There are few articles of clothing more frustrating to shop for than shoes. Without the perfect fit, you may find yourself suffering from foot pain, calluses, and even backache. But what do you do when your size never seems to be in stock?
If you want to expand your options when it comes to footwear, one of the easiest ways is by checking out the men’s section. But can women wear men’s shoes?
How Can Women Wear Men’s Shoes?
The short answer is yes, women can wear men’s shoes. Though sizing and styles may differ, both boast the same basic design. There are only minor physiological differences between men’s and women’s feet.
The main reason stores separate men’s and women’s shoes based on gender is a sales tactic. People tend to prefer to shop for fashions that they identify with on a personal level. However, it’s perfectly fine for women to shop in the men’s shoe section if they find their own lacking.
While men’s feet tend to be larger and wider than women’s feet, there is a wide variation in shapes and sizes. Some men’s shoes come in smaller or narrower options that may be more suitable for unisex sizing. No matter the shape or size of your feet, you’re sure to find something that offers a comfortable fit.
If you want to try out some shoes in the men’s section of your favorite store, don’t be afraid to indulge yourself. However, keep in mind that men’s and women’s sizing are different. You’ll likely have to look for smaller or narrower shoes than usual. It may take some trial and error to find your perfect fit.
Why Wear Men’s Shoes?
It isn’t always easy to find the perfect set of shoes, especially when you happen to be a more popular size.
Shopping in the men’s section instantly doubles your pool of available footwear, giving you plenty of options to try in your size range. In some cases, men’s shoes may even prove more comfortable.
In addition to giving yourself more sizes and styles to choose from, you may also save money by opting for men’s shoes.
While dress shoes tend to be more expensive for men, athletic footwear is often comparable or cheaper. You may be able to save on sneakers, running shoes, and more by visiting the men’s section.
What’s more, the men’s section may have more shoe options available than the women’s section. Athletic footwear, in particular, tends to be easier to find in the men’s department. Men tend to have more options available for tennis shoes, running shoes, basketball shoes, and more.
One of the best reasons to shop for shoes in the men’s section is if your feet are larger or wider than average.
Men’s shoes tend to have more room inside, especially around the heel area. If your current shoes are giving you blisters, calluses, or ankle problems, you may want to try a men’s shoe size to see if it’s more comfortable for your foot shape.
The Difference Between Men’s and Women’s Shoes
So, can women wear men’s shoes? While men’s and women’s shoes are similar, there are a couple of minor differences.
It’s a good idea to be aware of the differences in shape, size, and support for men’s shoes if you plan to buy a pair. Even just minor differences in build can affect the wear and performance of a shoe.
Men’s shoe sizes are larger than women’s, so you may have to size down if you plan to try on a pair.
For example, a women’s size five shoe is equivalent to a size three and a half for men. If you try on your regular shoe size in a men’s style, it will be too large to fit your foot.
Men’s and women’s shoes have slightly different interior shapes to account for slight differences in foot physiology.
Women tend to have narrower heels than men, so most women’s shoes taper towards the back. On the other hand, men’s shoes will offer ample wiggle room.
Around the toes, on the other hand, women’s shoes tend to offer more space than men’s shoes. There is more area both in the front and to the sides of the toes.
Men’s and women’s shoes also differ in width. The average man’s shoe will have more interior space than a woman’s, as men tend to have wider, flatter feet.
Arches can also differ between men’s and women’s shoes. Women’s shoes tend to have higher arches than men’s footwear. In some cases, the arch may be closer to the heel in women’s shoes.
Thanks to differences in our hip shapes, men and women have distinctly different walking patterns.
Women tend to pronate more when they walk, meaning their foot hits the ground at a sharper angle. This contact angle is known as the Q angle.
As a result, women’s shoes often offer more support and padding than men’s. They boast cushioning to help absorb more shock along the sides of the foot.
Weight differences between men and women also affect the design of a shoe. Since women tend to be lighter, women’s shoes often have more cushioning and less reinforcement around the midsole.
Some shoes may use different materials for men’s and women’s sizes. Women’s shoes generally use softer, more lightweight materials, while men’s shoes have more rigid components.
The Different Types of Men’s Shoes
There are a wide variety of men’s shoes, most of which you won’t see in the women’s section. Any of these men’s styles make a cute and comfortable addition to any woman’s wardrobe.
Loafers are a versatile choice of shoes with a heeled slip-on design. They work for both casual and formal functions and pair with a wide variety of outfits. Match them with anything from slacks and a blouse to blue jeans.
Oxfords are slightly more formal than loafers. Their design boasts closed lacing along with over-the-vamp tabs. Some also have wingtips for a sleeker, more fashionable look. Oxfords pair best with formal wear, but women can also match them with semi-casual styles.
Derby shoes have a design similar to an Oxford shoe but have open instead of closed lacing. While these used to be considered sporty shoes, you see derby shoes worn in formal and semi-formal settings these days. Like Oxfords, they pair well with a range of higher-end styles.
Chukkas are the ankle boot cousins of derby shoes. They have a relatively low upper cuff and open lacing, often with two to three sets of eyelets. You can wear Chukkas with formal and semi-formal fashions, though some designs may also look good with casual wear.
This snug ankle boot aims to provide comfort with a low heel, stretchable tab, and a laceless slip-on design. Chelsea boots look great on men and women alike, with a timeless, effortless style. Pair them with anything from jeans to your favorite dress.
Unisex Shoe Options
If you don’t want to shop in the men’s or women’s section, you can find unisex shoes designed to fit both men and women. Though this type of shoe is rare, it is quickly gaining mainstream popularity.
Perhaps the most famous example of a popular unisex shoe is the Chuck Taylor. While these basketball shoes were initially for men, you see both men and women embracing the style in huge numbers these days.
Big brands such as Nike and Adidas are also introducing lines of unisex footwear. You can expect to see more unisex shoes hitting the market in the coming years.
How to Wear Men’s Shoes
You can find plenty of surprisingly cute shoes in the men’s section, from fashion-forward oxfords to comfortable Chelsea boots.
Most men’s sneakers are virtually indistinguishable from women’s sneakers. You can wear them interchangeably, regardless of your outfit.
Sneakers go best with sports and casual wear. They can be appropriate in some work and office settings, but always check the dress code before opting for sneakers—whether you wear men’s or women’s.
Men’s sneakers often come in more muted colors than women’s designs, which boast a lot of bright pinks, purples, and baby blues. If you’re looking for something to match a monochromatic workout outfit, you may want to check out the men’s shoe section.
Men’s formal shoes go well with a wide variety of women’s fashion, from high-end formalwear to semi-casual outfits. Leather shoes, in particular, can add a distinguished edge to any look.
You can dress up outfits such as jeans or casual dresses by adding men’s formal shoes to the look. They make a striking accessory for a wide variety of different styles.
Men’s boots often look similar to women’s boots, though they usually have a lower heel. You can pair men’s boots with any outfit you would wear your favorite pair of women’s booties with, including shorts, skirts, and dresses. Men’s boots also go well with pants and slacks.
Boots are a great way to show off your legs, and they’re often much easier to walk in than a pair of heels. A pair of nice men’s boots are also versatile enough to wear in various settings, from the office to formal events to casual evenings out on the town. Ensure that you purchase or wear the correct size to prevent the boots creasing.
Converting Men’s Sizes to Women’s
Can women wear men’s shoes and expect the same size to fit? If you know your size in women’s shoes, it’s easy to convert that number to men’s—no calculator needed.
In general, you should look for a men’s shoe around one and a half sizes lower than your women’s size. For example, if you wear a size six in women’s shoes, you would be around a size four and a half in men’s.
There is no standardization for shoe width, so finding the correct size for your foot may still require some trial and error. Most shoes come in narrow, regular, and wide options to fit a range of different shoe sizes. Women may want to try men’s shoes in a narrow size, as standard sizes tend to be wider than women’s shoes.
Keep in mind that, as with women’s shoes, each manufacturer will be different. Some brands have men’s shoes around two sizes lower than the women’s equivalent instead of one and a half.
It’s always a good idea to try out a wide variety of different men’s shoes to find the best fit for your feet. You’ll also get a better idea of your ideal size for future purchases.
Trying on Men’s Shoes
It’s always a good idea to try on shoes before buying them, no matter how confident you are in your measurements.
It’s a good idea to wear socks or nylons when trying on a new pair of shoes. It is not only more hygienic, but it gives you a more accurate idea of what your shoe will feel like on a day-to-day basis.
Always make sure to try on both shoes when looking at new footwear. Most of us have slight variations in the size and shape of our feet. It’s important to make sure that both shoes in a pair offer a comfortable fit.
You should make an effort to try on shoes later in the day rather than early in the morning. Our feet swell slightly over time, so a shoe that feels comfortable in the morning may be too tight by the evening. A little bit of wiggle room is better than none at all.
When you try on a shoe, it should feel cozy but not tight. There should be a small amount of room for movement around the heel and around the toes. Otherwise, you may end up with chafing, blisters, and foot pain.
If a pair of shoes feel comfortable while sitting, take them for a spin around the footwear department. Doing this will give you a better idea of how well they fit and if they offer the support that you need.
If your heel slides around in your shoes as you walk, it means they’re too big or have too much space in the back. You also shouldn’t feel your toes sliding around excessively. The ankle of the shoe should provide support, but it shouldn’t feel overly rigid against your heel.
When shopping online, always check the store’s return or exchange policies before buying shoes. If the fit isn’t right, you want to be able to try out a different size without running into any issues.
Can Women Wear Men’s Shoes? Closing Thoughts
If you’re having trouble finding a shoe with a perfect fit, you may have more luck with men’s sizing. Men’s shoes may even be more comfortable for those of us with larger feet than average.
Even if you’re just browsing, you can find a huge range of styles and price points by including the men’s section in your search. You’ll nearly double the number of shoes and styles to choose from, not to mention that you’ll probably save some cash while you’re at it.