A selection of women's shoes for men
Women's shoes for men?
Women wouldn’t be questioned for wearing men’s shoes in public but given the spectrum of women’s shoe designs from unisex looking ones to peep toe platform heels, men don’t have the same privilege due to a number of reasons including practical ones1. Here, those unisex looking shoes as well as more feminine ones are profiled as women’s shoes that men can wear in public.
There are some advantages for a fashion-conscious man to consider women’s shoes as discussed earlier2. It is a question many men ask on online question sites: can a man wear women’s shoes? The answer is a qualified yes. With regards to shoes the main advantages are price, comfort, fashion and an expansion of horizons. Women’s shoes are more widely available at a lower price on the second hand market (whereas most men’s shoes may have been worn out by the time they are resold) and are easily acquired on platforms like EBay at up to a ¼ of their original price if not cheaper. Many such shoes are very similar, but cheaper to equivalent men’s shoes purchased from new. For this reason, they can be experimented with and may prove very comfortable and warm to wear in cold conditions. You may acquire a sufficient selection so you can switch your footwear on a daily basis based on the climate, your other clothes and how you feel and if utilising the second-hand market, such a collection need not cost you the earth.
The biggest problem with women’s shoes for men is that they may not go up to a men’s size. On average women’s shoes peak at about UK size 8-9 (US 10-11) and are available at 10 (US 12) but most retailers don’t have women’s shoes beyond this size range except specialist ones, which may compromise choice. When looking for shoes that fit consider wide fitting or extra wide shoes3.
The main discussion is centred around the above image of 12 pairs of women’s shoes that are unisex enough to be worn confidently in public. Their categories may prove interesting to discuss and the current author has worn similar shoes for work and as outdoor wear in public with absolutely no adverse reaction at all.
Boots can vary from lace-up high shoes like doc martens to knee high Wellington type boots. There’s no consistent definition other than footwear that protects the feet up to the ankle at least and that are designed to be robust and protective against the elements. They are especially useful in cold or rainy weather or for manual work in hard wearing contexts including military use. Women’s boots vary from thick soled heavy looking types, maybe with a touch of colour at least in the stitching to high heeled ones including wedges. The staple for winter women’s wear is the ankle boot often fitted using a zip, unless they are flexible enough to be pulled on. Many women’s boots are adorned to a greater or lesser extent with straps and buckles. They may be more pointed. There is a large overlap between men’s and women’s boots and men can certainly wear many kinds of women’s boots in public. There are even high heeled men’s boots available now. The following image captures two of the pairs of boots in the main image. No one will scrutinise the ventral sole or the multicoloured design in the inner sock, but if you’re a man trying similar, you can be aware of feminine motifs present while carrying your fashion with aplomb.
There is about as much overlap with women’s trainers and men’s though fit is more problematic. Women’s trainers tend to be narrower and as the walls are thicker, you may need to seek a larger size than anticipated to accommodate fit. There is some flexibility with definition. The Chinese brand Toisebon has a line of fabric slip on trainers that are extremely comfortable as the upper fabric is elastic and flexi fit. Such trainers are very popular in the East and shoes like this may be worn by men. They are featured in the main image and below and in the right colour, work fine for men. Then there are conventional trainers that may be lace up or lace free slip on or velcro types as featured. Quality trainers may be expensive and a return option is advised when buying.
Amongst young people, wearing trainers marketed at the opposite sex is quite common given trainers are status symbols and it can pay to look or express difference. I’ve noticed men wearing trainers with pink motifs and they seemed fashionable enough.
There is a wide definition of a sandal from strappy heeled women’s shoes to open footwear for trekking. There’s also ordinary shoes with open structures. The main image features Teva sandals (effectively, strappy trainers) with Paver’s “sandals” that are more breathable open structured shoes. There are of course many other designs from gladiator and fishermen’s types to two strap sandals among others.
The Paver’s type of sandal featured here (in the compromised image below) could represent a “sensible” women’s shoe with something approaching a T-bar or even a Mary Jane arrangement. If it works for you, try it. These Paver’s shoes are arguably gender neutral and there are men’s ones like it but not as widely available or of the same quality. Such shoes are breathable, especially indoors and can help avoid sweaty feet, dirty socks and by extension, fungal conditions.
Teva and Birkenstock sandals offer them in women’s and men’s designs including unisex looking ones. If you look closely, you may find sandals to suit you.
Brogues and closed flat shoes
Women’s brogues and Oxford’s and other lace up shoes are often identical to or styled from similar men’s shoes. Practical work footwear for women would also suit men being as comfortable and often made much lighter that makes them doubly easy on the feet. The main image features perforated navy brogues from Evans (UK) and unbranded Scandinavian work shoes. Such shoes as featured below work fine for men, but quality ones will be as expensive as men’s ones. Wide fitting ones may work better.
Slip on trainers and skater shoes
Slip on skater shoes and trainers (somewhat different from above) are comfort shoes, especially good for indoors or warmer weather. They are becoming quite popular these days and typically have a pale sole area. Often of canvas like material they are more open above and the foot could slide in, a bit like some slippers. There is much overlap in designs between men and women’s ranges and the plainer designs, typically blue, brown, grey or black and a lighter sole will work for men.
Slip on shoes
Loafers and Boat shoes
There are subtle and important differences between men and women’s loafers and boat shoes. Typically, these are slip on, soft leather shoes used for indoor wear, driving or when sailing. There is such a wide variety of designs that men and women’s types overlap. The insole is exposed and ideally these should be worn without socks. The shoes featured here are borderline between masculine and feminine being a little more open than masculine designs as they are women’s shoes. However, there are designs, these included that will work fine for men.
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Yes, there are many women’s shoes that men can wear without wading into “transgender territory” that can help express your fashion or budget depending on your priority4. At the moment high heeled delicate shoes and ballerina flats are not so accessible for men. Certain styles like Mary Jane shoes are becoming more fashionable for men, a few celebrities are getting ahead of the curve in sporting such trends. Shoes have never been more available, especially online and it is only natural that men and women explore footwear choices. Looking out for more unisex/gender neutral shoes may help enhance your footwear diversity in terms of budget, fashion and even perhaps on environmental considerations.
- Men's Shoes vs. Women's Shoes: Do You Need to Buy Based On Gender?
Loafers and Boat shoes
Women’s sandals are as enticing as boots for summer
Dansays on March 21, 2020:
with my view the shoes won't look nice on men