Does the Shoe Fit? A Short Course on Sizing Footwear

September 04, 2018

Does the Shoe Fit? A Short Course on Sizing Footwear

We value individuality in almost all things, so it is somewhat curious that when the subject is fitting shoes properly some fail to understand that pair of fashionable shoes you long for may not be the best choice for your ever-so-idiosyncratic feet. It might be that the size is wrong; that can be remedied by carefully trying on other lengths, including different widths, until an appropriate fit is accomplished. But it may be that the objects of your footwear affection will never see eye to eye, or perhaps heel to toe, with those tender tootsies you rely and stand upon every day. This is a dilemma of no little importance. How do you know when the shoe fits?

Take a Field Trip to an Actual Shoe Store

The woman or man holding a brannock with a look of self-assurance can be your best resource. Now, if you do not know what a brannock might be, let’s say a bit about this essential shoe fitting device. It was patented in 1926 by Charles F. Brannock, a man born into a shoe industry family. Used by a trained shoe fitter it can approximate the length and width needed for each of your feet. Both feet should be measured because we all have one that is longer and one that is wider, and it may not be the same foot! The brannock can handle sizing both feet by rotating 180 degrees. Generally speaking, the larger foot determines the size you try on first.

If you feel you do not need sizing help, realize that your feet spread with age and weight gain. Also know that different brands of shoes fit differently, and that there are even lines of shoes within brands that work better with certain kinds of feet. Although variety is the spice of life, just make sure you are making your decision with all the information available for this important purchase.

What’s with All the Boxes?

This is why more than one box often comes out from the back room of a reputable shoe store. No matter how much you like a pair of shoes, unless they were made especially for you, a couple of different sizes or widths may need to be slipped upon your feet before the shoes fit well. And because those feet of yours may not be exactly identical, one or the other foot may not be love even the best fit the particular shoe can achieve.

Now you might begin to understand the reason the shoe store staff may bring your desired shoes and one or two other pairs that you didn’t even ask to see. He or she spends hours trying shoes on customers and learns which shoes fit what types of feet. Shoes are much more than just a length and a width. For example, the front of the shoe or “toe box” may be streamlined in a shoe with a pointed toe, perhaps tolerable for the man or woman with a foot that narrows at the toes, but not for the person whose toes splay out. Maybe the counter on a shoe is very generously cut, acceptable for a sturdy, wider foot, but prone to slipping up and down on a delicately turned heel. High arches, tall insteps, flat feet--these are all the canvas upon which the competent shoe fitting professional paints to find just the shoe for you.

Don’t Celebrate Until You Walk

Once you find a pair that feels close to perfect be sure to take the time to stroll around the shoe store or department with both shoes on. Make sure you are wearing the type of socks you intend to use with the shoes, and walk, stand on tiptoe and crouch down. Adjust laces and check whether the counter rides well on your heel. Take a look at your watch--is it near the end of your day? If so, know that your feet are probably at their biggest since you’ve been on them for hours. If it is early instead, pay careful attention to any tightness--this will not improve as the day continues.

You Can’t (Always) Get What You Want--But We May Have What You Need

A professional fitter will know whether a particular shoe is just not appropriate and will either guide you to one that will fit better or will suggest a variety of post-factory accessories that can adapt the shoe to improve the fit. In cases where you just need a little more room, Valentino Garemi may be able to assist with specialized products that actually help stretch leather, often providing all the modification that is needed.

If that pair of fashionable shoes takes you down a painful path despite careful measurement and earnest advice from the best shoe guru, we have a wide range of products that can assist you with softening or conditioning leathers or repairing scuffs or removing stains or even pinching or rubbing. Life is too short to walk on feet that hurt, and we have assembled many options to help.


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