5 Tips for Buying Shoes

Too big? Too small? Too wide? Too narrow? Shoe shopping certainly raises some questions. Here's how to prevent making a bad purchase.

Shoe shopping: For some it’s a hobby, for others, a necessary evil that they’d rather avoid. Regardless of how seasoned a shoe shopper you are, there are a few points you should pay attention to in order to find the perfect fit every time.

Find the Proper Size

You may have noticed when trying on different shoes that your typical size doesn’t always fit. Shoe sizes vary widely from brand to brand. Also, most people have one foot that is slightly larger than the other – sometimes a person’s feet are a whole size apart. Thus, it’s important to try both shoes on before you buy. If there is a slight difference in fit due to size or width, the PERFECT semi-insole may help balance things out.

The "Rule of Thumb" test has proven itself to be good way to find a person’s ideal fit. There should be at least a thumb’s width between the end of your toe and the front of the shoe. If there’s less space than that, your toes will likely strike against the toe cap.

Things are slightly different when it comes to shoes with cut out insteps. Ballerina flats, pumps or men’s slippers fit into this category. Less than a thumb’s width is usually sufficient in this case, and sometimes necessary for a snug fit and secure grip. That’s why you can often go down a size in shoes with a substantial heel.

If you’re buying winter boots, make sure you consider whether you’d like to wear them with thick socks or insoles. Bring a pair of winter socks with you to the shoe store or ask if you can test out your insoles.

It’s important to look at shoe length both whilst sitting and standing. Stand up and take a few steps wearing the shoes. That way, all of your body weight will be on your feet and you’ll get a realistic impression of how much your foot slides forward in the shoe.

If your toes hit the toe cap, the shoes are clearly too short. If you don’t feel like you have a solid foothold in the shoe, they are likely too large or too wide across the instep. If this is the case, you’ll feel your foot slide forward in the shoe and your heel slip out the back.

Pay Attention to Width

A good fit isn’t only dependent on shoe length, however. Width also plays a large role in whether a shoe sits comfortably on your foot. The base of your foot shouldn’t be confused with width. Foot width takes both the base width and the height of your arch into account.

The interplay between width and length often presents challenges for those with narrow or wide feet. It often leads to people buying the incorrect shoe size. This can damage the shoe, but even worse, it can seriously injure your feet.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

Whilst leather is indeed flexible, it has its limits. If you have very wide feet and wear narrow shoes, you’ll have to deal with more than just sore feet. The leather and seams are put under more strain and are more likely to split at the sides. If you’re wearing shoes with cutouts, the pressure can even damage your skin.

Some people tend to buy shoes that are too large since they feel wider and more comfortable, but that often means less grip, which is also bad for your feet.

Those with narrow feet tend to buy shoes that are too small. Of course, this can also hurt your feet because your toes are pressed for space. Leather can stretch side to side, but not front to back. Note: It doesn’t necessarily mean that the shoe is too small if your foot isn’t completely unfurled. Socks or stockings that are too tight could also be the culprit!

If you select the proper size, but they are too wide, you’re left with very little stability in your shoe. The front of your foot grips at the widest part of the shoe. If a shoe is too wide, deep creases can form, which don’t only harm the leather and seams, but also make the shoes look more worn. If your shoes fit well, but still have a few points that rub, try stretching the leather with STRETCH foam. Of course, this isn’t an option if the shoe is much too narrow.

If the shoe width is off, it’s unlikely that a different size will solve the problem, especially if it doesn’t stand up to the thumb test. A shoe that is much too narrow or wide, but has the perfect length is simply not the right shoe for your foot.

The Best Time to Buy Shoes

Have you ever wondered why your new shoes fit perfectly in the shop yesterday evening, but are far too wide today? This was probably due to the fact that your foot volume fluctuates during the day. The more you stand and walk, the more your feet tend to swell.

Thus, it’s better if you don’t go shoe shopping at the end of a long day out or on a day when your legs or body were put to the test, i.e., after intense sports activity or a long trip. If you do, the pair you buy will likely be too wide on a normal day. It’s much better to go shoe shopping in the middle of the day.

However, if you work in an environment that requires a lot of standing and walking, the evening is actually the perfect time for you to shop. It’s also a good time to try on summer sandals so you won’t have to later suffer from overly-snug straps in warmer weather.

Break Them in - Here’s How

Some new pairs of shoes need a little time before they’re really comfortable. The good news is, leather shoes stretch from heat and moisture. Thus, shoes that are a bit too narrow will widen out perfectly after a few wears.

Wear your new shoes every day at home – if possible with thick socks – and be sure to use shoe trees when you take them off. Also, try using STRETCH foam on the tight spots before each wear.

Sometimes the soles of high-quality leather shoes are somewhat stiff to begin with. Breaking the shoe in stretches the leather sole and makes it much more flexible.

If you’ve paid close attention to finding the proper size and width when buying your shoes, they’ll be ready to take out in no time and you can enjoy the simple pleasure of wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes.