10 Shoes & Boots That Will Make You Look Taller (Without Being Obvious)
If want to add some height to your stature, try one of these stylish sneakers, boots and shoes that make you look taller without looking obvious.
Height. We like to kid ourselves that it doesn’t matter, but what man below the national average hasn’t fantasised at some point about being an inch or two taller? Studies have shown that a loftier stature often leads to greater success in dating, more respect from peers and colleagues, and even a bigger paycheck at work. Is this the way things should be? No. But until something changes on a societal level, short guys are forced to either ride out the height-related ups and downs of life, or get creative.
No, we’re not talking about installing a medieval dungeon-style stretching rack in your garage – our proposed solution is much more practical (and stylish). What would you say if we told you that adding a valuable extra inch or two to your height is as easy as purchasing a new pair of shoes? Well, it’s true. The secret is knowing exactly which ones to buy.
Certain shoes can make you look taller. Not platforms, not high heels, just specific types of sneakers, shoes or boots that provide a subtle boost in height without drawing attention (or anyone knowing).
Below you’ll find a list of the footwear styles that can do this for you, as well as some of the key models to check out – all of which are a worthy addition to any man’s shoe rack, big or small.
Boots that make you look taller
Work boots are built to stand up to daily abuse in demanding workplace environments. They have to be extremely durable and sturdy, which means thick leather uppers and invariably a thick rubber sole, often with pronounced lugs for maximum traction.
These soles need to be thick enough to defend against potential hazards like dropped nails, broken glass and sharp rocks. This is good news from a safety standpoint, but it can also be beneficial when it comes to gaining an extra inch or two in the height department.
This is even more true if you go for a pair from an established brand like Red Wing, Danner or Thorogood. These American heritage brands are renowned for their bombproof build quality, with Goodyear welting that allows soles to be repaired and replaced with ease.
When you’re trekking through the hills you need a thick, protective sole that can support your foot on uneven ground and prevent jagged rocks from causing injury. That’s exactly what a hiking boot offers, and if you go for a classic leather version from a premium brand there’s no reason you can’t enjoy that peace of mind and the additional height it brings every day.
Classic hiking boots are usually made from leather or suede with a round toe, D-ring eyelets and a heavily lugged sole for grip. Much like work boots, they’re an excellent day-to-day option that works well with rugged casualwear, particularly in the fall and winter.
Danner, Fracap and Diemme are three of the biggest names in the game. Danner’s Light Boot in particular is one that has helped to define this style of footwear, and it looks as good today as it did 50 years ago.
Elsewhere, independent shoemakers like Velasca and Kleman are well worth checking out – both offer quality yet affordable boots.
The Chelsea boot is one of the most stylish smart casual footwear options out there. Wear it in place of a Derby shoe and it can dramatically alter the feel of a formal outfit, or pop a pair on with jeans and a shirt to kick your casual outfits up a gear.
What’s more, the characteristic heel will give you a nice little boost in height without being too obvious about it.
This style of footwear has been a menswear staple for decades now. As a result, there are countless brands making their own versions. Traditional Northamptonshire shoemakers like Crockett & Jones, Edward Green and John Lobb are always a safe bet, but for something more rugged look to R.M. Williams.
This Australian brand has been making high-quality slip-on work boots for ranchers and bushmen for almost 100 years, and it still produces some of the best premium Chelsea boots in the business today.
This dress boot is the loftier relative of the Derby shoe. It’s a simple style that works well with both tailoring and smart casual clothing, making it a great alternative to a dress shoe in the fall and winter months.
Most Derby boots feature a small heel that can add a little bit of height, but there’s a growing trend towards Derby boots with lugged commando soles, which can make you appear taller still.
There are two ways you can go with a Derby boot: smart and polished or rugged and durable. For the former, British shoemakers are your best bet, with the likes of Grenson and John Lobb coffering smart full-grain leather versions that work as well with slim chinos as they do a slick two-piece suit.
If you’re after something a bit more rough and ready, look to brands with a workwear leaning such as Kleman, or those with motorcycle heritage, like Belstaff.
Sneakers that make you look taller
The chunky sneaker trend has been the biggest thing to happen to footwear in the last decade. It shifted the default sneaker setting from stripped back and simple to oversized and maximalist almost overnight, and it has been responsible for some of the most popular sneakers in recent memory.
It’s good news for anyone looking to gain a few inches too, as a chunky pair of Nike Air Max 95s or New Balance 990s is always going to trump a flat-soled pair of Converse or Achilles Lows when it comes to the height department.
In terms of styling, remember to keep your proportions in balance. Chunky sneakers have an oversized silhouette, which means they don’t pair well with anything overly fitted or skinny. This is particularly true where trousers are concerned, so instead of slim or skinny pants, go for something with a relaxed or regular cut instead.
Every sneaker brand on the planet (as well as all the big luxury labels) has hopped aboard this trend, which makes your options almost endless.
Some of the most popular and sought-after models include Balenciaga’s Triple S, Adidas’ Ozweego, Axel Arigato’s Marathon Runner, Alexander McQueen’s Exaggerated Sole Sneaker and the aforementioned Air Max 95.
The current proliferation of trail runners is a symptom of the overarching chunky kicks trend. These sneakers are designed for covering quick miles on rough ground, and they often feature thick, foamy midsoles to help with this.
The good news is that you don’t have to be an endurance athlete in order to wear a pair. In fact, they go pretty well with casual, sporty outfits, and they just so happen to be one of the most comfortable sneakers you can buy, too.
Salomon’s XT-6 is one of the most popular options on the market, with an aggressive lugged tread and sporty shape that give it a distinctive look.
If that’s not quite to your liking, we’d suggest checking out Hoka One One and La Sportiva instead.
Long before teched-out trail sneakers and modern running shoes, athletes relied on simple suede, mesh and foam to set their PBs and carry them across finish lines. These retro runners are characterised by their simple styling and a thick wedge of foam designed to absorb shock and provide cushioning when running.
It also looks pretty good, and it has the added bonus of offering an extra inch or two of height to the wearer.
This type of sneaker looks great with casual fits, and there are loads of excellent options out there to choose from. Nike and New Balance are the two big hitters in this category. Classics from the former include the Cortez, the Daybreak and the Air Max 1, while NB has models like the 574 and the 990 v1.
Elsewhere, specialist sneaker brands like Axel Arigato and Oliver Cabell produce some excellent contemporary versions that manage to balance old and new perfectly.
Shoes that make you look taller
Loafers might just be one of the most versatile types of footwear out there. You can use them to give your tailored looks a laid-back energy, or you can wear them in place of sneakers to elevate everyday casual looks.
Traditionally, they feature a flat leather or rubber sole, which means they aren’t great for making you look taller. However, more and more brands and designers are selling loafers with thick lugged sole units now. This gives the style a slightly more rugged edge while also boosting height. Not only that, this style of shoe has become one of the major footwear trends for 2023.
G.H. Bass is one of the best brands to shop when it comes to loafers. The American company specialises in this style with its iconic ‘Weejuns’ line, and the price points are affordable. Check out the Larson loafer, which is available with a nice thick tread.
Commando Derby shoes
Every man needs a pair of Derby shoes in his footwear rotation. They’re smart enough to wear with your best suit, but casual enough to slum it with jeans and casual shirting when the situation calls for it.
Best of all, they’re increasingly available with hefty commando soles, which make them better suited to the colder half of the year while giving you a little boost of extra height.
Two brands immediately spring to mind when we think of commando Derbies, and they’re Grenson and Tricker’s. These two historic Northamptonshire shoemakers have been crafting high-quality handmade shoes for centuries, and this particular style is one they both do beautifully.
For a slightly cheaper alternative, take a look at what Dr. Martens and Clarks have to offer.
Lugged deck shoes
Traditional deck shoes are one of the worst possible types of footwear you could choose if your end goal is to look taller. They have an incredibly thin sole that adds barely any height at all, but if you’re in need of a new go-to summer shoe, you could opt for a lugged version instead.
It’s the same basic upper, but it’s stitched onto a chunky rubber sole that’ll add roughly an inch to your overall height while retaining that desirable preppy look.
Timberland is the best-known brand for this style of shoe. Its Three-Eye Lug is a timeless and versatile option that works great all year and goes with everything from jeans and T-shirts to smart casual outfits.
Kleman, Velasca and G.H.Bass are well worth a look, too.