Shoes Blues: Shopping for Small-Size Shoes

There's hardly an activity out there that's more satisfying or thrilling than shoe shopping...except when you have small feet and can't find shoes that fit. Locating fashionable petite-size shoes is no easy feet, er, feat. Just ask Eileen from Weehawken, New Jersey. She has a size-5 foot and frequently finds herself reduced to shopping the kids' section of many stores. Cee from Illinois shares in this frustration. She often has to special order small shoes, a process that can be costly and time consuming. But what's the alternative? Petite-feet ladies, fret no more. Many retailers and web sites understand your plight and are now starting to stock stylish shoes in smaller sizes.

Whether you're looking for dress shoes, sexy heels, athletic sneakers, sandals or business shoes, online shopping gives you a wide selection of small sizes in a variety of different styles. That's where ShoeBuy.com comes into play. This wonder web site carries a variety of specialty sizes and styles for women who have trouble finding shoes that fit. It's a virtual shopping mecca for women looking to buy small-size shoes, with hundreds of styles from size 2 to 5, and it carries top brands such as Naturalizer, New Balance, Sebago and Sofft, to name a few. To top it all off, you can sign up to receive notification when new small shoes are added in your size. With free shipping and free returns, Shoebuy.com is a, ahem, shoe-in when it comes to best web sites.

The selection at Zappos.com starts at a size 3 but soars to hundreds of unique styles starting at size 4. Shoppers can find everything from sexy Stuart Weitzman stilettos and fashionable platforms by Lumiani to strappy sandals by Vaneli. This is good news for petite women who have had trouble finding high heels in the past. As Eileen from Weehawken puts it, "Don't shoe manufacturers realize that petite women want heels to look taller?" Zappos.com hears you, Eileen.

Formerly Shoedini.com, 6pm.com currently offers sizes 4 through 13 for women. "The smaller sizes are definitely a growing market for us, and we feel it is very important to offer a wide assortment in both fashion and comfort footwear," says spokesperson Alexandra Elliott. "We find that many of our customers come to our site specifically for the hard-to-find sizes, and our search-by-size feature is ideal for them." 6pm.com currently offers such brands as Franco Sarto, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Diesel, Ugg Australia and Dr. Scholl's. The site has just added the Jessica Simpson shoe line in sizes 5 through 11 for fall.

While online shopping is easy and fuss free, being able to try on shoes before purchasing them does have its advantages. Designers tend to size differently, and going to a retailer eliminates the problem of having to ship ill-fitting shoes back to a warehouse. Nordstrom is one example of a retailer that is committed to carrying a large variety of small sizes. Its selection consists of top brands such as Michael Kors, Anne Klein, Linea Paolo and Donald J Pliner. Nordstrom has excellent customer service, so if you can't find a certain pair of shoes in your size, the company will send a locator to find the shoes at a different location and have them sent to you. Nordstrom also has a mailing list to notify you when a specific petite-size shoe comes into its stores.

Trying to find more online retailers for small sizes? Look no further. We've short-listed our other favorites:

  • Cinderella of Boston

    Cinderella of Boston is a web site dedicated solely (no pun intended) to women's petite footwear. Sizes range from 2 to 5 — narrow, medium or wide.

  • Steve Madden

    Steve Madden's in-stock selection starts with a size 5, but the company has recently implemented an extended-sizes service where you create your own shoe (you can pick the color and material of the midsole, upper, heel and liner). These nonreturnable creations start at a size 4.

  • Shoes.com

    Shoes.com is an online retailer that carries such high-end designers as Marc Jacobs and Emilio Pucci as well as more moderately priced labels like Mudd and Birkenstock. Note that there's a size 3 in the search menu but the selection consists only of two to three styles; the selection becomes fabulous starting with a size 4 (narrow and medium).

  • Jildor Shoes

    The Jildor Shoes site has an amazing selection of small sizes that starts with a size 4. It even has an exclusive line designed by Vaneli that is offered in petites.

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