Is it Better to Wear Shoes of a Bigger Size or your Actual Size?

When it comes to buying shoes, a common dilemma that many face is whether to opt for their actual size or to go a size up. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The right shoe size can make a huge difference in comfort, foot health, and overall quality of life. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the pros and cons of both choices and provide some insights to help you make an informed decision.

Is it better to Wear Shoes of a bigger Size or your Actual Size?

Choosing the right shoe size is crucial for comfort and foot health. Wearing your actual size offers optimal support and aesthetics. However, a slightly bigger size can accommodate foot swelling or orthotics. It’s essential to prioritize comfort and ensure the shoe doesn’t cause friction or restrict movement. Always try before buying or ensure a good return policy.

CriteriaActual Size ShoesBigger Size Shoes
ComfortProvides optimal comfort when well-fitted.Might offer room for swelling, but can cause sliding inside.
SupportOffers accurate arch and heel support.Possible misalignment with support points.
AestheticsMaintains intended shape and design.Might appear oversized or not conform to foot shape.
Risk of BlistersLower, if shoe fits well without friction.Higher, due to foot sliding inside.
Accommodating OrthoticsMight be limited without extra room.Easier to fit insoles or custom orthotics.
SafetyLower risk of tripping if snugly fitted.Increased risk of trips due to extra room.
Wear & TearNormal wear based on use.May have premature wear due to foot movement.
Brand Size VariationMay require adjustments depending on brand sizing.More forgiving with minor brand size discrepancies.

Remember, comfort and foot health should always be prioritized. It’s essential to try shoes on, if possible, or ensure an easy return policy when purchasing.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why Shoe Size Matters
  2. Wearing Shoes of Your Actual Size: Benefits and Drawbacks
  3. Wearing Bigger Sized Shoes: Benefits and Drawbacks
  4. Factors to Consider While Choosing Shoe Size
  5. The Verdict

1. Why Shoe Size Matters

Before delving into the specifics, it’s essential to understand why shoe size is critical. Shoes that don’t fit correctly can cause:

  • Blisters and Sores: Caused by friction between the foot and the shoe.
  • Foot Deformities: Like hammertoes or bunions.
  • Posture Problems: Leading to back and knee pain.
  • Restricted Blood Flow: Especially in tight shoes.

2. Wearing Shoes of Your Actual Size: Benefits and Drawbacks


  • Optimal Comfort: A well-fitted shoe conforms to the shape of your foot, offering snugness without restricting movement.
  • Better Support: Shoes of the right size provide the correct arch support, crucial for foot health.
  • Improved Aesthetics: Shoes that fit well look better as they maintain their intended shape and design.


  • Size Discrepancies: Not all brands size their shoes the same way. A size 8 in one brand might fit differently than a size 8 in another.
  • Limited Choices: Some trendy designs might not have half-sizes available.

3. Wearing Bigger Sized Shoes: Benefits and Drawbacks


  • Room for Swelling: Feet tend to swell during the day or due to specific activities. Larger shoes can accommodate this.
  • Additional Insoles: Bigger shoes can accommodate orthotics or insoles for enhanced comfort.
  • Easier to Wear: Especially for those with conditions like arthritis where putting on snug shoes can be painful.


  • Increased Risk of Injury: Shoes that are too large can lead to trips and falls.
  • Excess Wear and Tear: The foot sliding inside can cause premature wear.
  • Reduced Support: The foot may not align with the intended support points, compromising arch support.

4. Factors to Consider While Choosing Shoe Size

Purpose of the ShoeAthletic shoes may need to be snugger for support, while casual shoes might allow for a bit more room.
Material of the ShoeLeather tends to stretch over time, so consider this while choosing.
Foot SwellingIf you’re prone to significant swelling, a slightly bigger size might be beneficial.
Brand SizingAlways refer to the brand’s sizing chart and read customer reviews to gauge if sizes run large or small.
Orthotic NeedsIf you need to use special insoles or orthotics, ensure there’s room in the shoe.

What happens if you wear a shoes that’s too big?

Wearing shoes that are too big can lead to discomfort, lack of support, blisters, foot pain, arch and heel problems, toenail issues, gait problems, reduced performance, and poor circulation. It may cause injuries, strain, and negatively affect foot health and overall comfort. Properly fitting shoes are essential for optimal foot support and well-being.

If you wear shoes that are too big for your feet, it can lead to several issues and discomforts:

  1. Lack of support: Ill-fitting shoes may not provide proper support to your feet, leading to an increased risk of injuries. Your feet won’t have the necessary stability, which can result in sprains, strains, or even falls.
  2. Blisters and friction: Excess space in oversized shoes can cause your feet to slide around, creating friction between your skin and the shoe material. This can lead to painful blisters and calluses.
  3. Foot pain: Wearing shoes that are too big can cause your feet to work harder to maintain balance and grip. This can lead to foot pain, fatigue, and discomfort, especially during extended periods of walking or standing.
  4. Arch and heel problems: Inadequate support from oversized shoes can put additional stress on your arches and heels, potentially causing or exacerbating conditions like plantar fasciitis or flat feet.
  5. Toenail issues: Shoes that are too big may cause your toes to repeatedly hit the front of the shoe, leading to bruised or ingrown toenails.
  6. Gait problems: Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly can affect your gait and natural walking pattern. This can lead to issues with your knees, hips, and lower back over time.
  7. Reduced performance: In sports or physical activities, wearing oversized shoes can hinder your performance and coordination due to the lack of proper support and stability.
  8. Poor circulation: Shoes that are too big might not hold your feet securely, which can affect blood circulation and lead to cold feet or other circulatory problems.

To ensure optimal foot health and comfort, it’s essential to wear shoes that fit properly. When trying on shoes, make sure there is enough space in the toe box for your toes to move freely, but not too much room that your feet slide around inside the shoe.

Always consider the type of socks you’ll be wearing with the shoes, as this can also affect the fit. It’s best to try on shoes later in the day when your feet are slightly swollen, as they tend to be at their largest size. If you’re unsure about the fit, consult with a professional shoe fitter or a podiatrist for guidance.


Is it OK to wear different size shoes? Ideally, it’s not recommended to wear different-sized shoes, as it can cause imbalance and discomfort. However, in some cases, people with significant foot size differences may use inserts or special shoes to accommodate the size variation.

Is it okay to buy shoes a half size too big? Buying shoes a half size too big may offer more room for your feet to expand, especially if you’re on your feet for extended periods or have slightly different foot sizes. However, excessively large shoes can lead to discomfort and foot issues.

How do you fit a one size bigger shoe? To fit a shoe that is one size bigger, you can try using insoles or thicker socks to compensate for the extra space. However, it’s generally better to find shoes that fit properly to ensure proper support and comfort.

Should your toe touch the end of the shoe? Your toes should not touch the end of the shoe. There should be a small gap (about half an inch) between your longest toe and the front of the shoe to allow for natural movement during walking.

How much room should be at the end of a shoe? There should be about half an inch of space between your longest toe (usually the big toe) and the front of the shoe. This provides sufficient room for movement without being too tight or too loose.

Is it better to wear shoes slightly bigger or smaller? It’s generally better to wear shoes that are slightly bigger rather than smaller. Shoes that are too small can cause discomfort and foot issues, while slightly bigger shoes allow for better comfort and flexibility.

Which foot is usually bigger? In many people, the left foot is usually slightly bigger than the right foot. However, foot size variations are common, and it’s essential to measure both feet when buying shoes.

Have UK shoe sizes changed? UK shoe sizes may be subject to slight variations over time due to changes in manufacturing and sizing standards. However, any significant changes would likely be communicated to the public by shoe manufacturers.

How can I shrink my shoe size? It’s not recommended to try to shrink shoes to fit your feet as it may damage the material and alter the shoe’s structure. If the shoes are too big, consider using insoles or thicker socks to create a better fit.

How do you know if shoes fit right? Shoes fit right when there’s enough room for your toes to move, snug support around the heel and arch, no slipping or rubbing, and no painful pressure points. Your feet should feel comfortable and properly supported.

What does it mean if a shoe runs a half size large? If a shoe runs a half size large, it means that the shoe’s sizing is slightly bigger than the standard measurement. You may need to consider purchasing a half size smaller than your regular size for a proper fit.

How much bigger should I buy my shoes? The size difference varies from person to person. Generally, you may consider going up half a size if the shoe feels snug or uncomfortable. However, it’s best to try on different sizes to find the most suitable fit for your feet.

How do you wear 2 sizes bigger shoes? Wearing shoes two sizes bigger than your actual size would likely be very uncomfortable and impractical. It’s not recommended to wear shoes that are excessively large for your feet, as it can lead to foot problems and instability.

Can you stretch a shoe 1 size up? It’s possible to stretch a shoe up to half a size, but trying to stretch it a full size up may result in damaging the shoe’s structure and material. It’s generally better to find shoes that fit properly from the start.

Should toes be curled in shoes? No, your toes should not be curled in shoes. If your toes are curled, it indicates that the shoes are too small, and this can lead to discomfort, blisters, and other foot issues.

Should I be able to wiggle my toes in shoes? Yes, you should be able to wiggle your toes slightly when wearing shoes. Having some room for toe movement allows for better circulation and prevents cramping or discomfort during prolonged wear.

Is an inch of toe space too much? Yes, an inch of toe space is too much. Having too much space between your toes and the front of the shoe can lead to instability and discomfort during walking.

Do shoes loosen over time? Shoes made of natural materials like leather may stretch and mold slightly to your feet over time with regular wear. However, significant loosening of shoes is not common, especially if they are made of synthetic materials.

Where should my toe be in shoes? Your toe should have about half an inch of space between the front of the shoe and the tip of your longest toe. This allows for proper foot movement and prevents the toes from hitting the front of the shoe during walking.

How much bigger is a 9.5 than a 9? In the United States shoe sizing system, the difference between a size 9 and 9.5 is typically one-sixth of an inch in length. It’s a small increment, but it can make a difference in the fit and comfort of the shoe.

Should I get shoes bigger than my feet? You should not get shoes significantly bigger than your feet. Shoes that are too large can cause discomfort, instability, and potential foot problems. Aim for a proper fit with a little bit of extra room for toe movement.

Do shoes get smaller as you wear them? No, shoes do not get smaller as you wear them. The size of the shoe remains the same throughout its lifetime. However, some shoes may stretch or mold slightly to your feet with regular wear.

Is it okay for boots to be a little big? Boots that are slightly bigger can be acceptable, especially if you wear thick socks or plan to use insoles for added support. However, excessively large boots can cause discomfort and may not provide the necessary stability.

Do feet get larger with age? Yes, for many people, feet may get larger with age due to factors like weight gain, loss of arch height, and changes in ligaments and tendons. It’s essential to have your feet measured regularly to ensure you’re wearing the right size shoes.

Does weight affect foot size? Weight gain or loss can affect foot size in some individuals. Increased body weight may put more pressure on the feet, leading to the flattening of arches and a potential increase in foot size.

Why is my right foot so much bigger than my left? Asymmetry in foot size is common, and one foot being larger than the other is not uncommon. It can be due to natural variations in bone structure and soft tissues.

How can you tell if someone is wearing shoes too big? If someone is wearing shoes that are too big, you may notice excessive slippage in the heel area, an awkward gait to compensate for the loose fit, and visible gaps between their feet and the shoe.

Why does my big toe hurt in shoes? Big toe pain in shoes can be caused by various factors, including an improper fit that puts pressure on the toe, tight toe boxes, or the shoe’s design not accommodating the natural movement of the toe.

Can you wear shoes half a size down? Wearing shoes half a size down from your regular size may be uncomfortable and can cause issues like rubbing and pressure on your toes. It’s best to find shoes that fit properly without being too tight.

How much heel slippage is normal? A little bit of heel slippage is normal when trying on new shoes, but it should not persist when you’re walking. Your heels should be comfortably secured in the shoe without excessive movement.

Do Adidas run big or small? Adidas sizing can vary between different models and styles. Some people find that Adidas shoes run slightly bigger, while others may feel they run true to size. It’s best to try them on to find the right fit.

Can you have 2 shoe sizes? Having two different shoe sizes for each foot is relatively rare but can occur due to natural variations in foot anatomy. Some people may need to buy two pairs of shoes or use special customizations to accommodate the size difference.

How do I stop my shoes rubbing my big toe? To prevent shoes from rubbing against your big toe, make sure the shoes are the right size and provide enough room in the toe box. You can also use moleskin, band-aids, or toe protectors to cushion the area.

How long does it take to break shoes in? The time it takes to break in shoes varies depending on the type of shoes and materials. It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks of regular wear for the shoes to feel comfortable.

How much space should be between toe and shoe running? For running shoes, there should be about half an inch of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. This allows for some room for foot expansion during running without being too tight.

How do you know what size shoe you are? To know your shoe size, have your feet measured at a shoe store or measure them at home using a sizing chart. Take measurements while standing, and consider both length and width to find the best fit.

These answers cover a wide range of questions related to shoe sizing, fitting, and foot health. If you have any specific concerns about your shoes or foot size, it’s best to consult with a professional shoe fitter or a podiatrist for personalized advice.

5. The Verdict

Choosing between your actual size and a bigger size is highly individual. It would be best to consider the factors listed above, the purpose of the shoe, and, most importantly, comfort. If in doubt, always try on shoes in-store before buying or ensure a solid return policy if shopping online.

In conclusion, while the debate about shoe size continues, what remains clear is the importance of wearing comfortable and supportive footwear. Whether you opt for your actual size or a slightly bigger size, always prioritize your foot health and comfort above all else. And remember, a shoe that looks fantastic but is uncomfortable is never a worthy trade-off.