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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So it happened to me again yesterday, I was out looking for a cheaper pair of business casual shoes at the florshiem shop and the sales guy said that I was either a 10 1/2 wide or an 11 wide...the Allen Edmonds guy said 10 1/2 EEE or 11D last time I was there...but in both cases they try to get you to go with the 10 1/2 first wheras I have always read that you should shop for the larger foot (unless talking slip ons) and you should have about a thumbs width of distance between the toe and the front of the shoe.

Any ideas as to why they try this would be appreciated, I also have read that any size shoe is really one size larger than its marked size and didn't know how much weight to put into that? my problem is whenever I buy a size 10 1/2 in the store it feels fine but when I actually use them I can feel my toe hit the front of the shoe which gets annoying.
 

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Mattew J.:

Remember it's more than the size of a shoe, also the style and the last are a big factor in fit!

Your feet are a complex arrangement of muscles, tendons, and ligaments connected to 28 bones in each foot.

After your adolescent growth spurt, the pounding weight of each step gradually stretches these tissues collapsing your arches and lengthening your feet up to a size and a half by middle age. Your feet can change sizes just by going barefoot or wearing sandals all summer!

So don't get hung up on wearing only the size you were in high school. Not only is there not much difference between sizes (only one barleycorn!). Each full size, up or down, is equivalent to 1/3 inch, and each half-size is only 1/6 inch. Plus different styles and different manufactures can make a big difference in shoe size.

Here are some tips from The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes, Shoe Chapter, Fit section:


  • Most people have one foot longer or wider than the other fit the shoe to your larger foot.
  • Try them on, and walk around, the size on the box really doesn't mean anything and can vary from different styles and manufacturers.
  • The ball of your foot should rest comfortable in the widest part of the shoe, the flex point, so you can bend your foot easily while walking.
  • Try on shoes late in the day; your foot expands up to 5% during a day.
  • If your feet sweat excessively a larger size shoe will give you more ventilation. You can also try spraying or applying anti-perspirant to your feet. Soaking your feet in vinegar or tea may reduce the sweating and the smell. Soaking the feet in Epsom salts or baking soda may also be helpful.
  • Don't expect shoes to expand to fit. Tight shoes hardly ever do. Shoes should fit when you try them on. Although some thin fashion leather shoes may stretch, most leather shoes expand and contract with each wearing.
  • Heel and instep of your foot should fit snugly (not tightly). Your heel should not slip in the new shoes.
  • Your toes should have room to stretch out and flex freely as you walk about ½ inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Stand on one foot at a time and wiggle your toes.
  • Shoes that are too narrow-or too wide-cause sliding and rubbing. That leads to blisters and calluses
  • If your heels wear at an irregular angle after only a few weeks you may have a problem that a podiatrist needs to solve. If they wear irregularly after several months it may be normal. Very few of us walk with our weight evenly distributed.
  • Stand on tiptoe, the shoe should bend where your foot bends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Andy,

Thanks for the great reply, I think this is a bit of an issue for me because when I was younger I somehow got convinced that I was a size 12, and after nearly a decade of blisters and having to wait months to break shoes in I decided to re-evaluate my size and took it as a bit of a shock when I discovered that I was really an 11 or possibly a 10 1/2 instead of a 12....

Now I have a pair of Burtons that fit ok but are a bit tight on the sides and a little longer in the toe (went with 11 D's, whereas the sales executive suggested 10.5 EEE's)...

I had purchased one pair of 10-10.5 Eccos and always felt my toe hit the front of the shoe which annoyed me to the point of not wearing them, thus my being hesitant in getting another pair of 10.5 shoes.

But now having read your reply I realize that there really isn't a massive amount of difference between the two sizes.

With this current pair it seems as if I could have then gone with the 10.5's and have been fine...haven't worn them yet so maybe I will exchange them.

Thanks Andy
 

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Andy,

Excellent answer.

There are some that may argue that in actuality the foot only has 26 bones, and two "sesamoids" that are two small "bones" that sit under the first metatarsal within the flexor tendon. (These two small sesamoid bones are similar to the knee cap). If you count those, then you have the 28 bones you mentioned. I just mentioned this in case someone else happens to open a medical textbook and reads that the foot only has 26 bones (which is what most books will state). This will prevent you from having to defend your statement!

In addition to your spot-on comments, it's often the case that a shoe can fit well, but a person has a narrow heel and that can result in the foot sliding forward in the shoe. So although the length of the shoe actually is correct, when the person walks the foot slides forward and the toes hit the front of the shoe giving the person the impression that the shoe is too short and that the size purchased was too small. Sometimes it can actually mean that the shoe was too large with too much movement within the shoe.

And as you stated, too many people get hung up on the size of the shoe that's being purchased, rather than the fit of the shoe. Each manufacturer differs, and with some of the lower end shoes, it also depends on the actual country of origin of the actual model within the same manufacturer.

So it's simple. Buy the fit, not the size.

If in doubt, it always a bonus to find a quality store that employs a Cped/certified pedorthist.

And I often have patients come into my office concerned that the outside (lateral) aspect of the heel of the shoe is wearing quicker than the rest of the heel. In actuality, this is normal. During "normal" gait, the heel strikes the ground on the lateral/outside portion of the heel first and then the foot begins to roll in/pronate (a certain amount of pronation is normal).

Therefore, due to heel strike, slight increase in wear at the outside of the heel is actually a normal pattern. However, as you stated, excessive wear that occurs quickly may be indicative of an abnormal gait pattern and should be evaluated if there are symptoms or concerns.
 

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Definitely don't get hung up on the sizes marked on shoes. I have shoes from 8.5 EE to 9.5 C, all of which fit.

A lot of people get hung up on the distance from the end of your foot to the end of the shoe. I don't think this is a very good judgement - think of shoes with a somewhat elongated toe section. You do need to look at multiple criteria here, and don't forget the obvious that your foot is 3 dimensional, where a shoe size is really only measuring two dimensions.

Some of the simple variations in foot shapes play an important role. You can have variations in the height of your arch (generally people with low arches tend to wear the inside edge of their shoes). You can also have variations in the instep (that is, the arch on top of your foot). Variations in width, both at the measured part of your foot and at the heel (that isn't measured.)

And, one other thing, is the variation in the length of your toes relative to the length of your feet. I think it is important to note if the basic foundation of the shoe fits your foot (that is, how does the heel, arch, and ball fit). I think if you have shorter toes, you may need to look at a longer shoes so the widest part of your foot matches the widest part of the shoe properly.

I'm not an expert in this, this is just what I have picked up along the way.
 
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