How To Tell If Shoes Fit

Wearing badly fitting footwear can present a slew of issues such as ingrown toenails, bunions, plantar fasciitis and circulatory problems. For most people, wearing dress shoes can be a toss up between pinched toes and aching feet.

Most shoe salespeople will try to convince you that the shoe will stretch - this is somewhat true for the width of the shoe - but there is no way a shoe can stretch in length. Don’t plan on your shoes stretching over time, that’s like buying clothes that are too small and expecting to lose weight in time to wear them.

So, what exactly is a good fit?

Toes should have enough wiggle room in closed shoes. For high heeled pumps, the toes should be lying flat next to each other and not squashed uncomfortably together.

Dress shoes for men should have at least a half an inch between the longest toe and the leather of the shoe. A simple finger test can tell you if you need to go up or down a size.

shoe fit test

For both men’s and women’s shoes, stick a finger in between the heel of your foot and the heel of your shoe, if your finger slides in with a bit of space to spare, you should probably go down a half size. If it doesn’t fit that well, go up a half a size to a full size.

The ball of your foot should fit comfortably in the widest part of the shoe, most women’s shoes are not designed to be very wide at this point, so pay close attention to how this area feels when you’re test-walking your shoes in store.

(See our men's fit guide and women's fit guide)

How to measure your feet

It’s obviously best to have your feet professionally measured, but when shopping online, you’ll most often be presented with a confusing conversion chart.

Here’s the simplest method of measuring your feet at home.

  1. Take a sheet of paper and place it on a firm surface- not plush carpeting or pebbly surfaces.
  2. Remove your shoes and take a comfortably neutral step onto the piece of paper.H
  3. Hold the pencil as perpendicular as possible to your foot and outline the shape as close to your foot as you can.
  4. Measure the distance between the center of the heel curve to the tip of the longest toe. This is the length.
  5. Measure the width which visually will be the broadest part of your foot underneath the toes.
Fitmyfoot Feet Measurements

Using these measurements, you’ll be able to determine what your US, UK or European sizing will be in the chart below:

foot length chart

How to shop for shoes that fit

  1. Always shop in the mid to late afternoon when your feet will have already expanded.
  2. If you’re buying closed shoes, take a pair of socks with, the kind of thickness you’ll be wearing with the new shoe anyway. The shoe should fit snugly and comfortably with the sock.
  3. Always walk around the fitting area wearing the shoe, flex your feet often. If the shoe is too hard and rigid, chances are it will not soften as much as you need it to in order to enjoy wearing it. I always get the strangest looks when fitting shoes because I spend an inordinate amount of time wearing them in the fitting area, but, if you’re going to be spending an unearthly amount of money on them, they need to be comfortable in addition to looking good.
  4. Fit both shoes one but always fit your bigger foot first- yes, all human beings have irregularities with their left and right feet, even you. Identify which of your feet is bigger by self-measuring.
  5. If you’re shopping an unknown brand online, always order 2 sizes to try on. Most companies offer a free return service on purchases.
  6. If you’re drawn to a pair that’s slightly big for you, try fitting them with insoles in store.
  7. When buying sports shoes, always consider the activities you’re buying them for and never buy anything you have to virtually choke the lacing to feel comfortable in. Your feet need to splay out when running around so you want to be able to tie the laces somewhat loosely
  8. If you’re buying sports shoes, stand on the balls of your feet in a semi tip-toe stance and fit your index finger between the heel and the back of your foot- if your finger fits too snugly, go up half a size.
  9. Don’t be afraid of having a test-sprint in store, sports shoes that feel comfy whilst you’re being static might not feel that way when you need it to perform.

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