Frye boots sizing dilemma
October 15, 2014 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Thanks to the magic of Zappos I am currently in possession of two pairs of Frye Belted Harness 12R boots, sizes US 9.5 and 10 (mens). Please help me decide which size to keep.

I mainly wear 2 styles of sock. My "thin" sock is a Gold Toe dress sock, kind of like these. My "thick" sock is a cushy athletic sock (also crew height) of indeterminable brand that I get from Costco.

Because these boots will be for winterish times, I'd like to be able to wear my thick socks in them comfortably. With the thick socks, the 9.5 feels just a little too tight, but only at the ball of the foot, they seem to fit lengthwise just fine, and I get a little heel slippage which I'm told is normal. I can wiggle my toes, but all in all things just feel cramped. With the thin socks, the 9.5 seems just about right... the ball of the foot feels like it's in a "firm handshake" but not like I'll need to break in the boots for weeks for them to be comfy.

The 10s on the other hand, seem to be the "perfect" fit with the thick socks, but maybe a little loosey-goosey with the thin socks.

Frye's are supposed to last for years, and I don't mind putting the time in to break them in if that's the right decision. I've been going through some major shoe sizing dilemmas lately: I'm actually a woman who is coming to terms with the fact that she probably needs to be wearing an 11W or 11.5 (and let's be honest, those sizes don't actually exist) instead of a straight 11, and I haven't worn enough men's shoes to know what my men's size would usually be.

I'm looking at only the men's version of this boot both for width issues, and because I don't like the styling of the heel on the women's.

tl;dr: Do I go with the 10s that fit now? Or do I trust that the 9.5s will stretch to fit how I want them to?
posted by sparklemotion to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am never, ever getting the smaller size again. I've regretted it every time. Boots like this are just more comfortable with thick socks. Thin socks are for dress shoes or sneakers. I'm still kicking myself for getting my justin ropers in the smaller size(which i've done... twice now. ugh), and thankfully avoided the mistake when getting rain boots and some fancy red wings.

Boots like this don't really stretch much, at least on any reasonable time scale. I've had boots like that which basically never stretched even after having them for years. Buy the size that fits, not the one you'll have to "break in". You'll just be regretting it until you get rid of them if you don't.

I'm actually a woman who is coming to terms with the fact that she probably needs to be wearing an 11W or 11.5 (and let's be honest, those sizes don't actually exist)

Red wings. Seriously.
posted by emptythought at 7:35 PM on October 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

Stick with the ones that fit now. Frye Harness boots are thick leather and pretty structured; I have a pair and they have not stretched noticeably at all.
posted by something something at 7:35 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a pair of of women's harness boots that I never wear because I opted to go small. As I wear them my little toe is crushed against the rigid box toe and becomes extremely painful after a few hours of wear.

If I had it to do over again I would have gone with the bigger size and let the boot slip be a natural thing (I actually think cowboy boots are supposed to slip a bit).
posted by lilnublet at 7:37 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bigger size for sure. Last time I was in this situation, I also picked the smaller size and ended up returning them a week later.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:43 PM on October 15, 2014

Bigger size. I have these same boots and despite the salesman telling me they would stretch, they did not. Not even a little bit.
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:02 PM on October 15, 2014

I have a lovely pair of Frye boots that have not stretched through lots of use and many different conditions. They fit me exactly true to size and didn't need a single day of breaking in. Go with the bigger size. Stock up on thick socks that don't pull up high if you like, and layer them over tights or leggings or whatever for warmth and coverage. Boots are better with thick socks anyway, and when you wear them in warm weather the thicker sock will actually help wick away moisture and insulate from the heat, too.
posted by Mizu at 9:05 PM on October 15, 2014

Tip: Your feet swell when they get warm (in shoes). Try the boots on after having worn shoes all day and then see how they fit. My feet can swell from a D to a 2E by the end of the day.
posted by Zedcaster at 9:32 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Every time I've thought a pair of shoes were maybe just on the border of too small and purchased them I've absolutely regretted it. Every. Time. I can't speak for Frye boots specifically, but in general, I've found leather boots (at least well made ones) really don't stretch out that much. Also, not being able to wear thick socks sort of limits the functionality of boots, at least if you live somewhere with real winters.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:02 PM on October 15, 2014

In this situation, I'll recommend the larger size and a pair of good merino wool socks.

However— for others in a similar situation, you can take boots to an old-school cobbler and they can stretch out the toe box or even give you extra room for your little/big toe. I did this for my Chippewa boots when they didn't stretch out on their own like my Fryes.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:03 PM on October 15, 2014

Stop being in denial about your shoe size! :) i once bought the smaller size in a pair of leather flats, thinking they would stretch. The pressure on my big toe broke my toenail.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:31 AM on October 16, 2014

Go with the 10s! Fryes do not really stretch much. They get broken in, sure, but the leather is thick and tough and does not have a lot of give. I'm basing this on owning 4 different pairs of Fryes.

If the 9.5s feel restrictive then when you spend a lot of time walking they may start to just hurt across the foot. It's not something you really notice until you've been walking around a couple hours and it's not something that will get better with Fryes, not even with leather stretcher.

If the 10s basically fit now though, they will stay that way. My experience with Frye's is that they don't stretch out when you break them in, so you're really best off getting the size that is as comfortable as possible from the start.
posted by Polychrome at 2:51 AM on October 16, 2014

Aside: I took my fryes to a cobbler and they could not stretch the toe box because it's rigid plastic. So don't count on that.
posted by lilnublet at 7:36 AM on October 16, 2014

I have these exact boots and trust me, you want the larger size! Mine are six years old and have barely stretched at all. I took them to the cobbler last fall to get them stretched because my feet have gotten wider with age, but he said there wasn't much he could do because the leather is so thick and sturdy.
posted by notaninja at 9:32 AM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I currently have a pair of Vasque Sundowners hiking boots in 8.5W, which are a bit big on me. The 8W probably would have been the optimal size, but they were out of the 8.

However, I also have a pair of thick, cushy insoles. When I wear my thin (dual-layer) walking socks, I replace the insoles the boots came with with the thick, cushy insoles, and the boots fit just fine. When I wear my thick, fluffy hiking socks I switch back to the original insoles supplemented with a pair of very, very thin insoles intended to adjust the fit of shoes and the boots fit just fine.

So I recommend the larger boots and investing in insoles to adjust the fit. I cannot help you with where to get them, as my insoles all came with other pairs of shoes I've bought in the last couple of years.

We're going on a 3-week vacation this winter, most days of which we'll be walking around for hours, and my feet are arthritic and wide, with bonus bone spurs, so I've been through a LOT of different shoes, socks, and insoles in the past two months, trying to find a solution that will keep me walking.
posted by telophase at 11:40 AM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I own the same boots. I agree that they have not stretched over time. However! They are very heavy and any slipping at the heel will be very, very taxing on your midfoot. I bought boots that were slightly too big for me because I planned on wearing boot socks and because I had talked myself into the fact that all boots slip at the heel. I doggedly "broke in" a pair of boots that is simply too big for me. I really regret not making sure they were the exact right size, because I don't think I can justify two white engineer boot purchases in one life time.
posted by sweltering at 4:56 PM on October 16, 2014

Bigger size. I do not wear socks, and I don't wear my Frye boots in the summer because my feet swell and there is no give to the boots, at all. (I usually wear them with nylons, which is equivalent to not wearing socks.)
posted by Ruki at 4:15 PM on October 17, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all, I went with the 10s!
posted by sparklemotion at 9:56 AM on October 18, 2014

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