A Very Specific Shoe Secret

Shoe shopping is…THE BEST. I can’t think of a situation where new shoes doesn’t solve any emotional or life problem. Got laid off? New shoes for interviews! Bad breakup? New heels will regain your sense of sexy. Gained weight? New running shoes will motivate your ass all the way to the gym.

Unfortunately, new shoes aren’t always feasible in the budgetary sense. However, I found a LITTLE loophole…if your feet are a ladies’ shoe size 5 to 8. 

I wear a 5-and-a-half, and I’ve always stalked the kids’ section at Nordstrom, looking for the errant pair of me-sized Chucks. Typically they only keep an inventory up to size 3, at which point you get booted into the adult section, but occasionally a renegade slips into the mix. It’s worth waiting for these interlopers to become available because they are about $10 cheaper. When I needed a new pair of TOMS for Coachella this year, I realized I could probably try the same trick.

This seemingly simple trip to Nordstrom caused a shoevolution. Not only did I find children’s sized TOMS, but I turned into a crazy lady shoe shopper, scooping up mini versions of Sperry, Sam Edelman, Steve Madden, and Dolce Vita. “Get me a size 3 ½ in ALL of these!” I cried to the sales associate with the commission-hungry eyes.

The most important thing I learned on this sojourn to my own personal mecca is that kids’ shoes are not tiny-feet exclusive. Individuals with normal sized feet can also sing the budget friendly shoe gospel. The largest children’s shoe is a size 6, which is the equivalent of a ladies size 8. Mathematically speaking, subtract two from your adult shoe size to equal your children’s size number.

A – 2 = C

Perhaps you think that kids’ shoes might be too youthful, covered in Velcro and Dora the Explorer. In some cases they are, which is why you should stick to the familiar adult designers making their foray into kids wear. But honestly I find the playground-durable construction to be more supportive replicas of their adult counterparts, only $30 cheaper. This obviously means you could buy multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE) pairs.
The prime hunting grounds for designer minis: Department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s, as well as outlets like Nordstrom Rack and Kohl’s. And for the extra budget conscious, try Target (where I scored a pair of $10 floral Ked knock offs!). Athletic shoes, Uggs, sandals, and flats can all be found for much less if you can get over the shame of shopping alongside second graders and toddlers. I have no problem pushing a six year old out of the way for a pair of sparkly Sperry Topsiders. A deal is a deal, no matter how old you are.


Heather Sundell lives in Los Angeles.


13 Comments / Post A Comment

kellyography (#250)

I’ve been doing this forever. It is a great idea, but you definitely have to get lucky to find something “nice” (ie: not sneakers) that isn’t all pink sparkles and bows. Sears is also a great place to find kids’ sized Chucks, though the last time I went, they only had hi-tops and weird colors so I had to order from Zappos.

honey cowl (#1,510)

My size 10 feet don’t feel so happy about this secret!


la_di_da (#1,425)

@Lauren As a size 11, I’m right there with you. I swear until a few years ago, I could only find heels at trannie stores. Fantastic clientele and great sequined skyscraper heels, not so big on the basic black pump…

Megano! (#124)

@la_di_da You’ve gotta go online if you’re bigger than a 10. (I have been an 11, now a 12 since like, 8th grade)

aetataureate (#1,310)

Would never, ever buy shoes online unless I already knew they fit. Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, DSW, even Clarks stores have hella 11s. Nordstrom, Rack, and Clarks have 12s too.

Megano! (#124)

@aetataureate The return policies are always good. Most of the stores that carry these brands usually don’t have the bigger sizes in stock anyway! Also all of those stores don’t exist in Canada.

sheistolerable (#2,382)

So am I the only adult who actually WANTS sneakers with lights and red sequined Mary Janes with bows a la Dorothy Gale? And with my size 8s, soon they will all be mine!!!!

@sheistolerable YESSSSSS.

Cindy (#1,313)

This is a great tip, but make sure the shoes fit as well as if you had bought the adult version. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I bought boys sneakers in order to save money and ended up with an infected heel. The sizing was off just enough that the size I bought was a little too tight but one size up was too loose. I thought they would stretch so I wore them for several days, thinking that the blister on my ankle was just part of “breaking them in.” After my ankle swelled, I had to go to the urgent care center and make a follow-up visit. I could’ve gotten some really good shoes with the money I ended up spending. I’m still upset about it!

TARDIStime (#1,633)

I love this secret! I sometimes go into Pumpkin Patch (shut up, their stuff is just adult clothes but smaller!) and see if I can find anything for myself, but after I turned about 15 I was officially too big to fit into their larger sizes.
Being normal-sized is OK except for this one thing which makes me sadfaced. :(

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@TARDIStime I guess this secret is compensation for the disadvantages/other bullshit that smaller people can face? eg: not being able to reach the high shelf, being called “pocket-sized”, everyone assuming you’re like 14 years old when you’re in your mid-twenties, etc.
I like this, it balances things out. :-)

I do this all the time! My favorite pairs of ballet flats are from the kid’s section. They’re cute aaaand I can wear them all day long without my feet hurting.

Kate (#1,408)

I am SURE that the image accompanying this post is Logan’s work. It is, isn’t it?

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