Barefoot shoes – How to Pick Your First Pair

So you’ve decided to try barefoot shoes. But where do you even begin? If you’re like me, you’re probably looking at a closet full of cute, hurty shoes that you can’t wear and can’t seem to throw out either. Transitioning to barefoot shoes is a process and it can feel overwhelming at first. Let’s take the first step toward healthy feet and get your first pair of minimalist shoes!

Need a refresher on what makes a minimalist shoe? Check out this video from Dr. Courtney Conley on what to look for in a healthy shoe.

Table of Contents

  1. Pick A Style
  2. Find A Brand
  3. Measure Your Feet
  4. Check Around
  5. Learn From Your Mistakes
  6. Branch Out
  7. Keep on Keepin’ On

1. Pick a shoe style

It’s easy to think you should start with an athletic style, because that’s what is readily available in the barefoot shoe world. But if you don’t wear athletic shoes very often, why? Go with a type of shoe you wear A LOT and that will fit naturally into your life. This might be a professional work shoe, a casual every day shoe, or a hiking boot. If you narrow it down to one style of shoe you know you’ll wear, you’re setting yourself up for a successful transition. And don’t worry, there are now barefoot shoes for every style and occasion. Don’t believe me? Check out my extensive shoe lists for tons of options.

2. Find a barefoot shoe brand

Once you’ve determined the type of shoe you’re looking for, shop around for a BRAND. If you’re a barefoot virgin, consider things like: How quickly will items arrive to you? Can you return them if they don’t fit? Will customer service be available if I have an issue? You can familiarize yourself with the MANY minimalist shoe brands out there on my shoe lists page linked above. As you get more comfortable, you’ll have an opportunity to try the ones that seem a little scary at first (like custom), but for your first pair go with something that is sure to be a home-run.

3. Measure your feet

Gone are the days of just ordering your regular size! If you have decided to make your feet a priority, then it’s time to stop settling for shoes that don’t fit well. This starts with having a good handle on the shape and size of your feet. While it’s not foolproof – you’ll probably make a few sizing mistakes along the way – knowing your foot measurements empowers you to pass on a shoe that likely won’t fit. If a sizing mistake does happen, then it’s a good thing you chose a brand with easy returns/exchanges! Here is a guide for how to measure your feet two different ways. I recommend taking your measurements multiple times and at the end of the day. Your foot size fluctuates and it’s common to get slightly different measurements.

4. Check around

Once you’ve settled on a style and brand, check around. You just might find it on Amazon or Zappos, where you know you will get good customer support and easy returns. While I prefer supporting brands directly wherever possible, avoiding a cumbersome return process with your first pair is worth it. Once you have a better handle on what you’re looking for in a shoe future purchases will be easier.

5. Learn from your mistakes

Different brands cater to different foot shapes and widths. You will learn as you go along what your preferences are and what types of shoes work best for you. You might find that the brand you were super excited about actually doesn’t work for you! Fortunately, there is a healthy resale market for barefoot shoes where you can pass along something that didn’t work out to a new owner. Let it be a learning experience to make things easier for you in the future.

6. Branch out

Once you’ve had some time with your first barefoot shoes, pick another style of shoe from your closet to replace! Getting a good variety of styles that fit into your wardrobe and lifestyle will make it easy for you to be in minimalist footwear most of the time, which is how you’ll get the most benefit for your body. Don’t stress yourself (or your pocket book) by rushing to replace everything all at once, but strategically branch out over time until you have a barefoot shoe for every occasion!

7. Keep on keepin’ on

For me, barefoot shoes are a one way street. Once I experienced that toe freedom, there was just no going back. Thanks to the multitude of resources and shoe options available today prioritizing your foot health is easier than ever, so keep on keepin’ on! It’s worth it.

A top down view of a woman's face smilind surrounded by a rainbow of colorful barefoot shoes

Anya is a shoe and style lover who found her way to healthy footwear after years of chronic pain. Once she got a taste of barefoot shoes there was no looking back! She’s been on a mission ever since to make it easy to choose healthy feet through an online barefoot shoe store and shoe reviews. Check out Anya’s Reviews for lots more on natural footwear.

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