Should Sandals Be A Size Bigger? (Right Answer)

You just ordered a new pair of sandals, but they don’t fit right! Upon inspection, it seems that your toes could be too far forward, they could be a size too small, or the arch support isn’t quite right, but you can’t be sure.

Fitting sandals correctly is a bit more complicated than simply selecting your usual size 9’s and clicking the order button. In fact, it is important to consider a few things when purchasing sandals to get the perfect fit.


Quick Answer

When selecting a pair of sandals, consider buying a size larger from your regular shoe size. While shoes and sandal sizes are generally the same, size and, more importantly, fit variations commonly exist between different brands. It is typically good practice, especially if you are a half size (9 ½) to consider sizing up.

There are a few things to consider when purchasing a new pair of sandals, in addition to the appropriate fit. In this article, we will take a closer look and briefly explore these variations.

How to Choose Your Sandal Size?

Selecting the right sandals, involves a bit more consideration than most of us realize. Here’s what you need to consider:

Picking the appropriate size- The best way to pick the appropriate sandal size is by trying them on in the store. Unsurprisingly, this is much more effective than shopping for them online. Try on a few different sizes and styles. Take a few steps around the store while you’re wearing them; then, ask yourself questions: Are my toes hanging over the edge? Do I feel any sort of discomfort?  Do my ankles/foot feel supported? You can only ask yourself these questions when you try the shoes on in person. Unfortunately, the convenience of online shopping is the common culprit for inappropriate sizing.

Do I have narrow or wide feet? – For someone with a wider foot, avoid sandals with side straps as this could potentially lead to an uncomfortable tight feeling. For individuals with a narrower foot, take note of the length of the sandal, ensuring that your toes nor heel hang over the edge. This applies to wider feet as well.

Arch support or not? – This is a very important consideration and varies depending on the brand. It is important to evaluate your own arches to gage whether you require high, medium, or low arch support. You should aim to distribute your weight evenly throughout the entire sandal, which becomes a challenge without the appropriate support. When we don’t take this into consideration, it may lead to pain when walking, and potential foot issues, such as the following: plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and/or pronation of the ankle (rolling inward).

Open or Closed Sandals? – This decision can largely depend on how and when you plan on wearing your sandals. When walking on even ground outside, on a warm sunny day, the decision becomes personal preference. But if you are planning on exploring uneven terrain, it might be best to cover up and protect your toes!

What Size Sandals Are More Comfortable?

Now, it is time to make this decision for yourself. Use the questions from the previous section to help guide your decision. Make sure to go through each category and provide a thoughtful answer to each question.

Once you have done this, it is time to go to the store and try on some sandals. Don’t skip this step! The main reason we end up with ill fitted footwear is because many of us prefer online shopping. Take the time to make this decision. Otherwise, you will end up spending more time sending items back!

Keep in mind, selecting proper footwear promotes healthy feet. It is, for all intents and purposes, a preventative measure for potential foot issues. These issues include pain when walking, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and/or ankle pronation. Don’t take this consideration lightly.

This is your excuse to shop! Carve some time out of your day to pick the shoe that is best for you. Remember, a healthy foot is a happy foot!

Is Shoe Size and Sandal Size Same?

For the most part, the answer to this question is yes: shoes and sandals are typically the same size. However, the way one may fit the same foot, can be quite different.

Structurally, shoes and sandals are built very differently. Shoes are built with the intention to cocoon the entire foot comfortably and protectively. Sandals are not. So, refrain from selecting a pair of sandals simply because they are the same sizes as your shoes.

How to Measure Your Foot Length?

Finding the right fit starts with knowing the size of your foot. This process can easily be performed at home. Here’s how:

  • Place a ruler perpendicular to a wall, so that the ruler sticks outward.
  • Stand so that the back of your heels touch the wall.
  • Record the measurement that lines up with your big toe, or second toe, if its longer.

Now that you know your foot length, you are on your way to purchasing that new set of sandals you have had your eyes on for quite a while. Say, for instance, you buy them online but following all the steps listed above. But when you try them on, they don’t fit! In fact, they are HUGE. This leads us to our next section:

What Do I Do if My Sandals Are Too Big?

If this happens, and you find yourself waddling around in oversized flip flops, it’s important to do a few things.

  • Return the shoe- This may sound obvious, and if you’re saying to yourself “Of Course,” that’s good. Often, people are unwilling to go through the process of returning and reordering and just make do with the oversized shoe. While this isn’t the best idea for the obvious increased tripping risk, wearing oversized sandals can negatively interfere with one’s posture and balance. This will inevitably lead to discomfort and the need to purchase the correct size sandal anyway.
  • Learn from your mistakes- Even if it seems like you took every measure to properly size and order the correct shoe, brand sizing variations can still lead to an improper fit. If this happens, select a new size based on how your foot fits in this shoe. Most likely, you will only need to move up or down one size.

What Do I Do if My Sandals Are Too Small?

On the contrary, what happens if your sandals turn out to be too small. Signs of this include your toes spilling over the edge or the back of your heels jutting past the back of the shoe. Usually, wearing undersized sandals can be awfully uncomfortable, even unbearable. Just like with oversized sandals, it is important to follow a similar process of returning and learning from your mistakes. Again, sometimes this occurrence is unavoidable because brand size variation is playing a very large role. But it is important to utilize this shoe to help you pick the correct size. This is a mistake, but a helpful one, nonetheless.

Should They Be Bigger or Smaller?

To reiterate, sandals generally fit differently than shoes. If you find a sandal that you love but you are stuck between two sizes, generally the bigger size will fit better than the smaller size.  Additionally, sandals move up in size in small increments so moving one size bigger than your normal shoe size will not result in a drastically larger shoe.

How Should Gladiator Sandals Fit

Gladiator Sandals are a popular sandal, styled after the foot ware of the Roman gladiators. It’s defining feature is the pattern of numerous straps running in different directions.

If you have wide feet, consider opting for diagonal straps; horizontal straps widen the appearance of the foot. On the contrary, for those with narrow or thin feet, opt for thinner, horizontal stripes to widen the foot’s appearance.

These are a few stylistic considerations to take note. In the end, the number of straps largely depends on personal preference.

Gladiator sandals tend to lack arch support. This is important to consider if you are someone with high arches and require the support. Walking in flat shoes can lead to pronation and misalignment of the ankle, causing discomfort.

Wrap Up

Sandals are a curious sort of foot ware, demanding specific attention to detail to ensure a perfect fit. When selecting sandals, it is important to treat them differently than shoes, which are made to fit differently than sandals. A good rule of thumb is to select sandal sizes that are one size bigger than your normal shoe size. Not to worry, sizing up won’t result in clown shoes.

Have you ever struggled picking the proper sandals? Let us know in the comment section below what your experience has been like, and if these new tips help you in your current perfect sandal search!

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