Giving any kind of footwear as a gift, is probably one of the most difficult gifts to get perfect. However, the problem is how do you buy shoes for someone else? While the process of selecting shoes as a gift is an arduous journey, getting someone the perfect pair of shoes that they will wear and enjoy is one of the most fulfilling gift giving experiences someone can have.
If you’re looking to give someone shoes that the person will actually wear, there are a few things you should consider. The four pillars of buying shoes for someone else are — shoe size, the type of shoe, the persons foot health, and their personal style. These things may seem obvious, but you really need to do a much deeper dive in order to have your gift be successful.
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Right now, you’re probably thinking “Of course the size is important, I already knew that!” Obviously, the first thing you need to know is what size shoe the person wears. Any information you can get from them directly, or by looking at their collection of shoes will help. However, knowing their size doesn’t necessarily translate into the size you will buy. Looking at my collection, I vary a full size depending on many factors. Here’s where you’ll need to do some research.
Often times, different manufacturers will vary slightly in their fit. Even different types of shoes will differ in sizing. For me, I’m a size 11 in New Balance running shoes and some of my casual shoes. However, I prefer my boot size to run slightly smaller at 10.5. Try to take note of any particular type or brand of shoe your gift recipient wears on a regular basis. You’ll discover if they prefer the fit of one company’s footwear over others. Sometimes it’s brand loyalty, but for the most part I’ve found it’s the fit that keeps them buying a specific manufacturer.
Breaking Shoes In
Depending on the style of shoe and the material used in construction, you’ll have to consider how the shoes will “break in.” Leather footwear, whether boots or formal wear, tend to start out stiff, but will ultimately expand and conform to the users foot. I recommend going slightly smaller in this instance. I have a pair of cowboy boots that fit perfectly when I originally received them. But after being broken in the fit is getting loose. However, even a half size may be too much for some people. Knowing how different manufacturer fitments compare to one another will help tremendously.
However, I’ve found the best way to ensure fitment is noting the size of a shoe they already own and wear. Next, make note of the manufacturer. And finally, note the type of shoe it is (formal, casual, athletic, etc.). Shop within those constraints and you should be well on your way to finding an adequate match. Shopping for brands unfamiliar to the gift recipient is best left to significant others as they will have the most insight into what their partner prefers.
Type of Footwear
I touched on this in the previous section, but depending on what type of footwear the person tends to use, shopping may be easier or more difficult. If your buddy lives at the beach and wears nothing but sandals (flip flops if you prefer) then you’ll probably be good knowing their size and purchasing based solely on that factor. There are very few features on a sandal compared to a pair of athletic shoes or formal shoes.
Generally speaking, sandals are the easiest to shop for. Next are cross trainer and every day wear shoes. Making the leap into casual and formal wear is slightly more difficult because of the available features. Finally, the most difficult foot apparel to shop for are specialty shoes. This includes work boots and athletic shoes because it is less about visible features and much more about functionality.
Features To Know
Below is a list of some features you should consider when researching shoes, because often times they will affect the way a shoe fits.
- Tapered vs. Rounded vs. Squared Toe
- Thickness of the sole (including heels for women)
- With or without laces
- open vs. closed toe
Yet another consideration is the intended use of the shoes. For instance, if you’re buying a pair of basketball shoes for someone, you’ll need to consider things like ankle support, additional fasteners (like velcro ankle straps), and sole thickness/hardness. Buying cleats comes with a different set of problems. Is the person allowed to have metal spikes? What’s the best option for the surface they’ll be playing on? And so on. No matter where your gift recipient will be using the shoes, the biggest factor to consider is comfort.
Gift Recipients Foot Health
Foot health is definitely the least glamorous part of your research, but necessary nonetheless. Knowing if the person has certain conditions will help you whittle down the options of shoes you will consider gifting. I have a buddy who has wide feet, this is must have information when considering what to buy him. Sure it’s easy to just see he’s a size 12 by looking at his collection. However, chances are if I get him a standard width shoe, they’ll just end up taking up closet space. Or even worse, I will put the burden of returning or exchanging the shoes on him.
Foot Fungus or Eczema
For the person with these kinds of problems, you’ll want to focus on construction that allows the feet to breathe. Canvas is ideal, as it allows for good air circulation. Avoid things that trap moisture like thick or dense leather. Open toe style or flip flops are another good option.
Heel Spurs, Heel Problems, or Plantar Fasciitis
Knowing any pre-existing health conditions will also help isolate key features. If the person complains about having heel pain when they wear certain shoes, see if they have adequate padding in the heel. Increased flexibility in the sole can also help with the rolling of their foot as they walk, which can help to decrease the impact force by transferring it throughout the whole foot.
If the person has flat feet, superb arch support could be a great feature to look for in a pair of shoes for them. Also, a lot of boots do not offer great arch support. It’s part of the reason why the army lets guys run in athletic shoes now! Probably avoid gifting these.
If the person you are gifting has bunions, probably want to avoid anything with a tapered or squared off toes. These re-enforce the pattern of pushing the toes together and can increase bunion size. You should probably opt to get something other than formal footwear. Whatever your choice, the toe box should be as wide as the widest part of your foot. This allows for ample space for the toes, and won’t bunch them up which will exacerbate the problem.
Gift Recipient Style
Lest we forget, you’re planning on giving these shoes to someone else. Just because you enjoy the color scheme doesn’t mean they will. If the person has a Johnny Cash style, they probably won’t appreciate very vibrant colored high top shoes. History lesson, Johnny Cash was also known as the man in black. He was a country music artist who often wore black on black as his color scheme.
Conversely, someone like Pharrell Williams who has a much more exuberant style may not appreciate a more traditional look. Remember to keep their personal style in mind when shopping.
If you’re planning on buying someone shoes, I suggest you start taking notes! To do this, you’ll need to decide right off the bat what type of shoe you’re planning to gift them. If you’re looking to get them formal shoes for work, better start taking notice of what they wear on a regular basis. Looking for hiking shoes, or athletic footwear? Best to get out on some trails to figure out what they wear and if they complain about anything. Frequently, people will tell us the information we are looking for, all we need to do is listen.
This site (TheGiftasaurus.com) is owned and operated by Graphite Designs Unltd. LLC Graphite Designs Unltd. LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Graphite Designs Unltd. LLC also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank, CJ, and other sites. Graphite Designs Unltd. LLC is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.