When it comes to dress shoes, fit is absurdly important.
Unlike sneakers, where there is some give and take, leather dress shoes are designed to fit close to your foot and eventually mould to its shape, feeling essentially like an extension of your appendage.
If a shoe doesn’t fit correctly, that can’t happen. The shoe will crease and wear in the wrong areas, eventually affecting the longevity of the shoe, Allen Edmonds master fitter Ryan Stowe told Business Insider.
Many guys — as many as 75-80% of customers who walk into Stowe’s store — don’t actually know their true shoe size.
Here are some ways you can tell your shoes don’t actually fit you, according to Stowe:
- Creasing in the wrong places, especially in front of the toe area. When you wear a shoe that doesn’t fit correctly, your foot will bend where it was not designed to, creating unsightly cracks.
- You find yourself tripping over your shoe when you walk. Again, your shoe should feel like an extension of your foot, so you shouldn’t be tripping over your own feet.
- The widest part of your foot (known as the ball, or the area between your arch and your toes) is not aligned with the widest part of your shoe. This generally indicates your shoes don’t fit in the length, and you should adjust both length and width accordingly.
- The shoe’s two leather eyelet “wings”, where the shoe laces loop through, touch each other when the shoes are tied. What you want is a V-shape on both open and closed lacing systems. If the leather touches when the shoes are tied, that means they’re too big.
- The shoe feels too tight from the start. Don’t listen to a sales person when they tell you that a shoe is supposed to feel too tight and the leather will stretch. Yes, it’s true that leather will stretch a bit, but what you really want is a “comfortably snug” feel. Stowe says the ideal fit is when “you can feel the shoe hugging your foot, but at the same time, there’s no discomfort.”
- Your feet flop around inside. Your heel should be locked inside the shoe, without room to move around too much. Again, this goes back to “comfortably snug.”