How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Big & Tips for a Proper Shoe Fit

how to tell if shoes are too big

Show me a man whose shoes fit well and I will show you a happy man. Having this wisdom, now, how do you and I figure out if our shoes are too big. Yeah, sure, they’ll pinch, make you a gimp, whatever. But why not stall it? Heres a scenario, you walk into a footwear store to replace your old worn-down shoes. No matter what you're buying, a pair of shoes, slippers, or socks, finding the right fit is always hard. You state your size, a pair of your choice is handed over, you pay up and walk out pleased as punch. Only to come back hobbling the next day. Tsk, tsk. Okay, let us educate you on how to tell if shoes are too big.

How to Tell If Your Shoes Are Too Big

Putting Shoes On

If you’re trying out dress shoes or sneakers, tighten laces to the extreme. If that feels comfortable than your shoes are probably too large for you.

The second test is the ‘finger test’. This will reveal if the shoe is too long for you. Place a finger, two if it calls for behind your heel and if goes through, you need to opt for a smaller size. And if its heels you are picking up, 1 cm tolerance is max. You want your heels clinging to you subject to other test parameters.

Walking in Potential Shoes

Stroll around and focus. Don’t rush this. It is crucial. Feet sliding around? Too large? Side to side? Wide shoes will give you blisters. Downsizing won’t fix it. Actually, it can exacerbate the situation There are a lot of add-ins; heel grips, gel adhesive slings, insoles, etc. That brings up the one question; are you trying to fit the shoe to your foot? It should be the other way around.

The Difference Between Tight and Snug

A tight shoe will tell you straight away by mashing your toes that it’s too small for your foot. The width is slightly dodgier.

And there are some shoes which are your right size, they fit well but still appear a tad tight. Well, they are supposed to be that way, the materials will give just a little with use and the shoe will be snug against your foot. If they are too small, your feet will groan immediately.

Leather shoes should always be a snug fit when you leave the store. They will break in by and by. There are tools that help to break shoes in; shoe stretchers or boot stretchers will do the trick.

What Is the Perfect Fit?

As we age, the effects on feet are they tend to get flatter and wider, leave alone the body. So what your foot size was earlier will most probably be different. Studies reveal that a third wear ill-fitting shoes. Looks apart, comfortable shoes can give you a host of medical problems, especially for diabetics. Ankles, knees, and back all will start groaning. Wearing the wrong shoes will ruin the shoes first and if they are ill-fitting, cracks and creases will develop

Get Your Measurements Bang On

Get Your Measurements Bang On

Shown above is the Brannock device. It is the foolproof, established means of measuring your foot accurately. With this device, you can accurately measure the three crucial parameters; length, width and depth of the arch. Armed with these precise measurements, acquiring the right shoe is a whole lot easier. The only drawback of the Brannock device is that getting the measurement of your instep is not possible.

You can also do it at home by tracing out your foot on a piece of paper and measuring the length and width of the foot. You can’t get the arch depth though.

Factor in The Shoe Style

Size is one part of getting the right pair. Style is equally important. Foot shapes come in a wide array, slim, broad, splayed, etc. A pointed shoe may not be as comfortable as a rounded toe. Foot shape and size together will decide the comfort level.

Stretch Your Feet

Another method to tell if the shoe is too large is by stretching your feet and attempt to touch the front of the shoe. If space is left, the shoe is probably too large and you need to downscale. You should be able to fit a thumbs width between toes and shoes.

Lace The Shoes

Lace The Shoes

Wear the shoes and tighten the laces fully. If the shoes fit correctly only when the laces are fully tight and the flaps overlap, it is certain that the shoes are too big. You should use quality laces to get a snug fit when wearing sneakers and other types of dress shoes

Curling and Compressing

When seated, do you feel space between the toes and the shoe front? Can you curl your toes easily? If you can do it easily, the shoes are too big. By pressing the edge of the shoe against a hard surface if it gives or can get compressed, the same thing, the shoes are big.

Tips for A Proper Shoe Fit

  • Wait until the afternoon to go shopping for footwear. Your feet will expand to their natural length during the day. In warm weather, they may even be slightly swollen.
  • Wear the same socks that you will be using with your new shoes. You can wear compression shocks to avoid any swelling issue.
  • Have both feet measured? It is not uncommon for slight variation in the two feet. If one foot is larger or wider, go for a pair that suits the larger foot.
  • Stand in the shoes. There should be a clearance of a quarter to half-inch between the big toe and the front of the shoe.
  • Walk around. This is very important to figure out the feel. Do the balls of the feet have sufficient room? Are the heels fitting snugly? Or do the pinch or fall off? Get a pair that fit well from the start. Don’t rationalize that they will stretch or just need to be broken in.
  • Trust your own comfort level rather than what is put out by advertisements.
  • Feel the insides of the shoes for tags, protruding seams or anything that might cause chafing and blistering.
  • Inspect the soles. Is cushioning provided? While doing the walk test feel any difference when walking on the floor and on a carpet.
  • A major test that the shoe should pass is that you slide a finger between your foot’s heel and the heel of the shoe. The finger should fit snugly. If too tight, you might need a larger size and the other way round if too loose.

DIY Adjustments for Shoe Fitting

Assuming all the tests pass, or minor adjustments need to be done with tools, you can pat yourself on the back for having laid your hands on a personalized pair of shoes. But in spite of your best efforts, if you have landed a size too big, the best option is to get them replaced. For some reason, if that is not possible, then here are some DIY techniques that will help fix shoes.

  • Wear heavy socks for a few days.
  • You can use a hairdryer to slightly warm up the shoe and bend it back and forth.
  • Dampen your socks and stuff them in. Let it stay till dry.
  • Dab the insides with rubbing alcohol.
  • Use crumpled newspaper as fillers
  • Keep the shoes laced up tightly.
  • Inserts can be used as appropriate.
  • Get help from a shoe guide if needed. 


1. How much room should be at the end of a shoe?

At the front end, a thumbs width and at the heel end a finger should slide in easily. This allowance will ensure a good, snug, comfortable fit.

2. Is it wrong to wear big shoes?

Yes, definitely. The wrong shoes can invite a host of health problems. First to suffer naturally are the feet, then legs, knees and onto the spinal column. For diabetics, it can be worse.

3. What is the remedy if your shoes are too big?

For starters use thick socks you have. The gaps need filling. Newspapers crumpled don’t quite fit the bill. Better still, if you have some spare flannel, cut strips and place them at the toe and heel end.

4. Should shoes be tight or loose?

Neither because both indicate an ill-fitting pair. If they are loose, the answer has been provided. But if they are tight, and of leather, they will expand in time. Try the trick of warming them with a hairdryer and flexing them. It will make the shoeless rigid.

5. Is it OK to wear big shoes?

Depends how big? There is no damage to wearing shoes that are big. It poses problems such as shoes slipping off and the shuffle in your gait. Your personal safety is compromised.

Folding It All Together

Buying a new pair of shoes- a big deal. Don’t think so. Just don’t be a pushover and come out with the wrong pair. Shoes that are tight will tell you straight away. But how to tell if your shoes are too big? This guide is intended as an advisory of the common pitfalls we face when on a shoe buying expedition. So do get your honest bucks worth.



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