How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Big: Telltale Signs of an Issue

Do you know how to tell if shoes are too big? Although most people know their size, it’s only half the story. Shoe sizes measure the length of your feet, but width and height aren’t usually accounted for.

One indicator of a poorly sized shoe is discomfort. However, there are other tell-tale signs. We’re going to be covering how to tell if shoes are too big, plus ways to fix the issue.

This article includes:

  • Signs that your shoes are indeed too big.
  • How to wear shoes that are too big.
  • Fixing shoes that are too big.
  • How to shrink a shoe.
  • Is it better to buy bigger or smaller?


Figuring out If Your Shoes Are Too Big

To help you figure out if your shoes are indeed too big, here are a few key points to look at:



Although you won’t feel the tightness and pressure similar to what you’d experience in small sizes, there can be discomfort.

How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Big and is it Comfort

The shoe might slide around on your foot, whether it’s back and forth or side to side. When this happens, we often curl our toes to try and hold onto the shoe. This can lead to pain in the foot and back, as well as blisters on your toes.


Overlapping Laces

If you’ve recently bought a pair of sneakers or other shoes with laces, take note. Shoes that are too big might enable you to tighten the laces to such an extent the two sides meet. Furthermore, if the shoes only fit when you’ve tightened the laces excessively, it means they’re too large.

overlapping laces and How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Big


Too Much Space

Try to stretch your toes while wearing the shoes. How big is the gap between your toes and the shoe? The width of your thumb should be able to fit between your toes and the tip of the shoe—anything larger is too big.


What to Do If Your Shoes Are Too Big

There are many tricks to make your big shoes a little more comfortable. We’ve gathered the most effective methods for you to try out:


Get Packing

If you’re bothered by a large gap between your toes and the edge of the shoe, a little tissue can go a long way. Simply pack the front of the shoe with tissue, toilet paper or thin rags.

This method works best for flat shoes, boots and close-toed heels. However, it’s not advisable for athletic footwear.


Use an Insole

Insoles are soft pads that you can insert inside the shoe—they provide support as well as cushioning. They’re typically made of gel, silicone or foam material and are utilized to help with posture issues and discomfort.

How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Big and How to fix that

They’re also excellent at minimizing the size of the shoe. Which one you should choose depends on the shoe type. For heels, silicone insoles are recommended because they provide a comfortable cushion while removing pressure from your feet.


Pro Tips:

  • Choose well-known brands when buying insoles, such as Dr Scholl’s and Foot Petals. These are good-quality and long-lasting.
  • If possible, try the insoles before buying them to ensure they fill your needs.
  • For more insole recommendations, take a look at our article, the 6 best insoles for boots that are too big.
Dr. Scholls Double Air-Pillo Insoles Unisex (Men 7-13 / Women 5-10) (2 Pack)
  • 2 Pieces - packaging may vary
  • Molds To The Shape Of Your Foot,
  • For A Long-Lasting Comfort,
  • Extra-Thick Cushioning


Foot Pads

Full insoles can be uncomfortable for some individuals, therefore, you might want to try footpads. These are small pads that sit right in the ball of your foot.

Although they won’t do much about the size of the shoe, they will provide friction as well as support. Footpads are a good option for shoes that are only slightly on the large-side.


Heel Strips

This is another type of padding that will reduce issues such as blisters, caused by the shoe rubbing against your heel. Often referred to as heel strips or grips, you can easily apply them to the back of your heel, similar to a bandaid.

You can also place these strips on other problem areas, such as under your foot or around your toes. These are ideal for shoes that just don’t feel right no matter what you’re trying.

We’ve gathered together 8 more ways to make your big shoes fit.


Fixing a Shoe That’s Too Big

If the above hacks didn’t work, you might need to take more drastic measures. Here are a few ways to fix a shoe that’s too big:


Shoe Shrinking

Shrinking a shoe might sound impossible, but it’s actually a simple process. This process works well with leather, suede and canvas shoes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cool water.
  • Blow dryer.
  • Leather conditioner.


The method:

  1. Locate the area that needs shrinking, for instance, the front or side. If you want to reduce the entire shoe, move on to step two.
  2. Wet the section with cool water. You can apply with a cloth or use your finger to dab the area. If working on the entire shoe, a spray bottle will be quicker.
  3. Apply heat using a blow dryer on medium setting. Hold it 6 inches away from the wet area and continue until it’s dry.
  4. If you’re dealing with leather or suede, keep the dryer moving around the top edge. This will heat the leather quicker and help it to shrink.
  5. Once the shoes are dry, try them on to see if the size has improved.
  6. If you’re dealing with leather or suede, apply a small amount of conditioner, such as the Chamberlain’s Leather Milk, onto a cloth and rub it all over the shoes. This helps to restore moisture into the material. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully to determine how long you should let the conditioner sit.


Pro Tips:

  • Instead of trying to shrink the entire shoe in one go, focus on different sections. The upper front of the shoe is an excellent place to start since the area is able to shrink more.
  • Don’t wet the insoles as this can cause them to develop a smell, discolor or crack.
  • Avoid bringing the dryer too close. The heat can discolor canvas fabric.
  • When shrinking leather, watch out for any distinct smell or signs of cracking—turn the blow dryer off immediately.
  • You may not see results after the first round, keep going and you’ll eventually feel a difference.
  • If you went too far and the shoes now fit tightly in certain areas, wear a pair of thick socks to stretch them slightly.

This video shows how simple shrinking your shoes can be.


Constrict the Shoe

If you have some sewing skills, this trick will come in handy. You can stitch an elastic band to an area inside the shoe, ideally the heel zone. The elastic will effectively pull the two sides together, giving the shoe a tighter fit.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One sewing needle.
  • Thread.
  • Two elastic bands, one for each shoe.


The method:

  1. Start by stretching the elastic band along the inside of the heel.
  2. Keeping it stretched, use pins to secure it at either end.
  3. Sew the elastic band in place, again, making sure the band is tight.
  4. Once you’ve secured it, release and the two sides will draw together.


Frequently Asked Questions

How to Tell If Shoes Are Small?

The first thing you’ll notice with small shoes is discomfort. You’re likely to feel pressure or even pain around your toes and heel.

If your new shoes are snug, but you’re unsure whether they fit or are too small, here’s what you can do. While wearing the shoes, insert your index finger at the heel—does it fit comfortably? Or is it too tight? If it’s the latter, your kicks are too small.


How Much Room Should Be at the End of a Shoe?

You should be able to fit the width of your thumb between the tip of your toes and the edge of the shoe. This will give you enough room to wear socks as well as stretch your toes comfortably.

How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Big for runner


Should My Toes Touch the End of My Shoes

If your toes are touching the end of the shoes, they’re too small. You should be able to comfortably stretch and curl your toes. Restricting these movements can lead to pain.

Furthermore, if you’re a frequent runner, your toes mustn’t touch the edge of the shoe. Running with small shoes will end in blisters, bruises and potentially damaged toenails.


How to Tell If Boots Are Too Big?

One of the first things you’ll notice with boots that are too big is that your feet slip into them too easily. Furthermore, they might feel wiggly as you’re walking or slip off when you lift your feet.

There are many different types of boots, and getting the right fit is important. If you want to read more about how should boots fit, our ultimate guide will help you get the right size.


Is It Bad to Wear Shoes That Are Too Big?

Yes, wearing shoes that are too big can do more than give you painful blisters. They may cause you to move in a dysfunctional and unnatural way.

This can lead to serious foot problems such as Achilles tendon and arch pain.


How Do I Tell My Shoe Size?

A quick way to figure out your shoe size is to draw an outline of your foot. Make sure you line it close to your skin.

Once you have your “footprint,” measure the longest and widest parts. Use these measurements to establish which shoe size would fit you the best.


Getting the Right Fit

So, how to tell if shoes are too big? Obvious signs are—if they slide on your feet as you’re walking, or if there’s a gap larger than the width of your thumb at the front.

Wearing shoes that are too big is not ideal, it can cause blisters as well as injuries. Luckily, there are ways to create a more snug fit, such as wearing insoles and shrinking the shoes.

We hope you found this article informative. Feel free to give us a shoutout in the comments if you found it helpful. Share with friends and relatives so they also can learn how to tell if shoes are too big.


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