How to find the right fit in your shoes

If you’ve ever had difficulty buying shoes then you’ll know how important it is to find the right fit.

Shoes are just like clothes; size alone cannot be relied upon as styles and brands can have a different fit. You’ll still want the right colour and right style just like you do with your clothes and makeup and you wouldn’t buy clothes which don’t fit you…right?

Monday 23 January is ‘national measure your feet day’ – random I know! But, it seemed like the best day to tackle this subject and let you know about a new event – more on that shortly.

The perfect fit

What makes one pair of shoes comfortable to one woman, can be very different to another.

Your shoes like your clothes should fit nice and comfortably. Not too tight nor too loose, not too big or too small. If your heel slips out of the shoe when you walk then they are probably too big and it’s worth dropping down a half size if there is one. Using slips or insoles to fill gaps means they aren’t the perfect fit, so why compromise?

Should you find the skin on your foot sits higher than the shoe, it’s likely they are too small so you’ll need to go up in sizing or try a wider fit. Too tight and there’s more chance they’ll rub and cause blisters.

Most people do have one foot that is slightly bigger, so choose the size for this foot. Do try them on both feet too – I’ve yet to meet anyone who goes out wearing just one shoe! The shoes need to feel comfortable on both feet (hence the trying on) and a walk around will give you an opportunity to see if they pinch, rub, slop or generally feel uncomfortable.

Whilst you may be given one of those little foot socks like a pair of tights to try them on with, if you’re likely to wear socks with them, do bare this in mind. They may feel vastly different with a pair of socks when you get them home.

A general rule of thumb is to shop for shoes in the afternoon as most people’s feet swell as the day goes on. So, if you’ve bought them online, try them on in the afternoon.

Measure your feet

I haven’t had my feet measured since I was at school and perhaps you’re the same? But, knowing this will help you identify the right fit and style for your feet. Just because it’s a size 5 does not mean it’s the right size 5 for you, Cinderella!

Some stores will measure your feet and there are some foot measuring devices online too. But, here’s a guide to follow, remembering to do this in the afternoon of course.

1. Place your foot on a flat surface on a piece of paper. If you’re unsteady, stand with your heel against a straight edge like a wall or sit on a chair.
2. Draw around both feet with a pen or pencil and measure the distance from the back of the heel to the end of the longest toe. (You could also place a ruler beside your foot and measure the distance from the back of your heel to the end of your longest toe. Or, use a tape measure to measure the same distance.)
3. Note the length in millimetres (or inches if you prefer) from the tip of your longest toe to your heel as described above. This is the full length of your foot and one may be larger than the other.
4. Mark the widest points of your feet if using a piece of paper and measure the distance between the points to find your foot width. Again, one could be wider than the other. (You can also use a tape measure all around the widest part of your foot.)

Here’s some size chart guide from Clarks, Nike and M&S. You’ll notice even these differ in sizes! This demonstrates why it’s important to know the actual size of your own feet so you can get the right fit from the store you’re shopping at.


How comfortable you find heels is down to fit, shape, style and your foot arch. If you’ve struggled in the past, it could be the style or height which isn’t right for you and doesn’t mean you’re banished to flats. These might not be right for you either! If you feel unsteady, a block heel, wedge or platform sole will offer much more support and comfort versus a thin, narrow or very high heel.

To find the perfect height for you, you’ll need your measurement of your foot from above.

Convert it into centimetres and divide by 7. This is your healthiest heel height. Let me know if you agree.

Shopping for shoes

Now you know how to work out your specific foot measurements, it might explain why you’ve struggled with specific brands or styles and help you shop with your specific foot in mind.

Some people shop on colour (especially if they’ve had a colour analysis consultation!) or you’re looking for a specific colour to go with an outfit for a wedding or special occasion. Sometimes, you’ll be looking for a pair of new shoes or boots for the new season. If you’ve had a style and image consultation, you might even be shopping for your personality or to fill a gap in your wardrobe.

Personally, I find nothing beats touching, trying them and even a little sniff (if that’s your thing)!

Shoe shopping exclusive event – 30 March

With this in mind, I am delighted that at the end of March I’ve got a shoe specialist coming along to the studio. Having known Helen for a few years (and bought her Noe sneakers), she trained as a colour and style consultant who now has her own shoe shop. Based in Belfast, she’ll be travelling over to Yorkshire to visit my studio in Wakefield to showcase her range.

Helen will bring a range of shoes, boots and sandals in different sizes, colours and styles. Due to her training, her shoes are like no other you’ll find on the high street. Specifically sourced from a limited range of suppliers with specific colours and styles in mind to help women find shoes that compliment their colouring, style and their wardrobes. It will be well worth you coming along to browse the range. If you’ve got a specific event coming up, or outfit which you’ve been struggling with (or putting off buying), bring it along. With advance notice, Helen can also bring along some specific options based upon your needs.

Browse the range here.

Helen will return in 2024. Be sure to register your interest to be kept informed (select ‘shopping events’)

This is an exclusive event. You're welcome to bring a guest but you must reserve your place

To reserve your place or request specific advice, send an email to: