Shoes for Short Men: DOs and DON’Ts

Light brown Wingtips

Brogue shoes look great on almost any man.

Did you know that shoes are often the first thing a woman notices about your outfit? We put so much thought into everything else…

Do I wear vertical stripes or horizontal? Jeans or trousers? Pleat or no pleat? Which belt really matches my personality?

…and yet her eyes immediately fall to our shoes. This kind of makes sense if you think about it. I mean, do you know any woman with less than 10 pairs of shoes? Neither do I. Shoes are important to women, and they should be important to us.

Now this doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a million pairs of shoes. You can get away with a small, thoughtfully curated selection of footwear (more on this here).

Like any other piece of the fashion puzzle for men of modest height, the idea with shoes is to compliment your figure, draw attention purposefully, and streamline your look. A lot of shorter guys will only buy shoes with thick soles because they think it's an easy way to add an inch or two to their build.

This is not necessarily the right thing to do.

Some shoes should have a tough, thick sole, and it is a nice little bonus to get that extra couple of inches. But most types of footwear don't have thick soles, and you won't be fooling anyone with your collection of platform shoes.

Go for comfort, proper sizing, quality and diversity. DO look for the following:
  • Shoes with gently tapered toes (i.e., nothing too pointed or boxy)
  • Shoes that fit right – This seems obvious, but it's hard to find that 7.5 among the sea of 10s and 11s. If you know which style you like but can't find the size in the store, order it online. And never be embarrassed to ask if they have your size in the warehouse.
  • Simple designs – Don't draw attention to your feet. If anything, draw people's eyes upward by wearing simple but flashy details on your upper body, like a scarf or pocket square.
  • High quality, especially in leather – You will either pay more for good shoes now or have to buy a new pair later. Good shoes will last forever if you treat them right.
Now here are some things to avoid:
  • Ugly elevator shoes – Every man should try to be confident in his own skin…and shoes. But that doesn't mean you can't wear elevator shoes. Just make sure you don't sacrifice style or quality.
  • Pointy toes – These are best for slender, taller men.
  • Shoes that are too big – I know, I know…there's that saying about guys with big feet. Ignore it, and wear your size. Over-sized shoes will make you look like you are overcompensating. Or training to become a clown.
  • Boxy, square toes – The idea is to elongate your limbs, and shoes with square toes will only make your feet look stumpy.
  • Cheap shoes, especially in leather – Buy high quality, buy once. It's worth it to pay more for dress shoes. Make sure to take get them winterized every year, and when they rip or break, it's much cheaper to have them fixed at a local cobbler than to replace them with a new pair.

Follow these DOs and DON'Ts and you will be on your way to a beautiful shoes collection. Whether you have five pairs or twenty-five, make sure each one is right for you. If you have old ones that you were never really happy with and don't wear very often, donate them and move on.

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  1. If you think finding 7.5’s is difficult, just try to find a 6.5. My options are very very very limited. I usually stick with a 7 and add an insole or deal with it if there’s not a lot of heel slippage.

    • Yeah I bet 6.5 is tough. After I find a shoe I like, I don’t even bother going to the store, I just order it online. Of course, this works much better if you’ve actually tried the shoe on and are buying it for the second time.


      • If you think that’s hard, try finding size 5 or 4 in literally anything. It’s depressing.

        • I bet. Do you use Zappos or

          • I live in Australia, so neither of those is especially convenient. Zappos doesn’t even ship here, I don’t think. Right now I’m getting a pair custom-made from a (hopefully legitimate) seller on Etsy, . The Philippines is a good place to get quality things for less if you know where to go/look. When I was over there visiting my father I had a suit made for around $200 from a professional tailor.

            Usually though, I get my shoes from the kids section >_> 95% of the stuff is awful but occasionally there will be something worthwhile. Lately I’ve been looking into, which while significantly less legit than even ebay, looks to have a selection of mens or at least unisex styles going down to very small sizes. However, since I don’t really need any more shoes right now I’ll probably only check it out later.

  2. I have to disagree with you on the lift shoes – I use a pair and I find they work great, both style wise and through a nice height boost. The reality is that we’re short, that’s fine, but there’s also nothing wrong with the outside world seeing you as a little taller from time to time. I use ones that give about 5cm / 2 inches, and although that still gets my frame to below average height, it’s a nice welcome boost. I use these, my first purchase, and plan to buy different varieties in the future:—6cm.aspx

    • Mahi,

      Although these shoes look better than most “risers”, I have to respectfully disagree that heightening shoes are ever a good idea. Should we try to trick people? They know how tall we are already, or if they don’t, they will likely find out eventually.

      I would much rather focus on how a shoe looks and how it fits my wardrobe and personal sense of style. If it has a thick sole and gives you a boost, fine, but I would never buy a shoe just for that reason. Accept who you are, don’t try to change it.

      Just my opinion!


  3. We short men are in big trouble because if we want a shoe that feels decent we feel short and you can’t put in lifts, if you get a shoe with lifts it doesn’t feel comfortable I feel really trapped, that why I cannot believe that there is a god because if there was he wouldn’t of don’t this to me nad made me only 5.4″ he or it would of made me to be at lease the regular American height which is 5.8” or taller , its a disaster to be short for a male.

  4. It’s been a soaker the past few days and I’ve gotten myself convinced that I’ve got to get a good pair of rain boots that I could wear to work since I walk and take the subway. I always see the ladies wearing boots and they can walk through puddles without any thought. I’ve been wearing my sneakers to work and changing into my dry shoes. It’s not what I want to continue doing. Any thoughts on a good pair of rain boots that are stylish and can also work for the winter ahead? I’m considering boots from LL Bean or maybe some hiking boots from REI, but maybe you or others have some better ideas?

    • Yeah it’s been non-stop rain here in DC. If you want straight up rain boots that you would take off once you got to work, I’d go with a cheap pair from Amazon.

      Otherwise, LL Bean or Zappos would be a good place to get some better-looking waterproof boots that you could wear throughout the day.


  5. Hi Brock,

    For a guy like me who’s 5’6″ and a shoe size 8, looking to buy a pair of oxfords, which styles should I gravitate towards or stay away from? For instance, is it alright to go for cap toe? Wingtip? Perforated? Or should I just stick to plain toe? Many thanks!

    • Clarence,

      Any style is perfectly fine. Whatever you prefer. Just know that, typically, more decoration = less formal. So wingtips would be less “dressy” than plain toe.

      But this has nothing to do with height or size… just get what you like!


  6. I have no experience owning proper shoes, but am trying to finally build an adult wardrobe. What sorts of shoes are appropriate with a suit? Would a brogue be okay or is that considered too casual/too dressy? I’m really out to sea here with this. I’m also a 6 or 6.5 so my options tends be limited to whatever I can find on Zappos or Shoebuy.

  7. For short guys who neeed to look taller, try high heel men shoes with hidden lifts which are looked like normal dress shoes

  8. ribery12 says:

    Hi! Brock!
    Is it ok to wear white trainers like Stan Smith for short men? thanks

  9. Qamarul says:

    Im from Singapore. And I wear a US 7 size. It is really hard for me to get dress shoes of my size. Is there a reliable website where I can get shoes of my size?

  10. what brand are those shoes? thanks

  11. Nice post! Can you tell me what is the proper length for a dress shoes. I found some nice ones but I though it was too long although the width seems nice, so how long for it from the the toes to the tip of the shoes 🙂 ?

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