Shopping for new shoes can be frustrating, especially if you happen to wear one of the more popular sizes like I do. I’ve often found that the men’s section of a shoe store has more options and sometimes more affordable shoes. But that made me wonder if a woman could even wear men’s shoes. So, I looked it up, and here’s what I found.
So, what’s the verdict: Can a woman wear men’s shoes? Yes. There isn’t much difference between men’s and women’s shoes other than the sizing. Men’s shoes are often wider than women’s shoes, and you won’t find traditional women’s styles such as high heels in the men’s section.
As always, however, there was a lot more to this topic than a simple yes or no answer. Read on to see the details of how, why, and if you even should wear men’s shoes.
Can Women Wear Men’s Shoes?
Walking into a shoe store you’ll notice that they are sectioned into Men’s, Women’s, and Children’s Shoes. Even so, that doesn’t mean you are relegated to only shopping in the women’s section. Nobody’s going to yell at you for peeking at the men’s shoes, I promise.
I’ve discovered a veritable treasure trove of comfortable and affordable men’s shoes that fit me perfectly. I thought I was in heaven.
Yet, I was left wondering if it was even wise to wear men’s shoes. Surely, I thought, they were separated for a reason. But after sneaking to the men’s section and trying on a few comfortable sneakers, I began questioning everything I’d been taught about shoe shopping.
Why are Shoes Separated by Gender?
To some people, gendering shoes seems arbitrary and silly. Put a man’s shoe and a woman’s shoe next to each other and it’s hard to tell the difference. Other than the size, men’s sneakers and women’s sneakers are built basically the same.
So why are shoe stores sectioned by gender?
Retailers will tell you that it’s because that’s how consumers like to shop. However, I don’t remember ever being asked that. I’m a consumer and I’d much rather have the adult shoes all in one spot.
Before I go off on a tangent let me just share this blog post with you and move on to the main topic of this article.
I’m here to tell you today that you can shop in any section that you choose. Ladies, don’t be afraid to wander into the men’s section to find that awesome pair of running shoes.
Is There Really a Difference Between Men’s and Women’s Shoes?
Yes, but the difference is very small. Once again, style, color, and sizing seem to be arbitrarily decided by the manufacturers. They think men want black or blue shoes and women only want pink and sparkly purple. Please!
Leaving color selection aside for a moment, there are some differences between men’s and women’s feet; these are all an average, though. There will be plenty of men with smaller feet and women with wider feet. If we stopped gendering shoes, it would make shoe shopping much easier for these people.
There are some physical differences between men and women that shoe manufacturers should keep in mind. But they can do so without gendering shoes, in my opinion. Simply mark the differences by name—narrow, wide, extra padding, and so on.
Here’s a list of some important differences between men and women that shoe companies need to pay attention to. Remember, these points only consider the average. Your feet may fall outside these averages and that’s okay.
- Women tend to have narrower, shorter feet than men.
- Women’s feet usually narrow significantly as they move toward the heel.
- Women are twice as likely to get knee pain than men, often caused by ill-fitting shoes.
- Women tend to get more gluteus medius pain (that’s your rear end, sister) because of bad-fitting shoes.
- Women need more shock absorption and cushioning than men due to less knee flexion.
I won’t get into the gritty details, but you can read more about the science behind running and how it affects women versus men right here. There are some good arguments for gender-specific shoes. But there are plenty of men who suffer these same injuries and issues. Why not keep the shoes gender-neutral and let consumers decide?
Are There Any Unisex Shoes?
Thankfully, yes. While some people will always stick to the gender-specific shoes the stores want them to, there are many of us that would be perfectly happy with a unisex shoe. They do exist, and they are gaining in popularity.
Companies such as Nike, Adidas, and Reebok have recently introduced unisex sneakers. But Converse really takes the cake with their Chuck Taylor All Stars. They were introduced way back in 1917 as athletic shoes. Personally, I’ve been wearing my Chuck Taylors since the early 1980s; I still have my first pair 30 years later!
Should I Wear Men’s Shoes?
A better question would be: Do you want to wear men’s shoes? Hopefully, by now, you realize there isn’t much of a point to gendering shoes. It should be all about the size of your foot, any foot issues you have, and your personal taste.
For example, if you happen to suffer from flat feet, you will have different needs than someone suffering from bad corns or crooked, long toes. If you don’t mind gender swapping your shoes, hop over to the men’s section and try on some of their sneakers. I’ll tell you what, the most comfortable pair of loafers I’ve ever found where in the men’s section.
Some reasons you might want to try men’s shoes include:
- None of the women’s shoes are comfortable on your feet.
- Your feet are too wide for the widest women’s shoes.
- Your toes always touch the end of the shoes but are loose everywhere else.
- Your heels are larger than average, causing your shoes hurt your ankle.
- You can’t stand the style or color choices in the women’s section.
- You just want to.
It really is up to you if you want to wear men’s shoes. I strongly suggest giving it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Personally, I found killer style, total comfort, and big savings in the men’s section.
How to convert your women’s shoe size to a men’s shoe size? You can convert men’s and women’s sizes by using a little math. The difference between men’s shoes and women’s shoes is approximately one and a half size difference. That means a men’s size seven shoe would be about a woman’s size eight and a half.
Widths don’t generally change when converting sizes. However, you should always try shoes on before purchasing. Some conversions are only a full size difference while others may be two full sizes. This differs by brand.
What are the differences between men’s and women’s running shoes? The differences are minor, though manufacturers are starting to pay attention to the special needs of women runners. Width is the main difference, and sizes are different between genders. That means that a men’s size eight is not the same size as a women’s size eight.
Sometimes, women’s running shoes will have more padding. Women’s shoes are also usually narrower at the heel than men’s running shoes.
Can a man wear women’s running shoes? Of course! Just as women can wear men’s shoes, any man can choose to wear women’s shoes. Just remember that the sizes are different between men’s and women’s shoes so you should always try them on before purchasing.