shoewawa%20column.jpgShoewawa editor Amber McNaught's new weekly column on - what else? Shoes!

Something strange has been happening to my feet lately. (It's OK, it's nothing disgusting - you can continue with your dinner, if you're eating it). For most of my life, you see, I've been a UK size 4 in shoes. Actually, that's not quite true: when I was in high school I used to wear a 5. I'm pretty sure my feet haven't shrunk, so I'm just going to blame that on the shoes themselves.

So, I've always been a size 4, and I'm a pretty much standard size four. I can walk into a shoe store and buy shoes without trying them on. I can order over the Internet with no qualms at all - if they're a size 4, they'll fit. Until recently. Because recently, I started wearing flats. And in flats? I'm no longer a size 4. In fact, I don't know what size I am, but I'm sure it's one that hasn't been invented yet. How did this happen, I wonder? And how on earth am I meant to find shoes that fit?

Even without the size issue, wearing flat shoes isn't something that comes naturally to me. For as far back as I can remember, I've been a high heels girl. It's partly because I'm short, and like the extra height that heels give me, but there's more too it than that. I walk differently in flats: they're far less elegant, and make me feel not just shorter, but somehow squatter, too. So it's no wonder that I've lived most of my life in heels.

Until recently I would no more have worn flats than I'd have adopted the "one pair of shoes for every occasion" philosophy that men have. I was a heels lover all the way. Then I bought a dog. A dog who needed to be walked every day, even when it's rainy and muddy. Now, it's not so much that I can't walk the dog in high heels: it's just that I don't want to. I can see no point in ruining all of my lovely stilettos by tramping through mud in them, and I don't want to wear down the heels any faster than I absolutely need to, so it was with some reluctance that I bought me some ballet flats. To my surprise, I loved them. Once I'd gotten past the issue of all of my jeans and trousers being way too long, because they were all cut to wear with heels, I decided I quite liked my new, cute flats. The problem with this? They didn't like me. Or rather: they didn't like mt feet.

Size four ballet flats, you see, are too tight. Oh, they seem like they're going to fit when I try them on in the shop, but once I get them home they'll be pinching like mad after twenty minutes. It doesn't matter which brand I buy: the same thing will happen. Size five? Too big. A pair of size fives will make me look like Ronald McDonald, and I'll step out of them when I try and walk. Buying insoles doesn't seem to help, so I'm left with a difficult decision: buy size fours and hope that they stretch (never try this, by the way) or buy size fives and feel like I'm wearing boats on my feet.

Well, about four pairs of flat shoes later (all from different stores, I hasten to add) I'm giving up on the "hoping they will stretch" thing. I'm not too keen on the Ronald McDonald feet either, so I'm left with one last option: hunt down some stores that stock half sizes. This is actually harder than you'd think. Here in the UK, most of the shoe stores I tend to frequent don't do half sizes. The ones in the States that do? Don't ship to the UK. What's a girl who's just discovered a love of ballet flats to do?

I will continue with my search. Until then, I'll be the one with the boat-sized shoes that fall-off every couple of steps...

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Amber McNaught is the editor of Shoewawa and a certified shoeaholic. If you see any cute ballet flats in a size 4.5, she'd love to hear about them...