How to Buy Shoes Online That Fit? My Tried-And-True Guide

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit

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If you’re on this page, you’ve probably already noticed how much appeal there is in buying shoes online. For one, online shops provide many more possible shoe styles for you to choose from. Many online shops offer world-wide shipping now, so you can easily find that pair of shoes you want from the other side of the world and have them delivered to you with just a few clicks on the web. For two, online shoe stores allow you to browse over their portfolio of inventories conveniently. Looking for a pair of running shoes? Easy. Type that in the site’s search bar or look under the sports shoes category, and almost immediately you have all the available choices placed right before your eyes. Checking for the availability of your shoe size has also been made easy. You can often check that out on the product details page without having to wait for someone to look that up for you, which is the case with physical shoe shops. For three, you can find the best prices a lot easier with online shopping. You won’t have to physically walk from shop to shop to do your research anymore. Plus, quite a few online shops offer attractive sales or deals from time to time, so you probably wouldn’t want to miss them out. Last but definitely not the least, online stores are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are really meant to be like convenience stores for you!


Given the many positives in buying shoes online, why are people still quite hesitant to do so? The answer is simple enough: because many of them don’t actually know how to buy shoes online that fit them well!


Certainly, as with everything else, there are always pros and cons. While you can really enjoy the many benefits to shopping for shoes online, you just don’t get to try them on and find out which size fits you before making the actual purchase.


Since you’re here, this is very likely to be a concern you have in mind as well. That’s why, folks, I am going to show you my tried-and-true method on how to buy shoes online that fit. Before coming up with this method, I have read about some other methods online as well as watched some YouTube clips on how you can measure your foot size at home.


My conclusion? Most of those methods are wrong! Just to be clear, they’re not completely off – only a mere bit I’d say. However, this tiny discrepancy is not at all insignificant– it can possibly lead you to getting the wrong shoe size! Why? Because afterall, it only takes one-eighth of an inch (or approximately a-third of a centimeter) to mark half a shoe size up or down! So you really want to get your foot measurements as precisely as you possibly can.


The detailed steps on how I managed to buy shoes online are outlined below. My method works well for me and I do hope that you’ll find it equally helpful!


Preparation Phase – What You’ll Need:
  1. The most standard and scientific way: Go for the Brannock device. But if you don’t have one, you can opt for the D.I.Y. technique which I’m going to show you next.
  2. To use my method, you will need to have these tools with you to start with:
  • 2 pieces of A4-sized paper
  • a pen
  • a ruler


How to Get the Measurements for Your Shoe Size Right:

First and foremost, two things to note:

  • Best time of the day to take your foot measurements is after a day’s walk when your feet have grown a bit larger due to swelling. Or, you may also try taking a considerably reliable approximation of that by adding half a shoe size (i.e. one-eighth of an inch or around 0.3 cm) to your pre-swollen feet’s measurements. But I would really suggest you to measure instead of estimate for the sake of higher accuracy.
  • Also, it is better to wear socks to account for that extra bit of length and width when taking your foot measurements. So, right before you start measuring the sizes of your feet, wear a pair of socks that you intend to wear together with the shoes you have in mind. That is, unless you don’t actually need any socks to go with those shoes. But if you don’t really have any idea on what shoes you’re looking for at this point, just go with some socks that you tend to wear more often.


Step 1: Place a piece of paper on solid ground (no soft grounds/ bumpy grounds/ carpets etc.), with its short edge leaned against a wall.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 1










Step 2: In upright position, step your right foot on the paper and make sure the lowest point of your heel actually touches the wall.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 2










Step 3: Using the pen, mark on where the tip of your longest toe lies.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 3










Step 4: Make two more markings on where the widest ends at the ball of your foot are.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 4










Step 5: Draw a straight line that joins your first mark to the paper’s short edge. Be sure the line you’re drawing is perpendicular to that edge. You can achieve this by first ensuring that the base of your ruler lies parallel with that edge and then draw the line.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 5










Step 6: Measure the length of this line in either centimeters or inches. This gives you your right foot’s length.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 6










Step 7: In a similar fashion, draw two other lines that join the remaining two marks to the paper’s short edge.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 7










Step 8: Measure the distance between these two lines. This gives you the width of your right foot.

How To Buy Shoes Online That Fit: Step 8










Step 9: Repeat the above steps for your left foot (you might ask me what is it with the repetition. You know, as our feet tend to be a bit asymmetric, it is important to measure both feet to account for any size differences).


Step 10: Once you have the lengths and widths of both feet, you can then focus on these two crucial numbers: the longer of the lengths and the wider of the widths. This set of numbers will help you find your best shoe size.


You may want to keep a record of those numbers so that you can easily refer to it in future. This is in no doubt a good practice. However, I would also advise you to measure your feet again after some time/ every now and then before buying any new shoes. Why? Because your foot sizes may fluctuate (usually within the range of half a shoe size) over time due to a number of factors. For example, if you have:

  • put on or put off some weight
  • walked/ run/ stood extensively over a period of time
  • been experiencing the oedema condition
  • been under the hot weather

Sometimes, the fluctuations are only temporary. But there are also instances when your feet become larger or smaller forever. So it is really advisable that you should take your measurements again after a reasonable period of time.


Now that you know what your foot sizes are, you are ready to begin exploring what shoes to buy online.


How to Buy Shoes Online With Minimal Risks:
  1. There are possibly 4 things you could do to give yourself more assurance before purchasing:
  • Read customer reviews: how many stars are those shoes rated with? And what do others say about those shoes in terms of their quality and sizing? Do the colors and materials match with the actual product description? Do people generally think that those shoes are true to size? Be mindful when reading the comments though, as you may not be able to tell if every comment posted was written by a verified customer. An example of what I’d consider to be some shoes with good customer reviews is this one.
  • Go for the trusted brands: this is definitely not a must, but only an alternative in case you can’t gain enough consumer confidence just by reading customer reviews. In that case, go for the big brands that you’re familiar with or brands that are renowned for assuring good quality. Brands like Reebok and K-Swiss should be some good places for you to start with.
  • Look for the shoe size chart: it should be somewhere on that product page or elsewhere on that site. You can use the measurements you’ve got to look up the corresponding shoes size you should be getting. Most of the time, however, the charts only contain shoe sizing correlations to foot lengths. If you have any particular concerns with the width, you should see my 4th point below. Also, do note that the shoe size for you at this shop can differ from that at another shop, because there’s no standard sizing used across different companies/ designers. So it is important to always look at the shoe size chart provided. Don’t just assume that since you’re getting a US size 7.5 here, this is also the right size for you when shopping for another brand.
  • Contact customer services or the seller: some sites also have customer hotlines or instant messaging customer services available. If you’re still unsure about those shoes, you may enquire for more information by contacting customer services. In most cases, it may be worth contacting customer services or the actual seller prior to buying your shoes online. This might be especially helpful if you happen to have narrower/ wider feet, in which case you may want to give them your width measurement and ask them if they have the right size in stock.


  1. Read the refund/ returns policies and exchange policies if they’re available. Things to look out for:
  • Returning and exchanging conditions (e.g. does it say somewhere that the shoes have to be kept intact and unworn in order to qualify for returns?)
  • Allowable returning period (e.g. does it say you have to return the item within a certain number of days after delivery?)


When you’re done with the above steps, you can then buy your shoes online with ease.


Things to Do After Purchase:


  1. When the shoes arrive, examine their quality. Are they up to your expectations? Also, try them on as soon as possible. Wear that same pair of socks that you wore when you took your feet’s measurements, and walk around in those shoes for a few minutes to get a good feel of whether they fit comfortably. Yes, they have to fit well the very first time you try them on because they don’t really stretch over time. So if they don’t fit now, they probably never will.


  1. If you are generally happy with the new shoes, then congratulations! You’ve bought your stuff and had a pleasant shopping experience. But if you aren’t that satisfied, there are two options for you to consider:
  • Add an insole and/ or the like to your shoes if it’s a matter of sizing. If those shoes run big on you, this can be a quick fix.
  • Seek for a return (or an exchange where applicable). Typically, you will have to fill out a purchase return (or exchange) form that came with your shoes in the delivery package, or you will have to download this form directly from the site you made your purchase from. If you’re requesting for an exchange, you should provide the seller with the sizing you wish to exchange for on the form. Ensure that you’re strictly following the policies that you’ve read earlier when making your return/ exchange claim.


  1. If you really like those shoes but have only returned them due to sizing issues, you can shop for them again, this time choosing another shoe size by also including your own judgement based on your experience last time. Since you’ve already had an experience putting on those returned shoes, you should have at least formed some idea on how much larger of smaller your shoe size needs to be. When in doubt, you can try reaching the seller/ customer service again and seek for their advice.


I hope this makes it a comprehensive guide on how you can buy shoes online. It has always worked for me, and I should think that it works for you too. Do you have any online shoe shopping methods/ experiences that you’d like to share? Let me know your thoughts!


8 thoughts on “How to Buy Shoes Online That Fit? My Tried-And-True Guide

  1. Juan Reply

    Great in-depth overview. Since I am very lazy to go shopping offline, I will definitely give it a try 🙂

    • Sharon Post authorReply

      Hi Juan, thank you and yes shopping online can be so much more convenient now especially if you know your way around it. Please do go ahead and give my method a try and see how you like it! 🙂

  2. Eril Reply

    This is very useful advice, thank you. I am very particular about buying shoes and will definitely take this into account for future use. I have been reticent to buy shoes online until now!

    • Sharon Post authorReply

      Hi Eril, you’re very welcome! I shall be really glad if my advice could help you out from now on! Hope you’ll enjoy the online shoe shopping experience and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. Shirley Reply

    Ok that foot measuring thing is probably going to send me broke now, just thinking about all the shoes I haven’t bought online because I didn’t know my proper size. Thanks for sharing…I think…

    • Sharon Post authorReply

      Hi Shirley, wow looks like you’re planning to go all the way to the very extreme. You’re welcome…I guess? LOL
      Anyways, I’m sure you won’t get yourself into trouble as a smart consumer! 🙂 Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and I do hope my method can help you buy any shoes you want online (without going broke)!

  4. Hazel Reply

    I totally needed this! I always buy my running shoes online because I can get the best price and it’s always the same style and size. But there’s also usually a buy one get one 1/2 off kind of thing I could use but I’ve been too scared to risk it. Now I’m totally going to do it.

    • Sharon Post authorReply

      Haha yea, go for it! Thank you for your comment. It’s cool to know how my posts could help others out on all sorts of ways lol

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