Navigating the Middle

through adolescents, menopause, aging parents & other flying debris



Day 4: Bet You Couldn’t Walk a Mile in My Shoes

While people rarely notice their span, I have always been aware of my long feet. Maybe because they seem proportional to my nearly 5′ 9″ stature, people don’t seem to take notice.

But from a young age, I have been aware that the size of my feet was more than a little “different” from other girls my age. When I was six years old, I wore a women’s size 6 shoe. I remember the frustration that my mother expressed at the limited selection. Imagine trying to shop for an age-appropriate shoe for your first grade daughter, among a selection intended for grown-ass women. Subsequent years proved equally daunting.

  • At age 7, I wore a seven.
  • At age 8, I wore an eight.
  • At age 9, I wore a nine.

From the age of ten, until I had my first son decades later, I wore a 10.

When my mother took me shopping for the ninth-grade dance, the shoe salesman tried convincing me that a nine would work. He asked something stupid like, “Wouldn’t you rather wear a nine than a ten?” (Side note: I  never really cared much for men who thought they knew what was best for me.) We purchased the tens.

Back in the day, shopping for that size shoe offered few GOOD options. It was as if shoe manufacturers decided that Earth Women simply did not grow to that size and therefore, shoes would be primarily restricted to two varieties: the Pilgrim Clodhopper (i.e., thick, clunky heel, lots of black leather with big buckle attached to some part of the shoe surface; or the Drag Queen Stiletto (i.e., high-heeled, loaded with feathers and/or sequence, and usually available in a bright color, like fuchsia, with or without a bow).


Shoe shopping today has definitely improved. Most retailers carry one or two pairs in my size, but they always sell out quickly. (Apparently there are lots of other girls out there with long feet.) But not very long ago, I walked into a department store and inquired whether they sold my size. The saleswoman’s response: ” No we do not!” And she seemed annoyed that I bothered to ask.

Fortunately for me, EVERYONE’S feet have gotten longer over time. Podiatric historian William Rossi explained it this way to lifestyle blog Divine Caroline, “People are getting taller and heavier, as they have for generation after generation. And their feet are getting larger in proportion to their bodies.”

Today, the average American woman wears between an 8 1/2  –  9. I may still be outside the boundaries of “average” but had I lived in the 1800’s,  when the average woman wore a size 3 1/2 – 4, I likely would have been burned at the stake.

So here’s this Size 11 Girl’s Latest Shoe Faux Paux.

Two days ago I ordered a pair of White Mountain sandals. Since the Macy’s near me didn’t have them in stock, I drove 20 miles away to pick them up. I even checked the size stamp inside the shoes before returning home. When I modeled them for my mother-in-law, she remarked, “I don’t like the way your heel is hanging off of that right shoe.” She was correct. I slipped them off and measured. photo (39)

(Sigh) Guess I won’t be walking a  mile in these shoes.


Day 30: MBF Seeking White Boyfriend…Jeans

After watching a recent episode of Katie, it was official. I HAD TO HAVE a pair of white boyfriend jeans, despite the warning that “every woman that puts on a pair of white jeans is afraid it’s going to show cellulite.” (confirmed)

Initially crestfallen, I was encouraged when Kelly Sparks, Joyus Style Expert, announced that you could avoid the dreadful “c” if you kept three things to keep in mind when selecting a pair of white jeans: look for less stretch (to avoid them from sticking to you and looking “gummy);” denser, thicker fabric; and buy one size up.

I imagined myself, looking like the model in the segment. Never mind that she was a staff intern, half my age, or that she was probably a size 2 or 4, I was going to get those jeans!

First stop: Lord & Taylor, my retail “go-to.” Now I’m not sure what the problem was, but there wasn’t a single pair throughout the store. I compensated by purchasing a skinny metallic belt and Kate Spade tote, rationalizing that both would look great with the jeans …once I found them.

Afterwards, I was off to Macy’s, where there is so much crap, I usually find what I’m looking for. Macy’s approach to the white jean, was to offer every imaginable style a woman could ever want (or never wear): jeggings, ultimate skinny – I can’t begin to imagine what those would look like on; straight; curvy skinny ankle (low rise); skinny (low rise); natural fit (tapered leg); tummy control (slim leg); and the curvy skinny ex-boyfriend jeans – I thought for sure that one would be a winner. It wasn’t.

photo 2 (9)          photo 3 (10)

Determined, not deterred, I ducked in and out of stores before landing in White House Black Market where their boyfriend jeans are actually called “girlfriend” jeans. (Wouldn’t that just be a “regular” jean?)

Several stores and many “butt” selfies later, I found what I was looking for, hanging in an Ann Taylor store. Since they didn’t have my size, I tried sizing-up, as recommended. Not a good look. Next, I tried sizing down: a little snug, and nothing like the boyfriend-fit I was expecting. They had my size in the back, which fit perfectly. Three hours later – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

My advice for purchasing white jeans:

  1. Be prepared to try on several different styles and sizes. Start with your true size, then decide whether to size up or down. Whatever happens: size right.
  2. That whole – denser, thicker fabric is no joke. The right fabric will hide a multitude of sins.
  3. A little stretch goes a long way.  The pants I bought are only 2% spandex, but 1% is fine too. The key is to avoiding clingy fabric that gives you that “stuffed sausage look.”
  4. Florescent lights are not your friend, so use your cell phone for good and not for evil. Click as many shots as necessary to ensure you white boyfriend jeans (or any other clothing) looks good and fits well.

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