Finding a shoe that fits makes for a great fairytale, but in real life is beyond frustrating when you cannot. Never in a million years would I have imagined that shoes would be a challenge in Seoul. Everywhere you look people are wearing the latest fashions on their feet, but when it comes time for me to find a pair that fits comfortably and is affordable, I have been at a loss on several occasions. The department stores and designer brands are overpriced and the selection beyond US size 8 is limited.
Shopping for shoes has traditionally been nothing but a treat. The most challenging part has simply been keeping myself in check and not buying every pair that seem to scream my name at Nordstrom, Macy’s or DSW. I am not sure if it’s strictly being in Asia or if the new trends, my height/shoe size, and ever increasing age are also playing a role. Regardless, one thing is clear; as a thirty-something at 5’7”, the last thing I want to do is squeeze my toes into 5 inch heels, no matter how cute the shoes are and how long they make my legs appear.
Oriental Princess must have heard my desperate cries, because inside the small Itaewon boutique you can find a wide selection of colors and styles completely customizable. Ranging anywhere from 109,000 KRW to 159,000 KRW, the shoes come in all sizes and take just a few short days to find their way to your feet. While it is not exactly cheap, the quality is great and the choice of heel, height, sole, material, color and style are all left up to you, making the experience (in my opinion) worth a few extra bucks. If you are interested, they are open daily and easy to find. Take Line 6 to Itaewon, walk a few blocks out of Exit 3 and you will find their shop on your right.
Finally, if custom shoes are not in your budget or of any interest, do not despair. It is far from impossible to find shoes fit for a princess in Seoul; it just may take some extra effort. You can certainly find pairs of all shapes and styles for every budget anywhere from department stores to train stations and even on street corners. One way to ensure you will find the right fit is to educate yourself on sizes so you know where to start. Remember, knowledge is power, and nothing is sexier than power in cute shoes.
For more of Mary’s insights into life in Korea, check out her blog Seoul Companion.