A few months ago, I started looking for a solution to the blisters I get from shoes when I dance – not every shoe, but some of my faves that I didn’t want to get rid of because I would start the night just fine, then end the night with blisters without even realizing it until I took my shoes off. I have a bit of a narrow heel, so it tends to slide out of shoes. I’ve also been buying more European shoes lately, and the are not always offered in half sizes (37.5 here), so I end up with a slightly larger shoe to make sure it fits (38). However I looked at it – slightly larger shoes, stretched over the course of a dance, or rubbing blisters for whatever reason – I had a problem.
After some digging online, I came across the Pedag heel grips on Amazon.com – stick-on suede leather heel grips with a padded ridge to grip your heel. The number of reviews numbered over 200 and were overwhelmingly positive and detailed. I would recommend reading the reviews to see if your particular foot and/or shoe might benefit – I have Haglund’s deformity and the more I read, the more I realized that this was the product that would keep those shoes from rubbing once and for all.
And, thankfully, I was right – it doesn’t work for every problem shoe, but it has worked for all the dance shoes I have tried and a few pairs of non-dancing pumps. It provided just the right amount of space-filler to prevent the friction and I can control the placement to avoid or assist my Haglund’s bump. The suede works well as a gripping material and I have not had trouble with the adhesive not sticking to the shoes. No more blisters, yay!
I first heard of American Duchess from my fellow blogger Beth Grover at V is for Vintage – I was excited that another reproduction shoe company had come along to give us more options for dance shoes, even customizable options via dye/paint. American Duchess focuses on earlier eras of women’s footwear and, until now, their latest time period of footwear offered was the 1920’s.
The Claremont is American Duchess’s 1930’s oxford, done in classic fashion – not too fussy, with elegant details. Available in black and brown (for pre-order right now), suede with patent leather accents and a 2 3/8 inch heel. The pre-order price is $115, $20 less than what you will pay when they are in stock…or, you could win a pair for free in the giveaway they are having right now. 🙂
I’m going to begin chronicling pairs of shoes that I would shell out lots of money for, if only they were wider than 2.5 inches at the ball of the foot. I don’t know what sort of lives these 1920’s women led, but they must not have taken a step barefoot in their lives, have subjected themselves to foot binding, and been carried around in a sedan chair.
If you have narrow feet, for the love of everything wonderful, please start buying all these amazing vintage shoes!
I have three pairs in desperate need of reproduction this week (Re-mix Vintage Shoes, I hope you are taking notes. 😉 ):
If there’s one thing we need to wear as dancers, it’s appropriate and comfortable footwear. Shoes that fit you well can make a positive difference in your dancing; conversely, shoes that are ill-fitting can negatively impact your dancing and potentially cause health problems. So what do you do when you can’t find a pair of shoes that fits because of the width or shape of your foot?
I’ve had a couple of requests about dance shoes for irregular feet widths, specifically dance Keds and Balboa shoes. While I wear a regular width shoe, I just barely missed the genetic gift of narrow feet from my father and paternal grandmother, who both have very narrow feet (Granny wears a AAAA). Finding narrow shoes in retail stores seems to be an extinct possibility for them, so both of them have had to order shoes from catalogs that offer narrow and wide width shoes. This can get pretty expensive, considering my dad had to wear a suit and dress shoes every day to work and my grandmother loves to dress up.
However, these shoes do exist! I’ll start with the Keds, because that is easy – Keds makes narrow and wide widths of their Champion Oxford, the quintessential Lindy Hop shoe of the past few years. Keds makes them in AAAA (super narrow), AA (narrow), B (medium), D (wide), and EE (extra wide) widths. You are a bit limited in the colors available, but the classic white and black are there, as well as navy, blue, red and tan.
The process to get them to dance shoes is the same – buy Keds and either glue the suede/leather sole them yourself or take them to a cobbler to be sueded/leathered.
You can buy the different widths from the Keds website, but I found that finding the different widths was easier and they were cheaper on the Maryland Square website (which is the catalog my Granny uses). Also, the EE width did not appear to be available on either website, but was available in the paper catalog, so if you are looking for this width you will probably need to place a phone order with Maryland Square.
My suggestion for different widths of Balboa shoes and for men looking for an oxford for dancing is to buy a custom pair of tango shoes. Tango shoe makers tend to offer vintage-inspired styles of shoes and will create a custom pair for your feet using actual measurements of your feet. The cost is more than a pair of Aris Allens, but generally less than a pair of Re-Mix Vintage Shoes. I ordered a custom pair from Mr. Tango Shoes a few years ago and had a very positive experience. The fit of my custom shoes was unparalleled. On top of the width/shape, you can also customize the colors in both two-tone and mono-tone, the heel height and width/shape, the type of sole, the arch support, cushioning at the ball of the foot, and whether or not you want a platform. Another friend has had a good experience ordering custom shoes from Guaranteed Fit Tango Shoes.
If you have narrow feet, the vintage shoe world is your oyster. I would encourage you to look for vintage shoes on eBay and in vintage stores. Always ask whoever is working in the vintage store if they have narrow shoes because they don’t always put them out, and ask your local vintage store to be on the lookout for your size – often, stores will turn down shoes that are narrow because they don’t believe they will sell. Let them know you are the person who will buy these shoes!
Also, if you have wide or narrow feet and have found something that works for you, please feel free to share your experience or source here – I know there are others who would like to have this information. 🙂
There are vintage stores that seem like they have everything but the kitchen sink; then, there are vintage stores that are “curated,” full of carefully selected items that may evoke an era or perhaps only carry the choicest items. I could tell that Dear Golden Vintage on Etsy was one of these stores, even before I read the store description – the collection of items in this Etsy store is truly choice, and selection of things more lovely than the last.
Dear Golden Vintage sets a beautiful scene with clothing and accessories and you should definitely peruse all the online offerings, but here are my favorites:
After posting these shoes I thought long and hard about what you might wear with them – a solid dress, separates with those colors, but I never thought I’d come across a vintage dress with this same color wave. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this late 1930’s/early 1940’s dress on eBay with those lovely blues detailing the neckline. Finding matching pieces in vintage is already difficult, if not impossible. So disappointed that this is also not in my size. Surely there is someone out there to fit into this 28 inch waist dress AND wear a size 6.5/7 slightly narrow shoe!
While I was going through my inbox yesterday, deleting old emails, I came upon an email I sent to myself in April of 2005 titled “More wedges!” In the message was a link to Cruisin Australia, an online retailer of obvious origin who carries some really fantastic reproduction 1940’s and 1950’s shoes. I’m fairly determined to bring back the saddle shoe and this could be the supplier, with 3 different color schemes for men and 7 different color schemes for women. Cruisin Australia has a great selection of wedges and low heels for women, including a pair with leather perforations, which let those hot dancing feet breathe! The menswear line has a classic selection, including wingtips, captoes, suedes, and bucks.