If the Shoe Fits: A Look Inside the Perilous Life of a Petite Fashionista

Shoe shopping isn't all its cracked up to be for our small-footed friends.
Shoe shopping isn’t all its cracked up to be for our small-footed friends.

Trust. Isn’t that what all good relationships are built upon? The relationship a woman has with her shoes is unique. No matter how much her weight may fluctuate, her shoe size will remain the same. Shoes give women everywhere the confidence to walk out the door looking and feeling great no matter what size their waistline is.

But what if you’re unable to find shoes in your size?

While my friends fervently explore the aisles of DSW, I wander forlorn. For them this is exciting, but for me this is a museum of all the shoes I wish I could wear. Those red leather cork block heels with the ankle strap? None for me. Oh, did I forget to mention that they are on sale for $34.99? My insides faint with longing.

All smiles, shopping bags in hand, my friends leave with their new wedges and booties for spring. Me? All I got was this headband. It was the only thing that fit.

I wear what retailers describe as a “special shoe size.” In my case this is a size 4. I desperately want the stylish options available to women sizes 6-10. Oh, how my choices would be endless if this dream were to come true! I would own every pair of eccentric, colorful, stylish heels available! Men would fear me and women would love me! I would rule the world with my newfound glory (and height!). Instead, I peruse the fluorescently lit aisles of Target looking for anything that doesn’t have Dora the Explorer on the side.

Dora and I are really going to stand out at when we do our grocery shopping at the Farmer’s Market.
Dora and I are really going to stand out at when we do our grocery shopping at the Farmer’s Market.

Have you ever shopped for heels in a size 4? Geriatric is the best word.

As a petite woman I look much younger than I am. While this sounds ideal, it proves difficult with footwear. I want to look like a modern, sophisticated woman. This is usually the case until you look at my feet. Pink glittery flip flops with a bow? You got it! Oh, your nine-year-old niece has these too? Great! (Unlike her, they were my only option!).

It’s not all bad on the other side of the fence, but I must pay full price if I want stylish shoes.

On the high end I can buy fashionable shoes from London for $300, and on the low end I can purchase a pair of flats for $85 at Nordstrom. That overflowing shoe graveyard you have at the back of your closet? I don’t have that.

As a college student on a limited budget I may purchase four pairs of shoes a year. While my friends are buying sky high pumps from Forever 21 to go dancing in, I am wearing my black suede kitten heels for the fiftieth time. They’re literally the only thing that matches my outfit.

DSW: Where dreams go to die for women under a size 5.
DSW: Where dreams go to die for women under a size 5.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be petite. Men want to take care of you, women envy you, but your wallet will not thank you. The lack of affordable and stylish options is draining. I can only search “petite women’s footwear” so many times before I am led to suspicious Korean fashion sites. You want to pay fifty dollars and wait two months for shoes to arrive in a crushed box with Asian writing all over the side, just to find that the shoes you ordered don’t fit and that they are already falling apart? Yeah, me either.

 So I say to you, fashion retailers, there is a need to be met. Who’s going to give us petite women what we want?

Sarah Johnson, '16

Good things come in small packages, like me, or jewelry from Tiffany's.