Most of the time, I buy men's shoes for the simple reason that I tend to like the styles much, much more. This does not usually create a problem. I have fairly small feet, but a men's 6.5 or 7 is usually fine for me.
The average female foot, however, is narrower than the average male foot. For this reason, women's shoes are usually constructed narrower than men's; "medium" width for a women's shoe is "B," but for a men's shoe, it is "D." The difference between the two widths, for a given shoe, can be anywhere between a half and a full centimeter (as this chart demonstrates).
Usually, the extra room is no problem. If I'm clomping around in boots or skate shoes, it's no big deal. The place it matters is athletic shoes--for me, particularly running shoes.* If you don't want to twist an ankle or mess up your stride, you need running shoes that fit snugly in length and width. Since I've got narrow feet, this usually means women's shoes.
No. No. No.
Often, I end up with a choice of something in pink or pastel blue. Not that I mind those colors, say, on a tie, but I feel silly in pink running shoes.
Sometimes there's a plain white option, but they're so nondescript. I don't want plain shoes, just shoes that don't look like they were designed to match a purse.
I want cool colors! Navy blue, forest green, orange. I can't go out in my navy blue REI vest, grey shorts, and black running shirt, then add pink shoes into the mix. It just makes me feel absurd.
As a result, when I look for running shoes, I don't just seek a good fit. I also look for a decent color. More than once, I've tried a shoe on, had it feel great, but declined to buy it because I hate the colors. I always feel a little childish explaining to the salesperson, "No, these are great, but... I hate the color. No, no--powder blue won't do, either."
Sure, a few things help. You can go to a good running store or buy online where there's more of a selection. And some brands are better than others. But I still look with envy over at the men's section, where there are so many cool colors and styles, compared to just a few I like in the women's section.
*Thanks to my DGF, for giving me the idea for this post!
1/4/2012 09:10:13 am
@ Cheree: I totally agree. The problem is finding a color I like in a style that works well for me! Sometimes these align, sometimes not.
1/4/2012 09:26:43 am
I'm semi-femme and I dont like pink or pastels. I usually end up buying men's tennis shoes - I don't mind them being loser - but I have wide feet.
1/4/2012 09:27:31 am
Ha! An ongoing conversation between me and my partner as well! WHY do the guys get to have so many cool shoes?! I see a pair I like but they don't come in a men's 6...so often they only start in 8's...aagghhh...but running shoes I've never had a problem with finding...just getting out and "running" in them! ;^)
1/4/2012 09:59:02 am
Check out this site: http://nikeid.nike.com/nikeid/?sitesrc=uslp
1/4/2012 10:48:08 am
Love this blog! I'm one of the specialized catagories of dykes called the PE teacher. I have a variety of sport shoes. My problem is that I am on the small side and that includes these tiny stubs on the end of my legs. I need a very narrow last and I scour the outlets for Adidas's in the right color and fit. I'm also a softball umpire(yeah, I know....) and it's really difficult finding plate shoes that will fit.
1/4/2012 10:59:29 am
Yay for dyke PE teachers! Have you tried boys' (kids'/youth) shoes? Some brands (e.g., Nike; Keen) go up to size 6, which usually works great for me (and I wear a men's 7). I don't know if they make boys' plate shoes, though... I also find that Nike and Adidas run narrow in men's, which is good for me.
1/5/2012 10:17:08 am
Yeah, I have been buying boys shoes for awhile; my Docs and my Tims are great. Also good for sleeve length in dress shirts. The rise in the pants are sometimes too high, but the length is awesome.
@Lana: I was going to recommend exactly the same Nike ID link. No girlie colors or anything - just how you like it (my preference is for phosphorescent shoes). I already got one pair for myself, one for DGF.
1/6/2012 09:05:32 am
Agreed! The customizable Nike option is terrific. Now if I can only get them to make the Nike Free TR Fit (my workout shoe of choice) customizable...
1/7/2012 10:03:18 pm
I worked at an orthopedic shoe store through college (very crappy job) and learned that most good shoe companies make narrow/wide versions of their shoes, but most stores don't carry them in stock. You might have to order them online but I'm sure you can get a good men's new balance in a 7-B. You just have to do some internet shopping and some guess and checking.
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