4 Common Formal/Dress Leather Shoe Sizing Problems And How to Solve Them To Find The Perfect Shoe Fit


Sick of leather formal/dress shoes that doesn't fit? 

Parts of a men shoe

Parts of a men shoe

Unsurprisingly, in a recent study, only 40% of men say they are able to find a good fit for their leather dress/formal shoes. 

Firstly, too many people think that there is a rule when it comes to shoe fit.

And if their shoes do not fit that rule, then the shoes don't fit their feet. 

It is not the shoe that don't fit their feet BUT

Rather their feet that don't fit most shoes. 

To get a good shoe fit, you must first understand what kind of feet you have to better match it to the type/style of shoes.

These are the common problems most men face when buying leather formal/smart casual dress shoes






Flat feet are characterized by the low arch in your feet.

Low arches are biomechanically imbalanced and can make your feet more susceptible to feet problems such as heel pain and arch pain. 

Flat feet is made even worse if you have a wide width foot (quite common in flat feet) 



Flat feet requires more arch support.

The problem is that most men formal/dress shoe brands does not cater to flat feet, and hence lack the necessary arch support. 


Without the arch support to withhold your sunken arch, your feet would apply pressure on the inside of the shoe which will cause the mouth of the shoe to widen and gape. 

Gaping mouth cause by the pressure on the inside of the shoe

Gaping mouth cause by the pressure on the inside of the shoe

This is made worse if you have wide width and a heavy set person with large feet. 

Best Style/Type of Shoe: 

Either bespoke shoes or shoes with wide width and firm arch support

The issue is that most shoes do not come with proper arch support nor come in wide widths and bespoke shoes are very expensive (at least $800) 

Pro-tip: You can also invest in custom insoles that provide the arch support.

However, do note that the thickness of the insole can be an issue as it would result in the heel slippage. 



Worst Style/Type of Shoe: 

Loafers and low cut shoes are the worst.

You would want to find shoes with depth as the higher lacing will lock your ankles and deter the gaping at the mouth. 

looking for the perfect shoe? find out the process to custom make your perfect shoe here! 


click here to See our finished CUSTOMMADE SHOES for inspiration here



This is a common issue as the two main factors that affect shoe fit is length and width. 

The length of the shoe would fit well but the width may be too tight/loose and one shoe size up or down would result in the length being too long/short. 

Problems with shoe width

Similar to flat feet, most shoe brands usually make formal/dress shoes in the regular width, thus people with wide/narrow width would have to compromise on fit. 

To get around this problem, it is best if you know which shoe width your feet fall under so you can specifically look for shoes that come in that width. 

Best Style/Type of Shoes

There is no best style or type when it comes to width as the style/type is independent of the width. 

However, it is the toe shape that affects the width to an extent. 

Wide width: Square toe. The square toe offers a roomier forefront and a wider width. 

Narrow width: chiseled toe. The chiseled toe offers less volume at the front for a more snug fit. 

Note: A round toe is more suited for the regular width. 

Worst Style/Type of shoes

Obviously, the worse type of shape for your wide feet would be chiseled toe and vice versa. 




The tightness/looseness around the mouth/lacing of shoes is usually got to do with your instep. 

Tightness around the lacing of the shoe

If you face some pressure/tightness in the lacing area (vamp of the shoe), 

Not the best example, but a high arch would result in a wide gap in your lacing. 

Not the best example, but a high arch would result in a wide gap in your lacing. 

This means you have a high instep and a high arch

Tightness/looseness around the mouth of the shoe does not mean that the shoe is a bad fit.

The rest of the shoes could be a perfect fit, but due to your abnormally highinstep, it results in pressure and causes the laces to gape. 

That does not mean you need a larger size. (one size larger could result in the rest of the shoe being too big)

It just means you need to find the style of shoes that suit your feet better. 

Differences between oxfords and derby

Differences between oxfords and derby

Best Style/Type of Shoe: 

Derby. This is due to the open lacing, giving more space to the instep. 

If you like an oxford, it just means you have to live with the gaping space between the laces. 






Worse Style/Type of Shoe: 

Monk Straps. As the straps do not allow a lot of versatility in the instep area. Sometimes, you may not even be able to buckle the straps due to your high instep. 


Large spacing around the mouth of the shoe

Large spacing around the mouth of the shoe

If your shoes will have more volume than your feet, especially around the laces,

This means you have a low instep and arch.

The shoe could fit you well in most area, but there would be looseness around the lacing area

Best Style/Type of Shoe: 

Oxford or Monkstraps.

As the lacing/buckle system in these shoes are more rigid and this results in less volume for your shoe. 

Pro-tip: an additional insole/cushion could add the necessary volume to give you a good fit. 

Worse Style/Type of Shoe: 

Derby. This is due to the open lacing resulting in more volume for your shoe. 



There are many reasons why there is heel slippage. 

1.) The shoes are too big

Get the shoes one or two size down.


2.) People do not properly lace their shoes.

Men formal/dress shoes are not meant to be worn like trainers.

They need to be lace up as much as possible without cutting out circulation. 

If you don't like snug lacing, then you have to accept heel slips. 


3.) it could be the rigid heel counter that needs breaking in/forming to your heel. 

Most (cheap) shoes are made with a composite of textile/plastic material that acts like leather and would form to your heel after it is broken in.

Problem is that these material are not as forgiving and comfortable as leather and can be quite rigid/stiff, thus not gripping your heels during the first few wears. 

This does not mean the shoes are too big.

it just means you need to break into your shoe. 

4.) Most importantly, it is because you have narrow heels. 

If you have narrow heels, you will have to find shoes with a narrow width to accommodate your narrow heels

If you have narrow heels, you will have to find shoes with a narrow width to accommodate your narrow heels

The solution to that is to find narrow shoes to prevent heel slippage.

However, most shoe brands make shoes to fit the masses and so they don't usually make narrow shoes. 

Unfortunately, there is no best/worse style or type or toe shape that best suit narrow heels

As the heel counter is similar regardless of style/type/toe.

It is largely dependent on the shoe brand and maker whether they cater towards people with narrow heels. 

Pro-tip: heel cushion would help in preventing heel slippage and making your shoes more comfortable. 


At the end of the day, fit is subjective. 

Some like it more snug, some like it roomier. One man's good fit is another man's bad fit. 

The best way to find out if a shoe fits is to try them out yourself and feel if it is comfortable enough. 


We have three different type of last to accommodate most men feet. 


Narrow Width


Regular Width


Wide Width

Unlike traditional shoe shopping, where you find a design/color of shoe you like, before trying out the size, we reverse the process. 

At CustomMade, we find a size and last that fits you first before customizing it to the style/design/color that you like. All at an affordable price. 

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