How Shoes Should Fit: 13 Tips from Our Podiatrists

13 expert shoe fitting tips from our podiatrists

“Fit to be tied” means being so angry or agitated as to need restraint, but with a little semantic license, it could also describe a pair of shoes that fit so well they’re ready to lace up and wear out the door.

The point is, proper shoe fit is more important than most people realize. If you don’t spend the time and effort necessary to make sure your shoes fit well, significant foot problems could make you be fit to be tied!

A well-fitting shoe is important for good foot health (and your whole body)

Shoes perform a multitude of tasks. They protect our feet from external harm. They provide a cushion to support our body mass. Specialized shoes facilitate all sorts of athletic endeavors, from basketball to rock climbing to ballet. And, of course, our shoes display our forward fashion style.

A basic prerequisite for allowing shoes to properly perform their many functions is to make sure they fit as perfectly as possible.

Here’s 13 tips to find the best shoes for your feet

13 expert shoe fitting tips from our podiatrists

  1. Have a professional shoe fitting, even if that means visiting a shoe store before you make an online purchase. As you age, the soft tissue and ligaments in your feet relax and expand. Over time, your feet will change both their size and shape. Never assume the size of the shoes that fit well in the past is still the right size now.
  2. Don’t just measure from toe to heel. Also measure the length of your arch, from your heel to the ball of your foot (that’s where the first joint in your big toe bends). Then make sure the bend point of the shoe matches the natural bend of your foot.
  3. Don’t assume your new shoes will expand with time. A well-made leather shoe shouldn’t stretch much at all. How to know if a shoe fits? When the shoe doesn’t feel just right at the first try, it’s unlikely to ever fit well.
  4. You need to be standing up to measure foot size. Unless you are amazingly flexible, this means having your feet measured by another person, such as a salesperson in a shoe store.
  5. Odd fact: one of your feet is almost certainly larger than the other. So measure both feet, and buy the shoes that fit the Bigfoot.
  6. Your feet swell and slightly flatten during the day, so measure your feet toward the end of the day.
  7. Don’t cramp your style. Leave about a half-inch of space at the front of the shoe and about an eighth of an inch at the back.
  8. The actual sizes of shoe vary between shoe makers. Never assume a size 7 Christian Louboutin is necessarily identical in size and shape to a Manolo Blahnik size 7. 
  9. When you’re trying on new shoes, wear the sort of hosiery that you plan on wearing with the shoes. For example, don’t wear athletic socks when you’re trying on dress shoes.
  10. Make sure that the widest part of your foot corresponds with the widest part of the shoe.
  11. Don’t buy shoes without wiggle room for your toes. A too narrow toebox will lead to the sort of friction that causes corns, calluses, neuromas, or deformed toes.
  12. Spend a significant amount of time walking around in the shoes (both of them) before purchasing. Since this is impossible with an online purchase, make sure your online seller has a generously accommodating return policy.
  13. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, never elevate style over fit. First identify the best fitting shoes, and then select the best-looking ones from that group. And always bear in mind that any heel higher than 2 inches imposes the sort of stress on the architecture of your foot that greatly increases the chances of future foot problems.


If you’re experiencing problems with your feet, we’re here to help. Our nationally recognized foot and ankle specialists offer the most advanced podiatric care and the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in the research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us at

Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS
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Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS

Dr. Bob Baravarian is a Board Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle Specialist. He is currently a member of UCLA Medical Group, Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Santa Monica/UCLA medical center and Orthopedic Hospital and an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. He also serves as co-director of University Foot and Ankle Institute. He is Editor Emeritus of the international medical journal, Foot and Ankle Specialist.

Dr. Baravarian has been involved in athletics his entire life and played competitive tennis in high school and college. He has an interest in sports medicine, arthritis therapy and trauma/reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. He servers as a consultant to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tour, multiple running organizations and several shoe manufacturers. He is also fluent in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Farsi and Hebrew),

Podiatrist Dr. Bob Baravarian is available for consultation at the Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and UCLA Westwood offices.
Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS
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