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Aug 13, 2020 / Slip Resistant Footwear

How Should Shoes Fit? 3 Tips for Foot Health

As work shoe and boot experts, we often get asked, “How should shoes fit?” You might think that you know how a shoe should fit, but we’ve got news for you: There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to properly fitting a work boot or work shoe.

That’s why we’ve put together a few tips that we’ve learned over the years to help you find the right fit!

Tip #1: Shoes Should Hug Your Feet

By hug, we mean that your shoes should be comfortably snug around both the ball of your foot and the instep or arch of your foot—not too tight, not too loose. The ball of your foot is the widest part of your foot, and thus, the widest part of a shoe. So, if a boot or shoe comfortably hugs the ball of your foot and is also comfortably snug across the top of your foot, that means it fits properly.

When shoes are snug in these areas, your feet are more likely to stay put throughout the day, keeping your feet properly positioned. This reduces fatigue, promotes foot health, and ensures even wear of the sole and linings over time, offering both comfort and value.

Tip #2: Check for Room in the Toes
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No matter what style shoe or boot you’re wearing, your toes should be free to move around a little. Footwear that fits properly will keep your toes loose and unconfined.
The trick? When trying on a pair of shoes, close your eyes and make sure you can’t feel the tip of the shoe with your toes.

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Tip #3: Give Your Shoes a Break

It’s inevitable—feet sweat in shoes. When your foot perspires, the leather and lining of your shoes retain that moisture. Wet leather stretches out of shape more easily: not only does it rub against the shoe lining and cause it to wear down quickly, but it also leads to a misshapen shoe.

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An easy fix is to rotate your men's work boots or shoes so that you don’t wear the same pair two days in a row. Say you wear the same shoes everyday, they might last about 9 months. But, if you rotated between two pairs of shoes every other day, you might be able to wear those pairs for 2 years—increasing the life of your shoes significantly, and cutting down on replacement costs!

This is one of the reasons that military recruits are issued two pairs of boots to rotate daily—plus, it cuts down on funky odors.

How Should Shoes Fit? Test Your Knowledge
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Let’s say you’re in the market for some slip-on boots. You try on a new pair of slip-on boots and notice that the heel tends to slip out a bit when you walk, but it’s snug across the ball and top of your foot and you have plenty of room in your toes. Should you try on a smaller size to stop the heel from slipping or go with this size since it follows tips one and two on our list?

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The answer is: don’t downsize! Turns out, most people experience a little heel slipping when they first wear slip-on boots. Once the boots break in and mold to your feet, the heel slippage will stop. If you were to downsize, it would likely just make your toes feel cramped and jam your heel into the back of the boot more, causing blistering and discomfort.

At Boot World, we know that a properly fit work boot or work shoe doesn’t just maximize support and comfort, but also extends the life of your shoes and the value of your purchase. So, when you’re wondering how shoes should fit, keep these three tips in mind for happier, healthier feet (and wallets)!

For more expert fit tips and complimentary footwear consultations, come in and see us at any of our stores or contact us online at [email protected].

Reviewed By:
Ed Stone

Ed Stone brings over 45 years of footwear knowledge and passion to his role as President of Boot World, a family-owned company and an industry leader in safety and occupational footwear. A second generation "shoe dog” Ed's footwear knowledge is unparalleled, serving as an informal advisor for some of the worlds largest footwear brands including Wolverine, Timberland PRO, and Reebok Works.

A lifelong Southern California resident, and ardent conservationist, Ed enjoys hiking and open water swimming.