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How to Prevent Overhanging Toes in Open-Toed Shoes

By Amalah

Hi Amy,
This may just be the dumbest question ever but I’m also hoping it therefore has a simple solution! When I wear open-toed shoes my feet tend to sort of… slide forward in the shoe? So that my toes hang off the edge a little bit? I don’t know if it’s because my toes are kinda long or maybe I need to wear a smaller size, but I never see other girls with toes hanging off the tips of their shoes and I, too, want to be classy like that. I buy my normal shoe-size and things go well for the first few steps and then.. pfft. It’s over. Any advice?

You want a simple solution? As in, a singular solution instead of me just tossing out half a dozen ideas in the hopes that one of them is sort of vaguely the right one? MAN, are you hanging around the wrong advice column.
Oh, I kid. (And also, there are no dumb questions about shoes. None! Never!)
Seriously, though, there could be many reasons your feet are sliding and many solutions to stop the problem. The first one, of course, is that you are in fact buying the wrong size shoe. This is USUALLY the cause for unsightly toe problems. It kind of amazes me that as grown-ups, we often assume that our feet never change in size and never think to double-check and get re-measured. Instead we keep buying that same shoe size we’ve been buying since the 10th grade. But our feet can change, particularly after pregnancy, or if your job requires lots and lots of years of standing. Hell, I swear my feet go up a half size every summer and then back to a smaller size each winter.
So it might not hurt to grab one of those metal foot-measurer thingies and make sure you really are buying the right size. It could be that you are buying a half-size too big, after just being used to having a little extra room in casual shoes like sneakers or loafers — you know, the kind of shoe your foot can slide around in a tad without getting crazy blisters. (I know women who have hated hated HATED heels because of the rubbing and blisters…and it turned out they were buying them too big because at some point they simply assumed their feet were bigger than they were, once they passed the age where the nice shoe person at Stride Rite was poking their toes and checking their heels.) Is your foot on the narrow side, perhaps, so even though you’re wearing the right LENGTH of shoe, your foot is sliding around because you’re in the wrong WIDTH?
And then there’s also variations in shoe types and brands — I usually try on every size between a 7 and an 8 in a lot of shoes, and I own shoes in all three size options. Heels are different than flats, European shoes are different than U.S. brands, expensive shoes are different than the cheap ones. If your toes slide forward after a few steps, kick them off and see if a half-size smaller has the same problem.
If it does, or if the smaller size is unbearably tight, then YES. It’s entirely possible that the toe overhang is simply a quirk in your particular foot. Solutions? Opt for peep-toe (a small opening that just exposes the center two or three toes) over open-toe (the entire toe line is exposed). And try adding grips to the inside of your shoes — you can get open-toe-friendly adhesive grips for just the balls of your feet or for your full insole. I used the full version for a pair of heels that just had a weirdly slippery insole that caused my foot to slide forward and smush the hell out of my toes, and thought they worked quite admirably.


Published January 2, 2009. Last updated January 2, 2009.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Olivia

    January 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I don’t have any advice to add. Just gotta say I’ve seen people wearing flip-flops and other sandals with their toes hanging WAY over the end and I’ve always wondered how the hell that is comfortable.

  • Alison

    January 2, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I have this problem too! I have often wondered why I don’t see it happening to anyone else.

  • Sarah C.

    January 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    You’re not alone- look at ANY photos from any red carpet affair and you’ll see toe overhang.
    Other than that, I got nuthin’. But at least you have good company!

  • qwyneth

    January 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    God, mine do that and I hate it. I have sort of assumed it’s because the shoes stretch a bit after I’ve been wearing them for awhile. I’m still not sure how to fix it though–I’ve tried buying a size smaller but then I don’t wear them enough to stretch them out because they hurt. Maybe buy a size small and have them stretched by a shoe repair person?

  • Valerie

    January 3, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    What the hellmans mayonnaise? Have you people never been to a shoe repair? They sell something specifically to correct this totally unattractive problem. It’s a little pad that you put in your shoe that’s kind of sandpaper-y. Check it out.

  • Jill

    January 4, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    My friend also has this stuff – I am not sure what it is called – but it looks like a mini deodorant stick. You rub it on the parts of your feet that come in contact with the shoe (like heel, top of foot, opening for toes, etc. It prevents you from getting blisters and sliding all around. I can never wear tall, super cute shoes but with this stuff you can! She said you can get it at CVS or anywhere like that!

  • El

    January 5, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I used to have a similar problem, but not due to the wrong size– mostly due to slippery feet and gravity. A drag queen friend of me gave me the BEST piece of advice ever, which saved me through all my summer weddings last year– hair spray. Just spray it on your feet, and stick them to your shoes.

  • umi

    January 5, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Those gel inserts just for the ball of your feet keep your feet from sliding forward.

  • Lurline

    February 10, 2009 at 12:33 am

    some shoe insoles are made to prevent your foot from sliding forward, they’re sorta rough but they help a lot. they’ve saved my toes front srunching up into my close toed heels and have saved me from toe overhang. i think a lot of peoples feet slide forward because your feet can get sweaty and that makes the leather all slippery.

  • Betty

    July 11, 2013 at 1:21 am

    I’m so glad someone posted this. I have the same problem and it doesn’t matter if I go a size smaller or larger. I hate going shoe shopping with my mom, sisters,and niece cause they can buy all these great shoes that look horrible on me because of my toes. I will try the gel inserts but I think I may have tried that before years ago & it didn’t work. The only open-toed shoes that fit me great are made by Fergie. They same to have extra length upfront so my toes don’t hang over. 

  • chrys

    February 3, 2015 at 8:42 am

    It has always been a problem for me. I have size 8.5B wide feet and narrow heels. Sorta like a duck. However, my feet are very skinny–or short from bottom to top.

    I live in Florida and always wear open-toed shoes and thongs and flip-flops.

    The only thing that works for me is wearing smaller shoes. For me, that’s size 6. 6.5 is too loose. So, this isn’t a size smaller, it’s 2.5 sizes smaller!

    Hope this helps someone else find a solution. If it works for YOU great!

  • Ana

    September 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    No solution?  I have this problem,  I think it’s because I have bony feet and long toes. Then I also have big feet size 10, maybe even 10.5 because of my long toes. In pumps,  I am a 10, even 9.5,  same thing in boots. Flats 10, 10.5. Sneakers 10.5. Sandals are my headache,  always too wide. Strappy sandals with heels are my nightmare. I have tried smaller sizes that fit the width of my feet but leave my toes hanging out,  the one’s that fit the length of my toes are too wide and wobbly for my foot. 

  • Sandra

    September 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Getting the right pair of sandals or heels that fit is the first steep. I’ve seen a singer on stage wearing a pair of 3 inch heeled open toe ankle boots, peep toe style, start out with her toes within the edge of the shoe. Later on her toes were hanging over the edge. I think the footbeds get slippery from any sweat that starts to accumulate.