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Buying shoes for your arch size?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by BrizzleCizzle, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. Stemo79

    Stemo79 Senior member

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    He's not ignoring long term foot health, wearing shoes that are too large or too small are also damaging to your long term foot health, having worked with a chiropodist for many years I can tell you that large shoes are just as bad as small shoes or any other point of ill fit. In the short term they will cause discomfort and blisters, they can also cause lost toenails and in the long term bunions and hammertoes. This is because stress is placed on the wrong parts of the foot, also larger shoes will develop larger/deeper creases.

    What Chogall is trying to point out is that in trying to accommodate such a problematic arch you are more than likely to compromise how well the shoe fits in other areas which as pointed out above is not only bad for long term foot health but also immediate comfort.

    From my personal opinion a shoe that is too large is not only uncomfortable its totally unwearable. That is of course unless you try and modify the shoe with a filler, but then again that would more than likely effect the arch fit that you were trying to accommodate in the first place.

    Its all very well and good trying to find RTW shoes that are just right for your foot, but given how many styles and manufacturers there are it isnt going to practical to try and find them. As such whilst not ideal compromises have to be made.
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Re-quoted for relevance...

    To advocate for ignoring the HB (or even considering it secondary)...presumably almost entirely because of laziness or convenience...is to advocate for a misfit. Period.

    If a person buys a shoe that is too short, it is a misfit. If they buy shoes that are too long, it is a misfit.

    Shoes that have gaping toplines are not properly fit.

    Shoes that can be laced up to the point where the facings close and yet there is still looseness over the instep, are not fit.

    Shoes that lace up with the facing more than a half an inch apart, are not fit.

    Shoes that are wider in the joint/treadline than the weight bearing plantar surface of the foot are not fit.

    Shoes that are wider in the heel seat than the foot are not fit.

    Shoes that cramp the toes are not fit.

    Shoes that have so much room beyond the toes that the foot cannot control the toe of the shoe, are not fit.

    Shoes that do not fit and support the arch of the foot and are built on lasts that are longer or shorter than the HB of the foot, do not fit. Period.

    No one is advocating for deliberately, knowingly, choosing a misfit....except those who favour expediency over important things--like health.

    And yes, all kinds of problems, short term and long term, can result.

    A foot with a long heel to ball that is placed in a shoe that is shorter than required for that foot is more likely to develop hammer toes and bunions. The arch is not supported and weight of the body...the entire body...is not transferred as it should be. We see nearly the same thing with women's high heeled shoes and the results are almost always the same, esp. long term.

    A foot that has a long arch (long HB) always has short toes. This is simple physiology. A short or long arch is always in the context, and relative to, the overall "stick"--the length of the foot. If the long arched foot had long toes, the overall length of the foot would be, well, longer, and the shoe size would not be an issue. The Brannock would yield a foot length consistent with the arch length.

    It's when the two don't correspond that we need to decide how we size the foot. And what the critical parameters and definitions are--do we size by overall length or by heel to ball?

    There are very good...unimpeachable...physiological reasons to assert that the foot is only properly fit when the last the shoe is built on corresponds to the HB of the foot. Not the least of which is that shoes have extra room (three full sizes), beyond the assumed end of the toes, built in...as part of the design. But fundamentally, any logical, rational analysis of the foot, the mechanics of the foot, and its architecture demands that overall length of the foot cannot be the most important factor in determining fit or size.

    Beyond all that, feet that have long arches...or short arches (long toes, short toes relative to overall length)...are only "problematic" if you ignore them. Such feet are not, in and of themselves, "problematic." If, all other things being equal, there is no chronic pain or deviations in gait, then we are dealing with a healthy, non-problematic foot. There is no foot configuration, barring distress, that is not "normal."

    Fit is complex. The closer you want to get to a good fit, the more complex it is. How could it be otherwise? The foot is one of the most architecturally complex structures in nature.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  3. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    @giants4life17 has stick size 11 and H-B size is 13 on Brannock. What would you recommend? Size 13 where he could wear his shoes like slippers/clogs? Or size 11 where the H-B fit is not spot on for a pair of shoes that has zero arch support? Or size 11 and add in OTC arch support pads? Or compromise to size 12 with an insole?

    RTW fit is a compromise. It would be ridiculous to fit for H-B; what's the point of buying perfect H-B size but have the shoes being 1-2 sizes too long or 1-2 sizes too short? Especially when former will/might cause long term foot health, and the latter will kill your feet immediately.
     
  4. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    You mean his reaction to my comments based on my personal experiences with critical attacks?

    And to keep in mind, this is my original comment, practical and without any philosophical stuff.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  5. tharkun

    tharkun Senior member

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    I'm asking all this btw. since I only recently learned of HB fit myself. I was simply mentioning that with a HB of 9 and a length of 8 it seems rather impossible to get a toe box thats too small since you either get the right toe box (8) but wrong HB fit or a toe box that's too large (9) with the right HB fit (unless you are a EEE and get an A shoe). If not so, please point out where I misunderstand the whole thing. That's a serious question since I have problems with fit frequently myself.

    I think we already saw that the claim of 13 was probably not true.
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Oh, I'm not critical of you personally, I'm critical of the fact that you don't know what you're talking about. That you've never done any of this in your life...never had to fit a foot, never had to look analytically at what constitutes a fit and never had to take responsibility for your mistakes or decisions. Or your words.

    And yet you feel free to give advice to others...advice that may harm their health. Advice that is simply wrong.

    Bottom line is that you don't take any responsibility for what you are telling people. Bottom line is that in the absence of hands on experience...other than keyboard experience, IOW...you've never even taken the responsibility to make sure you've got it right.

    And while it's true you didn't add any philosophical stuff, you didn't add anything real or practical or constructive either. Just contrary opinions based on wishful thinking and fantasy. I'll take issue with you for that all day, every day.

    And you'll deserve it.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  7. tharkun

    tharkun Senior member

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    I think I get all the different misfits DWF described, except this one:

    This one I don't quite understand. What exactly is the toe of the shoe and what does control mean? Wouldn't a style that has an elongated toe be exactly like this by definition? I guess I just don't know what the toe of the shoe is. I can't control the foremost part of my Carmina double monks for example. My foot doesn't actually even stick under the toe cap (left foot) but they feel really great and fitting. The right foot does, but feels a bit snug but not much (suede).
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well, the standard clearance beyond the end of the longest toe of the foot is three full sizes...about an inch. Yes, some elongated toes, and narrow toes, are longer than that. But beyond a certain point the toe of the shoe will curl up. Not really detrimental to comfort, provided the rest of the shoe fits, but not what a bespoke maker would like to see.

    I don't want to talk about specific brands or makers, but, in general, the toe puff (stiffener) is going to extend back roughly two inches or more. So even if you can't feel it...and it will be skived (thinned) pretty rigourously the further from the end of the toe...pressure on the insole anywhere in that radius will pull the whole toe down.

    If the toe stiffener doesn't extend that far back (or close), I don't know what to tell you. It's unusual.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  9. tharkun

    tharkun Senior member

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    Thank you for the explanation! That makes a lot of sense. I can probably help you out with the unusual here. My left foot is about a half Centimeter less wide than my right and the toes are much smaller. They never fully developed and I dont have nails on the three inner toes, only on pinky and big toe. However since I found out about HB I've gone and measured it and if I put the little knob in the right place both feet actually have about the same HB. But length wise this makes the left foot about a full size smaller if not more.

    Heres the foot shape with socks on.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, here is a real life illustration of why HB is so important.. Aside from a little bit of an issue...perhaps, not guaranteed...with the toe turning up, if the HB is correct the shoe (your shoe), fits fine. And the space beyond the toes is more or less inconsequential. But if you were to buy shoes based on the "stick" of that foot you would never be comfortable--they would be too short.

    FWIW, I have built a lot of footwear for folks with the same problem but magnified. Some don't care if the one shoe looks smaller than their other and so we build the shoe to the foot--shortening up the forepart. It's an ideal solution mechanically, physiologically.

    Others don't want that discrepancy announcing that they are not perfect in form and figure. At which point, one solution is to stiffen the forepart a little, or make a longer toe stiffener, to make sure that the toes will control the end of the shoe even though the shoe is too long for the foot.

    And still others just live with it. If the HB is correct, no harm, no foul.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  11. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Yes, yes, Mr. Pseudo Podiatrist.

    Thanks for letting me know my experience is wrong and I am not responsible for my own feet!

    What's next, you going to tell me that I don't know what a proper fit is? Or my experiences of getting shoes made is null and invalid?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  12. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Shoes a size or width too big w/ stick length won't usually be a problem; a very good fit can be achieved through using after market insoles and arch supports.

    On the other hand, if HB size is smaller than stick size, then its ridiculously stupid to buy for the HB size.

    I've been persuaded by a fitter to order a pair of MTO shoes, half size smaller than my usual size, because he said the arch fit is really good with the smaller size. I thought, sure, why not, he's the expert and I am willing to listen.

    They turned out to be very painful to walk/hike in for my larger foot with the shorter stick length and insufficient toe room, all while having good arch fit.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Isaac Asimov said "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States..."

    Sure, you have experience with your feet. But that doesn't mean you understand feet. Your experiences are not universal, IOW--they don't apply to anyone but you.

    Nor do they trump medicine, science, or physics...which is what we're talking about when we discuss the anatomy of the foot. It's not the same as having a broad range of experience with diverse feet. And it damn sure doesn't qualify you, or give you the right or the insight, to advise other people.

    It's like the example of smoking (which you obviously didn't pay any attention to). What you do with your lungs is your business...up to a point; what you do with your feet is your business. But just because you have no ill effects (so far) from smoking doesn't make it less harmful. Nor less 'criminal' to foist off on others.

    Too many people think that wearing shoes is the same as knowing and understanding shoes. Too many think having feet is the same as knowing or understanding feet.

    It's not so.

    Too many think that having a thought makes it truth.

    That's not so, either.

    --
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    And just for clarity...not for you so much as for everyone else reading this discussion...

    You're right, I am not a podiatrist. But what I do...and have done for most of my life...shares many of the same perspectives and goals as podiatry. Partakes of, and values, the same sets of assumptions and knowledge. Aspires to the same level of professionalism and professional expertise.

    In that context it needs to be said that your opinions and experiences are your own and you are free to express them. But lacking experience and knowledge, they are just that--opinions.

    And when(as a quick review of this thread and the origins of this disagreement--post #8 and #10 makes clear) those opinions are expressed entirely as a way of contradicting someone who has spent his whole professional life analyzing, studying, testing and implementing direct hands-on experiences on a daily basis, it's nothing short of petulance...and, as evidenced, contributes nothing concrete or real.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  15. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    It could (perhaps obviously) be noted that, while the correct HB distance is necessary for a correct fit, it is not necessarily sufficient. Simply having a shoe with the correct HB length will not insure the shoe still won't hurt your feet. Obviously, one must also make sure the insole is sufficiently wide, that there is the necessary space beyond the toes, that the girths are appropriate for the feet, etc.

    However, your experience does not negate the basic fact that the correct HB length is the first, and a necessary, aspect of a correct fit.

    Why is that? Several reasons, all of them relating to how the foot moves as one walks, plus the fact that shoes have heels, which makes wearing shoes different than walking barefoot, for example.

    A shoe is made on a last. The last is designed with a 'tread line,' which is where the shoe will touch the ground in the forefoot area when you walk; the treadline goes from inside joint (a.k.a ball) to the outside joint, in a curved shape that mimics the curve of your foot's 5 joints. The treadline is where, when you walk, your forefoot hits the ground, absorbs and dissipates shock, and allows you to 'push off' as your weight moves toward your toes.

    Furthermore, the last is widest at the ball (as is, as a general proposition, your foot). The shape of the last is designed to hold or lock your ball (and hence foot) in the proper location inside the shoe. Given the fact that we wear heeled shoes, gravity will try to pull your feet down/forward in your shoes -- albeit gently in the case of circa. 1 inch heel heights -- so having your foot locked into position inside the shoe is important.

    Also, the last has 'toe spring,' such that the toe of the last is off the ground; thus, the last (and hence the shoe) will angle up from the joint to the toe.

    So, what happens if you have an incorrect fit? If the HB is too short, then your joint is going to be in front of the tread line of the last and the shoe. When you walk, your foot will be landing behind the joints of your foot, with your weight landing in a spot where your foot is not designed to land. Furthermore, it may well be that your joint is getting squeezed by the shoe, since the joint is in an area of the shoe where the shoe is getting smaller/narrower. None of that is, obviously, good for your feet.

    If the HB is too long, what happens is that your foot is, again, not landing in the proper location. It is going to land too far forward, toward your toes. While I think this is less likely to be harmful than landing too far rearward, it is still undesirable. Also, because of the toe spring built into the shoe, you foot/toes will trying to flex where it is not designed to flex.

    Perhaps more important, your foot is going to have a strong tendency to slide forward in the shoe, as the shoe really relies on the proper joint location to restrain the foot. When your foot slides forward, your big toe is pushed toward the inside/middle of the foot, which sideways movement creates torque at the inside joint/ball. Having this happen repeatedly, and in an ongoing way, is what causes bunions due to inflammation of the joint. Why do women who wear high heels get bunions? Because the steep angle of the shoe makes the foot slide forward (even if the ball is properly located, there is only so much restraint the shoe can provide relative to gravity), smashing the big toe sideways, continually irritating and deforming the joint.

    So, having the correct HB length is critical to correct fit. Can one get away without it? Sure, in many cases. The human body is a very resilient thing, and our feet can take a lot of abuse. However, that reality does not negate the basic fact that HB length is a basic element of a correct fit.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    :cheers:

    Thank you! I made the same point earlier...but, of course, in a more general context:


    And again, in post #22...





    Another "ivory tower" shoemaker?! Bother!!

    :crackup:

    --
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  17. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The discussion whether the good fit of a last/shoe is decided in the fore-part or in the back-part has been going on for the best part of 150 years.

    There are various theories, schools, national traditions which will never agree with each other. All Austro/Hungarian (and further into the Balkans) shoemaking is based on the 'scientific' method (Winkel-System )of Robert Knöfel (1834-84) which is totally at odds with the English, far more empirical method. The Latin (presumably) have other theories, so (again presumably) have the Americans. If you go with your one pair of feet to six different last/shoemakers, you'll end up with six different fittings. The last that you (the customer) feels most comfortable with is the best one (for you).

    All theories are just a means to an end, not an end in itself.

    If a shoe fits well in the back-part and across the top-line and has the appropriate arch support carved into the underside of the last, (I'm exaggerating now) the front can be style 'Darling Clementine' ("herring boxes without topses"). The shoe will still have a pretty good fit as the foot will be well-held in place and cannot slide around..
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    All that's fine, but the real heart of the issue is the heel to ball length and how it, properly, corresponds to the foot.

    That is what the OP inquired about.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  19. tharkun

    tharkun Senior member

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    Well heres a shot of the right foot in the Brannock. Did I put the arch slider about right? Looks like a 9 1/2 actually for arch to me.

    [​IMG]

    Also you'll notice that the length is at 8. My AE Leeds in 8 hurt a loooot at the pinky. 8 1/2 still took a while to get comfortable (I stretched it and pre flexed). Back in Europe I'd even wear 40 comfortably. Those weren't dress shoes per se though, e.g. basically no tapered toe and I'd get suede.

    Forgot to take a pic of the left but it was a 9 for arch and 6 (!) for length.
     
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I think it's about right but it's so hard to tell from a photo. When I measure a foot I feel the bones. This is why I stress "hand-on" experience. Even if I owned a Brannock device, I would never use it. I don't make shoes to a "size" per se as much as to the foot.

    All that said, I think you are on the right track...I said it before--most people don't know how to use a Brannock. And that's because they don't understand the foot. If you line up the pointer on the joint slider with the ridge on the dorsal surface of the foot, the reading will be off, every time.

    It appears in the photo that you have the pointer back slightly from that ridge...and I think that's the correct way to do it.
     

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