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Buying shoes for your arch size?

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

  1. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior member

    Messages:
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    Sep 3, 2012
    Can the shoe experts tell us how they go about fitting someone's foot? It seems the process and choices would be different for RTW vs bespoke, but what do you do? For bespoke, does the fitting start with the shoemakers or the last maker? Once the last is done, how much control is left for the shoemaker?

    For RTW, it sounds like one measures HB, width and toe length, then tries to find shoes with lasts appropriate to those values. This requires, I suppose, knowing the properties of a variety of lasts from different manufacturers.

    Plus, I assume, people vary in how sensitive they are, how much and where they walk, whether they are comfortable simply removing uncomfortable shoes when at their desks... So two people with hypothetical identical feet might have very different reactions to the same fit?
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    For myself, I take a measurement of the length of the foot--the "stick"--and at the same time a measurement from the back of the heel to the medial ball joint (HB). I also take a footprint...very like a fingerprint both in the way it is taken and in the results. I then measure the foot in six locations--joint, waist, low instep, high instep, short heel and long heel (each related in some way to bone structures in the foot).

    I compare and "collate" all that data and then choose a stock last. Sometimes I discover that the original last is not going to work out and have to choose another.

    Then I begin modifying the last to match the dimensions and topography of the foot. For a more detailed look at my approach (and a comparison with another maker's approach) see [COLOR=FF0000]this discussion[/COLOR]. (Be aware this discussion is long, technical, detailed and might be somewhat bewildering to those who are not ready...but it does have some pretty pictures.)

    Some bespoke makers, particularly in Europe, carve the last from scratch rather than use a standard last.

    From this, I think you can see that a bespoke fitting starts with the foot rather than the last or the shoe as in RTW.

    More disconcerting for the consumer, I suppose, is the fact that while most bespoke makers will politely ask the client what size shoe he wears, few, I suspect, really pay much attention to the answer. Feet are fit according to measurements and dimensions, not arbitrary sizes marked on lasts.

    For RTW, if the sales clark is using a Brannock device (and again, all this depends on some often untutored and uninformed interpretation on the part to the sales rep), the stick and the HB may be read directly from the device in standard sizes (as opposed to inches or millimeters). This is where all the controversy begins--the more-often-than-you-might-think discrepancy between HB and stick. At least partially because RTW shoes are sized according to the stick and the HB is essentially unknown to the sales person.

    People obsess here on SF about the model of last. But again there is a caveat. Not all lastmakers themselves...much less the models they create according to the shoemakers' dictates...actually conform to the "standard" of a standard sized last. That's why you get sales people who will tell you "Oh, that brand always runs a little small." And that's why even the measurements and read-outs from a Brannock device...even the size numbers printed inside the shoe or on the box....can be misleading and misinterpreted.

    And yes, no two feet...even on the same body...are identical. And every person has a different set of modifiers that govern perceived fit and perceived comfort. Even what you eat on a regular basis can affect fit...and comfort.

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  3. tharkun

    tharkun Senior member

    Messages:
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    Jul 12, 2015
    

    Well short of bespoke (not with my salary ;)) what are the options? Length, width and last. As I stated before I have quite wide feet. If I compare my foot to the last gentleman that posted his feet on this thread, then in comparison my toes form almost a straight line across the top while his taper back a lot over the width of the foot. Short of lasts that have no taper at all to speak of, I then have length and width left to choose from. So far I was always going up in width only until I came across the HB thing and the Brannock said I have a 9 HB size. This is the first time I tried this and I went down to E (from the 3E Leeds) just to see how that would work out.

    Next I'll try to make my own shoes but that's going to take a while with the kids and all. Wintertime is shoetime, summertime is gardentime. And I not only need to make the shoes but also a last. And I'm sure the first pair will be cemented and not sewn ;)
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    Yes, I remember your foot and you definitely have short toes. For starters, if I were you I'd always go with the HB as a size determiner.

    I have often said that everyone can afford bespoke. You may not be able to afford Lobbs or one of the other cachet names but there are bespoke makers that can get you into at least one pair. Or two pair. Ten pair of RTW seems to be the standard here but even at the low end of RTW, the total is more than one pair of Lobbs.

    Thing is once you have a pair made for your feet you're gonna have a better sense of where you should be, even with RTW.

    At the very least you could go to a competent bespoke maker and have him measure your feet. The point of which is to get some sense of what your true HB is and how much different it is from your stick. Maybe that doesn't seem of much help...and I grant you, barring commitment, it isn't ...but every little bit helps.

    You were born with these feet (and bless the lads that weren't)...and that can't be changed, not at this late date, anyway. You have to deal play the cards you're dealt. Sooner or later. (I know you know all this but sometimes it helps to have it laid out clearly)

    As you already know "compromise" isn't the answer. If it were, I suspect you wouldn't be here asking questions and seeking an alternative.

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  5. tharkun

    tharkun Senior member

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    Jul 12, 2015
    Well as you said, short toes I guess. So to report back as promised: After actually walking around in the shoes for a while it seems that the right shoe creases exactly over my big toe, which hurts quite a bit. If I push my foot back in the shoe and test it, it creases right in front of the toe but when walking for a while the foot pushes far enough forward that the toe gets squished. Really weird and I guess its the last or the previous owner's pre-creasing since the 9D suede shoes I have don't do that.
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    That's one reason why I sometimes rail against pre-owned shoes. You not only have the vamp wanting to crease where the previous owner's feet creased, the insole is flexed and loosened where the previous owner's feet made it bend. And the outsole too. So between the insole and the outsole, the shoe not only wants to bend for a different foot it actually resists bending anywhere else.
     
  7. tharkun

    tharkun Senior member

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    Jul 12, 2015
    

    So I guess this shouldn't be an issue with a new one then, if I get you correctly? Btw these being pre-owned was for trial and error on the HB thing without infuriating the SO. The shoes cost $10 :) They also have rubber soles, so not sure about the sole wanting to bend in the old place. The upper leather definitely resists bending in other places, even when trying to pre bend it in a different place with my hands. I'll give them some more time so I can test out the HB thing a bit more.

    Thanks for your insights DW!
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,238
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Well, just one caveat....the forepart of any shoe that actually fits you is going to be longer relative to your foot and toes than it would with someone with longer toes. The toes have to control the forepart of the shoe to crease it properly. Extended toe lasts and even narrow toed lasts probably aren't in your future. And I would think that sticking with a leather insole and outsole and a relatively soft upper would also be the best, safest bet.
     
  9. TheGiuce

    TheGiuce Member

    Messages:
    10
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    Jun 4, 2013
    Hi all, great thread. I just did some measurements at home using a butter knife, sheet of paper, and the help of a friend. I wanted to see how home measurements compared to my Brannock measurements, and they were spot on.

    Quick question though... As part of my project, I measured my ball-to-heel / arch length by marking on the paper where my ball joint is. However, I cannot find any measurement charts online for this measurement. Do they exist? If so, can someone point me to one?

    Foot measurements:
    Left
    - Toe to heel length = 9.5 US
    - Arch length = 8"
    - Width = D
    Right
    - Toe to heel length = 10 US
    - Arch length = 8"
    - Width = D
     
  10. zerouser

    zerouser New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2016
    A proper fitted shoe is secured at the heel and ball before the toes. Improperly fitted shoes are secured at the heel and toes. The end result is that when walking the force is transferred through the toes instead of ball to the ground. This will put a lot of stress on the front of the foot and possibly the legs.

    Now the reason most people are able to wear improperly fitted shoes is because the soles are typically very flexible, especially with tennis shoes. Even with dress shoes most have a single sole so people are able to break-in the shoe, and they really are breaking the shoe to fit. However high-end dress shoes (I'm thinking Shell Cordovan with JR Soles) have double-oak soles where are twice as thick as regular soles. These soles don't flex as much so it's not possible to break them in as much. So only people who are wearing these high-end shoes (Alden, Allen Edmonds, etc.) will experience serious discomfort and pain from improper HB fitment.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  11. zerouser

    zerouser New Member

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    Sep 6, 2016
    1) Put foot into shoe.
    2) Check the contact patch between the front of the shoe and foot. Improperly fitted shoes make contact to the shoe with the side of the toes. Properly fitted shoes will make contact further down the foot at the ball joints.
    3) Check for heal slip.
    3) Adjust the shoes if necessary. Increase length to give more space in the toe box. Reduce width to ensure the ball joints make proper contact. (assuming the shoes are too short and wide which is the most common issue).

    You'll need to buy shoes from upscale retailers such as Allen Edmonds because most brands don't offer proper width adjustment.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016

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