five fingers shoes

I was drinking a V-SMOOTHIE, in West Hollywood, at this place called Earth Bar. The ambience was like cold, moist air-conditioned Eco-space, digital ringtones tweeting off, smoothie blenders, laptops. And then a blue-haired man walked up to the counter in his five-finger shoes, texting on his Blackberry. The space felt so online. I was in a diverse online rain forest of $60 eco-smoothies and flat screen TV menus. I just wanted to make music that sounded like this, something these people could blast on their iPods. The ideas got deeper then this later, but this was the initial starting point.
—  James Ferraro’s inspiration for Far Side Virtual.

Q & Answer: Where Do I Find Wide Shoes?

Jason asks: I have wide feet.  Flipper wide.  My comfortable shoe size varies between makers, but my most comfortable dressy shoes have been Rockports in a 9.5 EEEE, and my best 9only) athletic shoes have been from New Balance.

(I also wear Five Fingers shoes, but they tend to be a little long in the toes.)

Finding shows that fit me is very difficult.  Can you suggest strategies for finding sellers of shoes that will fit the shape of my feet?

There was a time when just about any shoe store on Main Street, USA had a full width run of all its sizes. As the 20th century marched on, sadly, this stopped being the case. Whether you have wide feet like Jason or (like me) narrow feet, it’s now kind of a hassle to find shoes that fit.

For wide feet, you’ve already found a great solution for athletic shoes. New Balance carry a full width range. If you’re looking for other options, a big shoe site like Zappos will allow you to search by width. New Balance is likely to end up being your best bet though, if like Phife Dog, you want to avoid a narrow path.

It can be a little trickier for dress shoes. While most of the British brands have slightly wider standard widths, their wide widths can be tough to come by in the US, and every brand uses a different width sizing system. Some mark wide sizes E, some G, some other confusing stuff. You can take a blind stab at mail order, but your best bet for English shoes is likely a specialist store.

Luckily, the two leading American brands both offer wide sizes. The easiest to find is likely Allen-Edmonds, who offer very wide widths. If you visit an Allen-Edmonds store, or a customer-service-oriented retailer like Nordstrom, they’ll likely be willing to order sizes they don’t have in stock for you to try on, and they may even have very wide sizes in stock.

Of course, there’s also used or made-to-measure. Used shoes aren’t for everyone, but when buying unusual sizes there’s often little competition, so deals (while infrequently available) can be had. Made-to-measure is expensive, but can accomodate a tough to fit foot.

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“When it comes down to it, I’m just a girl who wears those five-finger weird toe shoes.”