By all means I’m not a shoe expert (nor is claiming to be) but I was asked lately by a woman if she could wear men’s shoes. It’s not much of a vanity reason; it’s just that her feet are bigger than the typical women’s shoe sizes—a problem that apparently the local market fails to address.
Upon searching online I found some subtle differences between men’s and women’s shoes:
- Length: For the sake of simplicity let’s refer to US sizing. Men’s shoes are normally at least one size larger than women’s, i.e. a men’s size 9 is a women’s size 10.
- Width: Women’s shoes are normally narrower than men’s because women’s arches are normally higher than men, aside from the fact the men’s feet are generally wider.
I, for one, have accidentally bought and wore a women’s pair although it’s not for running. Without any bias I find it weird to wear shoes not designed with my feet in mind—it felt too narrow, constrictive, and uncomfortable. I could just imagine it to be the opposite for women wearing men’s shoes, except maybe for the uncomfortable part. Well, for me it worked because I just used it as prop for my costume, not running!
If I were to give my non-professional advice to anyone in this situation, I’d say ask a friend going abroad to buy a pair for you, or buy online. The thing is, our feet gets stressed out whenever we run, especially long ones, so they deserve to be given out utmost attention. Imagine yourself carrying the weight of your entire body and doing it all uncomfortably—double whammy. But if you still insist on “cross-dressing” I’d avoid running too long in those pairs, both in terms of time and distance. I’d probably suggest running barefoot on a track or beach rather than wear a pair that’s not for your feet. And we haven’t even discussed possible injuries this may incur!
For your reference, here’s a personal account on this topic by The Bull Runner.