When shopping for shoes, it’s very common to start by filtering shoe styles by gender.
However, this isn’t always an effective method of searching for shoes. Not only is the division of shoe styles according to binary gendering becoming an outdated concept in many parts of the world, but some men simply find women’s sizes more comfortable.
If you’re a man who struggles with the style or sizing of men’s shoes, you might be wondering whether you can wear women’s shoes instead.
Luckily, the answer is yes! There is absolutely no reason why a man should not be able to wear women’s shoes as long as the size of their feet is compatible with the widths and lengths of women’s shoe sizes.
Why Might Men Wear Women’s Shoes?
There are many reasons why somebody who identifies as male might want to wear shoes that are designed primarily for women.
For one thing, they might simply prefer a more traditionally feminine style of shoe, and that’s a totally valid reason!
Additionally, men with narrower or smaller feet may find that they feel more comfortable in women’s shoes because the standard sizing more closely matches the shape and size of their feet.
It should also be noted that with certain shoe brands, such as Converse or Vans, there seems to be quite literally no difference between the actual style of the men’s and women’s shoes. The only difference is in the sizing and proportions.
For example, if a man went into a shoe shop looking for a new pair of Converse, but they only had women’s sizes in stock, a quick size conversion could solve the problem. We’re going to talk about men’s and women’s shoe size conversions in more detail later, so stay tuned!
When Might a Man Not be Able to Wear Women’s Shoes?
The only real potential obstacle to a man wearing women’s shoes is sizing. The difficulty is that women’s shoes are typically built to be narrower than men’s shoes. Additionally, women’s sizes are proportionally shorter in terms of length.
This means that men with wide and/or large feet may struggle to find women’s shoes that fit them properly. However, wide sizes do exist specifically for women with proportionally wide feet, so this is a potential fix.
There are also some specific shoe styles that we wouldn’t recommend swapping sizing systems with. Primarily, the concern is with athletic shoes such as trainers and athletic sneakers.
Shoes that are designed specifically for athletic purposes are usually constructed differently from regular shoes because their job is to support the different areas of the feet as well as the leg joints to minimize the risk of strain or injury during exercise.
Because men and women do have different physiques in this way, you’ll find more variations between men’s and women’s sneakers than other shoe styles. For example, athletic shoes for women are likely to be narrower in the heel department and wider around the toes than men’s shoes.
Converting Men’s Shoe Sizes to Women’s Shoe Sizes
Converting women’s shoe sizes to men’s shoe sizes, and vice versa is actually really easy. There’s no complicated math involved here, so don’t worry.
If you want to work out which women’s size best correlates with your shoe size in men’s sizes, all you need to do is add 1.5 to whatever shoe size you normally wear.
So, say you’re a size 10 in men’s shoes. This would mean that you would need a size 11.5 in women’s shoes.
However, please bear in mind that this is only a rough calculation based on typical measurements of men’s and women’s shoes. Exact measurements and proportional differences are likely to vary slightly from brand to brand.
To ensure that your conversion is as accurate as it can be, the best thing to do is to buy your shoes in person and have your feet measured prior to purchase. This will allow the shop assistant to find the best women’s size to match your feet.
If you don’t feel comfortable buying shoes in person or simply don’t have the time to physically go out shopping, you’ll need to take extra care not to buy the wrong size when shopping online.
If you have the money to spare, you could invest in your own foot-measuring device. This is called a Brannock measurer, and it’s specifically designed for taking measurements of feet. Although your feet may have finished growing in length, they may continue to widen as you get older, so this is a useful device to own in any case.
In addition to looking at the manufacturer’s size guide online, it’s a good idea to check through customer testimonials and reviews before you buy a shoe in any size. Previous buyers may provide their shoe size along with their experience with the particular shoe, giving you an idea of how accurate the sizing is.
The bottom line here is that, in theory, a man can absolutely wear women’s shoes. After all, if the shoe fits, wear it!
Men with proportionally wide feet, however, will probably struggle to find women’s shoes that work for them. This is because women’s shoes are usually designed to be narrower and shorter to account for the typical size difference between men’s and women’s feet.
With that being said, women’s shoes do also come in wide sizes specifically for women with wider feet, so if you are a man with wide feet, a wide woman’s shoe in a larger than average size might still work for you.
The only type of shoe we wouldn’t recommend men wear in women’s sizes are athletic shoes. This is because athletic shoes for men and women are typically constructed very differently and wearing the wrong kind of shoe to work out in can lead to injuries.
To convert men’s sizes to women’s sizes, add 1.5 to your normal size. This should give you an estimate of your ideal women’s size.
However, it’s helpful to have your feet measured prior to purchasing in case they have gotten wider or in case a particular brand deviates from the norm in terms of sizing.