Make Your Feet Happy: How should shoes fit?

Photo by @twill.and.tweed

Sure, there are times where you won’t remember someone’s name or your friend’s birthday.

But you can remember in the blink of an eye your shoe size...Right? Well, this is something you might want to double check the next time you go to buy dress shoes.

Actually, just like other parts of your body, feet can change over time for various reasons. So, surprise, surprise, you might not be the same size you were a year before.

Studies are stating that about 1/3 of men are wearing the wrong size of shoes!

Shoes are not only crucial for your looks, but also for your foot care. Wearing the wrong size of shoes can actually bring you a lot of health problems.

Not only will your feet suffer, so will your ankles, knees, and back.

Especially for diabetic people, having ill-fitted shoes can be a critical health problem.

Also, wearing the wrong size of shoes will end up damaging your footwear. For example, leather shoes should adapt to your feet in the long run.

But if they don’t fit well, they will have cracks and creases, and you’ll also be hurting yourself.

Don’t fall into the idea fashion needs to be uncomfortable. We will teach you how to be more conscious and figure out how shoes should fit.

We will focus here on dress shoes, but most rules also apply to boots and sneakers.

Measuring Your Feet: The Brannock Device®

how shoes should fit the brannock device

The Brannock Device. Used with the written permission of The Brannock Device Co. Inc.

The Brannock Device is the best way to measure your feet. It gives you three important measures: Length, width, and depth (arch measuring).

Having these three measures will provide you with an accurate size of your shoe. The device is usually present in shoe stores and department stores.

You can always go to these places and get your measures before buying a shoe.

The only setback is the Brannock Device won’t measure your instep.

Watch this tutorial on how to use the Brannock Device, and find out how your shoes should fit.

Measuring Your Feet at Home

If you don’t have access to the Brannock Device, you can also measure your feet at home.

It merely takes a simple sheet of paper, a pen and a measurement device (ruler or a measuring tape.)

Take a look at this video, where you will find a step-by-step guide to measuring your feet.

But there’s a setback with this method: You won’t be able to measure your arch. It is definitely more accurate to use the Brannock Device.

Now, let’s read some extra advice which will help you be more accurate about your shoe size.

Thirteen Tips for a Proper Shoe Fit

1. Have your feet measured before buying your shoes. It is better to measure them in the evening when your feet are fully expanded.

This will give you the proper comfort for all day long, instead of just your rested feet in the mornings. 

2. Did you know you have one foot that’s larger than the other? Measure your feet, and go for the size of your bigger foot.

3. Don't expect your shoes to expand over time. Although some types of shoes might expand (leather shoes, for example), it is not right to choose a size below.

Your shoes won't magically grow!

4. For measuring, make sure to bring the socks you would usually wear with your shoes. This can really make a difference in sizes.

5. Once your feet are measured, make sure to put your dress shoes on with a shoe horn. This way, you won't damage the back of the shoe.

6. Stand up with your shoes on. There should be between 3/8" to 1/2" of room between your longest toe and the tip of your shoe.

7. There’s always a major test your shoes should pass: Slide your index finger between your heel and the heel of your shoes.

Your finger should fit snugly, but not too tight or loose. If it is tight, chances are you need a bigger size. If it is too loose, go one size down.

8. Walk in both shoes! For leather sole shoes we recommend walking on a carpet. If you walk on other surfaces, the soles and heels will start to wear out.

This is not a good idea if you need to return the shoes. Be careful to not scratch the soles or flex them excessively in the vamp area.

9. Walk for a while and make sure they don’t rub or chafe anywhere. Some heel slippage is normal, up to half an inch.

This happens because the outsole is not yet broken in. It's also normal to not have slippage at all.

There's excessive slippage when the foot slips out of the heel counter more than 3/4 of an inch. This means the size is too big.

10. Make sure your toe box is deep enough. Some people have trouble fitting their toes if they have hammertoe.

This can develop into sores or calluses because the toe box is way too small for your feet.

11. The widest part of your foot (ball area and metatarsal bones) should roughly match the widest part of the shoe.

12. Keep in mind not all brands have the same sizing, and some will have standard width sizes. Always make sure to check a size chart which compares different brands.

13. With boots, it shouldn't be too easy to slip your foot in the first time. Some resistance is normal.

If they're leather boots, this will change as the leather breaks-in and adapt to your feet.

An Illustrated Guide For Shoe Fitting

Check the following illustrations where you can see examples of a normal fit, excessive slippage and normal slippage: 

Normal Fit

how shoes should fit normal fit

Excessive Slippage

how shoes should fit excessive slippage

Normal Slippage 

How shoes should fit normal slippage

Some DIY Adjustments for Shoe Fitting

There are still some alterations you can try, in case your shoes don’t fit properly.

For instance, if your shoes are a bit loose-fitting and there’s a lot of heel slippage, you can use a tongue pad. This will also help with any discomfort produced by the shoe tongue.

A heel pad or heel insert can help if you suffer from heel pain. They will absorb shock and will provide better support in heels. They can also prevent any chafing.

Finally, you can always use an insert to put in the footbed of your shoe. This might help with sizing if the shoe is too big for you, and will also make the shoe more comfortable.


As you can see, having the right size of shoes can do marvels for your style and your health.

If you’re not sure of your size, you can always have a professional measure your feet. Try to do this measuring once or twice per year.

Also, think about the quality and construction of your shoe. This can also be essential when choosing the right shoe fit. In the end, happy feet will give you a happy life!


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  • Thank-you, informative.🤙🏻

  • Is a small back crease normal on the back of the shoe even with use of a shoe horn. I’ve seen that on my shoes here.

    Meechie Graham ,

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