Do Sandals Run Small? [A Sandle Size Guide]

Do Sandals Run Small

With summer right around the corner, we’re all eager to go sandal shopping and put together some new looks. But the problem with sandals is that sometimes finding the right fit is challenging. Whether you’re wearing sandals, wedges, or flip-flops, something you may have noticed is that they tend to run on the smaller side. 

Do sandals run small? It’s not necessarily that sandals run smaller, but they fit differently than a pair of shoes or sneakers, which makes the majority of sandals slightly too small. The best thing to do is to try the sandals on first. If that is not an option, then consider sizing a single size up.

If you’re worried about buying the wrong-sized sandals, you’re not alone. Every year plenty of women struggle with that annoying and unsightly overhang of the toes or heel, while others are haunted by oversized wedges that seem to slide right off. Well, we’re going to discuss how to find the right sandal size and how to make them work like magic- even if too small or big.

Are Shoe Sizes and Sandal Sizes the Same?

Shoe Sizes and Sandal Sizes

There is no black and white answer to this question. The real answer is that every brand is going to have its own sizing chart. Think about it- your pair of Vans may have fit beautifully as an 8, while your Nike’s needed to be an 8.5. Well, the same issue occurs with sandals, and that’s why it can be challenging to find the right shoe size.

For the most part, though, shoe sizes and sandal sizes are generally the same. However, sandals tend to fit differently than other types of shoes, which means you may likely have to size up-and we highly recommend you do so.

Another issue with finding the right sandal size is that most companies do not offer half sizes like they would with regular shoes. Because of this, a woman with a shoe size of 8.5 likely won’t be able to find a pair of sandals of the same size, as they are only offered as ‘whole’ sizes.

How to Find the Right Sandal Size

right size for sandals

Luckily, there are a lot of great ways to make sure you find a pair of sandals that offer a perfect fit. Let’s take a look at some of the top things to keep in mind when you’re sandal shopping this summer:

Try Them On

The best thing you can do when sandal shopping is to try them on before purchasing. You want to make sure you have a good fit before handing over your credit card information. By trying the sandals inside the business, you can tell whether or not they have a good fit, and you can find your perfect sandal size. 

So how can you tell if your sandals are a good fit or not? Well, a general rule of thumb is that the sole of a sandal should support your entire foot. A sandal will be too small if you have an overhang of the toes or heel. 

With strappy sandals, you will notice difficulty when strapping them up, and you may even have some instant pain or discomfort.

It’s Best to Size Up

No matter what type of sandals you are purchasing- wedges, flip flops, high-heeled sandals, etc.- we recommend always purchasing a size up. This is due to the simple fact that sandals are designed differently than regular shoes and don’t have to fit around your feet perfectly, which is the case for sneakers, boots, etc.

Going up a single size will prevent the disastrous fashion mistake of an overhang of the toes and heel while also diminishing the chances of pain and discomfort during use. And don’t worry- going up a single size doesn’t make too much of a difference, as it’s only around a fraction of an inch. So no, you don’t have to worry about having clown feet.

Of course, you have to keep in mind that every brand is different. Reading a review should give you a good idea of when to size up.

While you shouldn’t have an issue sizing up a single sandal size, some companies may run on the bigger side, and you may end up with sandals that are too big. Sandals that are too big will slip on easily, but will also move around annoyingly during your stride.

This is more than an annoyance, however.  The sandals can get in the way of your stride and cause you to trip or fall entirely. They can also be a bit more clunky on the ground, which is annoying and embarrassing.

Lastly, ill-fitting sandals that are far too big can interfere with your posture and balance, which will eventually cause discomfort.

Sizing for leather sandals may be different since they tend to stretch after a few days. This video explains more.

Read Reviews

Can’t shop in-store? Prefer to shop online? You’re not alone- but doing so makes it a bit more challenging to find the right size. Keeping in mind that every brand is constructed differently, the best thing you can do is to read reviews from other shoppers. If they are saying the sandals run small, then you can feel even more confident sizing up.  

What About Half Sizes?

Anyone who regularly purchases shoes as a half size, such as 6.5 or 10.5, will notice that there are no half sizes when it comes to buying sandals. This can make it challenging to know which size to choose. Should you “size up or down?”

Well, at this point, you probably know the answer to that question- you should always go to the next size up if your regular shoe size is a half size. Someone who wears a 6.5 should opt for a 7. Someone with a 10.5 shoe size will need an 11.

Easy Ways to Make Your Sandals Fit Better

men's wooden shoe stretcher

If you already have a ton of favorite sandals in your arsenal but notice that some of them are either too big or too small, don’t worry- you don’t have to trash them and opt for a whole new treasure trove of sandals. 

Stretch Out Small Sandals

The easiest way to deal with sandals that are too small and tight is to stretch them out a bit. You can do this by wearing thick socks when using your sandals. Try and find the thickest pair of socks you own for the best results. You can also wear multiple pairs of socks if you don’t have any thick ones readily available.

You also have the option of buying a shoe stretcher. Yes, you read that right. There are products on the market that are designed to stretch out your shoes with ease, such as the Lanney Shoe Stretcher (AD). It’s an easy-to-use pack of four products that work to stretch and expand shoes so they fit like a charm.

Place Products Inside Big Sandals

Sandals fitting a bit too big?  You have options to make them work for you, including insoles, heel grips, and ball of foot cushions. These will act as ‘fillers’ in your sandals so that your feet aren’t slipping and sliding during use.

Of course, these won’t work on oversized flip-flops, but they work like magic on other types of sandals, and nobody will notice the difference.


Because sandals don’t need to fit securely around your foot as shoes do, we almost always recommended you go a size up when buying sandals. If you can, it’s best to try on the sandals before purchasing them. When shopping online, refer to the reviews to help you make the best choice.

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