I write a lot here on Shoegazing about how one can, and should, adapt the fit of RTW shoes in terms of various minor or major interventions so that they fit as good as possible. Here is another such tip on how to give more or less space at the instep, and the best part is that it takes a minute to fix and all you need is your shoelaces.
It’s simply about choosing a lacing method that either accumulate a lot of the lacing in the middle and gives more volume there, this to make it tighter over the instep, or a lacing method that moves the laces to the side and gives more space over the instep . It’s not like a shoe that is too low in the instep suddenly fit if you do the latter, or vice versa, but you can make a noticeable difference and for the last small modifications of the fit can be an excellent method. It should be mentioned that we basically only talk about oxford shoes here, on derbys you can’t affect things the same with this method since the lacing is open in a completely different way.
Personally I’ve always preferred a lacing method called Boston two-step (also goes by the names European lacing and Ladder lacing). Main advantages of it is that it gives an even pressure over the instep while it is relatively easy to release and tighten. It’s a lacing method that collects quite a lot of strings between the tongue and the shoes facing, thus making the instep slightly tighter. Works in most cases, and can be good to use if you feel that it’s a bit too much space at the instep and lacing is tight. Another method shoes usually comes supplied with is called Shoe Shop Lacing (or Factory lacing) which makes almost more volume with the lacing.
If you then on the contrary want to have more space at the instep, it may be worthwhile to try a different type of lacing. An alternative is a method called Straight bar lacing, which keeps the laces along the sides instead of also crossed over underneath. Disadvantages of this lacing is that it doesn’t tightens as evenly as Boston two-step and that at least I experience it in a bit harder to release and tighten. The advantages are that it looks really nice, especially on shoes with an even pair of eyelets, and then it also can provide more space over the instep. I have had a shoe where the instep was quite tight, then I laced it with this variant and it was noticeably more comfortable. In this case the shoe then stretched so that it worked to go back to my normal lacing. If you have this problem on a shoe, it can anyway be worth trying this.
If you go on a bit with the subject, if you look at how the eyelets are placed on a oxford shoe it sometimes made so that the holes are moved outwards a bit towards the bottom. This has partly to do with the desire to get a straight symmetrical row of strings when shoes are laced up and when you often have some gap here, but it also fills a practical function as it will not be as tight with a lot of lace parts at the bottom middle of the instep.