The Shoe Snob Blog

August 20, 2012

Written by , Posted in News

Foot Versus Shoe Style

Foot Versus Shoe Style
– Derby good for wide feet with

There are many types of feet in this world, most of which would not be labeled as ‘normal.’ If you happen to be one of those people who was not graced with these wonderfully ‘normal’ feet (such as myself) then you may have at one point in your life wondered, “what shoe (and/or style) will suit me best in fit and comfort?” That’s the big question at hand and even though I am no podiatrist I will do my best to give you my opinion which is ultimately based on years of fitting all types of feet. Today we will focus on one’s instep (which will usually coordinate to width as well) and how the shape (and/or girth) of that instep will affect the types of shoes that will accommodate your feet. And for those that may not be familiar with the term ‘instep,’ it is the top part of your foot, where the laces of your shoes touch. So, basically there are three types of insteps: High, Low and Normal. This may seem painfully obvious to the select amount of you shoe connoisseurs that read my blog, but for a great deal many, it certainly is not. So here we go:

High Insteps:

Foot Versus Shoe Style

From what I have seen in my life and all of the different people that I have fit, from culture to culture, this seems to be the problem that affects most. Many cultures out there, like those from South America as well as Europe (particularly British people) suffer from high insteps, which ultimately means that the person also has a high arch, as indicated in the picture. What usually tends to come along with these two things as well is a broad ball of the foot, i.e. the joints where your toes meet the rest of the foot. But just because the instep is high and the ball of the foot is broad, does not necessarily mean that the foot is considered “wide” as this type of foot very well may have a narrow ankle. This is where the problem occurs, because as the foot needs accommodation for that broad forefoot and that high instep, it does not really serve to get an overly wide-fitting shoe as the heel will be very sloppy and will nearly pop out at every step. So what do you do? Well, without getting to complicated and going for custom shoes, you have to think about what style fits best and that will ultimately be the: Derby (or Darby). A derby is an open laced shoe that gives more flexibility in the instep as the vamp extends to the tongue, all as one piece. Because of this, a high instep foot will have an easier time getting into, as well as being comfortable in this model.

Shoes That Should Fit: High volume shoes (a lot of girth/space inside the shoe), derbys, , low cut loafers, single monk straps, suede shoes (leather is softer), chelsea boots, jodhpur boots

Shoes To Avoid: Oxfords, balmoral boots, double monk straps, high cut loafers, anything with an inflexible band/strap across the vamp

Foot Versus Shoe Style
, Picture Courtesy of Leather Soul

Foot Versus Shoe Style
, Picture Courtesy of Leffot

Foot Versus Shoe Style
Corthay, Picture Courtesy of Leffot


Foot Versus Shoe Style

A low instep is probably the least common of all the feet but leaves the wearer with the most problems, as most shoes are made to accommodate medium-to-high insteps and therefore leaves a lot of room to be filled inside the shoe, once the foot is in it. This is the problem that I have, but on top of this I also have a narrow foot, making it a triple-whammy! I don’t believe however that all flat arches correlate to a low instep nor a narrow foot (as many people from an African origin have flat feet, but are not low in the instep nor are narrow), so we will assume that from this point forward, we are strictly speaking about a low instep and what the person should do and/or wear for this problem. Because a foot of this nature is very low in height (from floor to top of foot), it needs shoes that tend to be less voluminous and more shallow in depth. This is the tricky part however, as many shoes are not as inclined to be designed as such. But there are models that are going to be more accommodating to this problem than others, such as the oxford. The oxfords’ design, with a closed lacing system and a general minimum of 5 eyelets, leads to the wearer being able to tighten it in such a way that locks/holds the foot in place more so than any other model. Another model that can accommodate quite well if made in a such a way, is a loafer with a high cut tongue piece. But this will very much depend on the depth of the loafer, as it can be made for a medium to high instep as well….

Shoes That Should Fit (presuming a low volume design): Oxfords, balmoral boots, high-cut loafers, double monk straps

Shoes To Avoid: Low-cut loafers, derbys, single monk straps, chelsea boots, jodhpur boots

Foot Versus Shoe Style
George Cleverley

Foot Versus Shoe Style
High Cut loafer by

Normal Insteps

Foot Versus Shoe Style

Fortunately for the few of you that actually have this type of foot, you really don’t have anything to worry about. As any model of shoe should be able to accommodate your normal feet, the only thing that you will have to look out for is making sure that the last in which the shoe model was made off of, was made to a normal standard. What I mean by this is the fact that some makers, like Ferragamo, will make the majority (at least the ones sent to the States) of their shoes to a certain standard, like narrow. Therefore, while your foot may be normal and easy to fit, you might have a hard time fitting a Ferragamo as they are made a bit on the narrow side….other than this problem, you are scott-free!

Foot Versus Shoe Style


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