Quick fashion tip: spend to your weakness

A few shopping rules I rely on:

1.  Calculate the cost-per-wear (and its happier alternative).

2.  If you know what to look for, you can find the good stuff anywhere.

3.  Spend to your weakness.

That last piece of advice is the least well-known of my trio, shared with me long ago by a fashion insider. I’ve been thinking about it this fall as I’ve freshened up my wardrobe for the season ahead. Her idea is that when it comes to getting dressed, most of us have weak spots. She recommended allocating a little extra in your clothing budget for whatever part of your body is hard to fit, or that you’re self-conscious about, and allocating less to the areas that are easier for you.

Quick fashion tip: spend to your weakness | Modern Mrs. Darcy

I’m tall, and my arms are so long that my junior high friends called me Neanderthal Woman. (I can’t make this stuff up.) Tall pants are pretty easy to come by these days. But tall shirts are hard to find and rarely on sale.  Since I really like it when my long sleeves make it all the way to my wrists, I plan on spending a little extra to buy “tall” tops.  (If you need any, I recommend Banana Republic and Gap.)

But that’s nothing compared to shoe shopping. I have big feet and, worse, need an extra extra-wide shoe—a combination that’s difficult to find. I’m jealous of those who can run into DSW, grab a pair of heels off the sale rack, and go. I am not one of you.

I’ve learned which brands and styles work for me: my shoe rack holds an assortment of Tieks and a few pairs of naturally-wide boots (I like these and these). Sometimes I’ll get lucky. I’ll find some sale tees that run long in the arms, or find size 12 wide boots at Target (!!). But mostly, because I have such a hard time finding shoes (and because uncomfortable shoes can ruin your day, on repeat) this is where I splurge.

Quick fashion tip: spend to your weakness | Modern Mrs. Darcy

But a couple of months ago, when I mentioned I needed to replace some worn-out flats, a savvy shopper suggested I investigate less expensive options. It’s possible to find wide flats that aren’t Tieks. (Tieks aren’t available in wide width, but when I go up one size they fit my wide feet perfectly, especially from their classic collection.)

She sent me a few links to stylish 11W flats, all of which cost half—or less!—than the shoes I typically wear. I was optimistic. I placed my orders. (Curious? I tried these Lucky Brand flats, these Born flats, and these Madewell mules. Sometimes I hope for the best, even if wide isn’t available.)

And they all bombed. They were cute, but far from comfortable—and when it comes to shoes, that’s no bargain.

This old rule of thumb has helped me manage my budget—and my expectations—for the areas I know are challenging for me.

Maybe shoes are a breeze for you. (Be nice about it, okay?) Maybe you have your own challenges: you’re petite, or allergies limit your fabric choices, or you need a hard-to-find cup size. I’d love to hear what areas of your wardrobe require more of your attention, and how you work around those challenges.

Do you spend to your weakness?  What do you give yourself permission to spend a little extra on?

Quick fashion tip: spend to your weakness | Modern Mrs. Darcy


  1. sarah says:

    I’ve learned when it comes to shoes you have to find what works for your particular foot and go with it and try not to be distracted by whatever is new, cute or on sale. I have an average size foot, but I can’t wear flats. I like the idea of them, but it doesn’t work for me.

    • Anne says:

      They take up very little space in a suitcase because they flatten nicely. With the size 12 I have to try very, very hard to squeeze them into the travel bag (that comes with the shoes) that works so well for the smaller sizes.

      • Lazyretirementgirl says:

        Very well timed column. I was just looking at foldable flats for travel, but what I found on Amazon looked cheesy. And I, like you, hate to shop. Boring, exhausting, and, as you put it, demoralizing. So, thanks!

    • Kari Sweeney says:

      They are both foldable and very packable. They come with a cloth bag as well. However, I usually tuck mine in a little corner of my packing cube (another must have for travel)

  2. Katie says:

    What do I “spend money” on? Ugh, nothing. Though, if I did, it would be shoes. I wear them forever, and almost daily if a favorite pair.

  3. Heather O. says:

    I love this, it’s brilliant! It also resonated 100% with me because fellow tall woman here who almost accepted a lifetime of cold wrists. Spending to your weaknesses is just so smart!

    • Libby H says:

      I, too, have long arms. Thumbhole sleeves are my almost-friends; finally a shirt that covers my wrists! But I hate wearing synthetic materials. So close, yet so far.

  4. Renae says:

    So I have finally come to the conclusion (it’s about time at 45 years old) that I will no longer balk at spending money on 1) bras, 2) shoes, or 3) denim. I have struggled all of my life with being kind of in-between with all of the above. Finally I’ve settled into knowing what styles work and more specifically, which brands work for me. My feet are a trick because they are wide and actually “fat,” which adds another layer of complexity. The extra “meat” on them means that any d’orsay style or anything strappy is a no go. Flats that would look great on “normal” feet look like stuffed sausages. Honestly I haven’t had the gumption to order Tieks because I’m also really hard on shoes, and I worry about ruining something that I spent so much money on. But I think eventually I’ll get there. And bless ThirdLove (bras) and Liverpool and Dear John (denim) for their work in the areas that I consider to be key to my comfort!! Their styles aren’t bad either!!

    • d says:

      I have feet like yours! Do you have any brand suggestions? Nothing looks good and it’s hard to find a good fit.

      • Renae Reis says:

        So I have figured out that Lands End has good loafers. I can wear their regular size if I size up half a size. Otherwise a W in my size (8.5) also fits. Oddly enough Aldo shoes tend to fit me (sizing up) although they may take a time or two to get them stretched out a bit. Steve Madden tend to be okay, as do Bandolino and Naturalizer. Thank goodness for Zappos and Nordstrom (free shipping both ways). My foot is EEE for reference.

    • Alex MacDonald says:

      Nordstrom is the best place for bras, if you have one near you! I love their service. And they carry all the weird sizes!
      Sincerely, a 30DD.

      • Nan says:

        Try Bravissimo on line (or stores in the UK) . Beautiful clothes, swimsuits and bras for the ahem, more endowed woman. Fabulous quality, but pricey. I finally found a swimsuit that looks great!

        • Alex MacDonald says:

          Only if they have free shipping and returns to/from Canada. I’m not confident enough to buy a bra without trying it on!

    • Linda Dodson says:

      check out the Wardrobe Oxygen website. It sounds like your feet are similar to those of Alison, who writes the blog, and she is an expert shopper.

  5. Brandyn says:

    I don’t have as much of a shoe problem as you do, but I’m a 10.5 and that means 90% of the time I end up ordering the 10 and the 11 hoping they’ll run either large or small and sending one pair back. I also have large calves so knee boots are almost impossible and skinny jeans rarely work – in a lot of brands a straight leg jean ends up fitting my legs almost like a skinny. I don’t feel like I’ve had a lot of success throwing extra money at it though – just more of a time commitment.

  6. Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says:

    Good Bra and blouses with no peep, my arms are short and have to roll up. Need xl around my bust line and smll in arms.

  7. Pauline says:

    I hear you – I have my difficulties finding shoes as well. Not because of the length of my feet, but because of their width. There is only one brands that fits my feet well, the brand is quite expensive but in this case I spend to my weakness. I love fall and winter as I walk most comfortable in booties or boots. Spring and summer are always difficult for me. I can’t wear flat shoes, my feet will start to hurt :(. Same goes for strappy sandals.

    • d says:

      Any chance you have flat feet? I had issues with foot pain and went to the podiatrist. Best money ever spent–turns out my ankles were bending inward (pronating) and it was affecting my feet in a bad way. Now I use orthodics or buy a shoe with a pronounced and very firm arch and my feet don’t hurt anymore.

        • d says:

          I don’t buy shoes for this issue; I was thinking of Birke’s but asked my doctor about it. He said the orthodics do more than just arch support. Before I saw the podiatrist I started with some inserts that I got from my local boutique shoe store (here it’s Schuler Shoes). It helped quite a bit but going to the podiatrist and getting custom orthodics has made the most difference. Good luck!

  8. Shoes! I have small feet – a solid size 5 (US) unless they are boots – I can move up to a 5.5 or 6. I also have baby bunions that require a comfortable toe box. I don’t even bother with physical shoe stores any more -they rarely have my size, much less a style I want. I will shop online sales for the brands that I know will have fit and durability. Clarks never fail, Riekers are adorable and a few other quality shoemakers falling in behind. I also will take my shoes to a shoe repair place for new liners and heels to keep the good stuff going.

    • Linette says:

      Love Clark’s but I can’t get them online because New Zealand. Also the small feet fail. What makes it even more difficult is that because of our smaller population the bell curve only allows for two pairs in my size in a store. Some stores don’t even stock below a six.

  9. Missy says:

    We are wardrobe opposites! I’m short-sleeves are always too long! My foot is tiny (but also wide-lol). I have all your same struggles though-can’t tell you how many shoes I buy and return. Ugh.

  10. Jamalyn says:

    Mine is bras. I wear a slightly unusual size,which is easier to find than it used to be, thank you Soma and Nordstrom! However each is so expensive, I am reluctant to replace and likely wear them too long. Bathing suits are even worse.
    Another example for me is curvy bottoms. Much more available these days! Thank you Loft.
    Great post! Thank you.
    I look forward to meeting you in Denver this Sunday, at Bookbar!

    • Lisa Goodhart says:

      Nordstrom is so good for bras! I have lost 65# over the last 2 years and have had to buy bras a few times. I need to go now again They measure so I wear the best size!

    • Mimi Gregor says:

      Have you tried Bare Necessities online? They run the gamut of sizes, and have most of the brands from both the USA and France. They sometimes have really great sales, and I use the opportunity to stock up. Free shipping and returns also.

  11. Kari Sweeney says:

    I am notoriously thrifty, but treated myself to a pair of Tieks a couple of years ago. Best decision I’ve made in awhile. Not only are they comfortable (for my feet), but they last forever. I looked at the cost-per-wear. Why was I plunking down $50-100 each year on shoes that hurt and didn’t hold up? Talk about a light bulb moment. In fact- I may treat myself to a pair of nice shoes today.

  12. Kat says:

    My Mom taught me early on that it was worth spending more on shoes, because if your feet hurt, your day sucks. (She probably didn’t use that exact word, but I’ve captured the essence ;). I’m on my feet a lot at work, so my work shoes must have good support and be comfortable. I’ve done pretty well with Dansko – they make non-clog style shoes that look good with a skirt or pants and provide a good arch and decent support for pronation.

  13. Angela says:

    I am with you on the shoes! My feet are 7W, and I wear support inserts, so shoe shopping is HARD! I definitely spend more on comfortable shoes that fit well.

  14. Janene says:

    Wow! Light bulb moment for me, too! I also am tall and wear a size 12 shoe and not all size 12’s are comfortable! My go-to’s are Clark’s for nicer shoes. I have recently discovered Sketchers for every day casual wear. I’m not sure if they have much selection for wide feet. I will seriously consider getting some Tiek’s for travel. Size 12 shoes take up way to much room in a suitcase!

  15. Liz Ekstrom says:

    My bottom half is super easy. Most of my jeans, pants, and shorts are from Old Navy & Gap and most of my shoes are from Target. I do get classic shoes (black booties, Hunter rain boots, athletic shoes) that I’ll wear for years on from Nordstrom, always on sale.

    My top half is another story. My chest is LARGE and has never been the same proportions as the rest of my body. So tops and bras are really difficult. I have to find minimizer bras with a lot of support for my back. These are not cheap or easy to come by. ANY tips appreciated! When it comes to tops, my chest is an XL and the rest of me is a medium. I usually end up in a large that is slightly tight in the chest and little too big in the tummy. Don’t even get me started on button ups. I can usually find affordable tops that work if I put a lot of effort into the hunt, but if I try on an expensive top at Anthro that I love and it fits, money is no object. LOL

    • Christine says:

      The only bras I have found comfortable and supportive for the large cup size + small band size combination are brands from the UK: Freya (before kids) Fantasie, and Panache. Nordstrom has a few of these, but you can also get them on Amazon, and online sites like herroom.com. ideally, try some on first (in an independent lingerie boutique kind of store) to find the size and style that works for you. Good luck! I know it is super frustrating until you find something.

      • Bee says:

        If you have a Nordstrom Rack near you and a spare few hours, you can find great deals on bras from those brands.

    • Avery says:

      Bravissimo from the UK (now shipping to the US) has tops that you can order according to your breast proportion. I’m not sure how cute they are, but it is a way to get a button up shirt that works.

  16. Emily D. says:

    Yup! You have to spend to your weaknesses or problem areas. I have to buy GOOD shampoo and conditioner–meaning, Living Proof or Bumble and Bumble–because I have skin cancers on my scalp, which means I have some bald spots. I can cover them up, but I need my hair (which is fine) to be as volumized as possible, and I have to take good care of the hair that’s left! So I use Living Proof and B&B, and it works for my hair. Same with foundation. I’m pale, but I’m not PINK undertone pale, I’m IVORY/gold undertone pale. So I have to use Bobbi Brown foundation because it’s an exact match for my skin.

  17. Sarah M Schneider says:

    Just came to offer sympathy on the wide large shoes. My actual shoe size is something like a 10.5 wide and I’m high across the instep/top of my foot, often I go up to 11 to get a shoe that fits. I’ve struggled with shoe shopping my whole life (my mother tells a few fun horror stories) and as a result, I frequently wear shoes until well past when others might have thrown them out. In a few instances, friends or family have intervened to eliminate particularly egregious pairs.
    Anyways, thanks everyone for the recommendations, I’ve been thinking about trying Teiks, and knowing that you also have wide feet may be just the nudge I need.

    • Katherine says:

      Hello – also 10.5W here. I rarely find shoes that I really LOVE. I have resorted to buying a Men’s 9 in some brands like Toms for some classic colors. I’ve had 2 pairs of Munro white sandals until they fell apart but they haven’t made the style in a few years. I also bought a pair of Tieks in 11 and they are great. I want to try French Sole as their web site says some ballet styles will fit wide feet. Good luck in your search! At least Zappos let’s us filter by size!

  18. Jane K says:

    First. Shoes that comfort my bunions and hammer toes. My go-to, best brand is Altra (altrarunning.com). Roomy toe box, Zero Drop platform and snazzy colors. Second item I buy to my weakness/problem area are bras. Still shopping for the right fit in a 34 C, or maybe it’s a 36, could be a D or DD. (A high-end lingerie fitter declared my bra size 32 H!) Wire cup, wireless cup, athletic … I’ve worn them all! Currently exploring posture bras. As I am now in my 70s, I despair ever checking this one off my bucket list.

  19. Nanci Garon says:

    Shoes are a huge issue for me as are bras.
    My podiatrist recommended Mephisto as a shoe to wear with out an arch support. I have the Helen style in several colors.
    For Bras – right now, Vanity Fair has a style that does not make
    me break out. Besides being hard to fit as Jane K says, I react to may of the bands.

  20. Karri Mart says:

    Yes! I am not a gluttonous packer, but it would be nice on longer trips to have more than one pair of shoes. I also am tall with size 12’s; so everything I do pack just takes up that much more room, especially when traveling in the winter. For tall clothes I do like https://www.longtallsally.com/us/ as a nice alternative to Gap and Banana Republic.

  21. Jennifer says:

    There are three things I’m willing to put a little more money down on. A good bra, good shoes with arch support and skin care. Everything else I can usually wear ok. But those three hit me in the pocketbook!

  22. Nicole says:

    Pants/shirts that are long enough. Tops that fit my bust line right and or are flattering. (I love having dresses custom fit at eshakti, but wish their fabrics were a little nicer sometimes.) I also have the shoe problem (10.5), and made myself only buy comfortable shoes after baby number one, but don’t love my Tieks – blasphemous I know!

    • Anne says:

      It’s not blasphemous! I think they work great for some people, and don’t work at all for others for exactly the same reasons.

  23. Theresa says:

    This post so resonates with me! Well really for my daughter. She’s 14, 6 feet tall and wears an 11 or 11 1/2 wide shoe. I have always had trouble finding age appropriate size clothes and shoes for her. I am having luck with Vionic shoes, a podiatrist designed brand. They have really good arch support and honestly most of my shoes come from them too and I don’t need wide shoes.

    However we are having a ton of trouble with homecoming shoes. She wants flats since moat of her friends are much shorter than her but finding “fancy” flat wide dress shoes that she does not find “too old ladyish is super hard. I probably spent at least 15 or 20 hours on this project already! I think she’s going to end up with some kitten heels from Vionic which are cute enough and comfortable but still make her 6’2” and taller than almost everyone including all the boys.

    So I definitely spend a lot of money on her shoes because we buy whatever we can find that fits her foot. Vionic shoes are expensive but like I mentioned, they have great arch support and are made well and are my number one shoe recommendation.

    PS – how tall are you Anne?

    • Hannah Beth Reid says:

      I remember moving into ladies sizes of shoes when I was about 11 and we could not find dress shoes without heels! My coordination simply was not ready for heels (and hasn’t made it there in the 20 years since). So glad the internet exists now for the hard to find items in life!

    • Jennie says:

      Sending you both good thoughts as you basically just described my teenage years at 6’ and a size 13 narrow shoe. Good luck!!

  24. Susan says:

    I tried Tieks, but they are too flat for me and my big toe hurts when I wear them too long. I do spend on shoes though. Dansko, Naot, Frye boots all are options that I can wear and walk in all day. I also spend on bras. It is crazy how much those cost when you need good support!

  25. Cindee says:

    I agree on shoes! They are a deal breaker. I wear a 7.5 wide or double wide. I got my Dad’s feet–wish I had got his metabolism! Ha!
    I have one pair of Tieks and just ordered another pair. I need a great pair of boots; I am on the hunt. I don’t care how much they cost, if they are comfortable and better yet actually FIT, they are for me. I only buy one or two pairs a year so I figure I am saving money on not buying cheap shoes that don’t work for me.

  26. Jo says:

    At 5’8”, but short legs and a very long torso, I buy regular jeans but only tall sizes for my shirts and dresses. It’s made me so much less self conscious to not have to be tugging a shirt down all day.

  27. Channing says:

    My weakness is bottoms. My postpartum tummy is something I struggle to feel confident about dressing. I’ve tried leggings, even spending extra on a certain extra-soft boutique brand, only to find I’m allergic to the fabric (who knew that was even a thing?). But the other day, I found the perfect pair of jeans that fit just right – at the thrift store of all places – and now I plan on buying a pair in every wash. I can’t describe how happy this makes me! Money truly is no object when it comes to dressing a weakness.

    • Hannah Beth Reid says:

      I identify on the post-baby tummy being a struggle! If I didn’t have to dress those 10 or 12 inches of myself, dressing would be a breeze!
      Congratulations on the perfect jeans! What a victory!

    • Taryn B says:

      I was going to write about my woes about finding jeans. I’m also struggling postpartum (after four kids): I have a big belly and a big bottom. I hate jeans that construct my belly but I hate having them too low in the back. Ugh. Please share your new find! I’m ready to splurge.

  28. Saffron says:

    I too have long arms and have adopted bracelet sleeves with nice watch and bangles as my workaround. And as I’m long in the body I usually wear dresses rather than tops and trousers/skirts. So much more forgiving of where your waistline actually is.

    • Alex MacDonald says:

      see, and I find the opposite about dresses! I’m long in torso (all over, too – shoulders, waist, etc.) and I can never find dresses with a waist that hits at the right spot, and is not exceptionally short. So I turn to skirts and tops as a way to make sure I make a waist where my waist really is.

      That being said – I’d spend more on a dress that fit really well.

        • Alex MacDonald says:

          I’m also small of waist and broad of shoulder. Many tall sizes (Banana Republic and Gap come to mind) don’t come in the smaller sizes. But I always keep an eye out!

  29. Susan says:

    Two weeks ago I spent all afternoon trying to find nice trouser pants with pockets because I wear an insulin pump. I am also borderline petite at 5’4″ and never know which category the particular store will dump me in. Thankfully I do have pretty normal feet. 😉

  30. Ellen W says:

    I turned 40 this year and decided I am not going to feel bad about spending a bit more on items that are of good quality and meet my needs like Zella leggings and Hummingbird Farms shampoo & conditioner. Meanwhile I tell my 12 yr old I will not buy him the $100+ sneakers because he will destroy and/or outgrow them within six months. 🙂

  31. Ginny Bess says:

    I have the opposite problem, my feet are narrow! Try finding narrows, it is almost impossible! So shoes are my splurge also.

    • Hope says:

      Tell me about it, Ginny! I’m a 9 1/2 AAAA. 95% of my shoes are Tieks or Munroe American. I have massive shoe envy- wish I could wear ChUCB Taylors, Tom’s, Dansko clogs….

    • Karen says:

      This is me, too. Almost nobody makes narrow shoes these days since Americans have become larger. I usually order mine from Easy Spirit. I end up with mostly clogs since there’s less hassle over fit that way.

      • Sarah Thompson says:

        I also have narrow feet and shoes are definitely where I splurge the most. Cole Haan has narrow widths in most shoes and I’ve found that often their flats and boots run narrow enough that I can wear a medium width without issue. Fair warning, their shoes are $100 and up. I try to shop their quarterly 30% off sales, use thredup for used shoes that are less expensive, or shop the sale section at the outlet to get better deals.

  32. I save up for bras. I wear a 30HH, which means I’m a thin girl with disproportionately large chest, and finding sturdy yet pretty bras in America is really difficult. I can’t shop Victoria’s Secret, and most other brands here aren’t offered in my size, and if they are, they don’t usually have that size in stock. I’ve found the BEST bras via Bravissimo, which is located in the UK and throughout Europe. Their size and style choices are unparalleled, and I only order bras from them. They are now shipping to the U.S., but I used to save to afford UK prices and overseas shipping costs. And, truth be told, the American prices (though free shipping) are still pricey. New bras, while necessities, are also a treat that I save up for. But Bravissimo is so worth it!!!

    • KP says:

      Check out Linda the Bra Lady! I wear the same size as you, and it is almost impossible to find them locally! So yes, bras are always something I splurge on because, frankly, there aren’t any cheap options in those sizes! My feet are 7-7.5, but super narrow, so I have yet to find a pair of flats that will actually stay on my feet! My one splurge is well fitting pants. I have super narrow hips and wear a 34″ inseam, and there is typically only place I can find pants that fit! When they have them in stock, I buy them!

    • DKL says:

      I’ll second Bravissimo! Pretty bras in my 34FF, plus matching bottoms. And swimming suits that fit and support. Yes, I pay well over $100 per set, but I can’t/won’t go around without!

      • Agreed, DKL!! It’s well worth the price. I actually just ordered some new bras because my older ones were FINALLY wearing out (after 2 years!!! amazing), and I put on the new one and was immediately like, “Oh yeah. Game changer.” So worth it!!

  33. Ann says:

    I’m long-limbed as well and one girl in junior high remarked that I had “gorilla arms”. Thankfully, I’m pretty thick-skinned and it didn’t really bother me. And those arms made me star in the pool!

    Speaking of spending to your weakness, has anyone with long, wide feet had any luck with Stuart Weitzman shoes? I notice they carry many wide styles, but the price tag scares me. This post has made me reconsider.

  34. Melissa Gerber says:

    I, too , am tall. I also have a “wide wing-span” as one of my friends once put it. I am very popular at the grocery store when someone needs something off the top shelf. I learned how to sew just so that I could get the fit I wanted and make my own alterations (“$12 to hem my pants?!”) I have narrow feet and if you think it is hard to find wide shoes, try looking for narrow sizes. I find that Munro makes good narrows, but they are not cheap. And just try finding boots!

  35. Louisa says:

    Amen on the wide feet and the life long struggle to find shoes…. I also have gripes as a “bigger boned” girl with a small bust trying to find a good fit. I had said that my next career would be designing cute shoes for wide feet and bras for broader/small busted gals.
    It helps to know that there are so many people with fit issues!

    • Katie says:

      Oh my goodness, yes. Blah blah blah, all you people whining about finding bras that fit a big bust–those are everywhere. Try finding big band sizes with small cup sizes–THAT’S a challenge. Not to mention shirts that fit the belly but then just gape open at the top because they expect you to be fat everywhere, I guess. Sigh.

  36. Ashley says:

    Shoes are a big problem area for me! I have duck feet. Mine are long and narrow, with high arches. My toe box is normal, though, so even if I find a true narrow shoe (rare), they usually pinch my toes even if the sides/heel fit great. I literally walk out of most flats and loafers. Even if the length is right, they’re just too loose overall because my feet don’t fill them out!

    For work shoes, I’ve had good luck with Ecco. They’re pricey and kinda plain, honestly, but they hold up beautifully. I’m wearing a new pair of cognac booties today, in fact!

    For casual, Sperry, Nike and New Balance fit me best.

    Good, comfortable shoes are worth the money!

  37. Amanda H. says:

    I can’t wear Tieks. Found them to be so, so uncomfortable. But a friend recommended Tory Burch Minnie Travel flats, and while also a major splurge, they are the most comfortable flats I’ve ever found. So totally with you–when you find what works, spend the money!

  38. S says:

    Where do I begin? I have plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and bursitis. Have to wear night splints or pain is too intense to walk. Have to wear extremely expensive and not very stylish SAS shoes for work and New Balance for casual. Forget heels. I used to be fashion diva but never wear super high heels so am really upset this happened.

    In addition, I am a 34 G–just that’s right, and sometimes 32 if I could just lose 10 lbs. I hate underwires and lace is too itchy, so I’m very limited in bras. I found a few that were great and then they were discontinued. So therefore, when I travel, I travel with both clean and dirty bras in space bags in my personal item. I cannot chance these getting lost or stolen because I just can’t go in any old store and purchase.

    Plus am allergic (both on contact and respiratory (migraines)) to fragrance so can’t use a whole lot of products, especially hair products. So have to travel with all of that as well.

    Sucks to be so high maintenance, but it’s really not my fault.

    • Ginger says:

      You might check out z-coil shoes. https://www.zcoil.com/ They were designed specifically for plantar fasciitis. My husband and I bought pairs when they were first starting out, and I think they lasted us about 10 years, and they would have lasted longer if we hadn’t melted the soles off walking over a volcano!. They looked a little weird (no enclosed heels back then) but they were super comfortable. (We didn’t have foot issues so I can’t speak to their effectiveness in that regard, but they were great when we had to be on our feet all day.)

  39. ellen says:

    I have crazy feet! (size 5 ½ wide or extra wide.) Needless to say, finding shoes that fit is a challenge for sure. I do have success with Lands’ End girls’ size 4 ballet flats as long as I don’t wear them all day. (They function as my “go to” shoes for fancy dress up.)
    The concept of wearing heels makes my skin pale-the only way I could do so is if I were hanging onto my husband, or daughter or sister’s arm-the whole time.)
    I’m a retired elementary school teacher and I noticed the cutest pair of short boots that one of my 2nd grade students, (age 8) was wearing. During indoor recess one day, I asked her if I could try them on. (I think she was a bit flattered.) They fit perfectly!! Her Mom told me from where they were purchased (Gap Kids) and I am now the proud owner of a pair of short boots that flatter both an 8 year old and a 63 year old.

    • I only wear kitten heels or chunky ones with lots of stability. I blamed my moderate bunions for wearing moderate (2-3″) heels through my 30s but my dr said it is likely to be hereditary as well. I also have worn lots of kid’s shoes when I didn’t need them to be dressy or professional.

  40. Liza says:

    I spend more on shoes and jeans. Shoes I’ll wear until they wear out. It’s worth spending more on shoes that are comfortable and well-made. They last longer and feel better. And you eventually save money because you’re not replacing them as often.

    I’m also willing to spend a little more on jeans. Usually if I can find jeans to fit my waist, they’re baggy everywhere else. My waist is as big as my hips so pants fall down if they are even slightly loose. So spending a little more to find jeans that fit better is a no-brainer.

  41. Libby H says:

    I find this post a bit hilarious, as I have long been of the opinion that every single body is hard to fit, no matter who you are. *Everyone* is buying hard-to-find items in some way, shape, or form.

    For me, it’s bras. Very few B&M stores carry my size (except for 12 year olds). I finally ended up shopping at Aerie (American Eagle) for my post-nursing 36AA bras (if only the double-letter pattern went the same way as in the larger sizes!). They’re cute, I get free shipping in both directions, and if I buy 5 I get one free, even if I return any of the said 5 bras. Win-win!

    • sarah says:

      I hear ya. I wear a 34AA. At least they do carry that at VS in a couple of bras. I can only imagine 36.

  42. Ronette says:

    I didn’t know you had large feet! 🙂 I wear a size 13W.

    I know you don’t need plus sized clothes, but have you tried Torrid for shoes? They have large sizes and they are all in wides! I have tons of pairs of Torrid shoes and have rarely found a dud even though I always order them online!

    I am also 5′ 11″ with normal length legs but a very long torso and long arms. I hear you on shirt lengths, too. 🙂

  43. Michelle says:

    I’m definitely willing to spend out on my shortcomings. I ruined my feet by wearing improperly sized heals when I was younger so I can’t wear heals and even struggle with flats. I’m a Tieks fan. It’s either that or Birkenstocks or Sketchers – blech. My other splurge is jeans. I’m short-ish (5’4″) and a little heavier than I should be, but For the first time in about 15 years, I found a pair of jeans that fit my thighs, but didn’t gap at the waist – and they’re not the dreaded mom jeans! I nearly started crying in the dressing room. I had completely given up ever finding anything affordable for a short curvy figure. Lastly, when I run across a shirt that fits my short waist and arms I buy one in every color.

  44. Kristen says:

    I bought some Lucky flats about a year ago. I wanted Tieks but couldn’t afford them and hear Lucky was a good alternative. I have tall feet and will admit that I was really underwhelmed with the Lucky flats for the first several months. Blisters every time I wore them. But then all of a sudden, they fit perfectly. Now I love them. It just took a while to break them in. Granted I’ve never tried on a pair of Tieks, so I don’t know what I’m missing!

  45. Marta says:

    From one size 11 to another: I feel for you. One of the greatest pleasures for me is going to Nordstrom Rack and seeing the biggest line up of size 11s all together in one place. Even if I am not buying anything, just looking at them gives me comfort and joy. I do have a lot of flats and I do use them until they just cannot take one more step. Today, I am starting to pack for a trip and realize the amount of suitcase real estate that these size 11s occupy. I will probably have to sacrifice the workout shoes. This does not happen to size 5s, but they are the only ones who understand our plight when looking for a pair of shoes.
    Back to your original question: yes I do overspend on this weakness, but if I find a comfortable shoe, I buy it in every color that I like, or two pairs of the same color if available. Good luck!

  46. Suzy says:

    I thought about my weak spots before I read yours, Anne, and was surprised to find it the same: wide feet! I wear 10WW, and am so tired of having sore toes. I have never heard of Tieks, so a quick google search—are they all ballet flats? Cute colors and love the split turquoise soles, but gulp, the cheapest almost $200? Off to ebay…. Anyway, of all the maaaanyy shoes in my closet, I have only two pairs that do not give me painful corns—both are flat Clarks in 10W. Best of all, I think they are wicked cute, and comfortable, and easy to put on and kick off. I wear them every day for 10 months of the year (talk about CPW!). One was a thrift store find for $10, and one was a gift from my sister! Can’t beat that!

    My other issue is undies. I am a white woman of northern European background, but even when I am my slimmest, I have a JLo round bottom! A smaller sized Kardashian bottom! There are almost NO underpants for sale in New England to fit girls with bodacious bottoms. If I get them big enough to fit around my buns, then the stomach is way too big and droops. And, no, I’m not interested in a thong! ugh. Where do Latino and black girls shop for undies??

  47. Mimi Gregor says:

    Since I am a minimalist, and have a very small wardrobe and less than a dozen shoes, I try to buy the best quality in everything I buy. This does not always require a large expenditure of cash; I buy most of my clothing at consignment shops. While these shops charge a bit more than thrift shops, they are far cheaper than retail. I can buy better quality than I can afford. Works for me! Shoes can be tricky, because I have smaller feet than the average, so a lot of the time I must go to an actual department store for those. (DSW just does not have the quality I’m looking for. Shoes must be supremely comfortable and well-made for me to buy them.)

    Lingerie is another thing I am willing to spend on. The right bra can change your life. (Most women wear the wrong size. I know I did until I was properly measured.) It must be comfortable, make the most of my shape, and also be pretty. French lingerie usually fits the bill. with proper underpinnings, my posture is better, and I look better in whatever I wear over it.

  48. Janna says:

    I’m the exact opposite which presents its own set of problems–I have super skinny feet so must have narrow shoes in most brands–can’t wear Tieks. Thanks goodness for Zappos–they at least still carry narrow shoes–most stores do not. And thanks to you, Anne, I now wear good denim–usually Madewell or NYDJ. I’m with you on the spend to your weakness–shoes.

  49. Carissa says:

    For me at 5’2 and a size 12 it’s dress pants. I have trouble finding them to fit me in the length with flats for work. So when I find pants that fit, I literally buy every pair the store has. The best fit I’ve recently was the Lee everyday pant from Kohls. I brought all the pairs they had in 12p in the store 3. Then ordered four more pair online. At least jeans aren’t a problem. I may be short but for some reason I ended up with longest arms. So I will look into the tall shirt tip you gave.

  50. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    Thank you for this thought provoking post!
    I have finally accepted that my feet have gone up a size since my last baby was born. Now that I’ve allowed myself to buy shoes in the correct size (instead of believing I just hated all shoes) life has been easier.
    Since having four children (fifth on the way),I’ve been many sizes/shapes in the last 9 years and I am making an effort to have clothing I like at whatever size I currently wear. Despite my annoyance at myself for feeling vain about it, feeling uncomfortable in my clothes makes me self conscious and not as much myself and life is too short for that kind of feeling on a regular basis! Thankfully, I have the time and finances to allow this notion these days.

  51. Tina says:

    I need to splurge on work pants. I’m steady wearing black Costco pants, and while they fit fine, I have 4 pair and wear them every.day. I think for me, cost per wear is huge and definitely something I need to think on!

  52. Dee says:

    I now have to spend to my weakness, also my feet. My issue is that my feet are my weak spot – literally, I have weak ankles, bad arches, and a condition that could have surgery but the orthopedic doc doesn’t recommend it. I have custom insoles for my sneakers but the don’t fit most other shoes (making their CPW go way up). So I’ve learned I have to buy good quality shoes with good arches and strong “guard rails” as one shoe seller described it. It’s hard to get all that and looks, too. I’ve been sticking with Vionic, with is an in-vest-ment! Ugh.

  53. Nicole says:

    I wear a 8.5 which is pretty average but I have really high arches and have a really hard time finding boots, especially the short booties that are so popular right now. Usually, I can’t even get my foot into them, even if they have a side zipper or I size up. If I am lucky enough to find a pair that fit and are well made, I usually buy them, regardless of cost. I wish I could find a brand that was consistently sized and comfortable.
    Now sandals are another story, so cute and easy to fit into, they are my weakness! Unfortunately they are not a year round option when you live where there are four distinct seasons.

  54. Diana says:

    I just looked at the cheaper shoes that didn’t work for you and that’s more than I generally spend on shoes besides one good pair of riding boots and my running shoes…maybe my feet have just gotten used to uncomfortable shoes and now I’m wondering if they could feel better in better shoes…hum….. I’ve had 2 foot surgeries and expensive shoes would still be cheaper than another surgery!

  55. Jerri says:

    Baathing suits that fit. I live near the beach and my upper half is not a run of the mill size. I spend good money on bathing suits that are supportive and make me feel comfortable. I figured a few years ago that the $120 bathing suit I wore for 8 years was one of the most cost effective purchases I ever made. I think it cost me a little over a dollar for each wear. It finally wore out, darn it!

  56. Liese says:

    I don’t know if they sell Clarks in the US, but I think it will solve your shoe problem. Very comfortable, 10% of the collection is trendy/modern and they have large and wide sizes – and not that expensive…

  57. Emily says:

    My Grandma taught me that you should spend out on a quality pair or multiple pairs of shoes and mattresses because by her logic if you aren’t in one, you’re in the other.
    It’s something I have always lived by.

  58. Karen Floyd says:

    I am not quite 5’1″, have short legs on top of that, and am pretty flat before and aft. Not all petite women aree the same height.
    Petites that fit women who are 5’3″ are too long for me. Since I’m not going to buy pants that I have to then hem, or pay to have hemmed for me, I now buy boys’ pants. I’ve always been a Levis girl, but it’s getting harder and harder to find decent ones these days. Alas, they no longer make the cords that I once wore in all but the hottest months, and even plain jeans are hard to find. They all seem to be worn, slashed, shredded, or made to look dirty when brand new. In fact all clothes seem to be designed for teenagers these days, and I have not been a teenager for many years. I shop for skirts at thrift stores where I can sometimes find full ones that are ankle-length on me though they were probably intended to be mid-calf length. Fortunately I like long skirts. I own only a few dresses because most of the ones that fit on top are way too long. I’m not a seamstress and I don’t see why women should be expected to alter their clothes when men are not. Finding bras that fit properly is a nightmare. The cup is too round, or the band is too tight, or the straps slide off my sloping shoulders….I wear my clothes to tatters because clothes shopping is so depressing and frustrating. I may need to shop for clothes, but going to a bookstore is so much more fun, and more rewarding.

  59. Kim says:

    I’ve never heard the phrase “spend to your weakness” and I fully concur! I’ve been frugal my whole life, always hunting bargains. And as I’ve gotten older and developed feet trouble and a less than perfect shape, I have felt so guilty for spending more to find comfortable shoes and pants/jeans that fit. But I won’t feel guilty anymore! I’ll just spend less on tops and allow myself to spend what is needed to look and feel good!

  60. Krysia says:

    I too spend my money on shoes. I have a joint problem with my big toe, and shoes with flexible bottoms are a big no! I love my Dansko clogs for cold weather and Dansko or Romika sandals for spring/summer. Worth it every time!

  61. Kristina says:

    I love this advice, especially as a non-enthusiast shopper. I splurge on shoes (narrow feet with high arches) and pants (small waist with wide hips). Also, not clothes but another thing I started prioritizing in my 30’s is facial moisturizer ( I love Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar with SPF).

  62. Rosemary Corning says:

    a few years ago i read an amazing book – ” Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief” by Katy Bowman and it literally changed my life and my feet !!! This book really helped me get a good understanding of the source of my foot/shoe issues and what i needed to do to have happier, healthier feet. Shopping for shoes is so much more fun when your feet are feeling healthy/strong and can handle any shoe you want to put them in, as long as they get some time out of shoes as well! Happy Days!!!!

  63. Angela says:

    I have wide feet, and I love Toms ballet flats, when I can find them. My feet are small enough that I can wear the kids’ size 6, but I don’t really care which ones I buy, they’re comfy and cute!

    Also, I’m VERY short, so I’ve begun buying pants at Torrid because they sell them in extra-short length! I’m a size 18, so most clothing brands assume I’m 8 feet tall instead of 5’2″, getting extra-short jeans makes my heart so happy!

  64. Thereasa says:

    Well, at least they offer wide shoes often now. I have narrow feet and they are impossible to find. Mostly, I order from Nordstrom so, yes, I splurge on shoes! I have always wanted to try Tieks but since they don’t come in narrow AND they don’t come in 1/2 sizes, I have been leery of ordering. Even worse, I am a 9 1/2 and even lines that do come in half sizes often skip 9 1/2 and go from 9 to 10. What is up with that?

  65. Celia says:

    I’m reading this really late, but I found out about the Hotter brand of shoe from Barking Dog shoes (which is a GREAT blog to follow for hard-to-fit and/or problem feet, by the way). Their normal fit is actually pretty wide I would guess. You can get shoes in EE width in cute shoes! I got some really amazing retro style heels there. I hope that helps!

  66. Courtney says:

    As a “plus-sized” woman on the short side of average in height clothes have never been easy for me. But I’ve found a few things that are now STAPLES in my closet because I can make the work for nearly any setting from semi-formal to super casual. Shoes though, shoes are my enemy. My size isn’t hard, but I suffer from chronic foot pain that requires a specific level of support and cushioning just not available in most brands, and the ones that do have it rarely have cute shoes. So I save and save and end up going far too long between replacing shoes because I’ve learned that if they arne’t perfect they aren’t worth it – even if perfect makes them have a price tag that makes my eyes bulge out of my head. It’s also why I gave up buying shoes online, I HAVE to try them on to see how the foot bed feels.

  67. caspad says:

    I also have wide feet. So unlike most women, I’d rather try on swimsuits instead of shoe shopping!

    Brands that consistently sell wide sizes and are comfortable are Naturalizer, Clarks, and Bass. Born used to have more wides styles but I haven’t seen many lately. Thank goodness for online ordering. So much easier than it was as a kid.

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