Finding Bigfoot


I am bigfoot.  My feet are long and they are wide.  That has always made finding comfortable shoes (especially stylish ones) a challenge.  The problem is that for an untold number of years, I’ve been buying shoes that are too small for my feet.  It wasn’t until I stopped at a New Balance shoe store in Torrance, California last month, that I met a man who led me out of the shoe size darkness and into the light.

You may wonder how it is that, if I knew my feet were long and wide, I continued getting shoes that were too small for my feet.  In retrospect, I feel kind of silly about the whole thing.  What happened was this: since graduating from college, I’ve had it in my mind that I wear a size 10.5, 2E width.  That has been the gospel truth, in my mind if not in reality, and so always tried shoes in that size.

Sometimes the shoes felt like they fit well, other times it was clear that they didn’t, but they were always pretty snug.  Sometimes the shoes that felt like they fit well ended up not fitting so well once I brought them home, often pinching my small toes.  Over time, I had come to accept that this was just my lot in life as someone with wide feet, and would stick loyally to the few pairs I had that were truly comfortable.

So it was something of a revelation when I walked into the New Balance store on a whim and the assistant manager, an affable young man named Matt, listened to my complaints about the difficulty I have in finding shoes that fit and asked, “When was the last time you measured your feet?”


Of course, this is one of those questions that shouldn’t catch someone by surprise.  But I was stumped by this trick question.  A long silence lingered, as I searched my mind for an answer.  “I don’t know that I’ve had my feet measured anytime in the last two decades,” I responded with a twinge of guilt.  With that, Matt suggested that measuring my feet would be the right place to start.

You will not be surprised to learn that I’m not a size 10.5, 2E.  In fact, according to his measurements, I’m a size 11, 4E.  Half a size longer, one size wider.  This would go a long way towards explaining why some pairs of shoes I bought in size 10.5, 2E would still pinch my toes.  THEY WEREN’T WIDE ENOUGH!

Matt also had me stand on a mat that measures how I distribute my weight, which showed that I put more weight on the balls of my feet than I should.  That would explain the problem I had a few months ago with tendonitis in the front of my left foot.  (As I write this, I’m amazed at how obvious these things now seem, and how inexplicable they were back then.)


We looked through a variety of shoes and Matt explained that even at a single manufacturer, the shapes of the shoes vary.  He pointed me to one particular model, the 993, which is a classic New Balance shoe and is cut wider through the “toe box” – a term I had never heard before.  Sure enough, trying a pair of these in the right size and with the right shoe insert was an amazing experience.  The shoes actually felt roomy and comfortable instead of tight and cramped.  I also noticed that I was putting more weight on my heels instead of the balls of my feet.

I left the store with two pairs, one in grey and another in navy blue, and a profound respect for just how much comfort a professional shoe salesperson can bring to another human being.  Looking back, I still wonder how it is that I managed to go so many years without measuring my feet.  Maybe it is because at most shoe stores, no salesperson ever suggests it.  The future feels a little brighter, though, now that I’ve found bigfoot. 


0 thoughts on “Finding Bigfoot

  1. Glad you found good shoes! Makes me wonder, though… how much do we (I) go along with, thinking that it’s right… when really, if we stopped to do something about it – we would discover something totally different?

  2. Thanks for sharing your “foot secret” with us. I agree New Balance makes the most comfortable sneakers. The stores in Bangkok do not carry NB? (Probably your size is out of the range in stock).

  3. I find this a tad odd- how can you not realize that the shoes don’t fit you proper and not try the next size?! Anyway, glad you found comfort for your feet- even if two decades late!

  4. @Dezinerdreams – I know, I know… but the answer is actually not too surprising.  If I found the 10.5 2E a bit tight and tried a 11.0 2E, it would feel a little long but still not any wider.  Few stores regularly carry a 4E, though, so it had never crossed my mind to increase the size both longer and wider.  Plus, I did find some shoes in 10.5 2E that were comfortable enough that I thought it was a matter of variation from manufacturer to manufacturer.@CurryPuffy – There are two New Balance locations here in Bangkok and while they do have a few shoes in 2E, they have none in 4E.  They might be able to order for me, though.  But at this point I have plenty of NB shoes; now I need some dress shoes that are wider.@Passionflwr86 – That’s a good question.  Over time, we assume that “that’s just the way it is” until we one day discover that it can be different.

  5. Hehe. I’m just dumbfounded. As a woman – I measure my feet every chance I get. I went up 2 sizes with pregnancy, lost size after weight loss… currently I’m at a 7.5 D width… when I was in college I was size 6 B… things change – I’m just surprised that you delayed so long!! ps – you do not have “big” feet as all the men in my house wear size 11 – 12.

  6. My son Sayeed wears a 12 or 13 depending on the make. He has similar problems, and is extremely choosy about his sports shoes since he plays tennis and golf. I have seen him discard brand new shoes after bringing them home and trying them at home for an hour or so. Now he has them perfect, he says. Not sure if decided to measure his feet too.I am so glad you finally found a solution Chris.

  7. My sympathies Chris. I have what I affectionately call “duck feet” Big and wide with short toes. Women’s shoes don’t usually come in my size. 10.5 EE. Most shoes have half sizes all the way to 9.5 and then 10, 11 etc.With my wide feet, I feel ya their kiddo, adding length doesn’t do any good. The shoes never feel right. Good Feet store and New Balance have been fabulous.

  8. @stebow – Thank you for the sympathy. Glad I’m not alone out there!@ZSA_MD – I can completely relate to Sayeed’s discarding brand new shoes, especially since he needs them for sports. If a shoe doesn’t fit comfortably, I just don’t the see the point of suffering in them.@kunhuo42 – Aaron, I rarely have a problem quickly picking out my shoes from the large pile in front of a temple!@Roadlesstaken – You have very big feet Alex. How tall are you? You’re shorter than 6′, right?@ElusiveWords – If only they had some dress shoes…@Dezinerdreams – I’m a complicated person… what can I say? =D Actually, I did look into having some shoes custom made here and may still go that route for dress shoes.@murisopsis – Yeah, I know that mine aren’t the largest feet out there. Now that I know that feet can change over time, I’ll certainly make it a point to double check from time to time and measure them again.@Fatcat723 – I suppose that you walk into a store with a much greater knowledge base than most of us have.@The_Eyes_Of_A_Painter – Only Italian brands!? Oh, the horror! Ha ha…

  9. Isn’t that just the truth: “how much comfort a professional shoe salesperson can bring to another human being.”Glad to hear there Chris!!!

  10. I haven’t see one of those foot measuring thingys since I was a kid nor have I seen a salesperson who actually helps me decide whether the shoe fits or not. I’m lucky if I can get someone to get the box down from that top shelf for me. Same goes for bras. You are lucky you don’t need one of those!

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