Do Dress Shoes Run Big? | Getting the Right Size

If you’re like many people, you know your general shoe size. You go to your local shoe shop and buy a couple of pairs of sneakers, and you have no problems.

When the time comes, you buy a pair of dress shoes in the same size as your sneakers, and you’re shocked to find that the shoe doesn’t fit correctly or feels odd. The question surfaces, “Do dress shoes run big?” The answer is yes, for most brands.

The Foot Measurement

Of course, answering the question doesn’t help you determine how to find the best-fitting dress shoe. Go to any shoe salesperson, and you’re going to be in for a long process of measurements, trying shoes on, and trying to get a feel for them in the space of 10 seconds.

Most professional shoe salespeople know that an exact foot measurement isn’t needed. In many cases, the salesperson ends up having the customer return the pair of shoes if a foot measurement is all that you go by. This is because most manufacturers and brands don’t work around actual measurements of the feet.

Sizes are not universal between the brands, so a size nine from one brand might fit similarly as a size 10.5 in another. Each shoe is different, so it doesn’t matter much if you know that your foot is 4.7 inches wide by 10.2 inches long. Of course, the exact size might be needed if you want to get custom-made shoes, but that is expensive, and most people dislike the idea of custom-built shoes.

Before You Try on the Shoe

Before trying on dress shoes, it’s best to know a few things first and do a few things.

1. Shoe Size Estimate

It’s essential for you to have a general idea of your shoe size before you try on dress shoes. You’ve probably worn a variety of shoes before, and they’ve probably all been similarly sized.

Since each manufacturer is different, it’s going to be a trial and error process to find the right pair. However, you can start with your average shoe size and go from there to get a rough estimate.

2. Perfect Fit

Most people assume that you need to break in the shoe before it fits correctly, but this is false. The moment you slip on that shoe, it should fit comfortably and feel like it was made for your foot. Otherwise, the shoes are never going to fit.

Most dress shoes are made of leather, so they don’t stretch a lot if at all. Breaking in a pair of shoes isn’t going to happen. It’s just going to make your feet hurt, and you’ll waste a lot of money.

3. Feet Swell

Do dress shoes run big? In almost all cases, the answer is yes. If you wear a size 9 in a regular shoe, you’re likely to need a 9 1/2 or even a 10. One of the factors for larger dress-shoe sizes is that your feet swell throughout the day.

Therefore, it’s best if you can try on your dress shoes in the afternoon. You’ll get a more realistic idea of the fit and size you require.

4. The Right and Left Foot Sizes

You may not realize it, but each foot is of a different size. Many times, the sizing is minute, and you can’t really tell the difference. However, you should always try on both shoes so that you have a better idea of how they fit on the smaller and larger foot.

Remember, it’s easier to work with a shoe that is slightly too big than too small.

Trying on the Shoes

When it comes time to try on the dress shoes, you need to consider a few things before deciding if you should buy them.

1. Socks

If you plan to wear socks with your dress shoes, you need to make sure you’re wearing the same type of sock that you’re going to wear normally. For example, if you plan to wear ankle socks with the shoe, don’t put on a pair of woolen socks to try the shoes on.

2. Length

When you slip your foot into the shoe, you’re likely to try to curl the toes under slightly or bunch them up. Resist the urge to do that.

Try to let your foot relax completely in the shoe to ensure that the shoes don’t press on the toes. Some guides say that your toes should barely touch the front of the shoe, but this is incorrect.

Your toes should not touch the shoe front at all when standing. If they do, the shoe is a little too short. With that being said, you don’t want a lot of extra room between the shoe and the toes as well.

The trouble with grazing the front of the shoe is that the toes are then jammed into the shoe with each step you take, making it very uncomfortable to walk long distances.

3. Width

When you put the shoe on, you shouldn’t feel any squeezing or pressure anywhere, but especially not on the sides of your feet. If that happens, you might need a half size bigger. Some shoes have a regular and a wide width option, so look for that.

On the flipside, though, you shouldn’t have so much room on the sides of your feet that your foot can move when it’s laced or slipped on.


S0, do dress shoes run big? Yes, most dress shoes do tend to run slightly larger than other shoe types because they have less give and stretch in them.

It can seem impossible to find the right shoe, but you can make it easier on yourself by knowing your shoe size, shopping in the afternoon, and paying close attention to the feel of the shoe.

It’s also helpful to have the full afternoon free so that you’re not rushed while trying to shop for shoes. This will make you frustrated when you find a pair of shoes that you think you like only to wear them once at work and get blisters or feel the achy tiredness of wearing the wrong shoes all day long.


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