Shoe Fit

Modernizing Dress Shoe Fit and Comfort

September 23, 2022

Dress Shoes are BACK! 2022 is showing a large number of consumers returning to buying dress shoes for work, weddings, and walking around town. After 2+ years of wearing cozy shoes at home, making the “same old” dress and fashion shoes won’t feel great to your customers. Here’s how you can WOW your customers with more comfortable dress and fashion shoes.

With people staying home more between 2020-22 they became accustomed to casual shoes and all they entail: soft, stretchy uppers, pillowy soft cushioning, and breathable uppers that may even have a bonus layer of wool. Transitioning from these shoes to a favorite pair of pumps or oxfords exposes the most uncomfortable features of dress shoes. The tight leather uppers pinch the foot, the lack of heel collar padding rubs the heel, and flat leather and rubber soles do not provide the cushioning or support of most athleisure shoes. In this moment of discomfort highlights the key ways fashion and dress shoe brands must modify their shoes to improve their comfort:

1: Fit is the New Foam. Increasing the ball and toe width last dimensions will have an immediate improvement in the comfort of dress shoes. The SmartLast fit database shows that Men’s dress shoes fit 33% tighter than casual shoes and Women’s dress shoes fit 45-60% tighter than casual shoes! By widening your last even a few mm (or switching from a Women’s B last to a C last) you’ll gain valuable space for our feet and your customers will appreciate it! You may not have the same fit as a casual shoe, but you’ll have much better comfort than your competitors that do not take this advice.

2: Soft Materials for Sensitive Skin. Lining your dress shoes with an inexpensive leather or synthetic material is not going to provide the same comfort as a top-quality leather or softer fabric, especially if your customers wear your shoes without socks.

3:No Memories. Memory foam is not the best choice for cushioning in a dress shoe. Dress shoes have on average 3-5 mm of foam—make it count! Using a foam that combines soft cushioning and high energy return will provide the best underfoot experience in a dress shoe. Save the memory foam for your mattress.

These tips will yield the biggest gains in dress shoe comfort. Once you’ve mastered these, reach out to the team of shoe scientists at Heeluxe to help you make better dress shoes. To learn more about how we test everything from high heels to hiking boots, please email