Can You Take Shoes Back After Wearing Them?

We’ve all been there. Wanting to return a pair of shoes you bought on a whim, perhaps for an upcoming event that left you feeling particularly uninspired by your closet. You went home and tried them on, only to realize that they weren’t a snug fit.

Maybe you had confidence in your choice that you hastily ripped off the tags, so now you’re wondering, ‘can you take shoes back after wearing them?’ Well, that solely depends on the brand’s shoe return policies. Read on to learn more.

Tips for Returning Shoes

Following a few fundamental guidelines might help you make the most of your shoe return.

1. Wear Shoes Indoors First

Given that the return policy varies from one brand to another, wearing shoes indoors is a great idea to keep them intact. If you experience discomfort in wearing your new pair of shoes, which may include the footwear being too loose or tight, foot pain, knee pain, or blisters from friction between the shoes and your feet, you can still possibly return them since you didn’t wear them outdoors.

Several online vendors and chain shoe stores have return policies that specify the footwear must be in the original packaging and unworn. Therefore, you should only wear them indoors on clean, carpeted surfaces before you decide to return them. Doing so prevents them from appearing to be worn, preventing you from getting an exchange or refund.

2. Act Quickly

You cannot expect a fit issue to be resolved with continued wear. Break off your relationship with the footwear upon detecting a problem and send them in or take them back for an exchange. Shoes should be supportive yet comfortable right off the bat, or else you’ll need to return them for an exchange with a better-fitting pair.

After all, no pair of shoes is a snug fit with every foot. If you’re using a local shoe store, being aware of the misses with the shoes will allow the staff to get you the perfect pair.

3. Avoid Returning Shoes Without a Valid Receipt

Save the receipt and keep the tags on. Nevertheless, if you misplace the tags, fret not, as the receipt is the most important. It serves as evidence of the purchase. It’s worth noting that if you lose the receipt or take off the tags, the shoes must be in tiptop condition for the store to consider taking them back. That means no stretched-out areas, no signs of wear and tear, and no wrinkles or creases.

4. Don’t Form the Habit of Returning Footwear

A wealth of stores have return policies. For instance, a $700 return limit within a 90-day or 60-day timeframe is just one return policy you may encounter. Therefore, each time you return a pair of shoes, the initial amount is inputted into the system during the return process.

If you exceed the $700-mark, further returns to the store will be denied. To prevent this predicament and salespeople from recognizing you as an avid returner, try on the shoes before buying them. Furthermore, avoid buying shoes on a whim and more with intention.

5. Avoid Returning Well-Worn Shoes

Ensure the footwear you’re taking back shows no signs of wear. Besides avoiding the obvious tears or stains, keep in mind that anywhere shoes bend will develop visible creases if worn. If that happens, the store where you bought the shoes is likely to refuse to take them back.

6. Don’t Overdo It with Your Reason for Return

There’s no denying that coming into a store with an elaborate tale locked and loaded raises suspicion to the salesperson. That prompts them to closely examine the pair of shoes you wish to return. Remember to keep your reasoning short and sweet.

Common Reasons for Shoe Returns

Let’s discuss the main reason why people take back shoes after wearing them.

Purchased the Wrong Shoes

Buying the wring footwear is particularly pervasive in eCommerce because you cannot physically handle the shoes.

Although you’d assume that’s out of your control, online shoppers rely more on detailed and accurate product descriptions, given the lack of physical contact before purchasing. Therefore, to avoid the predicament of returning shoes after wearing them, when shopping online, ensure you only choose shoes with definitive and precise descriptions and clear photos. Also, review the store’s return policy. If they are the wrong shoes, can you exchange them or receive a store credit? Or are they final sale only, meaning no refund will be available.

Purchased the Wrong Size

Purchased the Wrong Size

Image Source: Pexels

If you purchased your shoes online and were unable to try them on ahead of the purchase, then you may find yourself with shoes that don’t fit. In this case, you can request a return label for return shipping from the online retailer so they can be exchanged for the correct size.


The answer to the question, ‘can you take back shoes after wearing them?’ boils down to knowing the shoe return policy beforehand to avoid unwarranted surprises down the road. Additionally, it helps to have the receipt and original packaging of the shoes.


Let’s discuss the answers to the most commonly asked questions on shoe returns.

  1. What is Return abuse?

It’s categorized as ‘friendly fraud’ whereby someone buys items, including shoes, without the intention of keeping them. Also known as ‘free renting, ‘return abuse entails buying items, using them for a period before returning them.

  1. Can you take back shoes without the box?

Footwear must be in tiptop condition and unworn. Although shoes are returnable without the box and a receipt, for fast and easy returns, it is best to take them back with the proof of payment and the initial packaging.

  1. Can you return shoes if you wore them once?

Whether you purchased shoes online or at a store, you can return the item within 60 days of the purchase date. However, the footwear must be unwashed, unworn, and include the receipt, initial packaging, or your order number.

  1. Can you take back shoes after wearing them?

If you’re not entirely satisfied with your online shoe purchase for one reason or another, the brand will gladly take back and exchange or return the footwear. However, for goods to be exchanged or refunded, they must be unworn and in their initial packaging.

  1. How long can you wear shoes before taking them back?

As a rule of thumb, footwear is due for replacement every 8 to 12 months or up to 700km for walking or running shoes. Some footwear will last longer, whereas some will wear out faster.

  1. Can you return shoes Kohl’s shoes after wearing them?

As a renowned shoe brand, Kohl’s shoe return policy allows consumers to take back slightly worn footwear (sneakers, boots, slippers, or heels) within six months (180 days) of purchase. Customers should bring the shoebox and receipt for a full refund, exchange, or store merchandise credit when returning them.

  1. Is it illegal to wear shoes then take them back?

Yes! The practice of purchasing shoes or other wearable merchandise, wearing them once or twice, and returning them to the store is known as ‘wardrobing,’ which is illegal. It costs stores nearly $10 billion annually.

  1. Can you get into trouble for frequent shoe returns?

Given that some eCommerce stores see up to 30% of their sales returned, it’s resulted in a massive secondary market. Furthermore, some stores track what you bring back. As a result, consumer advocates warn that frequent returns might cause stores to blacklist you.

  1. What happens if you take back shoes after a 30-day window from the date of purchase?

If you don’t reject the footwear you bought within the first 30 days of the original purchase and find fault 180 days (6 months) after the original purchase, you’ll need to give the retailer and customer service a chance for repair. If that’s successful, you have the right to request a refund.

  1. Do stores monitor shoe returns?

Yes! A multitude of eCommerce or physical shoe stores tracks returns via The Retail Equation. It’s the most renowned option among retailers, in addition to the Verify Authorization System that utilizes analytics and modeling to detect abusive and fraudulent behavior when returns are processed at store return counters.

  1. What does Amazon’s Refund Policy without Return entail?

The company’s terms of use state that it doesn’t take title to returned shoes and other items until they arrive at the fulfillment center. Amazon can grant a refund without the need for a return. However, the decision is made solely at the company’s discretion.

  1. Will Amazon cut you off for too many shoe returns?

Yes! The company doesn’t reveal the number and frequency of shoe returns, leaving consumers in the dark. However, the company doesn’t want anyone abusing its service for an extended duration. Therefore, keep the footwear returns to a minimum (up to three).

  1. Why do stores request ID for shoe returns?

When taking back brand new or relatively new shoes, the store will typically request government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or passport. Doing so allows them to monitor consumers and identify any patterns of return abuse or fraud and take the necessary action if that’s the case.

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