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What To Do About Shoes When You Have Two Different Sized Feet

Updated on February 8, 2018

Almost no one has two feet exactly identical in size but sometimes the size difference between a person's two feet can make buying shoes that are a comfortable fit both difficult and expensive. Many people with a large disparity of size between their left and right feet solve the problem by getting two pairs of shoes and discarding or putting away the non-fitting shoes.

Some specialty shoe shops sell individual shoes. Unfortunately, there are very few brick and mortar stores that sell individual shoes so most of them are online. The reason that is unfortunate is because footwear is something it can be very important to try on and the shipping tends to add up, too. Another downside to shops selling individual shoes is that each shoe tends to cost as much as an entire comparable pair of shoes. Also, many name-brand or fashionable shoes are not available in shops that sell single shoes.

My feet are very different in size. My left foot is a size 9.5 and my right foot is a size 7.5. Obviously, that size 9.5 I need for my left foot would flop around and rub the heck out of my right Achilles tendon and ankle if I wear a pair of size 9.5 shoes. I tried wearing a thin trouser sock on my left foot and a big, fluffy sock on my right foot but it just didn't cut it.

Anyway, I finally found a solution to needing different sized shoes for each foot. I thought about where the loose shoe rubbed and sought a shoe insert for heel or Achilles tendon friction.

For years, the inserts on the market were too thin to make enough difference and they tended to have lousy adhesives that didn't stick well enough and tended to end up getting on my socks. Thicker ones started coming out on the market a few years back and most of them have much better adhesives. Many newer varieties are thick and, in a pinch, you can actually stack them or use them in combination if you have a really big size difference between your two feet. Any thick heel cushions that are soft enough and work when stacked allow me to turn a pair of size 9.5 shoes that fit my left foot perfectly into a pair of shoes that's comfortable for both feet. The brand shown to illustrate this page is one of the ones I've used that is thick enough and also successfully stacks and had an Amazon listing with a nice photo. It turns out, they are darned hard to photograph once they are inside shoes because most brands match the color of black shoes inside.

I use three of the snugs, one at the end of the heel and one on each side of the shoe opening on my little foot shoe and I wear a fluffy sock on that foot. If the extra room down at the toe of the shoe bothers you, you can also stick one into the toe of the shoe.

If you get a four pair pack of the inserts you can work out what combination works for your feet because it gives you eight individual inserts to work with.

Profoot Heel Snugs 4 PAIRS INCLUDED Softer and Thicker Than Other Heel Liners
Profoot Heel Snugs 4 PAIRS INCLUDED Softer and Thicker Than Other Heel Liners

Adhesive-backed foam shoe inserts of this type and shape are good for layering and alternative positioning to make up for a discrepancy between the sizes of your feet in shoes that fit your larger foot.

photo by Laura Middleton,
photo by Laura Middleton,

Having two different sized feet doesn't have to be annoying or uncomfortable if you use a few inserts to accommodate your smaller foot.

If the inserts don't work for you another solution is to buy two pairs of shoes and sell the other mismatched pair on eBay. I've always managed to sell them. I didn't always recoup the cost of the second pair but sometimes I got more than I paid for them so it at least evened out.

If you have two feet of very different sizes, how do you solve the problem of finding comfortable shoes that fit?

When I was about four, my parents had a kitten they were keeping in a rabbit hutch to keep safe from predators as some animal had gotten to the barn cats and we just had that one kitten left. Dad used a brick on top of the lid to weight it down as well as securing the latch so we could be sure it would stay shut, even something like a raccoon with clever little hands tried to get into it. Of course I tried to get that kitty out without asking for help. I dropped the brick right on my left foot and broke it. It's been substantially bigger than its mate for over forty years now.

How did you find yourself with a mismatched pair? Did you have some kind of break or accident or was it just something that occurred naturally?

© 2013 Kylyssa Shay


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    • RoddyJDryer profile image

      Roddy J Dryer 11 months ago from Central Florida

      Wow, but this is great information. I have about a 1.5 difference in size between my two feet (the left is smaller) and I've compensated with sneaky switching at the store, for years. The bummer is now this is hard because of electronic tracking of the shoes. But if I can do this on the up-n-up, all the better.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Thank you for sharing such helpful tips!

    • profile image

      Colin Robertson 3 years ago

      The National Shoe Exchange is run by volunteers and was set up after WW2 to help amputees who only needed one shoe. Worth looking at. I'd also recommend checking out - a website where people buy and sell (and give away) mismatched shoes.

      Of course, the ideal solution would be to find your 'sole' mate, with the same, but opposite, sized feet and same tastes in shoes, however difficult that might be.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      @5babies4me: Sometimes my mom got two pairs of shoes, sometimes I wore an extra and fluffy sock on my little foot, sometimes my mom sewed felt into the heel area on my little foot shoe, and sometimes she stuffed acrylic batting into the toe of the little foot shoe. A lot of the time I had sore feet anyway, through no fault of my parents.I've found a few online stores that sell individual shoes but they cost as much for each shoe as for a pair. As an adult, I have bought two pairs of shoes and put the leftover two shoes up on eBay describing them as a size 7.5 left and 9.5 right pair of shoes a few times. They sold every time. A couple times I didn't break even but a couple times I actually got more for the mismatched pair than I paid for a pair. I understand that completely because I'd pay a little more to get a properly mismatched pair of shoes. Now I use a variety of those shoe insert pads and keep adding them or trimming them until I get the fit comfortable on my little foot. Since I cut down shoe inserts for my shoes and they work OK, maybe you could cut down some adult-sized shoe inserts for heel and toe for your daughter's little foot shoe?

    • profile image

      5babies4me 4 years ago

      What did you do as a child? My daughter has a 2-size differential, and I have to buy two pairs of shoes, which is ridiculous. I can't find a company willing to sell me two single shoes.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 4 years ago

      Great! This has been the problem of many. Thank you for the solution. Sundae ;-)

    • Fiorenza profile image

      Fiorenza 4 years ago from UK

      I have problems myself, though only a half size difference between the two feet, so usually manage with tie-ups and have decided not to buy certain styles. Thanks for the tip as this could be useful for allowing me to buy more varied shoes.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 4 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Oh that's a great solution for a big problem. I don't have troubles myself, but I can imagine it's big trouble if you have two different sized feet.

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I can see where this could be a big problem. I have different sized fingers on each hand so rings aren't interchangeable but that's certainly not as difficult an issue as shoes. I'll bet this information helps lots of people.