How to Tell if Shoes Are Too Big – One Guide To Rule Them All

Ill-fitting shoes can cause pain and discomfort in the feet and may also affect your ankle, knees, and back. To avoid these problems, you need to be sure that you are getting the perfect fit. While knowing your size is important, it is only part of the equation.

Shoe sizes measure the length of your foot and do not account for width or height. Most people prefer bigger shoes because small shoes squeeze their toes and cause bunions. However, bigger shoes increase friction and cause blisters, so you need to stay away from shoes that are too big as well. If you’re wondering how to tell if shoes are too big, then keep reading.

Are My Shoes Too Big?

Here are a few ways you call tell if your shoes are too big.


Although you won’t feel the tightness and pressure that comes with wearing smaller shoes, you will feel some type of discomfort with a bigger shoe. When shoes are too long, your feet are going to sliding back and forth and when they are too wide, they will slide from side to side.

When this happens, people tend to curl their toes to provide some sort of grip and stop their feet from sliding around. This action can cause serious issues for your feet and back. It can also cause blisters, especially in the back of the heel, due to the increased friction of your feet constantly moving around.

Fix Heels that are too Big

Foot Pops Out of Shoe as You Walk

If your feet keep popping out of the shoes as you walk, then they’re too big. Not only can this be embarrassing but it can also cause frustration and pain. They may even make a loud sound as you walk which can draw more unwanted attention.

Finger Test

Another way I test if my shoes are too big is by slipping a finger between the heel of the shoe and the heel of your foot. Your finger should fit snugly in this space. If your finger slides in easily and there is a lot of wiggle room, then the shoes are too big.

Overlapping Laces

If your shoes come with laces, then a tell-tale sign that the shoes are too big is if you can tighten the laces so much that the two sides meet. If you must tighten the laces excessively for the shoes to fit, then they are too big.

Stretch your Feet

Stretch your feet and see how far away your toes are from the front of the shoes. If you have a huge gap, then it’s more than likely the shoes are too big for you. The standard gap between your toes and the front of the shoe should be the width of your thumb.

The Shoe Wrinkles

If you have a nice pair of leather shoes and they wrinkle, it could be a sign that the shoe size is not right for you. These wrinkles usually occur in the part of the shoe where the foot is bent. You’ll notice some unsightly lines that no one wants in a pair of formal or dress shoes.

Trouble Climbing Stairs

Big shoes will make it harder to climb up the stairs. They will slow you down since the shoe will be moving up and down your feet. Your ankle will continuously rub against the shoe’s neck resulting in a break in the skin or corns.

How much Room Should you Have in a Shoe?

The optimal space for toes in shoes is 10-23 cm but this can differ depending on the overall fit of the shoe. Your toe shape as well as the width and height of your feet also play a role in determining how much room you should have in a shoe.

Make sure there’s a gap about the width of your thumb between your toes and the front of the shoe. Your finger should also fit snugly between the back of the shoe and the back of your heel.

What to Do If My Shoes Are Too Big?

If you already bought a pair of shoes that are too big and it’s too late to return them, there are a few ways you can try to make them fit.

What to do if Shoes too Big

Wear Thick Socks

When shoes are too big, you can try wearing thick cotton socks. This may only work with shoes that are on the slightly larger side.

Stuff the Front of the Shoe

If you are worried about the large gap between your toes and the front of the shoe, a bit of tissue can do the trick. Simply stuff the front of the shoe with tissue or toilet paper until there’s no gap between your toe and the front of the shoe.

If your boots are too big, this method works best. It can also work on flat shoes and closed-toe heels. It is not recommended to try this method on athletic shoes as fit and support are more important to avoid injury.

Insert an Insole

Insoles provide comfort and support, which is perfect for a shoe that is too big. These soft pads can be made from gel, silicone, or foam and go inside your shoes. The one you choose will depend on the type of shoe you have. For example, if your high heels are too big, silicone insoles are the best because they provide comfortable cushioning while removing pressure from the ball of your feet.

Furthermore, insoles help with posture issues and other forms of discomfort to give you a better feeling when wearing your shoes. They can also take up the extra room if you have flat feet and the top of your shoes are too high.

Just remember to buy insoles from well-known brands since these are usually made from high-quality materials and tend to be more durable. If you can, try the insoles before you purchase them just to make sure that they do exactly what you need them to.

Use Footpads

If you don’t like the idea of full insoles, then you can try some footpads. These are small pads that go under the ball of your feet. Footpads provide support and relieve pressure. However, they are not the greatest fix for big shoes and only work on slightly larger shoes.

Try Heel Strips

To prevent blisters on the back of the heel from constant rubbing, opt for some heel strips. These strips are easy to apply and are like a band-aid. The good thing about these strips is that they are not limited to the back of the foot. You can use them under your foot or around your toes.

Take Them to the Cobbler

If neither of these methods works, then your best bet is to take your big shoes to the cobbler. Hopefully, they can work their magic and make your big shoes closer to a perfect fit for your feet. The cobbler may place a fixed insole, line the entire shoe, or find some other way to fix them.


Big shoes, like small shoes, can wreak havoc on your feet as well as other parts of your body. To avoid these problems, it is best to buy shoes that are the perfect fit. Always know your size, wear socks when trying shoes on, make sure the shoe fits your bigger foot comfortably, try on both sides, walk around in the shoes for a bit, and shop in the afternoon.

For more, read this article on how to make big shoes smaller.

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