When you have big feet, you focus on finding shoes that fit. But it's extra exciting to find cute shoes that flatter your feet. Shoes that make you smile.
So which shoe designs help make your feet look smaller? Who better to ask than the experts: women running shoe stores or brands specialising in larger shoe sizes. If you like your big feet to look neat, here are 6 top tips to help you choose the most flattering footwear.
Heels always make your feet look smaller because they change the angle of your foot from horizontal to diagonal.
Can't stand stilettos? Even a modest heel will work. "The heel doesn’t have to be a mile high - a mere inch or two can make a visual difference. The good news is, chunky heels and wedge styles can accomplish this better than narrow stiletto heels", says Francesca Kouwenhoven, creator of new Australian online brand Bohobo which is exclusively for shoe sizes 10-14 AU/US (up to 45 EU).
Katie Harris from Aussie shop & online store Big on Shoes has size 12 AU/US feet herself and is also a wedges fan. If you live in trainers, she suggests trying a wedged sneaker. "Plus, it doesn't hurt that it gives your booty a lift as well!".
You can read more about Big on Shoes, including their own Jacob & Therese label, in their shoe shop story post.
If you're very tall & prefer to stick to flats, don't worry - there are plenty of other shoe design features that work well for big feet.
Avoid pointed toe shoes if you want to hide your big feet. All the empty space at the front of pointy shoes makes your foot look longer.
Joanna Scott runs Low Heels UK which specialises in customisable shoes designed especially for sizes 7-12 UK. She recommends: "if you are after a flattering look, then you should definitely avoid a very pointed toe (especially in a flat shoe). A square toe line won’t work well for larger feet either".
Rounded toes to the rescue! "Shoe styles with a rounded toe can greatly assist in reducing the appearance of size", advises Francesca. "If you like pointy styles too much to forego them completely - there is a fabulous in-between option known as the almond toe".
Almond toe shoes are shaped like the narrow end of an almond nut. So they are not quite pointy and not quite round. It's an elegant, modern look which works well for big feet.
Straps are another fab style tip for larger feet. Joanna reveals "cleverly placed and running across the foot, straps will always create an optical illusion of smaller feet."
Sherene Headley, founder of new UK large size shoe brand Mokkah Shoes (sizes 42-46 EU), used this trick in designing her Sabrina heels. "We included an asymmetric strap which runs across the vamp which helps distract from a long foot. Instead it flatters the foot and adds uniqueness".
Not all straps are helpful though. You should "avoid vertical straps on the vamp, like T-strap shoes" advises Zaiga Braca. She has over a decade's experience of running the Latvian shoe store Apavi 40+ which stocks women's shoes in sizes 41-47 EU and ships worldwide.
Vertical straps are only going to elongate your feet further, so stick to horizontal or diagonal lines that run across your foot.
Also, be careful with barely there, strappy sandal styles if you want to minimise the size of your feet. Francesca explains: "a strappy sandal that exposes an entire foot of skin will make any size feet appear longer. However, you can and should use straps to your advantage: opt for thicker straps or styles that incorporate a peep toe or sling-back".
Zaiga agrees: "any very open shoes which expose all the feet are not making them look smaller. In summer it's better to choose sandals with more straps instead of flip flops".
Katie finds thicker straps help flatter wider feet too. "With ladies that have a wider foot, I find that a wider strap that covers the knuckles works best, for example the Bueno Filipa sandal from our summer range".
Dark shoes make your feet look smaller, in the same way as darker clothes can have a slimming effect.
This doesn't mean you are limited to a boring, black shoe collection! "There are plenty of gorgeous dark alternatives (grey, green, brown, pink) if you take the time to look", says Francesca.
Another style tip is to choose neutral tones as these will help your feet blend in with the rest of your body. Choosing a colour that matches your natural skin tone works well. Katie explains: "For those with lighter skin tones, a nude or soft pink colour would be ideal, while a tan or black colour works best for darker complexions. If you are after a more closed in option, something that hugs your foot like Django & Juliette's Alecia shoe style is ideal as it has a seamless flow from the top to bottom of your feet."
I use a similar trick myself of matching my trouser and shoe shades. Pairing navy shoes with indigo jeans or black ankle boots with a black trouser makes my feet fade away as if by magic.
Be wary of white shoes though. Liela cautions: "just like white clothes, white shoes also make feet look bigger".
Brighten up your shoe wardrobe by mixing colours or textures together. This great style trick breaks up a long foot, making it look smaller.
If you're fed up of wearing dark footwear, "shoes with darker colours over the toe can be just as flattering, as they visually shorten the length of the foot (think Chanel Ballet Flats for inspiration)", shares Francesca.
Joanna agrees and also finds that combining different materials in her shoe designs can work like magic. "Mixing different textures, e.g. patent with suede, and patterns (e.g. animal print) and combining different colours can make a huge difference too".
Low Heels can even customise shoes to make them in the colours or print of your choice. You can find out more about the range & made to order process in my interview with Joanna here.
It's amazing the difference small details can make to big shoes.
Adding bows or tassels makes for cute shoes that flatter big feet. Embellishments like chains or buckles can work wonders to disguise a long foot while making shoes a little bit special too.
"Buckles, chains, studs, tassels, bows or shoelaces will always work in your favour by breaking up the front uppers and adding another dimension to the style."Joanna Scott, Low Heels
Don't get too carried away though: usually less is more. As Francesca explains, "going overboard on details can have the opposite effect: drawing too much attention to the area you want to conceal".
There are no hard & fast rules when it comes to fashion, apart from wearing what feels good of course. But if you want the most flattering shoes for your big feet, following these 6 style tips should help. Thanks to all the large size shoe designers & retailers for sharing their expert advice.
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