis

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All of this was done in person or remote?
Cheaney & C&J were both measured in store. The trial pair was done remotely, including foot tracings, measurements and foam imprints.
 

joshuagb

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I believe your allowance for toe space at the end if the shoe in that drawing is a bit large, and this can cause it's own problems. See a few pages here for an interesting discussion: https://www.styleforum.net/threads/the-bespoke-shoes-thread.445708/page-174
I'm not sure you've ever mentioned what your brannock size is. Surely they have these devices in the UK. A key aspect of the brannock is that it measures not just size from an overall length but also your size as measured from the heel to the ball of your foot. The shoemaker (DWFII) in the above thread you linked has discussed this before. In theory, you need to go with the bigger of the two measurements if getting RTW shoes (for custom shoes they'd have it sized perfectly for both).

As far as my drawing allowing for too much toe room, I think that really highlights what I believe is the key trouble you're having in finding a good fit that matches your expectations. The elongated toe of a British/French/Italian dress shoe is simply a design element. It's not meant to be for your actual toes to occupy. That's the thing you've got to get out of your head. If you put on a pair of dress shoes, it should definitely be longer than the same size in boat shoes. Sometimes this is a mental thing. You put on the shoe, and you think, wow this looks way to big. As someone with a size 13, believe me, I've been there.

As a side note, in the thread you posted, I think you're misreading DWFII's comments about the fit. The JL shoe is indeed a bit too big. You can tell not from the toe space, but where the ball of his foot lines up with the widest part of that shoe. You can see that the ball is ever so slightly in the arch. If you have a shoe like that, it tends to crease over the toes themselves as opposed to over the ball of the foot (Because a shoe is gonna crease basically where it was designed to crease). And that crease will rub blisters across the toes. So I agree with him.

From my reading on the topic:
- Bespoke Shoemaking by Tim Skyrme suggests 10-12 mm allowance from end of longest toe to end of shoe
- An English maker I spoke to said he allows 10-15mm
- John Lobb Paris allow 2.5 full sizes according to the thread linked above. I believe this is approx 21mm
- DWFII on the above thread suggests 3 full sizes for a medium round toe which is about 25mm.
This is all relative. May or may not actually apply in your case. It depends on the last, and it depends on the toe shape and which toe is longest. These are heuristics, rules of thumb (or toe in this case).
 

clee1982

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Cheaney & C&J were both measured in store. The trial pair was done remotely, including foot tracings, measurements and foam imprints.
you will finish rest of the bespoke remotely as well? I would just wait when you can see the maker in person and show what your worry is
 

Boggis

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This is all relative. May or may not actually apply in your case. It depends on the last, and it depends on the toe shape and which toe is longest. These are heuristics, rules of thumb (or toe in this case).
Dammit! I was going to make the same joke but forgot to include it!
 

Boggis

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you will finish rest of the bespoke remotely as well? I would just wait when you can see the maker in person and show what your worry is
They're making a second trial pair at the moment, they've promised a substantially wider toe box. I guess I'll wait and see how that goes before we move onto the final shoe. I'd have much preferred to have gone in person, but travel has been impossible for so long now.
Strictly speaking this is MTM (adapted last) rather than full bespoke. Aside from the toes the fit of the trial pair is damn near perfect, so I'm hoping they can salvage this!
 

clee1982

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If this is RTW and you showed me that tracing I would definitely told you it was too short, but I guess you will see how the 2nd trial pair come out
 

Buffon.bj

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I‘m not sure what you mean by “come to a point.” Sneakers are bad for the human foot? What about work boots? Are you simply referring to all closed-toe shoes?

The human foot is not widest at the toes. It’s widest at the ball of the foot.



Care to provide a photo of this to bolster your claim?

Here's some widely circulated photos of this:

gespreizte-zehen-fussform-1.jpeg


konventionelle-vs-funktionale-schuhe-1.jpeg
 

JFWR

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I'm reluctant to name the maker yet, as it's the first trial pair and measurements were taken remotely. I'll certainly report back on the final outcome, positive or negative, but I don't want to prematurely put anything out there.

One thing to bare in mind is that this is the tracing of the insole, the upper naturally bows out so the finished shoe has several mm extra of width and length all around when viewed top down, such as the pictured Barker.

I believe your allowance for toe space at the end if the shoe in that drawing is a bit large, and this can cause it's own problems. See a few pages here for an interesting discussion: https://www.styleforum.net/threads/the-bespoke-shoes-thread.445708/page-174

From my reading on the topic:
- Bespoke Shoemaking by Tim Skyrme suggests 10-12 mm allowance from end of longest toe to end of shoe
- An English maker I spoke to said he allows 10-15mm
- John Lobb Paris allow 2.5 full sizes according to the thread linked above. I believe this is approx 21mm
- DWFII on the above thread suggests 3 full sizes for a medium round toe which is about 25mm.

I've remeasured the length on mine, and I have 20mm from toe to end of insole, there's potentially another mm or two gained from the upper bowing out at the end. So the shoes I have, which are plainly too small and completely unwearable, appear to "fit" in terms of classic shoemaking rules of thumb.

This is a recurring theme for me, when I try to buy shoes from people more knowledgable than me they continually steer me towards shoes that are too tight in the toes. This includes:
- the guys in the Cheaney & C&J shops that measured my feet, got a length somewhere between a UK 10 &10.5 (my longer foot is between these sizes) both tried to get me in a UK size 9.
- A UK maker who I recounted my sizing woes and provided measurements to also suggested a UK size 9.
- The maker who produced the trial pair above, despite having in their presence tracings and measurements of my feet believed that toe shape and size to be perfectly appropriate.

Then I come on here and people think I'm just an idiot that buys too small shoes!
We don't think you're an idiot, we think you are being ill-served by people forcing you into too small of shoes.

If your concern is toes being squished, you really need longer shoes, as the last of any rounded or chisel toed shoe is going to narrow towards the tip. That means you need space to accomodate your toes. You should still be gripped, but you ought to be able to wiggle your toes and not in any sense feel pain from the shoe too badly constricting your toes.

If your toes are such that you break the normal rules of shoes, so be it: you need to break the rules in order to get a pair of shoes that are comfortable.

You also will have to go for traditional rounded toes vs. almond or chisel. There is just no way that a very tapered shoe will suit you.
 

ballmouse

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To answer your thread title question, no. Speaking with a bespoke shoemaker, I learned that you should find shoes that fit (possible conflict of interest with that advice of course, but it's common sense). I've seen some of his lasts and I wonder how many of his customers could have worn RTW dress shoes at all (I'm guessing they did not and wore sneakers or something similar).

If you've not had success with MTM or RTW lasts and really want nice dress shoes, you should probably consider bespoke, or a more customized MTM service as I suspect many brands reuse RTW lasts and do not have the capability to create custom lasts. A caveat though: I've had an ill fitting pair of bespoke shoes made for me as well (from a brand actually named in this thread) so don't think that it's a silver bullet. But it seems that you've tried a lot of RTW brands and they are unlikely to have shoes mass produced to fit your particular shaped foot.
 

NorthernSky

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To the OP or anyone else who wants shoes with the least amount of taper from the ball to the toes, I'd recommend trying Birkenstocks. Yes, they make more than just sandals. Their shoes and boots aren't exactly pretty nor particularly robust, but very ergonomic and comfortable, and most models come in two different widths ("normal", which is a D to E in my estimate, and "slim", which is a C to D in my estimate).

Caveat: the Birkenstock website currently has two completely different sizing charts - one on their "Fit Guide" page, and one on their product pages which also comes with a printable measuring template similar to the Brannock Device. In the former, a 280 mm foot with "normal" width is listed as size 43, but in the latter it's listed as size 44. Their customer service people have been unable or unwilling to explain which table is the correct or actually intended one. From my purchasing experience I'd say that the Fit Guide's table corresponds more to boot sizing, which usually runs large (at least in boot-centered brands I know, like Red Wings), and the measuring template's chart corresponds more to usual shoe sizing.
 

Boggis

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Came across a few images that I felt were relevant to this thread. First is an X-ray demonstrating a comparison of shoes with inadequate space in the toe box versus what's described as adequate. I'm not sure of the original source for the Xray but I found it on the Carreducker blog. http://carreducker.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-art-of-fitting-and-selling-shoes.html?m=1

Screenshot_20210618-133149_Chrome.jpg

From my experience a shoe that fits like the second example above would be uncomfortable on my foot.

Second image comes from Pattern Cutting by Frank Jones, a man with decades of experience in the shoe industry.
Screenshot_20210618-141147_Gallery.jpg

It shows the modification required to a sandal insole versus a shoe insole for the same foot. Notice how the shoe insole would press in the Large and Small toes.

Since I last posted on this thread I've spoken directly to two bespoke makers about typical allowance for the toes, and they've both described that compressing the small and large toes (such as in these images) is generally fine.

It seems that unfortunately I'm just an outlier in that I cannot comfortably tolerate what would be considered a "normal" amount of pressure on the toes. From comments received here and reading elsewhere, I'm not entirely alone but most people are perfectly happy to wear shoes which bend their toes inwards and do not experience significant discomfort when doing so.
 

Nobilis Animus

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This seems like a problem of foot shapes, rather than shoe shapes. My own toes are perfectly comfortable in a snugly-fitted shoe - so long as it fits well from ball to heel.

As for the thread title, it depends greatly upon the shoes. If expensive enough, yes I would probably consider shaving off just a bit of my toes from each side. :laugh:

(Not entirely tongue-in-cheek, since bespoke shoes can easily hit 5000+, and the VSL of one year of quality living is what... 50k?)
 

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