The Right Shoe Size, with the Help of Pen and Paper

Finding the right shoe size with online retailers can be a challenge.  For some, the struggle for a shoe that fits goes beyond just buying online.  Some feet spend years trying to find a shoe that accommodates their shape.  These difficult to fit feet will often find their way to our mailbox at SOM Footwear.  They arrive among the bills and advertisements in hand-addressed envelopes.  When you open them, someone’s feet unfold into your hands. 

Foot tracing for shoe sizing

When customers approach us with difficult to fit feet (usually a wide foot, oddly shaped or larger shoe size), we generally recommend that they send us a foot tracing.  This is exactly what it sounds like—standing on top of a sheet of paper and drawing the outline of your foot.  It is not the most glamorous or high-tech of methods, but in the world of buying shoes online, sometimes pen and paper are necessary.

Foot tracings do not magically provide us with the perfect shoe size. In fact, tracing your foot accurately is a difficult task in and of itself—even if you can easily touch your toes, we still recommend having someone else do the tracing for you.  Rather it is only one clue to determining the right shoe fit  (a 2-D clue at that) to be taken into consideration with others.  We compare the outline and its measurements to our models in order to make an informed suggestion of size, but we also listen to what the usual fit concerns each individual typically faces.  While reviewing a physical tracing does give us more insight into shoe sizing, it is not a perfect nor completely accurate tool.  


With all of its imperfections, we will still suggest a foot tracing because it is a good place to start a discussion about the right shoe size.  (See our sizing information for more details on how to get an accurate foot tracing.)  Those difficult to fit feet will often live up to their reputation and it may take an exchange or two before we find the shoe size that provides just the right fit.   When our shoes cannot provide that right fit, we still hold on to the foot tracing.  With each design change or improvement, we review past tracings to see if there is now a way that we can now serve these feet.  

Foot Tracings


It may seem like a long shot to have your foot tracing sitting in a folder at a shoe factory, but this year we were able to reach out to a number of people who needed larger sizes than what we had been producing.  With the release of the Norwood we could finally serve those with larger shoe sizes—up through a size 16.  While we never enjoy learning that our shoes don’t work for someone, it makes all the difference when your mission is to continuously work towards serving more feet.

1 comment

  • What a great service this is! I didn’t need to send tracings for my pair, but SOM was able to produce a 9 and and 8 when I asked for it. On top of the good sense that it makes to support American made manufacturers and the great shoes that the SOMs are, this level of customer service and customization really sets SOM apart. Thanks for being dedicated to your product and customers!


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