You never really know if new shoes fit until you wear them out in the real world, do you?
This sucks because you usually can't return shoes once you've worn them. But some stores DO let you return used shoes. Here's a handy list for reference so you can try your shoes out & still get a refund if they don't work out. Hooray!View Table of Contents
You can bring stuff back to Nordstrom & Nordstrom Rack stores in USA & Canada after wearing it and still get a refund. Even better, there's no time limit for returns to Nordstrom and there's 45 days returns for Nordstrom Rack.
Nordstrom's return policy wording is a little vague, but it emphasises customer satisfaction and suggests worn items can be returned. So I chatted online with a Nordstrom customer service agent in March 2022 to confirm that you can return shoes after wearing them:
Me: I would like to check if it's possible to return shoes after wearing them if they are not comfortable.
Nordstrom: Absolutely! You are more than welcome to return at your local Nordstrom or by mail.
Me: Great - so you still accept returns even if I went for a walk outside in the shoes, so the soles would be marked and they would no longer be brand new?
Nordstrom: That is correct!
Nordstrom have lots of women's shoes in size 11+ and select styles go up to 14 us. Their discount chain Nordstrom Rack has good deals on large shoes up to 14 us, but stock can go quickly and the main Nordstrom site can have a better selection and have some good markdowns too.
US department store Kohl's have tons of women's shoes in sizes 11 and 12, plus a few 13s and have a very generous 180 day returns policy. While their returns policy does not explicitly state you can return used items, that's how it works in practise. I chatted online with a Kohl's representative to confirm this:
Me: If I buy shoes from Kohl's, wear them out on a walk and they are uncomfortable, can I still return them for a refund?
Kohl's: Yes Janine you can return the item at store and you will receive the refund for sure.
Me: Great! Does that only apply if i buy in store or also if I buy online?
Kohl's: It will apply for both online and at store.
Kohl's employees on Reddit also say that items can be returned in any condition. But they prefer if you wash clothing first & admit that you have worn them if it's not obvious, so they don't put used items back out for resale.
Nike have an amazing returns policy when you shop online. You can return most items for any reason within 30 days (60 days in the US). So you can wear sneakers for weeks and still get a full refund if you're not happy with them, including customised Nike by You sneakers. It also applies to clothing - wear it, wash it, whatever - Nike will refund you.
The Nike online store has lots of women's sneakers up to size 12 us (9.5 uk, 44.5 eu). Beyond that, unisex and men's styles go right up to a women's size 19 us (17 uk). They ship to most parts of the world with free delivery and returns once you sign up for a free member account.
I've shopped online at Nike over the years & usually find their shoes comfy & last well (read my Flex experience 10 review here). But I've had the odd fail & missed out on getting a refund because I never knew you could send back stuff you've worn until researching this guide! I double checked with Nike customer service and there is no catch:
You can try, feel it, use the item and return it within 60 days from the purchase date. If you don't think that it would work, you can have it returned and get the full refund, or get a replacement for a different size as long as the item is still in stock.Nike customer service online chat, 11 March 2022
Comfort shoe brand Vionic have a 30 day wear test with free returns. I've used this myself & had no problems returning my worn shoes to Vionic UK and got a full refund.
Note that you only get the 30 day guarantee if you buy from Vionic or one of their authorised retailers. It's easiest to buy direct from Vionic to be sure you qualify. They have online stores for several countries including the US, Canada, UK and Australia.
Vionic do lots of casual shoes, flat sandals, booties & slippers in size 11 us (9 uk) with select styles in size 12 us. All Vionic footwear has unique arch support technology and include a special orthotic insole to correctly align your feet. So they are a good brand to try if you have problem feet, but are suitable for everyone.
Your feet might feel different in Vionic shoes at first if your foot posture needs fixing. If so, wear the shoes for short periods initially and build it up as your feet adjust. The 30 day guarantee gives you plenty of time to get used to them and wear them out & about so you can know if they are right for you.
The Millie ankle boots I tried in late 2020 felt fine from the off and not at all strange underfoot. Unfortunately they rubbed my feet on walks and just weren't comfy. So I was very grateful that I could return them and get my money back.
Allbirds are so confident about how comfy their casual shoes are that they offer a 30 day wear test and free returns too.
So you can wear them out and about for a few weeks, and even try machine washing them, and still get a refund no questions asked. Note that while you can return worn Allbirds shoes, you can only return new clothing with tags.
While their women's collection only goes up to size 11 US (8-8.5 UK), most Allbirds' styles are completely unisex. The same colors are available in larger sizes, right up to women's 15 us (13 uk) via the men's collection. Allbirds ship to most parts of the world, but many colors are limited edition and availability varies by region.
I tried Allbirds tree runners in May 2021. I wore them out a few times & they felt soft on. But they were a little big and I could feel a slight rubbing at the back heel on my smaller foot once I walked for a bit. They didn't come in half sizes and since Allbirds are all about comfort & expensive enough, I decided to send them back. They were collected for free from my home by DHL Ireland and I was refunded the same day which is a first! I found Allbirds customer service excellent throughout.
Allbirds are big on sustainability too. They donate worn shoes to charity so they don't go to waste. They've also just launched Allbirds ReRun in the US which sells slightly worn or imperfect shoes at lower prices.
Luxe athletic brand Lululemon have finally launched shoes after 4 years of development and they come with a 30 day trial.
Put your new shoes to the test. If you’re not satisfied, return them within 30 days for a full refund.
- Free returns online or in-store
- Your 30 days begin upon delivery
- Return your shoes in any condition
Lululemon say that lightly worn shoe returns will be resold on their Like New resale store. There's no worn shoes category there yet as of 20 September 2022, but their shoe range is brand new. Hopefully it's a sign that returns are low or else perhaps not many are suitable for resale.
US brand Birdies make luxe slipper style flats that can be worn inside and out (plus cute sneakers now too) up to size 12 us. It's a unique concept so they encourage you to try them for 30 days. The 30 day fit guarantee is right there on their homepage:
"Wear them. Live in them. Then you decide. If after a month, you’re not totally happy, send them back for an exchange or a refund, no questions asked. We call it 100% happiness."
Birdies offer free US shipping & returns. They also ship to Canada (with $20 returns), UK & Australia with all taxes and duties included at checkout. But international returns are at your own expense & you won't get taxes back either.
So if you're in the USA you can try Birdies out completely risk free, but international customers would lose some money returning them.
TV shopping channel & online store QVC is famous for their money back guarantee where you can use products and still return them.
The catch is that you need to pay return postage and won't be refunded your original shipping costs either. So you will still be a bit out of pocket if shoes don't work out, but at least you can get most of your money back.
QVC US have a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. They have lots of size 11 & 12 women's shoes and some size 13s, with options for narrow and wide widths too.
QVC Germany have a 90 day money back guarantee. They have women's shoes up to size 44, mainly from Vitaform, a German comfort shoe brand.
QVC UK have a 60 day money back guarantee. They've a good range of size 9 uk shoes from brands including Emu, Skechers and Moda in Pelle. They also do Vionic, but it's better to buy direct because they offer free returns unlike QVC.
I'm in Ireland and shopped on and off with QVC UK before Brexit. I used their money back guarantee several times without any problem. I found QVC handy for trying out expensive beauty brands too. They have good deals & it was great to be able to send back fancy shampoos and creams if they were no use and get most of my money back.
Finally, Zappos offer a 30 day runlimited guarantee for select running shoes. You can try wearing them for up to 30 days & return them if you're not happy.
If you're not into running, there's some casual sneakers here too from big sports brands, along with 11s from Skechers & Cole Haan. I can't see the Runlimited guarantee mentioned on product pages though, so I'd suggest checking with Zappos support that your shoes qualify before wearing them out & about.
I hope you found this guide helpful. It's a big relief to know you can wear new shoes out & about and still get your money back if they don't work out. Know any other stores that let you return shoes after wearing them? Please let me know so I can add them to the list. Thanks.