I come from a family of people with smaller than normal feet. My maternal grandfather was six feet tall (there’s probably a pun there, but it’s almost unavoidable) and wore a size 6 shoe. My dad also had small feet, and until I entered the army at the age of 22, I wore a size 6 or 6 1/2, depending on the shape of the shoe.
This has been a mixed blessing. Men’s shoe sizes often start at 8 or 8 1/2, a full size larger than I can wear, but I have occasionally made some great buys on footwear.
Back in the early 60’s, I had a college friend who worked at a shoe store. When Acme Dingo boots first hit the market, he was able to find me a pair in the kid’s section of the store for less than half the price of men’s boots.
Just a year later, a college gym class specified a particular brand and style of white tennis shoes and I was only able to get them by going to the girls gym and purchasing women’s shoes from the coach. I remember that while I was waiting, a voluptuous young woman from the gymnastics team was jumping on the trampoline. Various portions of her anatomy were bouncing in ways I had never seen before and made it very difficult to concentrate on the transaction. I haven’t worn women’s shoes since, but I have recently started wearing women’s crew socks – they fit my feet much better.
Back when she was a young housewife/grad student with an income that barely qualified as middle class, my sister had a closet full of shoes that would have made Imelda Marcos green with envy. She wore a size 3 or 3 1/2, and had learned that the high-end stores in the Galleria put tiny shoes in their window displays. She was able to pick up window samples of designer shoes at pennies on the dollar.
About the women’s socks – I recently bought my wife two packages of crew socks, supposedly the same size but from two different manufacturers. One brand fit, but the others were too big. Rather than throw them away, I decided to try them on. They’re the best fitting socks I’ve ever owned.