Tips for buying shoes online and ensuring a proper fit

In an increasingly digital world, e-commerce has reshaped the way we shop, and the footwear industry is no exception. More and more consumers are turning to the convenience of online shoe shopping, an experience that allows them to peruse a vast array of styles, brands, and price points from the comfort of their homes. In fact, recent studies predict that online sales will continue to capture a growing share of the shoe market in the coming years.

Despite the convenience and variety, shopping for shoes online presents its own unique challenges. The primary concern for most shoppers is ensuring a proper fit. Since sizes can vary significantly across different brands and styles, and the fact that trying on the shoes is not possible until they arrive, selecting the right size becomes a complex task. Additionally, shoes that look fantastic on the screen might not feel as comfortable on your feet, leaving many shoppers with a pair that is either too large, too small, or just uncomfortable.

This guide is designed to navigate you through the process of buying shoes online, providing practical tips and strategies to overcome these challenges and ensure a perfect fit every time.

Understanding Shoe Sizes

Before diving into the world of online shoe shopping, it’s critical to have a solid understanding of shoe sizing systems. Not all shoes sizes are created equal; different countries and regions have their own unique systems, which can cause confusion when shopping online.

Three of the most common sizing systems are US, UK, and EU. While the US and UK use a numbering system, the EU system is based on the length of the foot in centimeters. When buying shoes online, ensure you refer to the correct size chart provided by the retailer, which usually offers conversions between these systems.

Even with these charts, however, it’s crucial to measure your feet accurately for the best results. You might be surprised to find that your foot size can change over time due to factors like age, weight changes, or pregnancy. To measure your feet at home, stand on a piece of paper and trace the outline of your foot. Then, measure the longest part from the heel to the tip of your longest toe, and the widest part across the ball of your foot. This will give you both the length and width of your foot, which are important for finding a well-fitting shoe.

It’s important to note that sizes can vary significantly between different brands and even between different styles within the same brand. This means a size 8 in one brand might not fit the same as a size 8 in another. When shopping online, make sure to read the product descriptions carefully, as they often provide insights into the fit. Additionally, customer reviews can be a valuable resource to gauge whether a shoe runs large, small, narrow, or wide.

By taking the time to understand shoe sizing, measuring your feet accurately, and being aware of potential variations between brands, you can greatly increase your chances of finding a well-fitting pair of shoes online.

Knowing Your Foot Type

Just as important as knowing your shoe size is understanding your foot type. Our feet come in all shapes and sizes, and the structure of your foot can significantly influence how a shoe fits and feels.

There are generally four primary foot types: narrow, wide, flat (low arch), and high arch. Narrow feet tend to be thinner across the width, while wide feet are broader. People with flat feet have a low or nonexistent arch, meaning the entirety or most of their foot makes contact with the ground when standing. Conversely, those with high arches have a distinct curve along the inner side of the foot, and the middle part of the foot may not touch the ground fully.

Understanding your foot type is vital when buying shoes online. This is because different foot types require different levels of support and space to maintain comfort and prevent foot problems. For example, wide feet may need shoes with a larger toe box, while people with high arches often benefit from shoes with good arch support to distribute weight evenly.

While product descriptions can provide useful information about a shoe’s design and features, some brands also categorize their offerings based on foot type. For example, some athletic shoe brands label their products as suitable for “neutral,” “overpronation,” or “underpronation,” which correspond to different foot types and gait patterns. Reviews can also provide insights on whether a shoe caters to a specific foot type.

Remember, the key to a comfortable shoe isn’t just about getting the right size. It’s also about understanding your foot type and choosing footwear designed to cater to your specific needs. By keeping this in mind, you’ll be better equipped to find shoes online that offer a great fit.

Researching Shoe Brands and Styles

One of the most critical steps in successfully buying shoes online is conducting thorough research before making a purchase. Given the variety of options and the inability to physically try on shoes, this step is crucial in ensuring a proper fit and satisfactory experience.

Firstly, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with different shoe brands and their reputations. Some brands might be known for their exceptional quality, while others may be famous for comfort or innovative designs. Remember, sizes can vary from brand to brand, so it’s helpful to know if certain brands tend to run larger or smaller than average. This information can often be found on the brand’s website or in customer reviews.

Next, you need to know how to read and understand product descriptions and specifications. The product description will typically provide information about the shoe’s material, design, purpose (casual, athletic, formal, etc.), and special features (waterproof, slip-resistant, etc.). It may also include details about the shoe’s fit and whether it’s suitable for specific foot types. Paying close attention to these details can help you determine if the shoe will meet your needs and fit comfortably.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of customer reviews and ratings. These often provide real-world insights into a shoe’s fit, comfort, quality, and durability. Reviewers may also mention whether the shoe runs true to size or if there are any common issues, like uncomfortable seams or poor arch support. Looking for reviews from people with similar foot types to yours can be particularly helpful.

In summary, researching shoe brands and styles, understanding product descriptions and specifications, and reading customer reviews and ratings are key steps in the online shoe buying process. By taking the time to do this, you can make a more informed decision and increase your chances of getting a pair of shoes that fits well and meets your expectations.

Trying Shoes At Home

Once your new shoes arrive, the next crucial step is to try them on properly. This process is more nuanced than you might expect and can significantly influence your perception of the shoe’s fit and comfort.

To start with, the time of day you try on your shoes can matter. Feet naturally swell throughout the day, reaching their largest size in the late afternoon or evening. Trying your shoes on during this time can give you a more accurate representation of how they’ll feel during typical usage.

Next, consider what you’ll wear with your shoes. If you’ll typically be wearing socks with these shoes, try them on with socks of similar thickness. If the shoes are for a special event, try them on with the hosiery or any custom insoles or orthotics you plan to wear.

When trying on shoes, it’s important to stand up, as your foot spreads out under your body weight. Walk around your home on a clean surface to assess the shoe’s comfort and fit during movement. Ensure there’s enough room for your toes to wiggle (approximately half an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe) and check if your heel stays secure in the shoe without slipping.

Also, take note of any areas that pinch or rub, as these can lead to blisters and discomfort over time. Remember, shoes may break in slightly with wear, but they should feel comfortable right from the start. The idea that “they’ll stretch out” or “I’ll break them in” often leads to unnecessary discomfort and potential foot problems down the line.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to assess your new shoes accurately, ensuring they not only look great but feel great too.

Special Considerations

Buying shoes online isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Different types of shoes, materials, manufacturing techniques, and even the age of the person you’re buying for can all influence fit and comfort. Here are some special considerations to keep in mind:

Shopping for Specific Types of Shoes

Different types of shoes often require different considerations. Athletic shoes, for example, need to provide the right kind of support and cushioning for your chosen activity. Formal shoes might require a more precise fit, considering you’ll likely be wearing them for long periods. Casual shoes often have more flexibility in fit but should still provide adequate support. Research what to look for in each type of shoe and consider your specific needs in terms of comfort, support, and style.

Materials, Manufacturing Techniques, and Shoe Construction

These factors can significantly impact a shoe’s fit and feel. Leather, for example, can often stretch and mold to your foot over time, whereas synthetic materials may not. Hand-stitched shoes can offer superior comfort and flexibility compared to those assembled with glue. Shoes with a good arch design can provide better support. Understanding these factors can help you make more informed decisions when buying shoes online.

Buying Shoes for Children or Older Adults

Children’s feet are continually growing and changing, so regular size checks are essential. Furthermore, children’s shoes should be flexible and have a good grip to support their active lifestyle.

Older adults, on the other hand, may experience changes in their foot shape, size, and overall comfort due to aging. Look for shoes with good cushioning, non-slip soles, and easy closures (like Velcro or slip-on designs).

By considering these factors and tailoring your approach based on the type of shoes you’re buying, who you’re buying them for, and their specific needs, you’ll be better equipped to find well-fitting, comfortable shoes online.

Buying shoes online can be a convenient and enjoyable process when approached correctly. By understanding the different shoe sizing systems and accurately measuring your feet, you’ll be off to a good start. Remember the importance of recognizing your foot type, as this greatly influences which shoe styles will provide the best comfort and support. Additionally, taking time to thoroughly research brands, styles, and reviews, along with trying shoes on properly at home, significantly increases your chances of finding the perfect pair.

However, remember that finding the right shoes online often requires patience. Don’t be discouraged if the first pair you order isn’t the perfect fit. The process of buying shoes online is a journey, and with each pair, you’ll get better at understanding what works best for you.

Finally, always keep in mind the special considerations for different types of shoes, materials, and age groups. With these tips in hand, you’re well on your way to becoming a pro at buying shoes online and ensuring a proper fit every time. Happy shopping!

Resources We Used:

  1. “Footwear Sizing Guide.”
  2. “Understanding Shoe Construction.” Shoes For Crews Blog,
  3. “How to Measure Your Foot At Home.”
  4. “Choosing the Right Athletic Shoes.”
  5. “A Guide to Shoe Fits by Brands.”
  6. “Foot Changes in Older Adults.” American Podiatric Medical
  7. “Finding Properly Fitting Shoes.” American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
  8. “Fluevog Sizing” –
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x