What to Look for When You’re Buying Elevator Shoes

Elevator shoes can help shorter men stand a couple of inches taller. Here's an example of me wearing regular shoes (right) vs. elevator shoes (left):

Normal shoes vs elevator shoes

How my face looks in 99% of photos…

It's a subtle but noticeable difference.

The problem is, there are many ugly, cheap, uncomfortable elevator shoes on the market, so you have to make sure to buy the right ones.

This post will help you buy elevator shoes with confidence.

Buying elevator shoes

Don's Footwear logoNote: Big thanks to Don's Footwear for making this post possible! You can use the code MODESTMAN for 15% off your first order of elevator (or regular) shoes.

When you're buying any kind of shoes, you want to pay attention to three things:

  1. Comfort
  2. Style
  3. Quality

Elevator shoes are no different. You shouldn't sacrifice comfort, style or quality just because you want to wear height increasing shoes.

Using two pairs of Don's Footwear shoes as examples, I made a video explaining how to buy elevator shoes that are actually worth your money.

You can also see a side-by-side comparison of me wearing elevator shoes vs. regular shoes:

Priority #1: Comfort

Elevator shoes work because they have special insoles that raise your foot off the ground. Traditional insoles only raise your heel up, but they slope down steeply to your toes.

It feels like wearing high heels (supposedly…).

Shoe lifts or “risers” work the same way. They provide a platform for you heel, but not your toes. So all of your weight is transferred to the front of your foot.

It's much more comfortable to wear elevator shoes that have raised flat soles. For example, many shoes made by Don's Footwear feature “Midsole Tech” insoles:

Midsole Tech insole

It's still not quite the same as wearing a regular shoe, but this kind of insole definitely makes elevator shoes more comfortable.

After all, you don't want to be reminded of the fact that you're wearing elevator shoes with each step you take, right?

Priority #2: Style

Shoes are one of the first things people notice about your outfit, so you want them to look good. Just because you want a little extra height doesn't mean you have to settle for ugly shoes.

I'm not sure why so many elevator shoe brands miss the mark when it comes to style. It may be because they prioritize the heightening aspect of their shoes over everything else.

Stylish vs ugly elevator shoes

But there are a few brands like Don's Footwear that understand how to make a handsome shoe, and they just so happen to make elevator shoes.

This is the kind of brand you want to buy from. A men's shoe company that makes height increasing shoes.

Remember: the goal is to make sure your elevator shoes don't look like elevator shoes.

Priority #3: Quality

High quality shoes will last much longer and save you money in the long run. Plus, they tend to look better and feel more comfortable.

Goodyear welt

Courtesy of Primer Magazine

The best way to gauge the overall quality of a shoe is to figure out how it was made. You want to ask, “What method of construction was used to make this shoe?”

In other words, how is the upper part of the shoe attached to the sole?

Now I'm sure you've heard of Goodyear welting, which is generally accepted as the gold standard of shoe construction.

The major benefit of Goodyear welting (or hand welting, which is what Don's Footwear uses) is that it allows shoes to be resoled.

So, after the outsole (the part that touches the ground) wears out, it can simply be replaced with a new one.

A high quality pair of shoes will last for decades if they're cared for properly and resoled as needed.

Most elevator shoes use a cheap, quick construction technique called “cementing” where the upper is basically glued to the outsole.

Cemented shoes can't be resoled. So, unless you're on a very tight budget, I recommend avoiding them.

About Don's Footwear

I received two pairs of shoes from Don's Footwear. The ones with Midsole Tech are the most comfortable elevator shoes I've tried on.

Allan Donnelly

Allan Donnelly

Both pairs look and feel high quality, and considering that they're hand welted, they're priced very reasonably.

Born and raised in Scotland, Allan Donnelly founded Don's Footwear in 2009 after falling in love with elevator shoes and teaching himself how to make shoes the old way – by hand.

Allan is extremely passionate about his work. He wants men to be able to wear elevator shoes without looking or feeling like they're wearing elevator shoes.

Visit Don's Footwear online, and be sure to check out their event calendar to see if they're hosting a trunk show in your city.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

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  1. Brock. You say absolutely nothing about the quality of the leather used in those shoes. I haven’t bought any shoes from Don’s myself and that’s because looking at the various pictures for some boots listed on their website, it looks like the leather they use is reconstituted leather.
    I can’t say for certain, because as I said, I haven’t bought any. But the quality of the leather is clearly more important than the construction of the shoe. Who cares about what welting method was used when your shoe starts cracking all over the place?

    • I have two pairs, and from what I can tell they’re very high quality leather. Not pressed, bonded or synthetic.

      You can ask Allan what tanneries he uses (I’m not sure).

      I’ve never come across a brand that uses hand welt or Goodyear welt construction for bonded leather shoes. It just wouldn’t make sense. Usually the materials are on par with the construction quality.

      But if you’re thinking about buying from Don’s, I’d ask for more info about the leather if that’s going to influence your decision.

  2. Hi Brock,

    I’ve bought a couple of pairs of Don’s elevator shoes before. The way they are made are good, but I found that what I ordered was not what I requested. Lift way to high and size was definitely not the right fit. I also noticed them to be very heavy, which meant I had to stop using them as they caused ankle problems…and yes they were the midsole.


    One of the best and stylist made elevated shoes I purchased (I’ve bought some overpriced rubbish!) but lacking comfort and functionality.

    Still to find any elevated shoe brand that ticks all the boxes. Sticking with my Ted baker Guri brogues for now 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing! They’re definitely on the heavy side. I’m surprised they weren’t what you ordered, though. Did you contact support?

  3. I’ve been ordering from Don’s for quite sometime now. Initially I was a skeptic since coming across other companies they overlooked the quality, be it the actual insole, stitching or leather. The opportunity cost ended up being one or the other, especially for the price point.

    That is until I ordered my first Falcone pair from Don’s and it was nothing short of quality craftsmanship from the black leather matte with a 3inch increase and a leather and rubber sole. After wearing them for a long time, the quality speaks for itself. The leather, the stitching the welt fuse together. Since then I have ordered the Mela Grandes in black and the Balboa’s (my first sneakers from Don’s – which has gotten me compliments from men and women).

    The use of the midsole technology is the perfect chassis for the shoe. It hides the lift but also does not sacrifice comfort. I’ve never had back problem since or ankle problems. Don follows up with you on order during the production phase.

    So quality of the materials and craftsmanship, it’s there. This really took it to another level for me (which is why I’m currently ordering 2 more pairs) when I last ordered the brogue Peppers in the color and style you see in the website. The best purchase I’ve made in shoes, I work in the retail industry where footwear highlights your apparel, never mind you’re on your feet the entire day. So comfort for 9 hours a day was not an issue and there was no sacrifice of both quality and style which has gotten me huge compliments which I have passed on to Don.

    Like any leather product it come down to personal care as well. Much like I share with customers in my industry, I am willing to make an investment in something that is quality and comfortable that will last over an extended period of time of which I will also be privy to it’s care. One of the best shoes for men on the market. That’s how I describe Don’s.

  4. I just received my first pair of Don’s and WOW, they are very comfortable, well made and the quality is far superior to other elevator shoes. The midsole technology makes them feel like normal shoes, they look the same as normal shores. I’m very impressed.

    I have tried every brand of elevator shoes and most are garbage! I would highly recommend Don’s!

  5. Do not buy from this company.

    Allan(Don) was helpful and friendly for the first few messages, but stopped responding entirely in the months since. I have been waiting 40+ days for my boots to arrive. With no help from support and no recourse against a foreign company, it appears that I am several hundred dollars out of pocket. BUYER BEWARE!

    • Ah yes, another permanent pre-product arrival comment stuck on the web forever, haha! Hello Everyone I am Don, I am the owner and the Shoe-maker at Don’s Footwear, Mr J is correct! I am indeed slow to keep customers updated and informed on the Free shipping status, I can be snowed under with the making of the shoes and most importantly there is not much I can do about it, stating the same info unfortunately can not speed up the shipping. Im my defense I would just like to say that the Free Shipping that will vary greatly all over the world as its an international shipment, In my defence I only offer the free shipping for those that are not in a hurry, those that wish to avoid couriers fees,and for young men that are on a budget, I think my Friend Justin sums up International shipments well in his blog post as couriers can be just as problematic http://www.theshoesnobblog.com/2014/09/buying-international-products-online.html

      • A follow up on my original comment:

        The boots arrived after about two months of limited updates. Don became more responsive towards the end of the waiting time, which was and is much appreciated. I agree with Don that he should NOT be blamed for shipping issues (although I wouldn’t have used the free shipping option if I hadn’t been told by him to expect the shoes within 10 days).


        Once my boots arrived, it became clear that Don had not made the style I had ordered. My boots were meant to have broguing around the front and sides – this is completely absent. My boots were meant to be size 6.5 American – The boots received are about size 9 (HUGE!). They are meant to be made to wear in the snow, with winter grip soles – however, I could not wear them at all due to the hazard of walking with them. Very slick, no grip. Sneakers would be safer. The box they arrived in was soaked to the core, and I couldn’t even try the boots on for several days because they were so water logged. The water seems to have done a great deal of damage to the lining of the boots, which were poorly packaged. The boots were also COVERED in scuffs and scratches.

        I asked Don to please accept the return of these boots – which were not the style or size that I ordered – and to please make what that I had paid for. He has refused to do so, despite receiving picture proof of the clear and evident mistakes on his part.

        It is with this in mind that I maintain my original statement:

        • In my defense: I am the only one who creates this type of footwear (Many other website are available/ however all supplied by 1 Chinese factory) that posts videos (700) and real untouched images of their own product (3000) https://donsfootwear.com/en/production-videos https://donsfootwear.com/en/production-photos I think that shows confidence

          My main product images have minimum Photoshop as I do it myself. What I don’t have is magic dust to fit and match a shoe perfectly to a personality at a distance, I understand I can not satisfy everyone and that will always be the case, it is important to remember the shoe has been created around the insert thus making the shoe bigger. I have tried at the best of my ability to make them slender as possible ( and they are), I do accept returns, and I do replace, all the info is on the website so a personal reply from me may not be required. In any case I don’t respond to is insults and threats to my livelihood. I started this idea 10 years ago and have been making my own shoes for 7 years and sleeping above my factory so I get get the quality that I disire, I am proud man that makes a Dam fine shoe that is in my OWN NAME and I am happy that I have made a difference in some Men’s lives, I would say I get 1 positive email per day and I would say Ive made around 10,000 pairs as see herehttps://donsfootwear.com/en/height-increasing-shoe-reviews Cheers!

        • It was indeed unfortunate that Airmail was slow and the parcel was damaged, I’m guessing this was a rare thing to happen to you as it was for me. From the images that you sent indeed need a brush but they were not destroyed in any shape or form. I did reply to you many times and I mentioned that I would give you a very fine deal if you were to order again, I believed the last few email you sent were about collecting, delay in collecting, bringing home, opening the box, etc, I may have not seen the last email but I did reply to 99.9%. Anyways, I must say for this type of footwear I am the only one (and they are many all supplied by 1 Chinese factory) that posts (700) videos and real untouched (3000) images of their own product https://donsfootwear.com/en/production-videos https://donsfootwear.com/en/production-photos I think that shows confidence in what I make, my main product images have minimum Photoshop as I do it myself. What I don’t have is magic dust to fit and match a shoe perfectly to a personality at a distance, I understand I can not satisfy everyone and that will always be the case, but it is important to remember this shoe has been created around the insert thus making the shoe bigger. I have tried at the best of my ability to make them slender as possible ( and they are), The length of the toecap is the fashion area and that is a very personal taste. I do accept returns, and I do replace, all the info is on the website and so a personal reply from me may not be required, but I do my best to stay in touch with all what I don’t do respond to is insults and threats to my livelihood. I started this idea 10 years ago and have been making my own shoes for 7 years and sleeping above my factory so I get get the quality that I desire, I am proud man that makes a fine shoe that is in my own name and most importantly I happy that I have made a difference in some Men’s lives, I would dare say I get 1 positive email per day, but if its not perfect down to 1mm (thin margins with shoes) then I get slaughtered, https://donsfootwear.com/en/height-increasing-shoe-reviews Cheers!

          This was the boot ordered, The leather is a raw vintage style so being scuffed is the general look of this boot.

          • I’ve left an honest review of my experience. No rational reading of what I wrote could be considered a threat. It’s just feedback. Offering a deal on a future order is not helpful when I’ve paid nearly $300 for boots I’ll never be able to wear. The boot is not “1mm” off. It is about 3 sizes too large.

            The quality of the boots is beautiful. They show great craftsmanship… they just are not what I paid for.

  6. After trying Don’s Midsole Tech boots I’ve become a true believer. Its the most comfortable shoe of it’s type I’ve tried in 22 years.

  7. God, I don’t even know where to start. I came across Don’s shoes by chance years ago and they’ve LITERALLY CHANGED MY LIFE. Tried a few ugly elevator shoes before, but once I switched to Don’s I’ve never thought of switching back. I’ve bought numerous pairs, and have even made special requests; Alan’s always been responsive, super helpful, and ALWAYS delivered fantastic shoes. Just got a new pair, and actually had to email him to thank him for how great they were.

  8. Wow, this is easily the most detailed review on the subject. I think it’s nice that the public has access to this sort of information, seeing as celebrities have had access to these shoes for DECADES.

    Keep up the great work!

  9. Don/Allan runs what can only be described as a scam, as others have pointed out. I placed an order in November and received the product 49 days later (the website says regular orders should come in about 10 business days, give or take). They were incredibly uncomfortable and felt/looked cheap. Because I know Allan is a small businessman, I wanted to act in good faith and exchange my boots for two pairs of casual shoes (casual shoes don’t need to look luxurious). He readily agreed to do this, so I responded with my detailed order request and never got a response. Fearing that Allan may have been sick or injured, I wrote him via another email address asking the best way to order. He quickly responded.

    The guy is a crook. There’s really no other way to describe him. What’s the saddest part about everything is that I would have been his best customer–I would have purchased literally a dozen pairs of shoes and more in the coming years. Instead, I’m writing this review.

    • This reflects my experience almost exactly. I too would have ordered dozens of shoes from him if my experience had been better.

      • I must be running the world most unprofitable fleece in the world then, I reply to all emails, as I did with you. There is a 200 Styles on the website, unfortunately it looks like Kevin selected a pair he did not like, and when the shoes arrive an over reaction happens, I have admitted many times over the years that my customer service is poor because there is no customer service department for I also make the shoes, I am always on the shop floor, I am indeed late with replies, and I can not answer the phone as my focus is on making shoes, I am a small business with all the small business problems, I have no admin assistance. With shipping times I guess I think different, I never track an item when I order and I dont particularly care when it arrives. I can remove the free shipping and save myself a lot of headache but I will not as I explained before! I have updated the website already to state more info on what the free shipping entails. Please also be aware that all other Made to order Shoe website ask for 3 months lead time. Bespoke makes for 6 months to a year and charge 600-3000 USD. I charge 150-250 USD for special requests, custom orders,and free shipping, I also replace shoes when request, . All in all great deal in those terms. Late note..If I miss an email, then send another. Cheers

  10. Hello,

    I am French, and here is the eleventh pair of shoes that I order at Allan Donsfootwear and I am really very satisfied with it.

    They are excellent shoes, with materials of very good quality, the assembly is very careful and craft(home-made).
    We really have the choice to personalize our shoes for very competitive prices and without supplement (what is rare), custom-made shoes.
    Allan is attuned of our need and it is one more that I did not find somewhere else. Most, that we rarely find somewhere else, it is to obtain elevator shoe that not gene by no means the position of the foot.
    I appreciate Allan a lot and I thank him quite particularly because he does very well his work by craftsmen, he always answers very quickly messages with nice and reassuring terms.

    Thanks a lot.

    Kindest Regards

  11. Great article Brock! It’s so nice to see Don’s get some attention. I bought a pair of elevator shoes from him a few months back and I’m so happy with the quality and comfort of the shoe. I’ve been so obsessed with them that now I’m planning on buying a more casual pair from his website. You really can tell a difference when wearing them too.

  12. I’ve order 2 pairs of Dons elevator shoes so far and I can’t wait to order more ! The quality and attention to detail was spot on. I truly believe Don’s elevator shoes to be the best on the market,

  13. I recently had a mixed experience with Don’s Footwear and I will do my best to leave a balanced review. I hope it is not perceived as unduly critical, as it is not intended to be. I’ll start with the positives:

    1) Extremely comfortable.
    2) 10/10 craftsmanship.
    3) Amazing quality.

    Now, onto the negatives.

    1) The shoes were the wrong colour, and the wrong style. I won’t go into any more detail as it serves no purpose, but suffice to say I was disappointed because I had made an effort to be as clear as possible.

    2) I pointed out the problems I had with the shoe and asked Don for a replacement. I didn’t think this was out of the ordinary in any way. Instead of responding as a gracious seller (who had made a mistake) would, Don became emotional and defensive. I couldn’t believe what I was reading because of how ridiculous it seemed. I understand that he is running a high pressure business, but this is no way to treat a paying customer.

    In my opinion, in the future, it would be best to hire a representative to do the detail collection and customer service. These seem to be Don’s weak points and many others have similar complaints, as visible from the comments here. As he is based in Thailand the labour cost for such a representative should be affordable.

    Likewise, as others have said, I would have ordered multiple shoes from Don in the future, had it not been for the poor customer service. The price point and customisation is very competitive! As it happens I was compelled to order another pair from GuidoMaggi – I paid twice as much, but the customer service was completely on point, punctual and the product was very close to how I had asked for (almost perfect). I was certainly pleased and happily kept the order.

    In the future I will be hesitant about ordering from Don’s footwear again until I am confident that the customer service has radically improved.

  14. HI everyone! I just want to share my experience purchasing shoes from Dons Footwear. My overall experience was outstanding. I decided to buy bespoke shoes after watching so many men’s style videos on YouTube. When it came to shoes, I ultimately decided to go with Don’s Footwear because of the numerous customization options that was offered and the fact that Don is (somewhat) all over internet talking about his craft and showing off his creations. I figured that if I was going to buy expensive bespoke shoes, I just wouldn’t buy it from any old shoemaker, but an artist as well. I saw all the “real” photos on the Dons Footwear website. I studied that website; I saw a lot of YouTube videos of shoes that I was thinking of buying; and I also read reviews throughout the internet. I also read some of the bad reviews and was surprised that Don actually responded to them (lol). You know what? It was because of that, I decided to go with Don’s Footwear. The fact that he responds tells me how much he cares and how much pride goes into his work. Soooooooo…..I just didn’t decide to buy just one pair of shoes, rather, I bought five (thanks to a sale). I bought a Black Cap Toe, a couple of Brogues, and a couple of Monk Straps. The overall look of all the shoes, is beautiful. The leather for my Cap Toe and Brogues are strong. The (black and brown) Brogues fit tight at first, but they are stretched now and they fit absolutely perfect. After all, leather does stretch and mine did. The only problem I have with my five shoes is that I don’t want to wear them. I am afraid to mess them up (lol). Anyway Don did just an amazing job making my shoes. They look good and fit well. I know good shoes. I even had bought shoes by Ferragamo and JP Tods (bought in Italy) in the past and I still remember how great they felt. To be honest, the shoes I bought from Don’s Footwear, the quality inside and out is on par with those high end shoes. It really is. I am extremely proud of them. In addition to my experience, I have to say I communicated with Don/Allen (the owner) a lot. He is very responsive as well as transparent, when it came to making my shoes. I received pictures and I gave him feedback. I asked questions and he answered them all. All in all the experience was great. From the website, to creating your shoes, to communicating with Don, and finally receiving and wearing your shoes…….I’m definitely going to buy more. Definitely!!!

  15. I met Allan at the San Francisco trunk show and he took my measurements. Allan is a really nice guy who obviously takes a lot of pride in his work. I ordered 3 pairs and have been enormously happy with the product and service thus far.

    I have owned many pairs of elevator shoes and none has even come close to the comfort or quality of Don’s. The midsole tech is a huge improvement in terms of usability. It does not even feel like wearing a lift! Several colleagues at work have commented on the craftsmanship and quality of the shoes. At first this made me nervous but after several comments (even close investigations) I realized that the lifts are somewhat undetectable. Don did an amazing job of crafting a comfortable, high quality shoe with a significant lift. These shoes have made a real difference in my life!

    Don makes every shoe to order and works on them himself which means that it takes longer to get through them than if he had a factory. Don is responsive via email and sends you update pictures throughout the process. To be honest, I enjoyed the drawn out nature of the process. Here is how I look at it. When you are ordering these shoes you are ordering a completely custom make product. Do not plan on getting these overnight. They are going to change your life! Be patient and plan to have them in a couple of months.

    One piece of advise. Take your measurements and send them to Don. My shoes fit PERFECTLY because he took my measurements at the trunk show. Don can make the shoes to fit your feet exactly but only if you know what size you really are!

  16. Shin-hau Khoo says:

    I recently made an order on a 6cm height increasing Vercelli model with Allan Donnelly and am satisfied with the work. It is a beautiful shoe.

    I want to list out the things I like and really appreciated, namely:

    1. the construction is good, he used full grain leather which made my shoe soft and easy to wear, easily comparable to higher priced shoes I have owned

    2. the colour is perfect, the matt black is very classy

    3. there is a noticeable height increase of exactly 6cm to my overall height which is a great help for me

    4. the fit is spot on and accommodated my wide feet nicely – Allan was helpful in analysing the profile pictures of both of my feet which I sent him and crafting my shoe to fit my feet

    5. I received my order in 14 days, which is exactly the amount of waiting time Allan advertised. I am lucky to live in South East Asia near Allan’s home and workplace in Thailand.

    Last but not least, Allan’s prices for high quality Made To Order leather shoes are unbeatable, hands down! His ordering webpage at https://donsfootwear.com/en/ is also very easy to use and I appreciate that he allowed customers to write down details of special requests in the comment box which he actually follows to his best ability and shoe making skill.

    I have chatted with Allan on his website before ordering and after ordering and have decided to be a returning customer. I am glad to have found Don’s elevator shoes via Brock’s blog.

    Thank you again, Allan and Brock.


  17. I’d love to order a pair, but I’m not sure if the shoes are right for me

  18. Based on this article, I ordered a pair of elevator shoes back in May 2017. A black cap toe oxford with 2.5 inch elevation. I received the shoes on time, no problem. However the shoes were far too tight and not true to size at all. Furthermore, they were very clunky and I would never wear them with a suit.

    I immediately wanted to return them but got no reply from the man himself. So I took posted the shoes via recorded delivery and it arrived at his UK destination and was signed for. A month later, after various emails from my side, I get this email from Allan:

    “That’s fine.
    I will check things over. No worries big man
    Kindest Regards

    3 weeks go by, with no refund and no further communication. A few emails from me later, he replies with:

    “No worries I will check things over today and fefund you.
    Kindest Regards

    Its now August and still no communication and no refund. This is honestly the worst customer service I have ever encountered and no idea if he will ever refund me.

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