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Barefoot shoe shopping tips

Although many people class shoe shopping as a hobby it can be a stressful experience at times, especially when there’s something in particular you’re after on a short deadline. And shopping for minimalist shoes can make things that bit more difficult.

Here’s my shoe shopping tips and advice for making things go as smoothly as possible and to get you the best fitting, most stylish barefoot shoes out there…


If you’re planning a specific shopping trip then there’s a few things you can do in advance to make it easier when you’re in store…

  • Wear something you plan on actually wearing them with. If you’re looking for something that works with a new skirt for example, wear the skirt (or at least some trousers that you can easily roll up to see how they look with your lower legs on show). Do the same for any socks or tights, as this will affect how the shoes fit (it’s surprising how much difference it makes). If you’re pairing shoes with a specific outfit then take it along so you can check that the colour / pattern / texture, etc. works.
  • Shop at the end of the day. Feet tend to swell slightly throughout the day, so, if possible, plan your shopping trip in the afternoon to ensure you don’t risk buying a pair that end up feeling too tight at the end of the day.
  • Call ahead. If you’re looking for a particular shoe it’s definitely worth calling the store ahead to check they definitely have them in your size. It’s soooo disappointing if you get there and find they’re all sold out.
  • Don’t drag your boyfriend along. Unless he genuinely loves shoe shopping.


When you get there…

  • Remember the barefoot profile. Do they have a flat heel? Is the toe box wide enough to allow your toes room to move? Is the sole thin and flexible? Is the upper well attached to your foot (so you don’t have to grip your toes to hold them on)? See more on this here. It comes down to personal preference in terms of whether the heel, toe, sole or upper is most important to you and especially when shopping brands that aren’t ‘officially’ barefoot it’s likely that you might have to compromise on some of these as it’s unlikely you’ll find something that ticks all the boxes.
  • Try on a couple of sizes. Especially if you’re between sizes and because a lot of brands (and even different styles of shoe from the same brand) can come up differently. It’s really tricky if you find that you’re between sizes or if they fit well on one foot but not the other. In these cases it’s best just to go with your judgment, whichever feels the most comfortable. I usually tend to go with the slightly larger size but only if my toes don’t have to grip to hold them on.
  • Don’t try on just one shoe. Is it only men that do this? You need to check that they fit both your feet!
  • Don’t buy them if they’re uncomfortable. Know this sounds really obvious but it’s so hard to remember when you fall in love with a pair (something I know well from personal experience). Just think, if they already don’t feel right or are rubbing after wearing them for a couple of minutes imagine what it’ll be like after a few hours ☹


I’m not a fan of shopping for shoes online but sometimes it has to be done (especially with barefoot shoes as some minimalist shoe brands only operate online) so it’s good to bear the following in mind.

  • Find pictures of ‘real’ people wearing them. Sometimes it can be really difficult to get a sense of what the shoes actually look like being worn, especially if the site only offers a couple of pictures, or if they’re just of the shoe shot on a white background. I always do a quick search on Instagram and Pinterest to see what people are wearing them with and if they look like what I’m after.
  • Consider buying more then one size. (If you’re often between sizes you know what I’m talking about.) This is really annoying but so is ordering them and finding they’re too small or large and having to order another pair and wait double the time to get yourself a new pair of shoes. (Although if you have to pay for returns then I might just take the gamble on the one pair).
  • Check the reviews. I find customer reviews really helpful, especially for barefoot shoes where people purchasing them are often very mindful to buy something that are good for their feet. Have a quick look through the reviews on the site (or do a Google search) as you might find a good tip to help your buying decision e.g. other buyers might have found that they come up small, large, narrow, darker than the images online, etc.
  • Read the small print. Another obvious one but I really would recommend taking the time to check each brand’s specific returns policy, how long their shipments take, if they have a specific sizing guide, etc. Although I always find this really annoying at the time it’s much more annoying when I haven’t checked and then they don’t arrive when I thought they would or I find I have to pay to return them, etc. etc. (You can tell why I don’t like shopping online, right?)

For some inspiration on where to look for barefoot and minimalist shoes take a look at my barefoot and minimalist shoe guide and let me know if you have any other tips of your own.

Happy shopping!

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