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The Complete Guide to Making Your Feet Happy (How Shoes Should Fit?)
03 · 08 · 2018

The Complete Guide to Making Your Feet Happy (How Shoes Should Fit?)

Written by Adela Cardona

Photo by @twill.and.tweed

Your Feet Change Size

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. 

Just like other parts of your body...feet can change over time for various reasons

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.

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!

Shoe Size Is Crucial for Foot Care

Shoes are not only crucial to your style, but also for foot care. Wearing the wrong size shoe can actually bring you a lot of health problems. Not only will your feet suffer, so will your ankles, knees, and back.

Diabetic people should be especially careful as ill-fitting shoes can become a critical health problem.

Shoe Size Is Crucial for Shoe Care

Also, wearing the wrong size of shoes will end up damaging your footwear, which decreases the longevity of the shoe and requires consumers to make large purchases more often.

For example, leather shoes should adapt to your feet in the long run, but if the shoe doesn’t fit well, they create cracks and creases.

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

Let’s get started…

We focus mostly on dress shoes in this article, but most rules also apply to boots and sneakers.

This dress shoe fit guide goes through 2 different ways to measure your feet: The Brannock Device (in store), and with a measuring tape (at home). We then provide 13 tips for a proper shoe fit, as well as an illustrated guide of how a shoe should fit, and lastly, a few DIY tips on making an even more perfect fit.

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 measurements:

  • Length
  • Width
  • Depth (arch measuring)

Having these three measures will provide you with an accurate and current size of your shoe. The device is usually present in shoe stores and department stores, allowing you to get the measurements before purchasing a shoe.

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

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.)

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.

So here are 13 tips for a proper shoe fit that will help even more:

Thirteen Tips for a Proper Shoe Fit

1. Measure Your Feet - 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 wear, instead of just your rested feet in the mornings.

2. One Foot Is Larger - Did you know you have one foot that’s larger than the other. Measure both feet, and go for the size of your bigger foot.

3. Don’t Plan for Expansion - 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 smaller size to “accommodate” this growth.

- Your shoes won't magically grow!

4. Wear Your Socks - For measuring, make sure to bring the socks you would normally wear with those shoes. This can really make a difference in sizes.

5. Use a Shoe Horn - 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 - Stand up with both shoes on. There should be between 3/8" to 1/2" of room between your longest toe and the tip of your shoe.

7. Pass the Finger Test - How much room should you have in your shoes? 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.

- 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 is also normal and okay to not have slippage at all.

9. Excessive Slippage - If there is excessive slippage to the point that the foot slips out of the heel counter more than 3/4 of an inch. This means the size is too big.

10. Toe Box Sizing - More often than not, you won’t have an issue with the toe box being too big. But you may have an issue with it not being deep enough. Some people have trouble fitting their toes if they have hammertoe.

- An improper toe box size can develop into sores or calluses because the toe box is way too small for your feet and develops points of rubbing and discomfort.

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

12. Brands & Sizing - 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 that compares different brands.

13. Boot Slippage - 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 adapts 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

Heel Slippage DIY

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.

Heel Pain DIY

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

Large Shoe DIY

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 are not sure of your size, you can always have a professional measure your feet. Try to do this high-quality 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, because let's face it; happy feet will give you a happy life!


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ketty Nov 10, 2021

amazing information about shoes and feet care.i really impress by this information.really impress by your ideas..

Amena Ragnauth Mar 20, 2020

Most informative. Do you have a guide for women’s health and fitness also? That would be most important to mothers of young sons and daughters on their way to adulthood. Thank you.

🤣 Dec 23, 2019

Thank-you, informative.🤙🏻

Meechie Graham Oct 08, 2019

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.

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