Now for a wee share of something you most assuredly don’t know about me. I’m not fond of dress shoe shopping. No that’s far too mild. I loathe dress shoe shopping. But not for the reasons you might think.
I adore dress shoes.
If I could I’d own them by the dozens. It’s the act of selecting them for purchase that’s painful. Literally.
Why? Brace yourself. Ever since I was in grade ten I’ve had a bunion on my left foot. For the blessed amongst us who are unfamiliar with this delight I’ll offer up this light-hearted, uncringeworthy explanation of a bunion:
a painful swelling on the first joint of the big toe
Now, you probably associate that affliction with aging. Your grandmother had bunions, right? If she did, I am sorry. So did mine. She had them on both feet for as long as I can remember. Yup, the bunion issue runs in my family. My dear 92 year-old mom who happily treated my son and me to a drag show (and is the daughter of the aforementioned grandmother) also has one and so does my 32 year-old niece.
Rest assured. I shall not be showing you a photo of my foot, nor the feet of my relatives.
I will show you a photo of the nondress shoes I just had to replace.
See that rather
horrific gaping hole on the outside of the left shoe? It’s a godsend. It allowed me to trek the 22 kilometer (13.6702 miles for my American pals) of Whistler Mountain’s Singing Pass Trail this summer in absolute comfort (the toes on my left foot could splay out unhindered), much to the astonished amazement of my fellow hikers.
Sadly, it finally was time to replace them so I got another pair a few weeks ago. It’s anyone’s guess how long before that hole reappears.
Ok enough visuals. I’ll just say having a bunion equipped foot means that finding a dress shoe that’s both comfy and attractive is painfully difficult.
As I mentioned in my last post, a good friend of mine recently passed away after a three-month illness. In true LLB fashion, she requested that folks attending her memorial wear colourful, cheerful clothes. The dress I chose required new shoes. And no, the new runners wouldn’t cut it.
Lessons Learned Shoe Shopping
With recent dress shoe shopping excursions being less of a success (from poor shoe selection for the “mature” foot to gum chomping indifferent staff) I decided to start the
excruciating hunt at the iconic shoe store Ingledews Shoes which is celebrating its 100 hundred year anniversary this year! I can remember shopping there when I was six or seven. My memories of the sales clerks were that they were always men, they always wore a suit and you could see your image reflected in their perfectly polished leather shoes.
And no, I’m not getting a dime for mentioning Ingledews Shoes in this post.
Painfully aware that heels higher than an inch are murder on my foot (the raised heel causes the bony protuberance to jam into the side of the shoe and the misaligned toes quickly scream out in agony) I regretfully sought out the lower heels and surprisingly found a potential candidate. With a sale on, the store was humming with customers.
The cheerful but busy lady sales clerk introduced me to her proxy. Young, well dressed with shiny shoes he listened carefully to my brief outline of the bunion situation.
He had me at “Oh I’ve seen far worse bunions, ma’am.”
And so my lessons learned shoe shopping commenced.
Dr. Bunion opened with these gems:
1. Ideally the bunion afflicted should look for a shoe with a wide toe box that covers the entire bunion.
2. Go for heels an inch or lower
3. Best option: Open toed slingbacks with an adjustable strap.
The truth hit. Up until today I’d harboured a fear that these beauts lay in my future.
Take heart! There’s hope!
Miraculously there are solutions to ignoring lessons one and three.
Allow me to introduce you to the bunion’s secret friends.
Apparently these gems have been around forever. Who knew? I’d never seen them before.
1. Manufacture the comfort of a well-worn bunion abused shoe.
This was achieved with Exhibit A – the metal bunion stretcher ball and ring. Clamped together on the afflicted side of the shoe (between a protective cloth) this puppy worked wonders. The ball pushed through the ring, leaving an authentic and reassuring bump on the outside surface.
2. Reinforce the comfort of a well-worn bunion abused shoe
This was achieved with Exhibit B – the wooden shoe stretcher. After spraying the pertinent area with water the stretcher was placed inside the shoe and with the turning of the large metal hook the two sides opened, allowing the toe box to stretch nice and wide. Note the metal “nipple” bump; its job is to imitate your bunion. To ensure this widening effort is a lingering success one must leave the shoes overnight and return for them the next day.
As I returned for my shoes Dr. Bunion offered up the final lesson.
“Never just wear them for the intended event. Wear them around the house to the point that you feel pain. Take ’em off and repeat tomorrow.”
My takeaway from these lessons learned shoe shopping? NEVER buy dress shoes the day before.
And always consult with the Store Manager at Ingledews in Park Royal. Mr. Chris Dybkar.
Thank you Chris.
This post was inspired by the Finish The Sentence Friday prompt of “The Chore I Hate Doing The Most Is …”As always, our host is the lovely Kristi. Today’s guest hosts are Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks and Kirstenjill of Ripped Jeans and Bifocals
And the shoes I purchased? Wearing them right now. Fingers crossed; still wearable.
Enough about me and my lessons learned shoe shopping. I’m curious about you. Are you bunion afflicted? Yeah? What shoes can you wear? Did you know about the stretchers? Got perfect feet?
Damn you. Have you any idea how blessed you are? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.