In college, I was a size 7…

We measure… size 9.5! Yes. We take sizing, fitting and recommendation very seriously at our store. We determine that 90% of customers, if over age 35, have had to go up a half size, then another half size. Minimally… minimally, 80% of new customers are in shoes too short. For the majority of our customers (mainly women), throw in the progesterone factor, a very nonselective hormone that spikes during pregnancy/childbirth, and makes all your connective tissue relax… including those keeping your feet taught and strong. So feet flatten and elongate. Add to this, the distinct lack of uniformity from brand to brand, even within a brand. In my shoe room, I have everything from a size 9.5 to a size 13.

With the above in mind, some golden rules to a healthy fit:

  1. Ignore the ink: Do not be ruled by the size on the box. Guideline? Yes. But buy what fits, regardless of the labeled gender, size or width. If you MUST BE a size 7, I’ll make your shoes a size 7… with my Sharpee.
  2. Length: Off the front of your toes, before you hit the front of the shoe, you should have 3/8 to ½ an inch. Shoes too short? > bad, bad things happen.
  3. Width: The ‘throat’ (trim pieces with eyelets that hold the lace) should be parallel or slightly divergent.
  4. Heel Capture: ¼” lift or less. Ideally 0. Easily enhanced with lacing techniques.
  5. Time of day: Most of us, our feet swell later in the day. Before wearing new shoes outside, give them some hours of wear around the house, including late in the day to ensure adequate length and width on swollen feet.

Gary Richter is a manager of the locally owned New Balance store in Maple Tree Place, Williston. Gary has a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. He can be reached at His colleague Sara LaBarre is a board certified pedorthist, practicing locally for 12 years. Between the two, they have 55 years of experience at all levels of the industry.

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