Technique

Shoe Gazing

The one thrift store sizing cheat you need. Because... hey, you can't buy every single pair of brogues at Gilt MAN.

Ok, we’ll be the first to admit that it’s not particularly difficult to kick off your loafers and actually try on a pair of shoes. But that’s a luxury reserved for warmer climes. Soon, it’s going to be cold, and you’ll be spending a couple extra minutes each morning lacing up those boots. It’s a hassle, and you won’t want to repeat it unless it’s absolutely necessary. What constitutes necessity, in this case? How about snagging some vintage footwear goodness at the thrift store for a song? Yeah, we thought so.

Of course, before you unlace your 10-eyelet monsters to try on those tempting lace-ups, you’ll want to be sure they stand a chance of fitting. Normally, you’d check the size, but since every other shoe on those massive, unorganized racks has been worn to the point that the printed size is lost to the ages, you’ll need a new approach. You could eyeball it, but as any guy who’s struggled to shove his size 11 foot into a size 9 ½ shoe will tell you, it’s not the most accurate method. So, forearm it instead.

Because your foot and forearm are about the same length, you’ve got a handy fit-approximation device at the ready. So grab one of those killer wingtips hiding away on the back shelf, and place the heel at the crook of your elbow. If the toe hits the strap of your wristwatch, they’ll crush your feet—if you can even get them on. Mid-palm? Clown shoes. But if it hits just past the wrist, just a bit onto your hand, you’re good to go. (Though you’ll likely want to bite the bullet and try them on. Just in case.) Make your purchase, and on the way out, try to avoid staring piteously at the other guys struggling with their laces.

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