Socks have a major impact on how shoes fit yet rarely do footwear brands recommend a specific sock to their customers for an optimal experience (MISSED OPPORTUNITY ALERT!). In this short blog Heeluxe helps you select the best socks to improve your shoe testing and customer’s experience at retail. If you’ve been reading Heeluxe’s Better Shoes Blog you recall me stating that footwear brands need to have a clear understanding of who their target customer is for a specific style. While we frequently look to gender, age, weight, and activity level, preferred sock choice is an important feature of your customer that is commonly overlooked. Let’s talk about why this is so important.

Customers often get their feet measured barefoot, which gives us a starting point for their length and width. A sock can have a dramatic influence on these measurements. For instance, adding a hiking sock can make a women’s size 8B length (US) foot change to 8.5 or 9. If an outdoor brand assumed this customer would be wearing a cotton crew sock instead of a hiking sock, their customers would suffer through tight fitting shoes if their purchased their standard size. This happens all too often with online purchases. Here’s a short chart that shows how feet measurements change with different sock choices:

Foot Length (mm) Ball Width (mm) Heel Width(mm)
Barefoot 244.48 79.4 44.5
Nylon 244.48 79.4 44.5
Thin Athletic Sock 246.06 87.3 58.7
Cotton Crew Sock 247.65 87.3 55.6
Hiking Sock 247.65 92.1 61.9


Luckily Heeluxe measures the impact of socks on shoe fit. Lateral forefoot fit pressures are important to fit and are a key indicator to the subjective comfort of the wearer. Here’s how different socks change the fit of a popular lifestyle shoe.


Forefoot Fit Pressure
Barefoot Baseline
Nylon 7.1% increase
Thin Athletic Sock 49.6% increase
Cotton Crew Sock 48.5% increase
Hiking Sock 67.1% increase


TRUE HEELUXE HISTORY: We were called in to help an all-star basketball player improve the comfort of his shoes. His Brannock measurements are 18.5 C. He was wearing a size 19 shoe but said it was so tight his toes bled every game. After chatting with his athletic trainer and equipment manager we discovered he liked to wear 2 pairs of socks during games due to excessive sweating. His Brannock with 2 pairs of socks on is 20 C. We put him in a pair of size 20 shoes and he’s been playing comfortably ever since.

Selecting the sock that your target customer wears the most frequently will dramatically improve the results of your shoe testing. If you have a standard sock that your brand uses in fit testing, encourage your customers to wear that sock as well so they have the optimal experience you designed and tested the shoe for. If you need help with selecting socks or testing you shoe’s fit, we’d love to hear from you at [email protected]