If the shoe fits wear it

My son manages to wear through shoes before he’s grown out of them and we always buy them fitted in John Lewis, it works out £30 ish every 3-4months, joy of joys.  I do advocate their fitting service however we have been to Clarks to buy in their sale.  I’m happy to do this because back in the day I used to work in John Lewis Childrens Shoe Department and fit them as a Saturday job.  At the time were actively encouraged not to sell shoes unless we found a pair that fitted the child, it’s not a one size fits all, so I know what I’m looking for when buying Bertie some.  Some children do have feet that are two sizes different, a very high instep, or ankles that roll in, if this is the case I do recommend heading to John Lewis because they are very good at finding the appropriate shoe.  If your child doens’t have this problem then you could try fitting them yourself, here is my knowledge I can rememeber from 10 years ago.


This I would get done in store, you can print off a paper measure from Start Rite…. Once you have the size find a pair and put them on your childs feet and get them to stand up straight, not leaning against anything or on one foot – this can sometimes really test my patience with Bertie.  Push down on the toes, sometimes the leather is really hard so you need to be forceful.  Once the top of the toe is located put your thumb across to see if there is a thumbs width in length left at the top of the shoe.  If there isn’t a good cm excess in length, go up a size (please look at the tips section), they’ll need this space to grow into.


Run your thumb and forefinger around the side of the shoes, if the toes are not protruding, great, that’s what you want.  If they are you need to go up a width.

Keep your fingers on each side of the shoe and run your thumb across the top.  Here you want to see a ripple effect.  If it’s more than a ripple effect, try pinching the leather, if you can there is too much material and you need to go down a width.

If you find going down a width the toes are protruding on the edges I would recommend having a trained fitter do the job, it can get complicated when this happens.

With Mary Jane style shoes, at the front you shouldn’t see any of the foot protruding from the shoe.  You need to be able to run your thumb lightly around the moon shape but not be able to get a finger underneath.  If you can get a finger underneath go down a width.

fitting childrens shoes


Sit your child onto a chair, try moderately pulling the shoe at the ankle, if it’s fixed that’s what you want.  If it is loose and moves, try doing the laces/velcro slightly tighter.  One major issue I remember with fitting childrens shoes is they would complain the shoes were too tight around the ankle, the worse thing you can do is loosen them becuase if the foot is moving in the shoe they’ll rub and naturally the child won’t wear them.

If trying on boots run your thumb around the top of the boot, can you lightly get it in? It shouldn’t be so tight there isn’t any room at the top but also not too loose you can get a finger between the back of the boot and foot.  Normally you can either loosen or tighten the boot if this happens.

Check to make sure the ankle bone is not resting on the top of the boot.  If it is my advice would be is to try a different style.



If you go up a half size remember the width will be different e.g. child is measuring 9F but the length is too small, try a 9.5E OR measuring a 5F but too long try a 4.5G.

Lace up shoes, the two pieces of material should never meet once the laces are tied.

Velcro shoes should only have roughly a cm overlapping, not pulled so tight there is a good inch of excess.

Zipped shoes are notoriously hard to fit properly, however I have just bought Bertie some but with laces at the front so they are adjustable.

Slippers and daps (if you’re not Bristolian plimsols or pumps) don’t need fitting properly as long as there is enough room at the end for growth.


If you fit the shoes yourself they will note it on the receipt so if there is a problem with the fit you won’t be able to return them.

I took Bertie shoe shopping last saturday and at the moment there isn’t much in his size left but Clarks (girls and boys) and Startrite do still have some shoes in the sales.  Startrite are the Rolls Royce of childrens shoes, expensive, durable and pretty, Clarks are what we used to call the Rover, cheaper, reliable and good value for money.  Bertie has Clarks because lets face it he runs them in sometimes before he’s outgrown them so whats the point in paying Startrite prices each time?