Friday, May 16, 2014

more shoe trouble

I've complained before (here and here) about finding steel-toe boots that actually fit. Part of the problem is that my feet are not only small, but difficult. So here's a long explanation of why, exactly, I have such a hard time finding shoes that fit:

1. High arches: I have super high arches. My footprint has just the tiniest side connecting heel and toe. I like my high arches - I think they make my feet look elegant. But. Because my arches are so high, my instep is also very high. So I can't wear most pull-on shoes, and especially not clogs. Also, if I'm half asleep and I streeeetch and point my toes, a tendon or something gets dislocated and my toes get stuck over-curled. It's incredibly painful, and the only way to fix it is to physically grab my foot and wrench my toes around the right way. I don't know anyone else with this problem.

2. Wide feet: Because I was a little hippie heathen growing up, I spent every possible second barefoot as long as the ground wasn't still frozen. I did a lot of running around outside, on asphalt, barefoot. So the pads of my feet and my toes are splayed out. I have an especially hard time with sandals and fancy strappy shoes.

3. Stubby toes: When I was a kid, we used to say that someone with a second toe longer than their big toe had "Jesus feet". I have anti-Jesus feet. I've got normal big toes and then a line of stubby little toes. No pointy or peep-toe shoes for me.

4. Upturned toes: Some people have feet that continue straight downward at the toes. My toes sort of stick up at the tips. Combined with a decent bend in my nail beds, this means that I need some serious room in the toe box of my shoes. Otherwise, the top of the nails on my big toes press up against the inside of my shoes. And that is how I got a horrific infection from a long week wearing cheap steel-toe boots in lousy weather and had to have all sorts of icky stuff removed and was threatened with having the toenail removed entirely (permanently).

5. Sensitive toes: I hate thongs/flip flops. Sigh.

So how do I deal with these trials and tribulations? Dr. Martens for steel toe boots for the field, Dr. Martens for mary janes for the office. And Fluevogs for casual Fridays and whenever. Because when you have funny feet, it's worth paying extra for shoes that actually work and will hold up over time.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I come from an oil & gas drilling background (30+ years, Canada) and in my experience, about the only people who wear lace-up boots around a drilling location are newbies and visitors (same ones with the shiny white hard hats and spotless, pressed overalls). Bending down to lace and unlace boots a few dozen times a day, going from rig/mucky drilling lease to work/accommodation shack ("GET YER DAMN DIRTY BOOTS OFF!!") gets old in a hurry. They're invariably chucked in favour of loose-fitting steel-toed rubber boots ("Wellies" to some).

Are lace-up boots mandatory in your biz, or a personal preference?


Short Geologist said...

If you have any suggestions for size 7, women's, US sizing (5 men's) steel-toe wellies, I'd love to hear them. The drillers have the same response. Of COURSE they don't have a problem. They have mens' feet. They can walk into any work-clothing store to buy them.

Regarding lace-up boots: they are standard. I started a response but it got complicated. look for a post sometime next week.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize availability was an issue. I have a lot of female colleagues and most of them (most of my male colleagues, and rig crews too, for that matter) wear Baffin boots. They have steel-toes in women's sizes 5-10. The "Processor" and "Storm-30" are both popular and widely available (in Canada, anyway). The "Storm-30" can be used in winter, with optional liners.

Anonymous said...

I've only worked very early stage exploration in Canada so the priority there was good hiking boots with steel shanks over steel toes. However, in Australia I work mostly with rigs and underground and it's lace-up steel caps or steel capped gumboots. As the industry is so pervasive here it is possible to find size 5 (7.5 US) lace ups in most work gear shops (though socks are a problem - I can have shoes but not socks apparently) but on site stock can sometimes be a problem. I've been wearing size 6 gummies so long that when the stock guy got in a surprise pair of 5s for me they felt too tight and I found myself slipping and tripping climbing the rills because I was so used to the boot moving around my foot. Heh. As for lace-ups vs non.... Most sites here specifically ban pull-on steel caps, though you can buy them easily enough. There is a complex HSE reasoning behind it which I can no longer remember but is probably totally counterintuitive and nonsensical.

Anonymous said...

Also, I think you and I must have a common ancestor. I have very similar feet: high arches, tiny nubbin toes (my partner says I have one big toe and four pinkie toes on each foot) and I get the crazy cramped and seized toes if I stretch without due care and attention. Finding sandals that fit properly and look nice can be a problem for sure! For work - I put insoles in everything for my arches. It helps to make up for the fact that the boots are usually a size too big as well.