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Shoe Size Guide: Understanding the Fit of a Shoe

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

How should your shoes fit? Before purchasing footwear, take a look at this essential shoe size guide – trust us, your feet will thank you for it.

When it comes to men’s shoes, getting the right size and fit isn’t easy. In fact, research revealed that around 80% of men wear the wrong size.

However, finding the right footwear for you isn’t just about knowing how to measure shoe size, it’s also a matter of understanding the fit of a shoe as well.

In this shoe size guide, we share the factors you should be considering or asking about before handing over your hard-earned cash.

High instep and low instep

If you have a high instep, i.e. a high arch, you’ll need more room around the lacing area to avoid rubbing. This doesn’t mean you need to buy a bigger size. You could find a perfect fit in every other department, but your high instep could cause pressure on the facing of the shoe.

Ideally, there should be a slight gap between the laces. So, when you’re breaking in the shoes, the laces will come together to create the perfect enclosure.

If the gap between your foot and the laces is around 1.20cm, then they’re either too tight or your instep doesn’t suit that particular style of footwear.


When it comes to flat feet, if you choose footwear that doesn’t provide enough arch support, your feet will apply pressure on the inside quarter of the shoe. As a result, this causes the mouth of the shoe to gape at both ends. In other words, the sides supporting the ankles start to go flimsy. This can also happen if you have wide feet.

The ideal solution is a pair of shoes that offer firmer arch support and are built to suit wide feet. They must have depth as the higher lacing will lock in your ankles and stop the gaping. You should avoid loafers and other low-cut shoes.

Toe spacing

We all know the classic squeeze the front of the shoe test. Nevertheless, a lot of gentlemen don’t actually know what sort of room they should leave between their toe and the front of the shoe.

Your toes need room to move, otherwise, you could develop corns, calluses, and other foot health problems.

There should be about half an inch between the end of your longest toe and the end of the front of the shoe. This is usually the size of the tip of your index finger on smaller hands and pinkie finger on larger hands.

Remember to wear appropriate socks, as this will give you a better idea of how the shoes fit in everyday life.

Heel slip

Heel slip is when your heel slips out of your footwear and you need to make a conscious effort on keeping it in the footwear. When you walk, you shouldn’t have to worry about your feet coming out of your footwear. It should be natural and easy.

There are several reasons why heel slip can occur. For instance, your shoes might be too big, or you might not be lacing up your footwear properly.

Another reason is a rigid heel counter that needs breaking in. Most shoes are made with a composite of plastic and textile, acting as leather and forming to your heel after you’ve broken them in. The issue is that this composite isn’t as forgiving as real leather and can be too stiff.

The best (and obvious) solution is to opt for real, quality handcrafted leather shoes. They’ll adapt more quickly to your feet and will be robust enough to withstand heavy usage. Shoes like our Oxfords also have heel stiffeners, giving the footwear more structure and your foot the support it needs time and time again.

You should look to leave around 1/8 inches at the back of the shoe to ensure it’s not too tight or loose around the heel.

For more shoe size guide tips, get in touch with us today.

Good luck!

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