Friday, February 26, 2010

If the Shoe Fits

As some of you may remember, I recently spent an inordinate amount of time shopping for an evening dress (see "Shopping for 'The One' "). The good news is, I finally found a lovely dress at an amazing price. The bad news is that now I have to find shoes to go with it.

Those of you with adorable Carrie Bradshaw feet, just made for Manolo Blahnik shoes, will probably find this post incomprehensible or merely boring. Why, you might ask, do I not head to the nearest mall and buy myself a cute little pair of strappy sandals? The answer, sadly, is that my feet are not the Manolo Blahnik type. I've been blessed (or, some might say, cursed) with very narrow heels but wide forefeet. Basically, impossible to fit.

I'm not complaining, exactly. Despite their limitations, my feet have served me well. I love to walk and they've carried me for many a mile. But when it's time to shop for dressy shoes, I face a daunting challenge. Thankfully, the Internet exists to help me meet it. Enter Zappos, Nordstrom, and other online shoe retailers. They not only carry a huge selection in varying widths, but they feature generous shipping policies.

I started my shoe search with Zappos, since I've had good luck with them in the past. During an earlier shoe quest, I called a Zappos customer service rep with a question about a particular style and she suggested I simply order the shoes I wanted in the two sizes I thought might fit, then return the pair that didn't work, or both pairs, if neither fit properly. This time, I found a pair of sandals in just the metallic color I was looking for, so I ordered them in an 8 and an 8 1/2. When I chose standard shipping, I was informed there would be no charge. Pleased, I submitted my order.

A short while later, an email arrived telling me that Zappos valued my business so much they were upgrading my shipping status to priority. The shoes arrived the following day. So far, so good. Then I tried them on. The size 8 pair fit, in the sense that I could get my feet into them. But as far as actually walking, that was another story. The size 8 1/2 pair was altogether too big. Both pairs would have to go back. Zappos made it easy. I merely had to slap on a return label and drop the box off at my nearest UPS Store.

Next, I tried DSW online. I knew I could return the shoes to the nearest store if they didn't work out. They didn't. The clerk at the store couldn't have been nicer about the return. A petite young woman, she clearly loved shoes and enthusiastically told me there were some great styles available on clearance. She seemed totally mystified when I mentioned that I was hard to fit. Ah, innocence.

After that failure, I really intended to give the local mall a try. Maybe I would get lucky. But yesterday evening, too late for hitting the brick and mortar stores, I decided to go virtual once more and check out the Nordstrom online shoe site. I found a cute pair of sandals with a reasonably low heel, available in a C width. If I bought two pairs, the price would qualify me for free shipping! Since I would need to try both the 8 and 8 1/2, as usual, I couldn't resist the allure of one more online order. 

If this doesn't work out, I'm not sure what I'll do next. The dress is floor-length. If worse comes to worst, I can always go barefoot and no one will be the wiser.

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