How to Convert "Men's" and "Women's" Shoe Sizes

Here's how to find the best fit.

chunky shoes

JEREMY PAWLOWSKI / Stocksy

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to footwear (that would have saved us a lot of time on our online shoe returns). So, wearing a size eight in Docs doesn't necessarily mean you're the same size in shoes from other brands. Apart from the brand, the material plays into the fit, as well as if the shoe is marked for "men" or for "women." Obviously, shoes don't have sex assigned at birth, so those measurements mean nothing in regards to which shoe you "should" wear. But, until brands stop categorizing their sizes according to a limited gender binary, it's helpful to know how to convert the sizes and how best to fit your foot as you shop.

So if you're shopping for a new pair of shoes, whether it be oxfords or loafers, we're here to help. Once you find a style that suits your taste, the next step is to ensure your comfort. Below are a few guidelines to finding the best fit.

Keep reading for how to convert men's and women's shoe sizes.

Why You May Need to Convert Shoe Sizing

sneakers

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Knowing your companion shoe size can expand your options, not only in terms of style but also if you struggle with finding shoes that fit. This is especially true because "men's" shoes usually come in longer and wider styles, while "women's" shoes come in sizes that tend to be shorter and more narrow.

"Men's" and "Women's" Shoe Size Conversion

A size nine in a "men's" shoe is not the same as a nine in "women's." However, the formula for converting those sizes from one to the other is relatively straightforward.

  • To get your "men's" shoe size, subtract two sizes from the U.S. "women's" shoe size
  • From U.S. "men's" sizing, add to sizes to get to your U.S. "women's" size
  • (i.e. a U.S. "women's" size eight is a U.S. "men's" six)

Size conversion for sneakers is slightly different but still won't require that you whip out the calculator.

  • From U.S. "women's" sizing, simply subtract a size and a half to determine your "men's" sneaker size
  • From U.S. "men's" sizing, add a size and a half to determine your size in U.S. "women's" sneakers
  • (i.e a U.S. "women's" size eight will find a comfortable fit in a U.S. "men's" size six and a half sneaker)

Finding the Right Fit

woman wearing sneakers

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

There's no doubt that these conversion guidelines come in handy, but it's worth noting it's a rule of thumb and not an exact science. Shoe sizes can vary quite a bit from brand to brand and even between styles by the same company. Trying on a pair of shoes in the store is still the best way to nail the right size.

But in case you can't get to the store—or you've just succumbed to the convenience of online shopping—there's a solution: Simply measure your feet and then compare measurements against the shoe size chart provided on the brand's website. Keep in mind that it's not just about length, but width, as well.

You might find you need to go down an additional half or full size if the shoe is too broad. If you can, consider ordering a pair of shoes in two different sizes to get the fit that's not too big and not too small, but just right. Make sure to check out the retailer's return policy first before you go ordering away (a lesson we learned the hard way). 

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